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Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Year End, Oiler talk PART II"

The NHL is the greatest hockey you can watch, but unfortunately with a organization comes the politics of it as well. As frustrating as it is to watch game after game where the ref's screw up the call, it is what it is. Last night, we saw a 'hit' that took out our 'beloved' Taylor Hall and some Oiler fans were crying for payback. There were several calls in the game that were not called either way. Bottom line is, stuff like this happens every day.

Today I wanted to continue answering questions that people keep asking me on twitter, Facebook, email and personally. I labelled this Part II but there will have to be, a Part III cause the questions don't stop rolling in. Figured it was easier to offer my opinions through our blog here at oilersjambalaya. 

Are you worried or bothered with the lack of fighting like we used to see in the "Battle of Alberta"
 Last night's BOA was a prime example of lots of emotion going both ways, without the actual fights. That is unless you consider Sarich having to scuffle with Ryan Whitney. The game was intense, packed with emotion, something was on the line (Flame playoff hopes and Oiler pride) and while it was not a old time fight filled, bench clearing brawl, it was a exciting game. It contained hits, highlight goals of both fluke and awesomeness and some unbelievable passes. Nope, fights that occur by emotion in the game (in defence of your teammate or one's that happen in anger) are the one's to me that make the game exciting. Not a big lover of staged fighting at all, never was.

What are your thoughts on our Current defence we have here in Edmonton?
Unlike many other Oiler fans and some MSM, I for one, am not as worried about our defence as I have been about our goaltending. Defence takes much longer to develop and making radical changes to bring in top 2 players or drafting them, either takes too long or your spending your top cap $ to pay them. I would much rather follow the Pittsburg model of bringing in defencemen. I am a believer of the Oilers current form of defence development. 

With Klefbom, Musil and Gernat, I think the Oilers are sitting well in the years to come. Early in the season people were screaming for better defence when Petry was making his mistakes, and now who is complaining? The guy is looking better with every game he plays. The last couple years people have been calling for a Smid trade, now this year we absolutely love him. Some Oiler fans were complaining about the Schultz trade thinking we lost in that deal. To me, Nick was exactly what we needed. As I have mentioned before, I would rather have 6 defencemen who are all top 2-4 players rather then the traditional top 1 defencemen and a couple 2-4 and a couple 5-7 defencemen.

For me, if your picking in the lottery, you take best forward most often and use 2nd pick on the defencemen, much like the Oilers have done the last 2 years.

What's your opinion on all these hits from behind?
I am mixed on this one. So often I am seeing defence men turn their back on the player to protect the puck and then the league says that the player is vulnerable and should not be hit. On the other hand, I do believe with a faster and bigger player, we need to protect the players from themselves. This one is tough for me, I still have not decided which way I fall on this one.

The more you watch RNH, who do you think he most resembles his game after?
Paval Datysuk is the one who I have said he resembles his game after the most, but as time passes I am sure seeing a lot of similarities between him and the 'Great One'.Notice the similarity of his positioning when behind the net? That was Wayne's OFFICE! In no way am I saying he will have the same career, but Nugent-Hopkins is a top 10 player in this league and I am so excited to see his game grow as he matures in his game and physically as well. The fact he commands instant respect at 18 years old is amazing in today's NHL. To think he is a year and a half younger then Hall really shows you the upside this young kid has. 

Where do you see Hartikanen's upside?
Teemu is looking to just work on the smaller details of his game and his compete level game in and game out. What few realize is Hartikanen's game is a difficult one to deliver game in and game out as it is physically demanding. Not only is it hard on the opponent but also on him. If Teemu can find a way to come through in his game like he did last night against Calgary (notice how he excels against Calgary though? Sweet!) he has the potential to be a top 6 player and occasionally play some shifts or games here or there on a top line when needed IMO.

Come playoff time, with the Oilers not playing, who will you be following?
This is a easy one for me. It is the Penquins! Not only do they have great top end goal scorers but good checking lines, tough defencemen, skilled defencemen and awesome goaltending but they also have very tactical coaching for games. They will be a treat to watch as the post-season begins.

Do you see Ryan Smyth
Not this time around. I appreciate Ryan's game but his time has come and went and there are just too many other players in the 'wait' and now Canada is starting to develop future Olympic players by giving them a chance to show their commitment to Canada at the World Championships each year.

What happened to Alex Galchenyuk during Friday night's game?
Unfortunately for Galchenyuk, this season has been a nightmare of sorts. Good kid, excellent player, but I truly hope this injury is nothing serious. I have not seen any new info today on how badly his injury was last night upon falling in the face-off circle but it must be a concern for any team now to take a chance on him too early in the draft based on his injuries. Maybe another Brett Connelly? All I know, is whoever does draft him, should it be later then a 6th pick will be getting a steal at that place in the draft.

Don't you think that Tobias Rieder is too small to play for the Edmonton Oilers?
Tobias is weighing in at around 190 lbs and still is at 5'11, so while small, he is skilled and like Eberle, you need to give him more time to develop. Just a hunch but I wonder if they would like to keep him 1 year longer in the OHL before sending him to the AHL for further development. Quite possibly should a opening arise, they could look at a move to the AHL but with so many young players like Pitlick and Hamilton there, I have a feeling he gets 1 more year with the Rangers in the OHL. His goal scoring is what has surprised me the most, but this kid has been showing good arrows, let's hope it continues into the post-season as well.

 In your Opinion, how do you feel about Martin Gernat and his potential with the Oilers Organization?
Upon watching Gernat at 'Development Camp' last July, I knew he had that extra something special. The only question was, what was his upside and could he show 'battle' still deeper into the season. He will have his chance to really show what he can do come playoff time. The Oil Kings are about to take a shot at the WHL Championship, so there is not a better time to show the Oilers that he has the tools to be an effective player for long stretches and when it matters most. 

The fact he is almost scoring a point a game is amazing in itself, but he is looking more like a pressure player the further into the season the Oil Kings go. I think it is quite possible he could become a top 4 defencemen in the NHL but for now we will take it one season at a time. Chances are after this year, the Oilers will keep him in the WHL 1 more year before giving him a year or 2 in the AHL. 

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  1. Hartikanen is a perfect fit for the top 6 with ebs and nuge and I have been saying that the whole time. I hate for the oilers to model the canucks but thats the direction were headed and teemu to me on that line reminds me of burrows with the sedins

  2. I agree that Hartikanen looked good with Ebs and RNH but for him to play every night , top minutes as top line LW would be us pressing he could play that many mins night after night all year. That's why I see him sliding around first year or two between 1,2 and 3 LW spot as it's a hard game to play. But I do agree, he does fit well, his style into their game


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