The PK

By , October 27, 2010 11:19 am
Oilers PK... wait for the puck to come to us, then break out

Oilers PK... wait for the puck to come to us, then break out

What do the Oilers need to do to make this work?

This year, their top-minute PKers (by minutes) are:

Defence: Whitney (3:03 / game), Gilbert (2:56 / game), Smid (1:56 / game), Vandermeer (1:35 / game).
Forwards: Horcoff (2:16 / game), Fraser (1:55 / game), Eberle (1:51 / game), Jones (1:43 / game).

The last time they were a good PKing team was the 2007-08, when their top PKers (by minutes) were:
Defence: Souray (3:59 / game), Staios (3:58 / game), Greene (2:46 / game), Gilbert (2:31 / game).
Forwards: Reasoner (3:10 / game), Stoll (2:53 / game), Moreau (2:48 / game), Horcoff (2:47 / game).

Huge difference in the players we’re using now. Gilbert and Horcoff are the only common denominators between the two. As we all know, Reasoner and Stoll were gone the next year, and since then the PK has tanked horribly. I’m not going to harp on why we should never have traded Stoll and Reasoner (I was never a big fan of trading Stoll, but I was OK with trading either of these guys so long as they were properly replaced), but perhaps the Oilers need to revisit this season and figure out what worked well that year.

Do we have the wrong horses on the PK? There’s a good chance that is the case. Is it the wrong strategy? Perhaps, but I think the Oilers would do themselves a bit of good to compare how this year is going with 2007/08 and previous years.

If it’s the wrong horses, that might not be such a tough thing to solve. The Oilers have been patiently waiting on making a decision on Deslauriers and Dubnyk, but perhaps now is the time, and they could use that extra slot to rotate in a PKer from Oklahoma City. After Sunday’s game, the Barons had allowed only 3 power play goals in 46 penalty kills. Add to that, they had a streak of 35 kills going without a goal (ended in Sunday’s game). Something is going well there, and perhaps we use that to our advantage. Find out what is working down there. Is it the system? Or is it the players (BTW, I do believe that a successful PK strategy / team in the AHL won’t necessarily translate to the NHL.. just saying it’s worth a look). If it’s the players, as much as we’d hate to do it to OKC, maybe we bring a couple up to help out the big club. Liam Reddox always comes to mind, as does Colin McDonald. Jeff Petry and Shawn Belle have also been a fantastic pairing. Perhaps we start questioning the value of Jim Vandermeer here (who in my eyes simply just saved us a buyout on O’Sullivan). With Kurtis Foster out with a groin injury (albeit likely short term), maybe they might want to bring up Shawn Belle and give him a look on a second PK pairing, and also bring Reddox up for some help for the forwards. No combination of forward / defence seem to be currently working with our top PKers.

I’d also suggest riding Smid and Peckham a bit harder short-handed. These guys have done well so far on the PK with lower minutes. Let’s see how they do with more. It might also be time to pull back on the high risk PK as well and start thinking defense first. As exciting as it is to see Jordan Eberle score short-handed goals, he has been on the ice for most goals per minute of icetime for our PKers too. I’m definitely not blaming the failing PK on him though. I’m just saying that perhaps the risk isn’t worth the reward. I know that bashing on Penner is the cool thing to do in Oilerland, but even though he looks like a slug (and can sometimes play like one) he’s also been one of our better PKers over time, although his ice time on the PK is quite limited.

Really, I think the Oilers need to treat the PK quite seriously and take a look at the players being utilized on the PK and see what we have in the system that can help. In addition, it might not be a bad idea to revisit how the Oil are implementing their PK compared to years past.

Of course, it could also be that we’ve got a very different team this year. Lots of new faces. Of our top PKers only Gilbert, Smid and Horcoff have been here more than a year. So perhaps there is some argument for patience. But when have we ever been patient here?

What's wrong with the Oilers PK?

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20 Responses to “The PK”

  1. Steve-O says:

    I bet Ondrus and those other unsexy signings are the reason for the PK in OKC. But they will never get called up.

  2. Racki says:

    Yup, actually I forgot to mention Ondrus, but he’s a guy I was thinking of too. And you’re right.. not likely to be called up. Really, that’s what the Oilers should have done here.. forgo the “sexy signing” and just grab a guy who is known for getting the job done. Maybe after watching the PK flounder some more it will be more obvious.

  3. Steve-O says:

    but this year is all about kids getting the reps…so they will be terrible all year.

    its not going to get better

  4. chucker says:

    Yeah, I was quietly hoping Ondrus would make the team instead of Jones. Oh well. What can we do?

    They keep talking about guys embracing their role. They got a bunch of them on the farm.

    I don’t know if a trade is brewing between us and the Sens or maybe they were there to watch Calgary too, but that could provide a solution in terms of bodies.

  5. Haboiler says:

    I actually think the defense may be more the issue than the forwards on the PK right now. I think that between Horc/Eberle + Cogliano/Brule with Fraser mixed in, that could be ok up front. On the D, Whitney/Gilbert + Smid/Peckham are ok, but if they substitute Strudwick/Foster/Vandermeer then it gets scary.

    They really need to make the move with the Goalie. If not, then they need to part with Vandermeer or convince Strudwick to retire and stay on as a Coach of some sort. There simply isn’t room for the both of them. One of Belle/Petry would be nice to add in as the 6th D to get them some good experience as well. If we are going to rebuild lets go for it. I like the idea of a veteran journeyman D in the room, just not 2 of them.

    There are some nights that with the extra forward they gain by dropping a Goalie, that they could sit both SMac and Stortini. Fraser/Jones/ callup (O’Marra/Reddox/etc) for a pure shutdown role. We need the deterrent but it doesn’t need to be there in every game. Most people are looking for Reddox but I really want to see O’Marra get a 5 game stint to see what he can do.

    Maybe they have the 7th D and 14th F on a rotational basis of 5-10 games this year for younger players and see how they play and give them the experience they need going forward in the rebuild.

    Just some random thoughts…

  6. Racki says:

    I’m going off on a tangent on the tough guy stuff, but…

    I’ve seen Eberle, Paajarvi, Gagner, Cogliano and Hall get cranked a number of times, and really, I didn’t see MacIntyre out on the ice beating anyone up for it. Why? Well, because it’s unrealistic to expect MacIntyre to go beat on Giordano for hitting Taylor Hall. Really, that kind of duty is going to fall to one of our smaller guys, like Moreau when he was here, or Staios. I’ve always been a fan of team toughness, but I’ve had a waning interest in the nuclear deterrents, as I’ve never been 100% sold that they really do anything anymore other than fight the big guys. MacI said he took on Ivanans for sticking Paajarvi, and TSN really played it up as that (McKenzie included), but I think most of us recognize that stick was accidental, and Mac wouldn’t have likely fought Iggy if it was him that sticked Paajarvi. I’m not trying to pick on MacIntyre here btw… I’m just saying it’s a bit of code that your big goon/thug isn’t out beating up their small players.

    And I like MacIntyre btw.. so it’s tough for me to be critical of his role. But it just isn’t entirely important as it once was. I’d much rather see us have a team of lightweights with Peckham, Smid, Jacques and more guys of their ilk keeping players honest. Having one of the toughest guys in the NHL is awesome, but I don’t think they’re doing much these days other than fighting the other team’s tough guy. In order to make an impact, he kind of has to do what he did in his first few games as an Oiler (wallpapering Dustin Boyd). As much as we hated Boogaard in the day, that’s kinda what we need from a tough guy if they’re going to play regularly… instigate stuff. Get under the other team’s skin.. make them scared to play a shift.

    And good job by Fraser for standing up for Hall, but he isn’t a guy I’d really consider as a guy who should be sticking up for players (he isn’t exactly a skilled fighter). At this point I’d trade any one of our 4th line guys for someone with a consistent level of sandpaper. I hate to say it ad nauseum like I do, but damn, if only Jacques wasn’t oft-injured. He’s exactly what our 4th line needs (when healthy).

    Again I want to reiterate, that I’m not upset with MacIntyre for not sticking up for these small players getting hit hard (sometimes dirty). It’s unrealistic to expect a heavyweight to go beat on a superstar (Marleau), for example, but where’s the rest of the team?

    Take Cogliano, Jones, Fraser, and maybe, to a slightly lesser extent, Stortini (mentioned because he’s been invisible this year – preference would just be to kick him in the ass and get him going) and acquire some sandpaper.

  7. chucker says:

    Yeah, Stortini used to do an effective pest role, now he’s either not playing or not being effective. This is why I was hoping we’d pick up a couple guys like Asham and Shelley. Guys who add toughness, some skills and always finish their hit and instigate as well.

    I like MacI too, but if Renney if afraid to use him to go out and smash anyone, then he’s no use. I was hoping Vandermeer would step up and do this, so far he’s been pretty dissapointing.

  8. oilinblood says:

    hmmmm. You have interesting points Rack and i agree pretty much with them all but i also am keeping an open mind to what Renney may be trying to implement and achieve. He has already made the statements that we dont have those bonafide PK guys so his goal is to teach these guys how to do the basics and give them the green light to pot SHGs. If we stick with that idea than we will eventually find middle ground, one player at a time, where they adapt to the defensive needs and balance with the willingness to risk a bit. Its obvious we arent often going to just dump the puck. I think Renney is teaching the players to look for options in passing first always. It may be why the Oilers are so poor in their own zone. For so long players have been taught – boards and out. I think its a good strategy that will take some time for players to get used to. If they ever get it…and even more so if they can manipulate/bait opponents into risking on a big play… than i can see a very dangerous and effective PK.

    Everything seems to be a work in progress and is hard to gauge.

    The only clear issue on the PK is faceoffs. Other than that i ASSUME (98% convinced) Renney wants to maintain possession as much as possible which also includes painful learning of how to distribute the puck under pressure and not just put it off the boards.

    Chucker – Vandermeers history isnt one of reliant PKer, so i am not too sure where you were getting the idea he would be the guy. he was a right hand shot tough guy who can play a 7d or 13 f like struds. Thats it. If we had known we would get foster and MacI, we dont trade for Vandermeer and just buy out POS.

    RAck – I think MacI is there for stuff that is clearly out of line. I didnt really see a hit that was out of line. The only issue i had was Giordanos bum moving from planted position to catch Hall. To me that is a trip, to the rules it is also a trip, to Hall it was also a trip. Hall didnt look at the ref because he was contacted… it was because the body position for the flame was at the boards when Hall moved sideways and the ass came out. Its technically a trip. Now if you do a legal hip check your lower body maintains the line of attack. Its kind of like Basketball fouling.
    But back to MacI and fighting. I think MacI could have had cause to go after Jokinen but its better to only do that if the game is out of reach. If its 4-1 with 2minutes left… Break Jokinens face. I was laughing when I saw White high fiving Jokinen… I mean was he like “great job getting your ass kicked by a lil kid Olli”. Hilarious/.

    Ondrus and Reddox should really be up here.

    This is how i wanted the line ups this year
    Hall Horc Eberle
    Magnum Gags Hemsky
    Penner Brule Reddox
    Ondrus Fraser Storts
    MacI

    I still want that… and yes cogs doesnt make the cut in my pre-season roster wishes.

  9. Racki says:

    Chucker didn’t say he thought Vandermeer was a PKer, he said he thought he would be someone that “would go out and smash anyone” (and so did I.. that was the only reason I was happy about acquiring him for the boat anchor).

    As for MacIntyre and people getting out of line… well, unless people REALLY clearly get way out of line (we’re talking Lemieux on Draper out of line), I really don’t see him doing anything to anyone who can’t handle themselves, is my point… ever. I don’t see him getting back at someone who is a lot smaller than him. Which is why I’d like to see him initiating stuff through physical contact (go smoke Regehr, if he can keep up)… or he really will not have much of a use here, in my eyes (although there is great entertainment value in watching him KO guys)… at least as an “enforcer”.

    Are we still worried that Boogey is going to hit Hemsky? I don’t really think so. But hey, I suppose you never know (although it would be someone out West, if that scenario were happening).

    If I had my way, I’d get more muscle in the bottom six. Guys that can fight and play. I’m not saying it has to be Chris Neil types or the Lucic/Carcillo types (although if that were possible, I’d love it)… I just mean the guys that will fight when called upon, like Jason Smith and Ethan Moreau would do in their primes here. These are the guy’s that stick up for our stars… because it’s a guy their weight class that’s going to be hitting our star players, not someone Mac’s size (maybe once in a blue moon).

    I like that Renney and ST have it in their head that they want team toughness here, I just don’t think they’ve implemented it right yet. Probably more so Tambo’s fault on that.

  10. oilinblood says:

    Renney wanted MacI because everyone loves the guy (and i was convinced with the re-signing that it spelled MacI being a true 4th liner since Quinn was gone). Ondrus i think is good but obviously, and maybe unfairly for him, he was never going to play up here. Chris Neil is good but his new contract is pretty rediculous.

    Apologies CHucker.

    Vandermeer got under Iginlas skin in a big way a few times already. If GlenX is gonna run after Brule, and Jokinen wants to punch before his opponent knows his gloves are off – and still get his ass handed to him- than i say there are no rules as far as size is concerned. Stamp a target on Boumeesters back and tell MacI to knock him out then do a bubbles impression while standing over him. I know some people live by a code…but most codes go out the window when the other team strikes first. If Jokinen wants to cross check Gags than i have no problems with MacI ripping jokinens head off. (Isnt “the code” exactly why Laraque was told to leave?)
    The problem right now is its too obvious he is instigating when he doesnt play a regular shift. so it hurts us in close games. He has to play regularly to avoid the auto inst.
    i think if MacI were to fight Jokinen he wouldnt even worry about getting tagged. Hed just go for the back collar(since he has no hair) so if Jokinen tried to dive hed be blind in his jersey and unable to go any lower. A human punching bag to go. Or just grab him by the ear, twist it to get a good hold and go to town.

    Yes I wish MacI would be used as a 5minute guy and finish his hits. Last time i saw him play a near regular 4th line game was a long time ago but i felt he moved well for a big man. I dont get why he cant at least take every 2nd 4th line shift. Gets him away from obvious instigators if he is out for a regular shift.

    As for the pest thing…haha Brule might be that guy now. We should ask Glenx for his thoughts. I dont know what Brule did but it must have been a big deal.

    And btw Racki… the whiteboard gave me a good chuckle.

  11. oilinblood says:

    Haboiler: I actually think the defense may be more the issue than the forwards on the PK right now. I think that between Horc/Eberle + Cogliano/Brule with Fraser mixed in, that could be ok up front. On the D, Whitney/Gilbert + Smid/Peckham are ok, but if they substitute Strudwick/Foster/Vandermeer then it gets scary. They really need to make the move with the Goalie. If not, then they need to part with Vandermeer or convince Strudwick to retire and stay on as a Coach of some sort. There simply isn’t room for the both of them. One of Belle/Petry would be nice to add in as the 6th D to get them some good experience as well. If we are going to rebuild lets go for it. I like the idea of a veteran journeyman D in the room, just not 2 of them.There are some nights that with the extra forward they gain by dropping a Goalie, that they could sit both SMac and Stortini. Fraser/Jones/ callup (O’Marra/Reddox/etc) for a pure shutdown role. We need the deterrent but it doesn’t need to be there in every game. Most people are looking for Reddox but I really want to see O’Marra get a 5 game stint to see what he can do.Maybe they have the 7th D and 14th F on a rotational basis of 5-10 games this year for younger players and see how they play and give them the experience they need going forward in the rebuild.Just some random thoughts…

    Belle has to clear waivers again? Petry and Plante will stay in the A and count their points and progress. Vandermeer and Struds will be gone next year.

    I agree on the 3rd goalie hurting us. QFT that entire paragraph… except for OMarra. I like the guy but i think a season pivoting a decent team in OKC will help him more than a call up. Next year he will get his chance with Lander.

  12. oilinblood says:

    chucker: Yeah, I was quietly hoping Ondrus would make the team instead of Jones. Oh well. What can we do?They keep talking about guys embracing their role. They got a bunch of them on the farm. I don’t know if a trade is brewing between us and the Sens or maybe they were there to watch Calgary too, but that could provide a solution in terms of bodies.

    Sens brass were at the game? People better not start spezza talk again. Maybe thats why Penner was the third shooter.
    Ottawa needs prayers more than anything. I dont know where to start with that team.
    Foligno, Neil for Cogs :) LOL

  13. Mr.Majestyk says:

    Just to the question Racki asked about whether we’re afraid that Boogey is going to hit Hemsky. I’d say the purpose of Big Mac is so that other teams are afraid that MacI is going to hit Iggy, or the Sisters. The question is whether he can play that sort of game. And to Racki’s point on JFJ…we know he plays that sort of game. He’ll hit anyone and he’ll gladly drop the gloves if anyone wants to make something of it.

  14. Racki says:

    Mr.M: I think it’s a good thought, but until I see him hit one of them, I don’t think it’s anything anyone should be afraid of. I think if MacIntyre is caught on a shift with any of the aforementioned players, we’re probably the ones that should be worrying. Just my 2 cents here.

    And again, I really like Big Mac… just I feel that his role is so limited that it’s hard to justify keeping him here. But he can change that opinion if he goes and does what Boogey used to do here and just throw his weight around. That would probably require more ice time though, and therefore likely less ice time for at least one of the kids.

    It actually isn’t so much MacIntyre that I have a problem with… it’s more the rest of our line up. I think we need to add more muscle in the bottom lines, and use those guys to stand up for the hits against stars (as well as intimidate, initiate, agitate, etc.-ate).

  15. otto says:

    It’s definitely hard to find the balance of where to use Mac. Like you said, Racki, the problem lies more with the rest of the lineup and their lack of toughness. That’s where a team like Detroit succeeds where we fail – they’ve selected players based off their ability to both play well and play tough. If we had payers that could stand up for themselves, we wouldn’t need a guy like Mac. Penner would be a perfect example of that balance if he would just friggin’ play tougher.

  16. Mr.Majestyk says:

    At the start of the season Renney and Mac both spoke about what Big Mac’s role would be. I think Mac knows that he needs to improve his play in order for him to be effective. Last game he played 1:40 or something like that, and there will definitely be games where he barely sees the ice, but its up to him to improve his game enough so that the coaching staff feels comfortable sending him out there to play regular 4th line minutes.

    I agree with you Racki that other teams stars don’t have to fear Mac, only other heavyweights. But if Mac could improve enough that he’s hitting everything like JFJ, other teams would fear him. The downside is that what we’re seeing out of Big Mac is the best we’ll ever see.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to be a team that out hits the opposition every night? When you do that, other teams start thinking of you as a team that is tough to play against. I think the organization wants to go that direction, but we obviously don’t have the roster to do that just yet. We’ll get there eventually.

    I always feel the need to add that so much of what we as hockey fans love to discuss doesn’t matter anymore because of the rebuild. We can make comments on how we need to bolster our defence or add a quality checker or whatever our team is lacking but due to the rebuild, its like none of that stuff matters. The wins and losses don’t matter, the only thing that matters is that the youth core gain experience and improve. Losses used to sting, now they don’t bother me.

  17. Racki says:

    MrM: i agree on Mac. I think he knows what he has to be, it’s just a question of whether it’s in him, and whether he can get the ice time. And there’s part of the problem.. he needs to play well to get the ice time, and without the ice time, he can’t really make much impact. So I guess he’s just going to have to find ways to make that 1:40 as good as possible. I remember him saying he wanted to hit someone on every shift… well.. hit someone on every shift then. That would help.

    Btw, I’m not a believer that rebuild = shit the bed. I think we’ve got the core players we need for our future (although a young d-man and a young goaltending prospect would be nice – although Roy might fill that last need), we should be playing like the season means something. I think even last year, that should have been the case. I’m never a fan of not putting forth an honest effort, except when it’s painfully obvious we have no choice (like December 09 onward for us last season).
    Otto: yup, that sums up my feelings.

  18. Mr.Majestyk says:

    The players and coaching staff definitely need to be looking at winning every game they play, but I think it ends there from the organizations standpoint. They don’t want or need to address holes in the lineup as painful as they might be, because they care more about the long term plan.

    Its kind of weird being an Oiler fan and not hearing the entire fanbase calling for the coaches to be fired and the players to be traded.

  19. Racki says:

    Yah that’s an opinion I differ on. I’m not interested in ST throwing a season (which seems to be the definition of rebuild you’re talking about). Acquiring a defensive d-man and a faceoff guy isn’t exactly going to break the bank (in the grand scheme of things), but could go a long way in making this team better. Also, acquiring those big bodies I was talking about would go a long ways in protecting their assets too.

    The way I see it, they can roll over at the start of the season and ice an imperfect team, or they can spend a little money (we’re talking a few mill here) to improve the supporting cast of players and ice a potentially competitive team, which would also help with player development too, not to mention morale.

  20. oilinblood says:

    We arent contending, we are rebuilding… but you also want to build a winning atmosphere. Being competitive every night means trying to fill the holes. I think the Oilers are relying on present players improving parts of their games to fill the holes themselves.

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