Playoff Predictions, Round 3.. and some Oil news..

By , May 31, 2013 11:24 am

Oilers

So, to start.. yesterday MacTavish inked big Russian D-man Anton Belov to a 1-year deal (reportedly a cap hit of $1.525M with bonuses). This supposedly was the best we could do as far as length, on an entry level deal… and once it expires, he should be an unrestricted free agent. It’s a fairly low risk move. The Oilers have full expectations this guy can jump into the lineup next year. He sounds fairly raw in his defensive game, which may be a concern. But it sounds like he’s a good puck carrier, and fairly physical. In the KHL this year, he had 9 goals and 17 assists in 46 games for Omsk. He also played in the World Hockey Championships and is being considered for the Russian Olympic team. He also was 3rd on his team with a +19 plus minus rating. He is 6’4″, 216 lbs, according to Elite Prospects. The scouting report on him had this to say:

A large defenseman, Belov is still an excellent skater. He can control the offensive game with his passing skills and hard shot. Could improve his defensive game.

Oilers sign Omsk KHL defender Anton Belov

Oilers sign Omsk KHL defender Anton Belov


Seems alright.

The Oilers are also in the mix for a goaltending phenom out of Finland, Antti Raanta. Raanta played 45 games this year for Assat Pori in which he put up a 21-10-11 record, with a remarkable, league leading GAA of 1.85 and SV% of 0.943. He tweeted just a short bit ago that he’s made his decision. Edmonton, Minnesota and another team were said to be in the mix.. and Michael Russo, beat writer for the Wild, feels that the Wild are out of consideration now. Come on Edmonton!

On to the playoff predictions…

Playoff Predictions

Round 2 saw Racki getting 4 out of 4 series winners correctly ( 11 for 12, bitches!), Steve-O, Hemmerlady and Metal&Oil each got 3 out of 4 winners correct, and Trogdor fumbled blindly for 2 out of 4 correct. Series lengths, different story. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d count how many wins each player was off by. Maybe next year… that’s my Steve Tambellini motto.

Post your round 3 predictions in the comments!

More MacT Gold….

By , May 24, 2013 10:11 am
I just keep becoming more and more infatuated with this guy...

I just keep becoming more and more infatuated with this guy…

Tencer has a summary of the MacT phone interview with fans from yesterday. Read here.

I absolutely love that he was as honest as he was about some things, namely the goalie situation, and to an extent, Shawn Horcoff. I’ve always liked Horcoff, but I can’t help but think he’s replaceable with some names out there. That would give a fair bit more salary for the team to work with too. I hate to say it, because I’ve always been a big supporter of his.

The big thing for me in that interview was recognizing the goalie issue we have here. Pre-MacT, we would have heard all about how good Khabi was for us the past couple years, and how Dubnyk is blossoming into a great goaltender. However, MacT said exactly what I’ve been seeing, and what I wanted to hear…. Khabi is great in the games he played, lately, but the fact is, he’s broken. He can’t play enough games to be a consideration for our backup. That’s a huge concern. Dubnyk is looking better each year, but even in him, there is room for improvement.

I think MacT will look for a #2 for Dubnyk, but he mentioned they’d be looking for AT LEAST a couple goaltenders. So, you could take that as meaning that they’re shoring up the goalies in Oklahoma too, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to land someone who could push for starter here. I still say that Mike Smith is the best guy for this job, although he won’t come cheap. But the one aspect of Dubnyk’s game I can’t tolerate isn’t the “one bad goal a game he gives up”… it’s that he’s an awful puck handler. This kills our breakout. Having a guy like Mike Smith back there firing the puck up will speed up our break out immensely. Our skill players are only going to score goals if they get out of our zone… Dubnyk hinders that, Mike Smith facilitates that.

There is more to a breakout than just the goaltender, obviously.. we need the right defense to help in that regard too. But I think if you look at this team player by player, you are almost fooled. You’ll say “well Horcoff isn’t bad is he? Ryan Jones should be doing better… Ryan Smyth was good once… why can’t he work? Corey Potter has showed flashes of brilliance, and isn’t a bad 6/7 guy… etc, etc.”. Simply put, there are plenty of guys who look “good enough” on the surface. And I think we won’t necessarily looking for giant improvements in certain areas, but rather minor improvements all across the board, save for possibly our bottom six. Every little change is going to help in some regard, I think. If an area can be improved, I think MacTavish should put the effort in, in doing so. This is why I think picking up a guy like Mike Smith would really help here. He might not be all that much better in net than Dubnyk, but when you add up all those extra times he helps the D break out of the zone quicker, coupled with the minor tweaks across the board, it could equal one giant improvement.

NHL Playoff Predictions, Round 2

By , May 14, 2013 10:01 am
Toronto, post Bruins series Apocalypse

Toronto, post Bruins series Apocalypse

First off, a round 1 summary:

Series Winner Racki Steve-O Trogdor
Hawks vs Wild Hawks in 5 Hawks in 5 Hawks in 5 Hawks in 4
Ducks vs Wings Wings in 7 Wings in 6 Ducks in 7 Ducks in 6
Canucks vs Sharks Sharks in 4 Sharks in 6 Sharks in 6 Canucks in 6
Blues vs Kings Kings in 6 Kings in 4 Blues in 7 Kings in 6
Pens vs Isles Pens in 6 Pengs in 4 Pens in 5 Pens in 5
Habs vs Sens Sens in 5 Habs in 6 Habs in 6 Habs in 6
Caps vs Rangers Rangers in 7 Rangers in 7 Rangers in 7 Rangers in 6
Bruins vs Leafs Bruins in 7 Bruins in 6 Bruins in 4 Bruins in 5

 

To sum:
Racki got 7 of the 8 series winners correct, matching 2 of the game lengths of those winners.
Steve-O got 5 of the 8 series winners correct, matching 2 of the game lengths of those winners.
Trogdor got 5 of the 8 series winners correct, matching 1 of the game lengths of those winners.

Big winner.. RACKIIIIII!

On to round two.. here are the match ups:

Hawks vs Wings
Kings vs Sharks
Pens vs Sens
Bruins vs Rangers

Submit your predictions in the comments! And if you predicted in round 1, mention how you did too for round 1.

In other news… how is Leaf Nation doing? That was a monumental loss. I can speak from experience in saying that it’s much easier to be blown out in a series/game than it is to have a win firmly in your grasp and completely blow it. I tend to smile whenever the Leafs suffer, but I think when you’ve suffered for 50 some years, it’s hard not to feel a little sorry, now and then.

Did Ruff unfairly bench Taylor Hall in game 2 of the WHC?

By , May 5, 2013 12:27 pm
Was Ruff too hard on Hall?

Was Ruff too hard on Hall?

So there’s some uproar that Lindy Ruff unfairly benched an offensive weapon in Taylor Hall against a team that has a stifling defense. The thought was that Canada needed a guy like Hall who such a penchant for generating scoring chances. Hall’s line seemingly saw some decreased ice time in the 2nd. In the 3rd, it was clear that Hall played his last shift of the game with 14:54 remaining in the 3rd period.

So.. was he unfairly benched?

I would like to break down the first half of the game more.. I didn’t start really paying attention until the 2nd, so I’ll probably come back to this. But here’s a quick breakdown of the mid 2nd and early 3rd: Continue reading 'Did Ruff unfairly bench Taylor Hall in game 2 of the WHC?'»

Edmonton and goaltending

By , May 3, 2013 11:36 am
Devan Dubnyk

Is Devan Dubnyk good enough?

Well, it’s off-season. With off-season comes all the crazy talk. One recent bit of crazy talk comes courtesy of Jim Matheson at the Edmonton Journal. I typically agree with a lot Matty has to say. But this one is just way off to me. The suggestion is that we should bring back Nikolai Khabibulin for a year. This is just lunacy to me.

I want to start by saying I like both Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk. I think when each are on their game, they can be really quite good. I do think too though that Dubnyk hasn’t shown that he can be a top end goalie for much more than 45-ish games. So that’s my margin for him.. about 45 games. That leaves 37 games left to play which, if you’re doing the math, is 45% of the season.. nearly half (“thank you, professor!”). That means I see Dubnyk in a 1A / 1B situation, meaning that I think he should share the starting duties with another goaltender. The most games that Dubnyk has ever played in his career was 47. Now, this year, they really pushed the envelope and gave him more games.. so it’s possible he can eat more games. This post isn’t so much about Dubnyk though as it is about Khabibulin.

Now, let’s talk Khabi. Matheson thinks this is a good idea because Khabibulin had hip surgery last April and says he feels the best he has in a while. He missed the start of the season from recovering from the injury. That I wouldn’t say is a black mark. Each game that he played this year, he did look fairly solid. However, was it clear that the fatigue/injury issues were behind him? I don’t think so. February 9, khabi debuts on the season and plays a rather stellar game vs. the Wings in which they lose (but he deserved the win). One week later, he bails out Dubnyk in relief and steals a win.. things are looking good so far. February 19th (3 days later), Khabi allows a mere two goals in another reliable performance. The Oilers rest Khabi for a game, and then he plays against Phoenix on the 23rd of February. This again is another reliable game from Khabi, as he gets the win. The Oilers press their luck and push him another game, on February 25th. Boom.. groin injury… so 5 games into the season, he’s out with a groin injury that keeps him out of the lineup for about a month. Is this reliable??

During the month that Khabibulin was out, the Oilers Continue reading 'Edmonton and goaltending'»

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