NHLPA survey – Edmonton sucks but the ice is good (really?!?)

January 31, 2011 2 comments

To help fill the void left in the NHL news cycle by the All-star weekend, the NHLPA and CBC released the results of a poll of 318 members of the NHLPA yesterday. This poll covers the same ground that every player poll like this covers. Where would you least like to play? Where would you most like to play? Who is the most underrated? Who is the toughest to play against? It’s the same old, same old. The questions never change and neither do the answers.

So it should come as no surprise that Edmonton was the answer a significant number of the player provided to the question “What team would you least like to play on?“. The Islanders lead the way with 27% of the vote, the Oilers followed with 20%. The Thrashers, Leafs, and Panthers rounded out the top five with 7%, 5%, and 2% respectively. Does this surprise anyone? Should Oiler fans care?

The short answer is and no and no. It’s well established that Edmonton isn’t a desirable place to play. It’s remote. It’s cold. There is a lot of travel. And the team isn’t very good. All things being equal (in other words money) if I had the choice to ply my trade in Edmonton or another NHL city I’d probably go somewhere else and I grew up here and I think Edmonton is a pretty great place to live. Read more…

Comparing Gleason-Kulemin to Avery-Smid

January 25, 2011 3 comments

First the Gleason-Kulemin fight

It’s very clear that Gleason drops his gloves and Kulemin doesn’t. It’s also pretty indisputable that Kulemin shoves Gleason in the face a couple of times before the “fight”. Kulemin is certainly over his head in a fight with Gleason but if he’s shoving his gloves in his face what does he expect to happen?

Now the Avery-Smid fight (skip ahead to the 3:30 mark)

Read more…

The Oilers and one goal losses

January 25, 2011 4 comments

Following the Oilers shootout loss to the Predators on Sunday night there seems to have been a lot made of the team’s record in one goal games. If you didn’t already know, the Oilers are 7-8-8 on the season in games decided by a single goal. That equates to a winning percentage of 0.304 which ties them with the Islanders for 28th place in the NHL and is better than only Ottawa. It’s a lousy record yes but it’s also a deceiving record because it’s not as if the Oilers are just a bounce or two from winning some of these games and being right in the playoff hunt. As of today the Oilers are 15 points behind 14th place in the Western Conference. Not 15 points from a playoff spot, 15  points from the next worst team. The Oilers have almost certainly left some points on the table in these games but they haven’t left that many.

For the sake of argument though, let’s give the Oilers some better bounces in one goal games and see how it’d affect the standings. Let’s say half the Oilers regulation one goal losses end up tied after 60 minutes and the Oilers improve their overtime/shootout record to a game over 0.500. The result would be a 12-4-7 record in games decided by a goal and nine more points in the standings. That’s a lot of bounces that would have to go the Oilers way and they’d still be last in the West.

It’s nice to think that one goal losses mean that the team is close to winning more games. This assumption could be true but it doesn’t have to be.  The Oilers could fall behind 4-0, have a good third period and still lose 4-3. Or they could battle hard all game, keeping the score within a goal for 65 minutes only to lose in a shootout. Both are one goal loses but they’re completely different games and they tell you very different things about how the team is performing. Read more…

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Concussions and head shots, should we care?

January 20, 2011 2 comments

In 2005 I went to Florida on vacation for the first time. Having been out of university for less than a year this normally wouldn’t have been something I could have afforded but my girlfriend at the time (my wife now) was going there for a conference anyway and since her flight was covered that made the trip affordable. From that trip two things still standout in my mind: a sunburn and a magazine.

Because my girlfriend was attending a conference there was no point in me being there until the conference was over. My flight landed early in the morning, around 9am as I recall, but she wouldn’t be ready until the middle of the afternoon. Since I had a few hours to kill I went to a spring training baseball game. The game was at the spring home of the Expos Nationals and it was a great day for baseball. Certainly better than freezing my ass off in Edmonton. As it turns out though it was actually a little too nice that day and I got a brutal sunburn. Less than six hours in the state and I was burnt to a crisp. The rest of the trip the burn hurt whenever I was in the sun and as it turns out Florida is a sunny place.

Then there was the magazine I brought with me on the trip, a special edition from The Hockey News called Great Debates. It was a fantastic read. Wish I knew where it ended up to be honest. Some of the debates I remember included: the best dynasty (1980s Oilers), was Hull’s foot in the crease (hell yes it was), who is the best passer (Gretzky), contraction (yes as long as you don’t contract Edmonton),  the instigator rule (get rid of it), and of course mandatory visors (absolutely). Thanks to the Google I was able to track down a site that lists all the debates. I’m not sure I’ve ever looked more Canadian that I did on that vacation, sitting by the pool reading a hockey magazine while at the same time trying to avoid the sun to keep from burning more.

From that magazine an argument in the visor debate has always stuck with me. The gist of the argument was that it’s not whether or not visors should be mandatory but whether or not we should even care. To me that argument still gets right to the heart of the issue. If I was a player I’d do anything I could to extend my career and keep earning millions of dollars a year for as long as possible. But even though it seems like common sense to me should I really care if a player doesn’t want to wear visor? They are the ones assuming the risk after all, if they don’t care about about their safety why should I?

And you could say the exact same thing about head shots and concussions. Read more…

A new road jersey for the Oilers in 2011/12?

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

At some point between the end of last season and the start of this season the Oilers retro coloured jerseys became their home jerseys. When exactly this happened I don’t know; I first noticed it in December in the Oilers online store. Regardless of when it happened, I think it’s a good move for a couple of reasons. First I love the old colours, simple as that. Second I don’t really like the layout of our current white and navy jerseys. The stripes on the arms and the piping on the front just don’t look all that great to me. I don’t mind them but I wouldn’t miss them either if they were replaced; which has already happened for the home jerseys and, according to Icethetics, could happen to the road jerseys as well for the start of the 2011/12 seasonRead more…

What’s the point of MacIntyre?

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m sure Steve MacIntyre is a nice guy but, nice guy or not, I just don’t understand why he’s employed by the Oilers. I didn’t understand it when Tambellini signed him as a free agent in the off season and I don’t understand it now. Presumably his presence is intended to deter the opposition from taking liberties with our young and/or small forwards, but does that really happen? He’s only skated in 11 of the Oilers 41 games this season. Is he really that intimidating in the press box? When he is in the lineup he averages on 3:51 of ice time, which doesn’t seem like much time to accomplish much of anything. But even if MacIntyre was played more frequently would it really impact how other teams play against the Oilers?

I don’t know why it would because he doesn’t fight the average player, only other heavyweights (in MacIntyre’s defense he isn’t alone here, all heavyweights do this). So in the event that a player did take a run at an Oiler or threw a borderline hit they, in all likelihood, wouldn’t have to answer to MacIntyre for it. His fight card this season doesn’t dispute this. His four fights have been with Ivanas, Boogaard (twice), and Orr – not a group of guys known for their hockey skills. So why would any player change their game for fear of MacIntyre if they wouldn’t have to fight MacIntyre? Read more…

January 11, 2011 – Igor Ulanov Day

January 11, 2011 2 comments

If you’re a nerd you might know that today’s date – 11/01/11 – in the binary number system would equate to 55. If you didn’t realize that then congratulations you’re not a giant nerd, but since I did, I think that we should all take some time today to remember the greatest 55 in Oilers history. Of course I could me nobody other than Igor Ulanov.

Originally drafted by the Jets at the 1991 NHL draft, Ulanov would also play for Washington, Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Montreal before finally arriving in Edmonton part way through the 1999/2000 season. Ulanov would play the rest of that year and all of the following – which statistically would be his best with 3-20-23 while playing 23:01 a night – before leaving for the Rangers as a free agent. From there he’d move on to Florida before returning to the Oilers as a free agent during the 2003/04 season. Sadly the year following the lockout would be his last in the NHL.

All told Ulanov would play just 160 games for the Oiler, recording 11-42-53 and 157 PIM. But even though he wasn’t around these parts for long he should always be remembered for the type of player that he was. Looking at his stats you instantly see that Ulanov wasn’t a scorer. In fact he was anything but. The guy was a tough as hell stay at home defenseman. He battle along the boards and in the corners. He’d block shots like it was going out of style. There were nights were it honestly seemed as if his goal was to block shots with his face just to show everyone just how tough he was. Theo Peckham would be a good comparable for Ulanov; Peckahm is still far too pretty though to be truly comparable. Read more…

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