Showing posts with label goalie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label goalie. Show all posts

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Where do the Oilers go from here?

The Edmonton Oilers season has gone down the toilet in a big way and we are looking at one of, if not the worst season record in the history of the organization. There is no way to spin this thing and nothing I can say here will change. This city (Edmonton) and Oilers fans worldwide have found places to cast blame and some seem like good possibilities but many of those places they are looking to cast blame I do not believe are the reason for the poor results on the ice.

Let's walk through some of the possibilities that are ailing the Edmonton Oilers and possible solutions that could be made to see improvement this year and the year's to follow.

Possible Problems:

1) President Kevin Lowe;
While I agree that Lowe should be made accountable for the mess that is the Oilers, he is not. There has been no repercussion for his bad decisions or lack thereof. On the other hand other then just making people feel good, do we really believe this team improves if he is fired or let go? Nope! It's about time we stop looking at Lowe as the problem. The past may be his fault, heck even where we are now. If we have to let MacT go cause he fails as a GM then that would be Lowe's fault for 2 bad GM hires and that should fall on him. Until then? Exactly, let's look for a different on ice reason for a lack of results with this skilled of a team

2) GM Craig MacTavish;
How can we blame MacT for this? Because he hired Eakins is the reason we have tanked? Maybe, but since very little growth occurred with the other coaches I highly doubt it would have added more then another 5 wins in the old win column. In fact MacT has not even been in his job a year and took over a disaster of a rebuild. Sure he has made some errors as fans like to point out, but if we are all honest, the current state of affairs of this team is not MacT. He doesn't have much time to stand pat that is for sure. He has to make at least 2 big moves still to even see the Oilers become a playoff team IMO.

3) Head Coach Dallas Eakins; 
MacT, Quinn, Renney, Kruger and now Eakins and we think this all falls on Eakins. I did not like what i thought sounded like arrogance when he first came in but in recent interviews he sounds a little more humbled and I for one, don't see changing head coaches as a way of improving. It's a decision that needs to be followed through for 2 full seasons.

4) Assistant Coaches Buchberger and Smith:
I like both as people and as players in their day but don't see how they add more then another assistant coach would who is real good at their job and come with a top end resume. Could it be they have been trained by bad mentoring? It's time to move on here and hire someone with a proven track record who has had success at their level of coaching.

5) Goaltending;
Has been and continues to be a problem for a long time. It's time the Oilers get a goalie who can steal a game every 10-12 games. Someone who can have a Save % of at least .915 and not let in soft goals at times when they break the back of the team's momentum. A clutch save at the right time is more important then just a save. btw…contrary to most people's thoughts with goalies, there is no goalie who we can get (or afford) that is on top of the world when we get him. You need to take a chance on a Goalie who may need to re-establish himself sometimes.

6) Defence;
As upset as some may be here, you can't bring in elite talent without paying through the ceiling with your young forwards who are considered untouchable to Oiler fans. The future is shaping up well and defencemen always take time to develop. My preference is still to get Ekblad in the draft and let him get 1 extra year in jr before bringing him up. In the meantime Klefbom has more time to develop (he will come around IMO) Marincin and Gernat in the minors and let's not forget Nurse.

7) Team is too small and not gritty enough;
While I agree we need to get bigger and or tougher, what does that mean? Ever watch Crosby? What about Nathan MacKinnon this year? Some of you Oiler fans really like Perron's game. I could walk through at least 15 other NHL players easily who are tough to play against yet they are not extremely tall or over 200 lbs. So what does bigger or tougher mean? Is it height or weight? I think what people mean is they can protect the puck, not get tossed around when they get hit and can win the battles in the corners coming out with the puck on most occasions.

Having said all that, none of us really know the answer and if we really believe we are smarter then the professionals we need to give our head a shake. But since this is only a blog and we like to discuss these kind of things let me take a stab at where I think the Oilers should go from here…

Stay the course and do not trade the pick;
My preference would be to draft in order if they are available when the Oilers step up to the podium, Ekblad, Reinhart or Sam Bennett. Should the Oilers draft out of the top 3 then Drasaitl would be next. It's likely we will be drafting top 3 in June. Drafting one of the other of Reinhart 1st or Bennett allows us to draft for a 2nd line center for the future as well. Don't be deceived, Reinhart will not be pushed around at 6'1 even though he is 185 lbs about. He would be a perfect fit IMO on that second line but i would send him back to jr for 1 more year before bringing him in full-time even though I believe he will be ready this next year.

Trade Yakupov;
I absolutely do not personally want to send him packing but something tells me his game will not fit what the Oilers are building. The trade with a top quality prospect and or pick for a top end defencemen or big center who can fill in the #2 line spot. I realize some may think his value is low but it's just a sophomore jinx some may say. Most the other players taken high in his draft year are not faring much better and it is rumoured that many GM's actually believe that Edmonton does not handle their development well with some of their players. His value is high out there on the market and this summer will be a good time to explore what the options are.

Try to resign Scrivens and get a solid UFA #1 Goalie or make a trade for one;
This will not be easy but let's hope the Oilers can somehow convince someone who hits the market July 1st that coming to Edmonton will be where they can excel. Until this can happen the Oilers will always muddle around in the middle of the pack at best.

Trade 2 defence prospects for a 3-4 d-man;
We are stock piling some d-men and eventually something will have to break. The Oilers can land a few different defencemen as a possibility but truth is a player in the ability of a Petry can be had it will mean the Oilers will have to give something good up (other then their 1st round draft pick or Nurse).

The players I do not even consider to move unless someone goes crazy and overpays are the following;
Taylor Hall / Ryan Nugent-Hopkins / David Perron / Darnell Nurse / Justin Schultz / Jeff Petry. Everyone else is available for the right deal if it means we improve the team. I love many of the other players as well but you will have to pay a high price if you want to bring in a franchise type player who can take this team over that bump in the road.

I know many of you will have varying opinions on this. Shoot away at your suggestions or thoughts. It's all subjective anyway but nothing wrong with voicing our thoughts or idea's or opinions. What's your thought's? You see things different or are you thinking along the same lines? What about Oilers management? What do you think they are actually going to do?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Plight of Pitton

Bryan Pitton (left) and Glenn Fisher
after the 16-round shoot-out on 1/30/10.
Photo taken by Becky Welsh and used with permission.

At this point of the preseason, goalie Bryan Pitton is still with one of Stockton Thunder's AHL affiliates, the Oklahoma City Barons. I don't like to make predictions about where certain players will end up in the hockey food chain, but I wouldn't be surprised either way if he were to remain up with the Barons or sent back down to play again with the Thunder.

I cringe when I see via my Twitter feed the negative reactions of Barons fans when learning Pitton will be starting in net, even in these preseason games and scrimmages. It's the same unfortunate reaction Thunder fans had in his rookie year (2008-09) when he had a 9-19-3 record backing up goalie Andrew Perugini who was 21-13-2 that year.

One thing I don't like to see when Pitton has been in net for the Thunder is him leaning against the top of the net with both elbows. I don't care if play happens to be at the other end of the ice, this pose makes him appear uninterested and apathetic (whether that's the case or not). A goalie needs to always be alert no matter how far away he thinks the play or puck is. Freaky things can happen to a goalie in a game. Pucks being cleared during the other team's penalty kill might end up in net, your own player may accidentally hit it in their own goal (cough-cough Dan Boyle), etc. How can Pitton be in his "ready" mode when he's leaning on the net like that?

Another thing about Pitton, which is regrettably not unique to him as a goalie, is that he leaves the net to play the puck at unfavorable times. Not every goalie can play a 3rd defenseman like the Blackhawks' goalie Marty Turco. Fortunately not all of Pitton's misplaying the puck results in the other team's scoring. But when I'm watching the Thunder and the all the people around me groan, hold their breath, or yell at Pitton to "get back in the net", I wonder if someone can work with him more closely about when the right and wrong time is to leave the crease.

I want to take a closer look at Bryan Pitton's goalie career with the Stockton Thunder, because not all of it is negative. In fact, he's had some incredible games and made Thunder history a few times.

  • Statistics for his rookie year with the Thunder in '08-'09 in 34 games played: 3.39 GAA, 9-19-3 win/loss record, .886 save percentage

  • Statistics for the Thunder in his '09-'10 year: 22 games played, 2.85 GAA, 9-9-3 win/loss record, .921 save percentage

  • He had a 2-6-0 record in 8 games played for the AHL's Springfield Falcons when he was recalled last season

  • Pitton was recalled to the Thunder's NHL affiliate, Edmonton Oilers, three times last season

  • The first shut-out of his career was on 1/30/10 versus the Victoria Salmon Kings in a goalie battle with Glenn Fisher. The game was tied at 0 through regulation and sudden death overtime. The Salmon Kings ended up winning in the shoot-out, but it ended up being a 16-round shoot-out (the longest in Stockton Thunder history)

  • Pitton was a two time recipient of the Reebok Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week recognition. He was awarded on 12/29/09 and 2/2/10

  • The most memorable game thus far in Stockton Thunder history took place 5/5/10. It was Game 3 of the National Conference Finals in the Kelly Cup Playoffs versus the Idaho Steelheads. Pitton was paired against Steelheads goalie Richard Bachman. The game ended up going 0-0 into triple overtime. 36 seconds into the third overtime, defenseman Ryan Constant finally ended the longest playoff game in Thunder history by getting the puck past Bachman. It was a tearjerker win for sure.

When Pitton's confidence level is up is when he plays the best. Each time he returned to Stockton after being recalled by the Oilers, there was a noticeable positive difference with the way he played. A good goalie needs to learn how to play through adversity too, though. Bryan Pitton is still a young guy who has some time to develop into a stronger, more consistent goalie. I'm sure Thunder fans will welcome him with open arms should he be sent back to Stockton. And if the Barons decide to keep him, I hope the fans there will be just as supportive. After all, player development is one of the main roles of being an NHL "farm" team.

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