Road Woes and Tough Guys

I have to confess, I've kind of been obsessing about this team lately, and its probably due to a lack of social life. I'm on two subjects with this post, sort of.

Anyways, I made sure to watch tonights game because I think it was the first true test for a lot of players. No longer can MacT get his line matchups so some of the players he was protecting were exposed tonight, and it showed. The second Detroit goal by Chelios was horrible defensive coverage specifically by Gagner, and that whole shift had Detroit dominating the Oil in their own zone. When that goal was scored Gagner, Pouliot, Grebeshkov, and Gilbert were out on the ice. Basically four rookies against a veteran Detroit team. That just can't happen. We have a lack of solid defensive forwards, even our shut down line has Sanderson who has never been known for his stellar two-way play. When Moreau returns it will bring more veteran players to the forward depth chart but this team is young.

Clearly we will have ups and downs being so young, and tonight had both. On the up was how good we were on the rush, with our team speed creating a lot of our chances. MacTavish clearly built a team that is going to out skate anybody and against slower teams its going to pay dividends, just not tonight.

But as I look at our youthful, skilled, and fast team I wonder about the ability to play physical. Tonight Detroit played a relatively physical game and was hard on the forecheck. This gave the young guys a tough time, especially the Grebeshkov - Gilbert pairing. This got me thinking, if anyone is going to hit somebody who will it be? Torres? Maybe Greene? Then who? When we let Laraque walk the organization talked about team toughness over having a fighter and that we would have a lot of players fight a little, instead of one or two players fight a lot. It has its benefits in that you replace that roster spot with someone who can bring other elements to the game such as defence or maybe throw in 10 - 12 goals. But like Laraque has stated, that can have a negative affect because there is no one "marshalling" the ice.

So we look at this team today. No heavyweight (or middleweight for that matter) and a serious lack of team toughness. We've gone run n' gun and hope for the best. But this is the new CBA and smaller skilled forwards can have more affect along with a crack down on bigger players clutching and grabbing so maybe we're alright. I thought I'd look up how fighting was doing in hockey. Heres what I found:

So it looks like early in the season that fighting is back up to pre-lockout rates. I'm not sure if its a custom for fighting to be up early in the season due to players trying to establish themselves, but this is what i've got to go with and this is where i'm going with it. This years version of the Oilers have a lot of skill players, and those players are going to need protection. Do you want Souray's shot in the box for 5min? or Moreau throwing out a shoulder? Staios? Then who? the only 2 veteran defenceman we have need to be out on the ice, not in the penalty box. Your first response is probably to call up Stortini. But where does he play? With the kids? maybe at home where we can get a match up but definitely not on the road. And lets be honest, he's not known to be a great fighter so what kind of a deterrent does he provide. This team needs to seriously upgrade its ability to play in a physical game because when that game comes we are going to get run over. And if we make it to the second season, its going to be like that every game. Just ask the pre-lockout sens.

Someone call Power 92 and see if they have Laraque's phone number.

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


Jon G said...

However, look at the Red Wings and tell me the last time they had an enforcer. How have they done?

Josh said...

Lets talk about the teams that have bounced them out of the playoffs fairly early year after year (excluding last). They have been abused physically by teams like the Oilers and Flames.

Detroit teams that made it any where had guys like McCarty, Draper (to an extent), Chelios, Maltby, Shanahan, and way more of an overall team toughness. You can throw in rookies like Darryl Bootland a couple years back and they more than likely always had someone on the ice to fight.

A lack of toughness can get you so far, the Senators did it for a few years. But lets not kid ourselves, we are no Senators.

Tyler said...

And now that Souray is gone for at least a month b/c of a stupid mean nothing fight we can look to this post as it has the words, "Foreshadowing", written all over it.