I wonder if the Oiler coaches and management are hearing this question from the back of the plane?
This question has a lot of meaning to me, mostly because I had to use it on my parents on the LONG drives from Regina to Calgary, well pretty much Regina to anywhere! This question has more than one meaning to the Edmonton Oilers.
First off, the road trip. Well kids it's almost over. Have the Oilers made the grade so far? Well no...and yes. The team has played well enough to win every game, yet keeps making glaring mistakes which cost them two points. What's the biggest mistake? It seems to be losing track of the puck around the net. When a scramble in the crease area starts you either take the puck... or the man. Right now the Oilers are taking neither.
I had some reasons to believe this trip would also bring an end to the three headed goalie monster. As we know it might have made it worse. For the reason that you think? Probably not. The Oilers coaching staff gave the #1 job to Mathieu Garon. While he has started slow they didn't stick with him. In fact they did the worse possible thing in bringing in Roloson. Sure he did get the two wins, but you can't have your number one guy riding the bench most nights. What they should have done is given him the ball in two straight games to allow for him to get his groove back. I am praying they do in New Jersey and against the Rangers.
The second part of the "Are we there yet?" question deals with this team being a work in progress. There are too many players playing out of position. There are three wingers on the third line, Two Centers on the second line and now two injured D-men.
The funny thing is how a line with no natural center is the Oilers best line right now. Pisani, Cole and Moreau are playing a fast and heavy forechecking game. The only thing that bothers me about the trio is that sometimes the can be too aggressive.
As for the "Kid Line". They are good in only one end of the ice. All the opposition coach has to do is stick out a good cycling line against the Oilers' trio and then the trouble begins. Mostly because of size and strength. Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson are not strong enough to push people around so defensive zone scrambles aren't their forte. The other part to that is they are usually paired with Gilbert and Grebeshkov (now Injured). Which sometimes adds to the down low issues.
The fact that the Oilers have lost Smid and Grebeshkov also adds to the problem. Gilbert looks like a fish out of water because his normal partner isn't there leading to chemistry issues on the back end. What that leads to is Souray and Visnovsky playing too many minutes and with Peckham being a rookie the Oilers are pretty much playing with five D-men now.
What would I like to see? Maybe it is time to shake the line up a bit. Here is what I think it should look like.
This would eliminate most of the positional play issues yet having speed and skill on the top three lines. Personally I would like to see what Erik Cole can do given top line minutes on the RW.
By the way... I will leave the Oilers special teams play for another blog!!!