Ok, normally I am a very positive, see the glass half full kind of person. However as each game passes and I see different things taking place, I have come to the conclusion, I should probably balance that out, not only with rave reviews but also some rants. Why? Because I am probably not alone on some of these things I want to rant on about or rave about. So I thought to myself , 'Self, why not write a blog on your Rant and your Rave?' So that is how this blog of mine has transpired. Granted I will have some of your disagreeing with me on either, but I am fine with that. That's what makes sports so exciting. We don't have to agree to have a opinion.
Because I like to have a feel good ending to most my posts I blog on, I am going to start with my 'Rants' and then end with my 'Raves'
Granted the Oilers are winning games but in doing so, there are some trends that I am seeing that has me cautious about long term success. Being outshot and still winning games when you have little puck possession time is not a good thing to be excited about. Yes, to win a game here or there is a great example of teamwork, dedication and heart. What it is not though, is sustainable. No team in the history of the NHL has ever had a winning season by winning games like the Oilers have won a few this year. Win a couple here or there like this, great. Eventually it will come to catch you and nip you in the backside.
Let's say for those who are ok with how ice time and zone starts are managed right now, we break this down a little. The young stars are being protected is what I am hearing and what I am seeing. We don't want to lose important faceoff draws at crucial moments of the game. We don't want to line match with the young guys like Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle so as not to expose them to failure. We want to bring them along slowly. I get all those reasons and understand the reasoning behind it all. At points I even agree with it. Heck, I am even excited about winning and being in 1st place in the Western Conference after 10 games, even if it will only be for one night.
Following the win over Colorado, I realized something. I wasn't excited and happy I watched that whole game. In fact, I felt somewhat ripped off, of the time I invested into my evening. Why, I started asking myself. Yes, parts of the game were exciting, but all in all, I was not that impressed and in no way feel like the Oilers are as good as a team as some are starting to think they are. I will say this one thing though. Renney is showing he is a good coach in the decisions he is making to win games for the Edmonton Oilers. If the whole goal of this season is to win games and get into the playoffs, then I believe what we are seeing could very possibly get us there. BUT if this season is about continued development, then it is starting to look like they might be going off the rails.
Looking at the ice time of the young stars of this team you can see, they were protected by the veterans like Horcoff and Smyth. I am fine for the most part, but not every single time there is pressure should we be playing the veterans on the ice. How else do these young players grow and learn? Maybe by watching you say? Granted that can help, but there is nothing like actually maybe playing the kids under pressure? RNH loses important faceoffs? Have you seen Horcoff on those IMPORTANT faceoffs? In fact on the PP he seems to lose the draw more often then not and then is on the ice for the remainder of the PP time with the young stars. The play is usually dying with him, not the kids. Belanger brought in to help with those all important faceoffs in the defensive zone right? Well when I watch and see, he loses more crucial draws then he wins. Like I said, I am fine with using them sometimes out there, but let the kids learn by experience. If RNH loses draws, he will have to work harder to win more. All great stars are that way. If a player is making mistakes I am fine with sitting them some of the game and playing the more responsible veteran but that is not what is happening. Our veterans make mistakes, yet dont have to sit?
Right now it is very noticeable the team is learning the systems play well. What does have to happen however, is allow them to be equally as creative on their own in the offensive zone as well. Development means giving the kids opportunities to succeed and fail. When they fail, sometimes it may mean a game in the press box or some time on the bench. They will learn, but being babied is not how these great young players will learn.
Having said how frustrated I am with how much time the veterans are being put on the ice by Tom Renney, I want to state that I am pleasantly surprised how well our veterans players are doing. Props to Horcoff and Smyth as they truly are showing they are the veterans on this team. Smyth especially has impressed me not only with his relentless forechecking and backchecking but with ability to still put up some points.
Nice to see when Hall/RNH/Eberledefenceman were pushing up on the play. Also nice to see Smid continuing to show how valuable he is as a shot blocker on this team. The guy bleeds Oiler colours for sure. Would be a shame to see him leave should he ever be considered in a trade someday.
Goaltending has been superb! To be honest, I was not expecting Devan to have a game like the one we saw last night against the Avalance. He is showing such good promise and with Khabby pushing him even more this year, it has to be a boost to the rest of the team to feel confident in their goaltender should a mistake happen.
This guy has got to be one of the biggest steals the Oilers have found in the NHL draft in a long time. Not enough credit is given to the scouting on him. Remember he was drafted before his FAME with the world Jrs. Eberle is always mentioned in the untouchables yet few and far between find a gem this far in the draft. There are some, but don't forget the teams that passed him by, thinking he was too slow, maybe to small. I like what I am seeing from his game this year and how patient he is with the puck and without the puck.
That's all for today, but look to post a few more of these posts every once in awhile. Should be a good game tomorrow again. How do I know? They are playing at home, we get the benefit of line matching. Imagine, last year some of you thought Renney did not know the meaning of line matching. Cheers everybody!
For continued information on Oiler and Baron news and 2012/13 NHL draft watch, you can follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/revingev