Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Willingness To Get Your Hands Dirty

Net Front Presents?

The image above is from the game the other night.  Look at those netfront presents!  It was one of the few times I recall during the game where the Oiler players actually drove to the net looking for garbage.  Great work down low by Hemmer to shovel it out front, Horcoff got a rebound and tried to hammer it home.  Players were shoved all over the place, people were flying into the crease and out of the crease...even Backstrom was shoved into his net from the sheer netfront presence in front of him.  In short...the Oilers mucked it up in front of the net and almost got a puck in the net for it.  It appears to be something that lacks on a consistent basis this year with my beloved squadron.

Penner seems to bee one of the few guys that actually stands in front of the net...mostly on the powerplay, mind you, and mostly because he is told to, but he's there!  I was watching specifically the other night for the Oilers to employ something different in their offensive zone tactics.  Most of the season they seem to think that carrying the puck in the zone and firing the puck around or thru the defender from the half boards, hoping for a rebound, is going to generate a lot of chances.  Well, it mostly hasn't.  Either the half board "skilled player"loses the puck and turns it over or the shot is never taken and the play ends up going the other way with nothing to show for it.  The few times a shot does get thru, nobody is driving to the net to mop up...there's not traffic in front.  It's very frustrating.

Another thing....there's very little retained puck possession in the offensive zone for what ever reason.  Lack of willingness to compete along the boards?  Players that think they can stick handle their way out of anything?  A few cases of Individualitis which leads to lack of team play?A lack of desire to get their hands dirty?  I don't know what it is but the majority of Oiler shots seem to come from the perimeter.

So, that being said?  What do I want to see from the Oilers this evening vs. the Ducks?  Well...throw some fucking hits for one.  I wanna see more of JF Jaques hits that lead to Brodziak shots from high slot with Stortini's ugly mug right on top of the crease.  That's the kind of shit I wanna see tonight.  Play physical!  I don't wanna see (insert skilled forward name here) skate thru the neutral zone, fake slap shot, button hook outside, attempt cross ice pass just inside zone and have the pass intercepted and give up an odd man rush the other way.  I don't wanna see the shit.  I see enough of it watching the Oilers lately.

I also wanna see more images like the picture up there.  Bodies flying towards/in/out/on the net.  I wanna see some gritty playoff hockey where one of our players would put a puck in with his teeth if it meant the Win.  I wanna see the players look and play like they give a shit.  I want them to give me a reason to cheer.

That brings me to my other rant...Yesterday Dan Tencer's blog had an audio clip mixing audio memories of the '06 cup run with interjected pleas of mercy from Gilbert, Grebs, Gags, Struds and Horc.  They all wanted the fans to know that they need our support during the homestand.  They want us to cheer loudly and not boo them.  They want us to know that we give them motivation to play.   Well for fuck sakes.  I don't know why, but that rubbed me the wrong way.  Especially when Horcoff said "fans don't realize..."....  What the fuck do you mean Horcoff?  We realize you're not exactly mopping the floor with your oposition lately.  We realize you, Mr. Horcoff, are practically invisible during the game lately.  We realize you wiff on shots and passes.  We realize you are about to be the highest paid mook on the team next year.  We realize lots.  You need to realize that YOU need to play like you want it and the fans will get behind you.  Until then, expect us to be skeptical of your abilities and desire to win games with whatever it takes.  Give us a fucking reason to get behind you.  God dammit.

Ok... Now, I'm willing to put this rant behind me tonight and ravage a case of Bud Light while watching the game.  I'll cheer loudly and yell at my TV.  I'll even support Horcoff and his bid to get motivated.  I am a fan...always will be...always have been.  I just don't like you questioning my ability to support the team, Mr. Horcoff.  Now...go out there tonight and please play like you give a fuck.  Give me a reason to be happy again.


The Towel Boy


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