a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

Welcome to Oil Acumen. All Oilers, all the time... Occasionally other stuff.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

05/19/11 11.2 More Odds & Ends

Here's a look at what's been going on, and some stories of interest in the NHL:

- The Tampa Bay Lightning are down 2 games to 1 in their Eastern Conference Final series against Boston. Dwayne Roloson hasn't lost his flare for the dramatic. He's been flopping all over the ice to make saves. Like most players, Roloson sometimes seems a bit robotic when he's being interviewed, but he truly is a character and he shows it on the ice. According to Craig MacTavish on the TSN panel, no one works the officials as hard as Roloson between whistles. And from batting the puck out of the zone with his goal stick, to the alarming frequency with which he loses his mask (possibly to force stoppages in play), Roloson has shown through his performances that his mind works on a different level than what he shows the public.

It's not that a mask can't fall off for real sometimes, but Roloson's seems to fall off more than most. The puck hits him in the mask and he shakes it off. Oiler fans have seen that from Roloson before.

- Ever wonder about that scar on Lightning coach Guy Boucher's face?

If you have, it turns out that's exactly what he wanted. Nobody knows how he got it but him, and he likes it that way. According to Wikipedia:

When asked how he received it, Boucher said "it's not hockey-related. I didn't tell anybody back home, so it's like this little enigma. My kids don't even know."

- Vancouver dominated San Jose in Game 2, and the Sharks are starting to look like they will be swept in the Conference Final for the second straight year. The Sharks look tired out there, which is probably a symptom of allowing Detroit back into their series and extending it seven hard-fought games. San Jose eliminated Detroit in 5 last year before being swept by Chicago. How do you think going seven games with the Red Wings and six with LA will affect them? We're seeing the answer. It will take an unbelievable turn around for them to win the series, but the Sharks are owed one from '06, when they blew a 2-0 series advatage to the Oilers.

- Kevin Bieksa made an interesting play in game 2, covering the net cam with his skate right after Patrick Marleau jammed the puck by Roberto Luongo. At that time it was the tying goal. Ultimately Bieksa's skate didn't matter because the goal was counted and the net cam view was not the deciding factor, but it's still an interesting move. First of all, it suggests that Bieksa saw the puck cross the line, and - surprise, surprise - he wanted to cover up the fact! Apparently the NHL was slightly amused by the play, probably because it was futile. Because of that he wasn't fined, but he was issued a warning.

That could have been a series changing moment that was blocked out by a skate. Just ask Calgary Flames fans how video replay can affect the Stanley Cup Playoffs (though Gelinas did not score on that play in 2004). To be Frank, Bieksa's play was a smart one. Winning a Stanley Cup is everything and if his skate had made the difference between a Vancouver win and loss, why not? It perverts the game and should not be tolerated, but what's worse:

A reprimand and maybe even a fine from the NHL, or a Stanley Cup and all the perks and pay increases that will come with that? For a potential unrestricted free agent, a Cup ring would look really good on his resume. See the video here:

- Tyler Seguin was held off the scoresheet tonight in Boston. Does this mean that Seguin really isn't going to be better than Taylor Hall? It's no surprise that Seguin is a good player and a clutch performer, but two games are not a large enough cross-section to judge the player, and certainly not enough to say that the Oilers made the wrong selection. By that logic, the Oilers should have traded Hall for Fabian Brunnstom, who scored a hat-trick in his first NHL game, but who has 40 points in 99 NHL games. It's not that Seguin won't be a good player, but to suggest that he'll be better than Hall is premature.

The Lightning weren't expecting Seguin to be in the lineup at all, and they certainly had no reason to expect to have to key on him. Combine that with a highly motivated young player and you have 6 points in 2 games. What will really tell the tale is how Seguin performs now that teams know to take him seriously.

- The Memorial Cup Tournament begins Friday. Mississauga, St. John, Owen Sound and Kootenay will be the the teams that duke it out for the trophy. Jonathan Huberdeau is the only real top prospect to make the Memorial Cup this year, scoring 16-14-30 in 19 playoff games with St. John. Teammate Zack Phillips has amassed 9-15-24 in the 17 contests he's gotten into, and could be pushing himself up the draft rankings. The Sea Dogs have to be seen as a serious contender to win it all, and it will be interesting to see how that affects the rankings of the six players on that team who were invited to the NHL combine. These players include a defenseman and five forwards: Nathan Beaulieu, Huberdeau, Phillips, Tomas Jurco, Scott Oke and Ryan Tesink.

- According to Stephen Brunt, the Atlanta Thrashers have been sold to True North in Winnipeg, and Nick Kypreos confirmed it. Then again, Sportsnet has jumped the gun before on these matters. Kypreos and Doug MacLean reported that Phoenix would be moving to Winnipeg as soon as they were eliminated from the playoffs, which obviously didn't happen. The league denied the report at the time, and of course Phoenix ended up finding a way to stay put for another year. The NHL is denying the sale of the Thrashers at this time as well.

Brunt claims that the NHL planned to announce the acquisition of the Thrashers by True North on Tuesday, so it's then that we'll see what the truth really is. It wouldn't be at all surprising if the Thrashers moved, and it would actually be a good thing for the league as a whole, but it's difficult to believe until Gary Bettman holds the press conference to confirm it. Until that time, who knows what can happen.

That's it for now. More to come soon...

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