Over the course of the summer during the off season, among the concerns for the Edmonton Oilers roster of skaters was the lack of size and grit. Many speculated that Steve Tambellini would look to make some trades to address this issue. In fact, the Oiles were speculated to be looking to move one of their puck moving defensemen for a big winger who could score goals and create time and space with energizing hits. With no cavalry in sight, Pat Quinn was left with attempting to inject some size and grit into the roster from within. The list of surprise roster additions in terms of either making the team or playing on an unexpected line included Jean-Francois Jacques and Ryan Stone.
During the two early season games vs. Calgary, despite the disappointing losses, the Oilers did look revitalized with grit and energy. JF Jacques was creating space for Hemsky and wearing down Calgary’s “best defensive pairings” in the league. Quinn’s gambit was to spread out our talent to artificially create roster depth while providing the Oilers with four balanced scoring lines. Ryan Stone provided the Oilers with some highlight-reel quality hits and looked to seriously piss off most of the players on the Calgary Flames. For his hard-work and efforts, Ryan Stone was rewarded with a shiner under one of his eyes and was reportedly suffering from aches and pains.
Though many among the Oilogosphere know Zack Stortini affectionately as “Zorg,” during the game vs. Dallas, one of the announcers commented that he looks like Animal from the Muppets when he takes off his helmet. Since then, it seems like Animal is fast becoming the moniker of choice for Stortini. Unlike Stone and Jacques, Animal’s role on the Oilers was established prior to the start of this season. He’s a perpetual lock on the 4RW position.
Continuing on with MacT’s bread analogies to essentially describe “grit,” Pat Quinn’s introduced the term ‘crust’ to the collective lexicon of Oilers fans. Alternately, Brian Burke, the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, prefers to use the term truculence. As it stands, the three players on our roster that primarily contribute to the Oilers’ crust are Stortini (Animal), JF Jacques (Crazy Train), and Ryan Stone. I’ve excluded Penner in spite of his size and recent physical play, because let’s face it, even if Penner’s not laying crushing checks, he brings a lot more to the table. I could have included thecaptainethanmoreau in this grouping as well, but chose to focus on the 3 primary hitters. Brule himself was not included party for simplicity and also due to his smaller size. However, he does play a physical game.
Here’s a look over the past six games at the number of body checks per game by the three primary contributors to our crust:
Granted, we’re only six games into this season, so to cite a decline in hits for Ryan Stone over a mere six games and to suggest that it’s a harbinger of things to come is a bit premature. However, it is a valid concern nevertheless. To avoid obfuscating this graph, I’ve elected to exclude the trendlines. However, I will comment that the trendlines are reasonably flat for both JF Jacques as well as Animal. In contrast, Ryan Stone’s trendline is a sharp and points downward. Without further context such as qualcomp/qualteam, or zonestart, both JFJ and Stone round out the bottom three of Oilers players in terms of +/- (Along with Shawn Horcoff). Given that no one is expecting Ryan Stone to contribute a wealth of offense, he will need to increase his physical presence on the ice to remain on this roster.
Around the Oilogosphere, Benjamin Massey is quickly becoming one of the more entertaining reads. Here’s some notable recent quotes from Benjamin.
Comparing Jacques to Dustin Penner is like comparing filet mignon to dog food that’s been left in the sun for eight hours. There is a certain ontological similarity, but if I fed you old Alpo because I was saving the steak for the kids table you’d put my face through the kitchen counter.
Speaking of garbage, Jean-Francois Jacques! Apparently Pat Quinn still wants him on the first line! Well, let me rephrase that. Pat Quinn wants Jean-Francois Jacques on the first line until he needs to score goals and win hockey games, then he rides Horpensky like a mechanical bull.
If thinking about thin crust pizza is making you hungry, you might want to see these healthy lunch ideas for work.