Hearing that mc79 fave Linus Omark is likely to sit out the next game for reasons related to effort, I thought I’d take a quick look at his shifts from the Pittsburgh game and see if I could pick up anything as far as effort problems. I thought he was pretty decent through the first period and, indeed, he was getting a fair amount of ice time. By the middle of the second period, he’d played 9:38 and looked to be on pace for a decent night of ice time. He only played 2:14 after that though, despite the Oilers chasing a goal for much of that time and Omark being a good offensive player. I went back and took a look at his last couple shifts to see before the ice time was turned off to see what I could see. As it turns out, there were some problems.
The other two forwards have gone to the bench for a change. Omark, to Dubnyk’s left, has just passed the puck to Andy Sutton. That is, I think, Tom Gilbert at the top of the triangle. The Pens don’t have a ton of pressure on Sutton.
Gilbert heads for a change and Omark blasts up the ice in a straight line, leaving Sutton – who isn’t much of a puckhandler – facing a Penguins forechecker without any options as far as passes. Sutton decides to play it off the far boards and out, an easy turnover for the two Penguins lurking just outside the blue line…
…and this results.
In what was a running theme in his shifts this period, Omark had good position to prevent anyone getting to the net here…
…and loses that position.
Another example – Omark is right above the FACEOFF logo here:
He loses position to the Penguins’ player:
Here, Barker’s made a bit of a bizarre pinch and lost out. The puck has come back to Petry at the top left.
If Petry passes the puck a little quicker, he doesn’t have a problem. Omark isn’t moving his feet though, and makes the pass harder than it has to be. If he skates another five or ten feet back (and he had lots of time), Petry has a much easier angle on the pass. Petry’s pass is blocked:
So it’s a one on one. You can’t tell but the Pens player behind Omark wasn’t moving at a markedly different speed than Omark. It should be easy for Omark to take him and prevent an odd man chance for the Pens.
Again though, Omark ends up behind the guy – third time in nine minutes that he’s had position on a Penguin entering the Oilers’ zone and then given it up.
While we don’t have anything beyond a reference that Renney wasn’t happy with Omark’s game, it seems likely, given the time at which his time was cut, that these plays had something to do with it.
It’s not all bad, I don’t think – Omark was pretty diligent in getting back when he was the high man in the offensive zone, he just seemed sort of clueless once he did it. There’s nothing here that isn’t fixable and it’s hard to criticize Renney for going after what does seem to have been a problem in some fashion. With that said, Omark’s still a better player than a lot of guys who will be dressing in Minnesota. One hopes that the standard Renney seems to be applying to him will be applied to others as well.
Sort of related, I think I’ve figured out why I like Omark so much. I think he’s a good player and it does seem to me that there’s a bit of a double standard applied to guys like him but, more than that, there’s some joy in his game, a different sort of joy than you find in the games of most Canadians. He plays the game with a certain insolence that is just fun to watch. Hopefully he’s able to adapt to what the coaches want and they don’t try to beat the fun out of his soul – he’s the sort of guy who’d be fun to watch for a few years.