What a terrible hockey game. Not all 0-0 games are necessarily bad. Some feature amazing goalies and great defensive play. This was not that. At all. Ever.
For the first 50 minutes especially, neither team did much of note at all. I guess Carolina may have been playing their system well? I honestly don't know but up to that point the highlight of my evening was likely the Bandera Bread I had at BP.
The Oilers picked up the attack a little bit after that, but couldn't manage to break through. They kept trying to break out along the boards and were shut down many, many times. The D group's inability to skate the puck or make stretch passes was completely on display this evening.
I'm also wondering if the players had a little bit of a team event shall we say after Saturday's game. The trap is the trap but they looked like they were skating in mud.
The powerplay is still terrible - just a new kind of terrible. They keep trying to funnel the puck to Brad Hunt and it isn't working well at all. He can't find lanes and deliver a bomb at the NHL level. Davidson is a superior shooter and should be given a chance if this is the play they want to make.
The winning goal was pretty goofy - which is usually the case on a night like this. Aside from a couple Eberle backhanders, the Oilers didn't generate much but seemed like they would win. Sekera does a good job in OT of getting a shot on and going to the net. I've already seen it a few times this year. His rebound got Ward thinking he could clear the puck, but he hesitated and that was enough.
It's a relief to watch this team win some of these games when they've been losing them so long. It is alarming how many of the games have gone to OT, but it is an improvement on the way they were making losses out of wins early in the year.
We await the return of McJeebus, and hope that will being enough in the way of goals and winning to inspire the acquisition of a defenceman.
Player reports will be up when I get home. I'm taking a rare LRT ride and posting on my BlackBerry Priv tonight. Wanted to get this bit up earlier than usual. More to come!
- Obviously a solid game for him. It is great to see him rebounding. I recall a couple shaky moments where the puck got away from him for no good reason, and some glove hand struggles but that's all really. Made the key saves in the 2ND and 3Rd when the team broke down a bit. One thing I have noticed - his issue with sharp angle shots appears to be technical and not mental. When he's covering his post, he is both crouched and wholly inside the net rather than overlapping the post. This is surely better for moving side to side, but means there will always be an angle to score from. No good. I'm now watching other goalies to see if this might be a new technique being taught. If so, it needs to stop.
- I think many of you know I don't care much for Hunt as a hockey player. Frankly he's Bergeron with a worse shot, no hitting and no wheels. He's not helping the powerplay and is in fact taking shooting chances from more skilled players. He had one shift tonight with a muffin shot (effectively a turnover), a whiff, got beat wide twice and took a penalty. That's the Andrew Ference special! He was okay 5-on-5 in that he survived, but he's not better than Fayne (or Reinhart for that matter). Shouldn't be playing. That's not his fault though.
- Aside from the occasional attempt at being some sort of superstar pinching defenceman (and failing), as well as his usual struggles moving the puck, he was okay. No major mistakes that hurt and that's all you're really hoping for from him.
- He's been struggling and wasn't great tonight either. That's not to say he's in Hunt's class. He helps the team but is playing too many minutes and with an iffy partner. I'd like to see him skate the puck more than he did tonight. Against the trap, skating through is your best attack and he's one that can do that. Not a lot of jump on a night they could have used some. Oh well. He's a rookie being asked to do a vet's job.
- I saw nothing from him tonight that suggests any kind of a corner is being turned. He continues to make weak passes from his back foot, and lazy "saucer" passes that don't land flatly and we're unnecessary to begin with. I'll say again that I don't know what Eakins did to this guy but it will likely prove fatal for his game. I've never seen a guy who was a competent defender at one point so unsure of himself when trying to defend the cycle. The "swarm" got to him. He remains ineffective on the opposing blue line as well, rendering him useless.
- Solid defensive game. No sparks but did well enough to matter. He's looked a tad off the pace since returning from injury which is typical. Want to see him let his shot go.
- Despite a couple of mistakes, he led his group and ultimately scored the winner. Really like his game in OT. Like others he's being asked to bear too much burden but what can you do? Seriously, Chiarelli, help these guys out!
- I sure hope Klinkhammer isn't playing once Iiro is back from injury. I suspect they'll send Khaira down instead unfortunately. I'm not sure what anyone sees in Klinkhammer's game. He doesn't really do much of anything. He's just there. He's better than Gazdic, sure, but aside from being an okay skater in terms of being fast (but not quick) he just doesn't bring much and did that tonight. Lander is lost out there. Tonight he was behind the play, took a couple wild stabs at the net and that was about it. I must confess I don't get it. This is a talented hockey player who's shown some smarts. He can't seem to find a place. Khaira was probably the best on the line but that's not saying much. He made a couple nice plays but also had a couple near-costly bobbles in his own zone and didn't bring enough of the physical element of his game this evening.
- A lot more not much. They didn't get beat defensively, I will give them that. Letestu probably had a good night in the circle as he tends to (must confess I haven't looked to see if he did), but didn't really get to the net or help the powerplay much. Hendricks appears to be in the process of losing a step or two this season. Tonight you could see he wasn't getting to hits or pucks he may have last year. The effort is still there, but it isn't getting him anything lately. The occasional scoring chances and SH breaks just aren't coming because he can't seem to beat anyone. Korpikoski was invisible for most of the game, then looked like he was going to fluke the winner in for two shifts and that was pretty much it.
- These guys were a bit confusing for me tonight. On one hand, most of the solid chances (limited though they were) seemed to come from this group. Eberle had at least 3 backhand chances and just missed a couple clear break-ins, Pouliot could have had a couple and Hopkins generated some with passing, but they also had a ton of moments where they did bizarre things like not chasing pucks, turning away or just bobbling the puck to Carolina like it was the game plan. It was very confusing. I figured they would score in overtime and they did I suppose only I thought it would be Eberle. What's missing from this group? In this game, and in many this year, Hopkins for some reason won't or can't drive the center of the ice and is not making cross-seam passes. He's doing fine behind the net and down low, but is not attacking with aggressiveness. This throws his line off as this is clearly his role - push the D back and then hit Pouliot and Eberle who are excellent opportunists and shooters but not exactly transporters. I don't know if he's being asked to play a different game or what, but something's missing by my eye. Got to let him run a bit. Suspect he will get a decent bounce once McDavid returns. Pouliot disappeared for much of the night, which happens. Thankfully he avoided some of the characteristic penalties we're used to seeing. He actually looked aware and took his stick away from the opposition player a couple times. I suspect this will last precisely one game, but oh well. As noted above, Eberle was decent enough and I could have sworn he was going to get a couple but no dice.
- These guys struggled some despite having the home matchup that usually works so well for them. Leon was the best of the group, using his strength on his skates to make some plays down low. He got a couple chances off of drives to the net by Ward shut him down. Hall was really quiet for me. Normally in a game like this you would see him kick it into high gear at least attempting to win it himself and that really didn't show up. He actually looked quite tired at the end of the game. Maybe the games and icetime are catching up with him a bit. Purcell had a shooter's chance at the end but put it into Ward's midsection. He is very much the opportunist on the line and because his linemates weren't really generating a ton of good passing lanes, he didn't see much.