EDMONTON OILERS 5
DALLAS STARS 2
Before I get to the player reports; which is I think what everyone’s interested in today let me just say that I’m not sure we played as well as commentary seems to indicate we did. I like how we executed; which is indeed the most important thing, but tonight was a really close game when it shouldn’t have been.
Aside from two plays by Mike Modano; Dallas was pretty weak in this game. They just didn’t have anything special.
Our first goal was lucky; our second wonderfully timed and probably made the difference between a win and a loss; our third was a solid goal; fourth was Hemsky thankfully putting one away; then a great play from Cogliano, Schremp and Gagner to score one was pretty awesome. Great to see but I just don’t know…only allowing 25 shots was really nice however.
We can be better; a fair bit better. Especially after a couple players come back. I sincerely hope that; if he keeps these kinds of games up, that Mr. Schremp will be a part of that team.
- Who else was going to be first? Seriously? I watched him pretty closely in the warmup and he looked more comfortable than in the preseason that’s for sure. He was cruising around, taking solid but effortless shots that were going in and also playing with the puck really confidently. Little things like that can show you where a player’s head is at and I really thought he had himself in the right frame of mind from what I saw.
Out of the gate I thought his first two shifts were pretty stellar. Landing a hit and making a pass that could have gotten him an assist early was really key. Only once or twice did he over-play passes to keep them safe which for me was a sign his confidence has come back at least to some degree.
If Gagner and Cogliano were rolling right now I’m pretty sure we’re sitting here talking about Robbie’s 2-4 point night for sure. He made pass after pass into high scoring chance areas and gave his mates opportunities. He also took well-timed shots from odd angles when he didn’t have a pass.
A huge difference from earlier times we’ve seen him play was that the puck NEVER died on Rob’s stick tonight. When he didn’t have a play he made educated dumps and chased the puck. He really got into corners and impressed the hell out of me with how many pucks he won and all the trouble he created. He was a genuinely good corner forward tonight which is something I haven’t seen from him before.
When it comes to skating, he’s made a key change and narrowed up his stance in the neutral zone.
He’s also become better at maintaining movement in the offensive zone when its okay to have his feet wide. This skating style served him well in being the first guy back and making a bunch of really solid defensive plays. He got pucks out that were in danger zones with a high degree of effectiveness. I was surprised they gave him so much defensive responsibility but he seemed to take it on and handle it quite well especially considering his linemates.
Rob still has to work on a couple things of course. Consistency will be one of them. The other is keeping his feet moving in the defensive zone when he’s up high. This is harder to do than when you’re down low but is just as important so the d-man can’t get around you. Thankfully its something that can be learned fairly easily. I also liked that he wasn’t afraid to delay a bunch; nervousness often manifests itself in too much skating which gets you out of position and wastes effort.
After several solid plays that could have got him his first NHL point; a pass to Marc Pouliot ended in Rob getting #1. It was a very solid read and good move to keep the puck away from the d then pass JUST out of the reach of their sticks and get it to Pouliot who inched it across the line. Everyone was so happy for him. They want Robbie to give them a reason to love him and he at least got that started tonight.
After that he had a bumpy shift or two; but the only ones of his night. Some penalties disrupted the flow; but almost got him his first NHL goal when he picked off a Turco pass and slammed it just wide from center. Imagine being able to say you beat Marty Turco with a slapper from center ice for your first NHL goal; that’d be awesome.
Absolutely loved the move he tried to bust on the Dallas d-man he caught flat-footed in the third. If that guy hadn’t recovered so well Rob woulda made the reels everywhere tonight. It was great to see his confidence build and he started entering the zone with his head up, puck moving, looking to make a play. In the past he’d get caught dragging in a bad skating position; not tonight. Another confident thing he did was jump in after Cogliano got booted and take the draw without even hesitating even though Sam was on the ice. Loved that win.
Rob also got a ripping slapper off that almost beat Turco from the wing; could’ve been such a classic goal. I can’t imagine there was less than 75% of the building hoping that Sam would pass him the puck on their 2-on-1, but #89 used solid positioning by #88 as a perfect decoy to feed Cogliano who made no mistake. Loved that play for how fundamentally good of a hockey play it was.
And with that closed what I consider Rob’s first real NHL game. For a guy who’s gotten so much crap; 14 minutes and a game described by a coach who doesn’t enjoy his style as “outstanding” are not much more than you can ask for. I hope he’s still playing with the team when they arrive back in town as it would stink for LMHF#2 if he didn’t get to see one of his favorite players soon.
To be able to watch him play like that was a great joy for someone who’s supported the guy and willed him along for a long time. I can only imagine how our friend Bry feels knowing that Rob played a GREAT GAME. He would’ve been my third star tonight.
- Poor Sam, he had a rough night I thought. The puck did die on his stick numerous times and his passes just weren’t connecting out there. He is really having a rough go confidence wise out there right now and I didn’t notice the extent until tonight. It’s odd that he may have weighed down Rob and Andrew’s game out there tonight as that’s not normal at all. I hope he can play his way out; I think he can. GREAT read on the fifth goal however as he sold the pass to Rob like a high-pressure car salesman on a millionaire’s wife. Good to get a break and you could see his relief.
- I thought Andy played a pretty good game. The part he played on a key goal that Vishnovsky scored near the end of the period was a big deal in this game. That pass was a beautiful read. Great finish on the pass from Gagner as well making no mistake. He was carrying his speed better than I’ve seen in a while and read off of Schremp’s plays really well. With a little more time I think they’ll play quite well together which is apparently what people have said from TC. Still wish he played more PK; possibly with Cole. Only bad thing tonight was being nowhere on the second Modano goal when he got back.
- I’m his fan, but I didn’t love his game tonight. I’m still impressed that he managed a couple points and forced the offence the way he always does tonight and I guess that’s the difference. Despite more than the normal amount of his passes ending in opposition hands; he was still one of our best players and got the job done out there. Hooray for players that execute with the goalie out as well!
- I think he played a fair bit better; and he too certainly produced. I was in no real way wowed by his play but he was certainly solid. The goal was lucky; let’s be honest but hey its gotta happen occasionally doesn’t it? He was good in his own zone but I didn’t think he had the offensive pop. He managed to get the puck into the offensive zone a couple times and did indeed discover the wide side again; but he still kept going to the middle too often. Maybe he’s going to point his way out of this funk he’s been in this year and this is the start of that; lets hope so.
- I’m conflicted on his performance; I really didn’t think he played well at all. He got beat in the corners way too often and didn’t drive hard at all. Yet; he had two assists and made some good things happen in front of the net. I think MacTavish picked up on the slacking and knocked him down a PP unit which got him going a little. I again have trouble picking up on Penner’s game so I’m not going to claim a perfect analysis here; help anyone? What should I look for?
- Disappointing again. The puck died with him again. Its all that he doesn’t know how to use his teammates. He had chances to feed Moreau and Brodziak all night and just wouldn’t do it. He skates into traffic and looks tough but loses the puck. Its just not working. Hopefully as people come back the shakeout leads to Schremp-Cogliano-Cole and they get going; but for now I just don’t know what its going to take. I suppose he was decent defensively and I like his work on the PK; maybe he’s a playoff-style Mike Peca type? I dunno anymore. He’s no offensive dynamo…or he’s gonna rip off 30 in 35 games. One or the other.
- He was solid. Made one of his trademark plays from the behind the net and worked the corners like crazy. He didn’t get the result tonight but we didn’t need it from him. He tired out the Stars and did a solid job in both ends of the ice. Great to see he’s come so far.
- Loved seeing him in a comfort zone playing with vets out there and really liked his play. I enjoy him in this role very much. When all is back to normal; he should play with either Moreau and Pisani or Nilsson and Pisani and I think you’ll see consistent solid performances with offensive dividends and solid D.
- Still enjoying his game. He works hard and that skill he had in JR is still evident when he has the puck. I mistook him for Schremp a couple times. He’s a quality low-minute guy who could eventually replace Pisani for less coin.
- Any game where you run your own face into the boards while falling while trying to hit someone just can’t be any good.
- Great to see him get one. I didn’t think he was particularly effective but he certainly wasn’t bad either. That puck JUST inched across the line but he really needed the break. Keep him off the PK though; he’s just not effective.
- What an important goal he scored tonight boy. I don’t think we win without that key beauty of a shot after we blew 2 PPs and were fortunate enough to garner a third (though we did work for those). I honestly thought he’d pass to Gagner; who was certainly open enough to score; but it was great to see a quality shot from an all-star go in at an important time. Aside from that I thought he skated the puck really well; made solid decisions and cut down on the mistakes. Good game.
- HORRID D on the second Modano goal but other than that he was good. Got away a couple absolute BOMBS that Turco got lucky on; though took too long on a great chance in the slot. In the D zone he was solid with the puck and played a physical game which is exactly what we needed.
- He’s still improving. Much more patient with the puck and not afraid to skate it. He too screwed up on the second Modano goal; being effectively useless and screening his goalie by playing too low and not being away. Other than that he was good and I loved the way he’s getting into the offensive zone attack. Good move by MacTavish re-uniting him with Souray.
- One big mistake at the offensive blue line that could have really cost us but didn’t. Other than that he was incredibly solid. Negotiate a deal with this guy NOW and our D is looking effing solid next year.
- Didn’t notice him much; ran around behind the net a tad and didn’t jump into the rush (other than for a PERFECT pass from Robbie that was negated by a ref’s whistle on Gagner being down) but he was alright.
- Boy he was pissed and rightly so after getting run into the boards from behind. He did his job tonight and I certainly can’t complain. Got a good shot on net too.
- He didn’t have too much action tonight; but that big save off of the screwup in the first was key. He didn’t make a good play on Modano’s second either but it would’ve taken a miracle to stop the shot once it was set up. Matty looked solid and should STAY IN THE NETS. The team plays more confidently in front of him.
Really enjoyed tonight’s game; had a good feeling going in (though I thought 6-2) and we delivered. Loved the win. Loved Schremp’s play.
Drinking a Cherry Whiskey and Root Beer in celebration (SOLID combo).