EDMONTON OILERS 4
DALLAS STARS 1
I still have a problem acknowledging that the Stars are a bad team. Despite the fact that they looked completely inept against us last night I just can’t see them being so. I suppose that’s due to our intense hatred for them as a fan base or maybe that they’ve beaten us for so very long but it’d sure be nice to see that come to an end.
Last night’s game was a perfect example of my belief that shot totals tend to mean a whole lot of nothing. Dallas sure didn’t dominate us; not even close. They were not in that game really.
I can understand why they’re not doing so well as when you’re relying on Rib-er-oll and Mr. loser himself Steve Ott for offence you’re going to have problems. Why won’t anyone just paste that guy though? There was a very physical tone to the game yet no one got to Ott and that’s upsetting.
I did like the physicality as we seemed to back them off as a team quite early. The fights were particularly interesting; including the third time this year that Stortini has stood there wondering if he had to fight only to have someone else actually engaged in the process.
Oilers goal #1 - Visnovsky makes a likely underrated and otherwise forgotten play behind then net to keep the puck, move it up and then make a pass. He’s so good at this little skill that a lot of people miss in games but this play would be evidence that it can make a difference. Not only does it move the puck up but it sucks a forward out of position and can often lead to another forward thinking he can give the offensive zone another try and getting caught. Gagner controlled and distributed in the neutral zone which is of course his bread and butter. Cole used his skill to take a tough pass and whipped in with speed then unleashed one of the most confident shots I’ve seen him take all year. Bam; 1-0.
Oilers goal #2 - All Souray with a little help from Horcoff. First Sheldon won the battle in his own zone; then he did what he can do to make the biggest difference in a game offensively; got his feet moving and jumped into the rush. Things got kind of sideways and he ended up leading the rush; which isn’t the usual spot for him but Horcoff made a smart read and a solid pass to Souray knowing he could take it to the net. Sheldon held off a couple guys and put an incredibly business-like wrist-shot home. One thing I noticed last night was that the Oilers players were acting a little more subdued when they scored goals. I’m not sure why but it was certainly noticeable. Excellent goal for Souray taking advantage of both his strength and Dallas defensive ineptitude.
Oilers goal #3 - Big-time offensive Sheldon Souray again. We were on the PP and I did like the play (albeit a bit of a lucky one) that Horcoff made to get the puck to the point. Souray controlled it; skated it into his office knowing he had the time and room and wired the puck. By all rights that shot should’ve went in but I guess you can’t win em all. Credit to Penner for being in the right position at the side of the net and chipping the puck into the open cage. It’s amazing what that big shot can create for you if you’ve been able to practice reading and reacting to it as the Oilers no doubt have.
Dallas goal #1 - A pretty ugly defensive failure in my opinion. Part of this was MacTavish’s doing for inexplicably throwing out Stortini on the big line for a shift; he was not positioned correctly at all on this play. Far too low and covering no one which created confusion. If you notice the Oilers boxed in the Dallas player but absolutely no one took him. Penner was out to lunch; Souray was caught standing and Gilbert just wasn’t in position. Horcoff also didn’t get to the point man. Not our prettiest effort. Thankfully that was about it.
Oilers goal #4 - It is always nice to get a put away goal. We had a really good powerplay where we completely controlled the puck and just couldn’t get the right lane to fire it through. The shoot people were urinating all over themselves in disgust and panic; but it only takes one shot to get the job done. Cogliano was positioned perfectly; Nilsson found him and Andrew shoveled it home. Simple and effective. Props to Gagner’s play along the boards as well. They created the conditions for a goal before executing the shot rather than simply hoping one would happen. That’s how you handle outman situations.
We scored some solid goals tonight and were not fluking the puck into the net. I attribute this to good puck control and some solid offensive efforts from guys like Cole, Gagner and Souray.
- I’d say he was really good for the first two periods and then got a little iffy in the third. Not bad by any stretch but not as good. He made the saves when we needed and would have had a hard time stopping the one that did bounce in on him. Credit to his D for allowing few good scoring chances tonight but he was there when called upon.
- His play on the offensive blue line wasn’t as good as I’m used to. He seemed stuck in a bit of a rut where he couldn’t get set for a shot or set up the pass to anyone else and then would force a weaker-than-normal slapper through. He’s better than that. His passing, D coverage and play behind his net with the puck were all superb however. Just another game for Lubo. Enjoy this guy’s game; we’ll start to realize just how special he is soon enough I’m sure.
- As I said; he made some big offensive contributions out there tonight. That’s what he can do best to change a game. I’d say he was only average defensively as he wasn’t being as physical as a game like this called for and got caught standing still a few times. That’s okay however because it is not as if he was standing around making a ton of mistakes. If he hasn’t jumped into a rush in the first 10 minutes our coaching staff should be screaming at him. When he jumps effectively; we win. Simple as that this year. 12 goals is amazing stuff so far. Hope he keeps it up.
- Nice to see Denis get back in the saddle with a performance that was probably not noticed too much. He was really good in his own zone and especially in the corners keeping the puck away from the Stars and getting it moving. Watching this guy play a good defensive game based on skill rather than traditional hitting or positioning is something very intriguing to watch I must say. He was solid as always at the opposition blue line. Watch him handle the pressure at the top corner of an offensive zone next time you get a chance; often that is where he’s best. He played a role I believe on the PP right before Cogliano scored in exhibiting some excellent puck control. I love that he’s not afraid to fake the shot and pass in the offensive zone despite other factors and the pressure that even gets to guys like Souray. If it wasn’t that PP it was one in its vicinity.
- A solid game I suppose; nothing too exceptional. I recall him making a rather fantastic defensive play in the third but cannot remember the specifics of it any longer. Oh well.
- He was alright I suppose. Didn’t notice too much from him tonight which means he wasn’t great offensively or with his passing and wasn’t bad defensively. Nothing wrong with that.
- I certainly prefer Strudwick’s fighting style to Zack’s. I don’t know why we need Stortini if MacTavish is going to play Strudwick where he is. Ditch the guy. He’s not drawing people into penalties anymore it seems so that reason is out. Brodziak did what he always does when he plays with these guys which is keeps them out of trouble. Any ideas on how to judge a guy like him playing on a line like that? I vote reduce the fourth line’s ice time and play someone else there giving Kyle a chance at more minutes; but oh well.
- I was pretty disappointed in Gilbert’s game; about the only good thing he did was ring a slapper off the post. He’s supposed to be a fast player and I’ve seen him play a fast game before but he was not doing that tonight; he was getting caught standing and then taking a long time to get up to speed. I think he was trying a little too hard. He also missed a golden chance for a goal on the rebound from Moreau’s drive to the net in the third. That puck was his and he let up on it. Not acceptable. He just wasn’t good enough for what I’ve seen his level at before.
- He suffered a little because the line he played on wasn’t the same without Pouliot’s size and corner play. Andrew did his job and was able to get that PP goal when out with Nilsson and Gagner. A solid, if unspectacular game from Andrew. It is great that he’s rounded into a very consistent player this year.
- As I noted above; his wide drive to the net in the third should have caused a goal. It did not and that’s okay because we were winning but it is also too bad. He was okay but nothing exceptional really.
- Robert really stepped up his play with this line. I loved the play in the second where he was thwarted off the rush at the side of the net but followed up and found Gagner in the slot for what should have been a goal if he had not rushed the shot and tried to force it through traffic. He was carrying speed and moving the puck well all night. Maybe it just took him a couple games to find his groove with the line; because he certainly had it last night. Nice simple assist on Cogliano’s goal. Sam’s confidence in the offensive zone has really picked back up. I really liked his quick and simple pass to Cole that led to Erik’s goal in the first. He’s carrying with confidence and distributing the puck with ease out there. Too bad he couldn’t score tonight as he had a couple of really exceptional opportunities and he certainly could have used one. Cole really stepped up in a game where we needed him. Whether it was passes off the rush, shorthanded strips of the puck leading to scoring chances (he was really good on the PK) or nice goals finally coming for him, it was great to see. With Hemsky out we need someone to step up and (thankfully) that appears to be Cole. He can use his linemates FINALLY and get some great things done for us out there in various situations.
- Liam didn’t do too much; not that anything’s expected. I think he needs to re-focus on at least getting some hits in every game. He had one decent chance at the side of the net that went through Turco and out the other side but not much else. Penner’s one-punch victory was certainly an interesting change. Boy was that guy ever stumbling after that “fight”. His goal was the product of good positioning as it tends to be with him; and he was actually holding off defenders and hit a couple Stars tonight. Always good to see that from Dustin. Horcoff played a pretty solid game. He was oddly scrambled in the defensive zone but the puck seemed to be getting where it needed to go. What they do have to do however is find a way for him not to be handling the puck on the PP if Hemsky’s out. Horcoff needs to set up in his usual spot so that the other team cannot simply key on the point and wait. Dallas didn’t do this well but that approach was entirely doable.
What’s up with Turco? He’s nothing like he used to be.
Gives the fans a reason to chant I guess; oh well!