EDMONTON OILERS 2
ST. LOUIS BLUES 1
Getting two points was obviously the most positive thing we take from this game. We needed it in regulation and couldn't manage it due to a combination of missed chances and some fine goaltending by Mr. Mason, but at least we got it eventually. I'm sure there were moments in overtime where we thought "here we go again" pretty badly in terms of losing in overtime.
The other thing that was largely positive was our defensive effort; it was a pretty solid one aside from a couple moderate lapses.
Our offence may be another story; one of missed chances and far too many shots from the right wing deep in the zone. We took a lot of shots from there that didn't have a shot at going in. But, we did seem to get some lines going that could work if they settle in.
I really enjoyed watching Hemsky and O'Sullivan working the same shift. They are both dynamic guys who can handle the games of one and other. One problem they were having is not knowing where the other was going to be and missing each other in open spaces. Given a couple more games I think they'll be fine. They almost clicked on O'Sullivan's great chance in front of the net and also made some fine neutral zone passes. At least Ales' passing came back tonight even if he's still in his breakaway funk and nearly made a HUGE and costly mistake in overtime. He made a couple feeds to Horcoff that were absolutely sick! As we know, this is not the year for Shawn to convert on those apparently. Outside of the offensive zone he was certainly fine, but he was getting grade A chances in the offensive zone and not converting which just can't be how things go at this point in time. This group of 3 certainly goes along better than having Sam in the middle though.
I also didn't mind the Nilsson-Gagner-Kotalik line. I heard Dan Tencer saying Kotalik didn't have a good game; I disagree fairly strongly. Given the chance to play a more grinding and abrasive role with some offence thrown in, he did well. He also gets his hard slapper away off of his back foot with amazing power. That thing is going to start going in when we figure out how to position it. The shootout goal for me was a bonus on a good performance. Sam's really coming on strong. His assist was the result of good positioning and using his body well which is something he did all night. this part of Sam's game has improved markedly in the latter half of this year. Robert was good, not great but certainly good. He carried the puck quite well and his positioning was solid.
I really liked the Moreau-Brodziak-Penner line's performance tonight. Penner specifically. He was not outstanding on the PP and needs to work desperately on his play in front of the net, but he drove and drew a penalty, used his size and positioning well and made the absolute most of his icetime. He put forth a fine effort and needs to find a way to continue this. Brodziak was stong in a support role and did his job in the faceoff circle well. Moreau taking on Woywitka for touching Hemsky was inspiring. He may have taken a penalty late again, but it was a BS penalty.
This game was interesting in that it came after our discussion of what the linesmen were calling. That was the single worst linesman-call game I've seen. Bad icings, all kinds of blown off-sides (especially the Hemsky one that wound up as an intentional and could have cost a goal), it was putrid. The reffing was pretty brutal as well. That call on Nilsson was absolute bull for one.
I agree that having Cogliano with Reddox and Pisani is a waste of his game. Pisani's not doing anything at all in terms of offence right now, and Reddox, no matter how he tries is always one move too late to capitalize on his chances. This essentially means its either a Cogliano breakaway or nothing. That's unacceptable to me. I'd REALLY like to see Brule on a line like this but that's not going to happen. Cogliano made two great defensive plays in the third; one to recover a puck near the goal line and one near the blue line, that got the team out of ugly situations. He used his assets in his role very well tonight. Reddox was okay. He needs to be in and out of the lineup to keep his effectiveness up at this stage.
I feel the need to single out Denis Grebeshkov. This guy has really become a player. Slamming captain cheeseburger into the boards like he did was just icing on the cake. He makes the right play pretty much every time in the corner with puck. along with at the opposition blue line. Again tonight he got an assist making the cross-ice pass in that position. Right now he is in fact playing better than Gilbert (though I still believe Tom superior overall).I don't think you can let him go. Either for that matter. The physical element that Grebeshkov has added to his game makes him an incredibly dynamic defender capable of just about any role at any time.
I'd describe Gilbert's game as pretty mediocre. He had good moments, then he had moments like in the second where he looked, saw a Blues attacker near the blue line, and made a really nice bounce pass right to him. It didn't make any sense. It was like he went flat braindead for a minute.
Souray and Staios were solid; though Souray is really having issues generating any kind of productive rebound lately. Also, Staios did not play the Blues goal very well at all. He wasn't helped by a goalie intent on sliding to who knows where and giving away half the net, but he still could have helped prevent the goal.
Smid makes all the difference in his pairing on a decent night. He needs to learn to take plays like his wonderful little rush in the second and capitalize on them by finding a forward. It seems like everytime he does this it ends in a weak shot on net or a dump. That's okay but should be better because he has the skill.
Strudwick again struggled aside from his end-to-end rush...meaning he made it all the way down to the other end of the ice with the puck still in his possession. At least he's got that old and slow guy who used to wear #32 beat. Defensively he was bad. At one point in the second he had 2 clear passing outlets and instead took dead aim at the corner boards and bounced it straight to a Blues defender. So bad.
Roloson was good and made the key saves when we needed him too. I'm sure he got lucky on the first Blues SO attempt, but he did well on the others.
I truly hope this can begin a winning streak as we so sorely need one.