EDMONTON OILERS 5
VANCOUVER CANUCKS 3
Now? Really??? Are you sure?
I'm always overjoyed to beat the Canucks. That team and its incredibly annoying fans absorb a lot of my wrath in these posts and other writings as well.
It's just that right now, when losing would maybe get us a better pick and winning will get us a whole heap of nothing, it's hard to take that the real team decided to show up tonight.
We started out on the road to beating the Canucks by playing effectively physical and at times downright nasty hockey. This back the Canucks off in a lot of ways and allowed us to proceed through the rest of the game without too many shenanigans.
We finished our offensive chances for a change rather than firing wide or taking stupid shots. Combine this with limiting Vancouver to garbage for 95% of the night and we out quality-chanced them severely. Their good chances wound up in our net, but they hardly had any.
We also didn't panic at any stage of the evening, or immediately quit. These are traits we've shown at many times this year. Thankfully they disappeared tonight and we got to watch a confident team for a change.
So let's talk players...
3 Oilers Stars tonight: Gagner, Hemsky, Souray.
I'm so over caring what anyone else says about him...the way most of the media neglects the fact that the Canucks took so many horrid shots; and that most of the rest were created by Roloson himself not controlling rebounds, is unforgivable. Making a large number of saves does not mean you had a good game. If a team took 60 shots at you that were all 80-footers, you should stop 60. If they get 60 breakaways; not so much. Tonight was closer to the first extreme. Burrows got a chance, and scored on an ugly rebound. Wellwood's goal came after multiple chances of varying difficulty to cover the puck. The other goal was just bad. That's not a great game.
Umm...not so good. He got owned behind the net on Raymond's goal by playing it loose. You also can't let Burrows get behind you like that and get an easy break. Whether that's him or Souray its on I'm not entirely sure, but Staios coulda been there. He wasn't particularly effective anywhere on the ice tonight.
Better than Staios certainly, though defensively I would argue he was a little suspect. I liked that he played a meaner game than the average as it set the tone for the game. He did a fine job outside his own blue line however. Souray is much more effective shooting and moving a puck from the left side of the zone than the right. I really have no idea why the coaches haven't seen this sooner. He did a fine job of sneaking down the boards and getting the puck to the net for Kotalik's goal. He was in the right position for the right pass and taking the right shot on his goal. Really effective offensive night; these are the games he makes the difference in.
I don't know what it is about his play in front of the net lately, but his timely and well-executed reach for the puck that Gagner had shot was a simple and effective use of good hockey sense, timing and a tad of skill. Defensively he was really solid outside of the Wellwood goal where he for some reason dove into the crease instead of taking care of Wellwood's loose stick. His goalie had created a scramble so it's kind of understandable but still he needs to be more disciplined than that.
Nearly invisible I thought, in a good way.
Continues to improve. Glad to see he held up with more minutes tonight. I like that he's confident enough to play with the puck on the opposition blue line. Once he speeds up his release we're going to have a very effective and balanced defender. He will be like Matt Greene with less penalties and actual puck skills. Money. #6 next year easy unless we go HUGE on D in the summertime. Better skater than advertised too.
Blah, but that's a lot better than bad.
Took care of his physical business and continued his decent play with the puck. I have this odd thought that playing him with Hemsky for a couple shifts a game may be something interesting to watch though I don't know who you want at C; maybe Penner to be honest.
Solid game and won more faceoffs than he lost. That's pretty well his job. Could have been a little better in the offensive zone though; he usually is.
Certainly underplayed tonight. He didn't really get a chance to get into the game and was therefore pretty invisible.
Fernando was still pretty ineffective offensively. I suppose they played alright, but not up to their potential by any stretch. Ethan took one of the penalties that annoys me most in the NHL; the "if it breaks it counts, if it doesn't it didn't happen" rule. So silly. But at least it didn't cost them the game. Cogliano didn't do too much and continues to be miscast. He needs to be used sparingly as an offensive weapon.
Robert makes Sam play better somehow. He's always at his best with Nilsson. Robert didn't do anything too exceptional tonight and indeed gave the puck away a couple times in rather easy places in the offensive zone, but he's still moving around a lot more than earlier in the year which is certainly an attribute he has when playing well.
Awesome. Simply an awesome performance. His goal was great because not only did he outplay 4 Vancouver defenders, but Luongo was beat 10 feet before the goal happened. Everyone knew what was coming and anyone with a hockey eye could see that Sam was going to score. It was like the pitcher who yells "high fastball" at the batter and proceeds to blow it by him like it is nothing. A true thing of hockey beauty. Sam was creating trouble in front, following up on the play after dishing to Hemsky on Souray's goal. Very smart play that was. His other assist was more the product of a smart decision and a solid shot that got a little "lucky" but was also a fundamentally solid place to put the puck. Sam was moving and creating all evening, and won us this game. Impressive. I'm just wondering how the fact that he seems to play so well with Nilsson will affect what management does with #12. One thing's for sure; Gagner is for real.
It was nice that he got a point, and I love the way he drives the net, but he's got to start finishing off some of his chances. He's got a great shot but seems to be taking it ineffectively from not the greatest spots. He's also more versatile than we're giving him credit for and we haven't learned how to use him yet.
He's earning his keep on this team and certainly making a case to keep him this offseason. His goal was a product of good positioning an finishing well. I'm continually more impressed by his ability to get off a quality shot from nearly any pass and in varying positions. The guy has an absolutely monster release on everything. I still like him better playing on either the second or third line, but he's certainly useful since he settled in.
Better game from him; he did good work before Kotalik's goal and drove the net purposefully to help create it. He was unspectacular in the offensive zone but was not asked to lug the puck so much in the high defensive and neutral zones which helped us a lot. He needs to be allowed to be a positional player.
If you can't see that Hemsky had an amazing game tonight then I can't help you. He won almost every battle in the corners and went in like an angry bull; he created offence constantly, drew at least 2 penalties, distributed the puck like a master, kept his legs moving, scored an empty net goal that required work, focus and talent as well as risk-taking in terms of the fact that he could have got absolutely hammered making that play. The guy was absolutely huge tonight and made an all world choice or play on nearly every shift. No one can do this every night, but this is more of what I expect we'll see next year quite frequently. He challenged Gagner for best Oiler but wasn't quite as productive.
I can't cheer for us to lose...I just can't Tonight felt good at a game for the first time in a while now. Too bad it's way too late.