On a really crummy break...
Well...that was not at all what I was hoping for; at least result-wise.
Before we get too far into the disaster at the end, let's go back to the beginning.
As usual, we were asked to be in our seats early for the opening night show. For those of you who have not had the fortune to experience a home-opener, the Edmonton Oilers are for some inexplicable reason very fond of two things: bagpipes, and ladies doing some strange form of acrobatics with oversized sheets hanging from the rafters. I get the whole spectacle and show, but I think they need to stop doing the same thing. Despite adding skates to the acrobat lady and a twirling violinist, I just don't think it gets you ready for hockey in any way...I dunno, maybe it's just me.
There was also an opening night video and what I'm assuming will be the regular video, but that remains to be seen. I'll be sure to comment once I know it actually is the video. The intro song didn't see half-bad.
So out strode our slightly strange new team to take the ice; no telling what would happen next.
In the first period I really felt we had a lot of good solid chances but were held back due to a lack of puck control. A combination of two things contributed to this in my estimation; bad ice and the players looked like they were thinking about their assignments instead of doing them. It's going to take some time not only for linemates to gel and produce but for Quinn's new system to take hold to the point where the players just play it rather than having to pay so much attention to it. They almost looked distracted when they were given the chance to either move or skate with the puck. It cost us in the neutral zone in the first period where we often got into great transition lanes only to bobble. We also blew several very good chances in front of the net in this period. What was 2-1 CGY should have been 4-2 EDM. I see good things in this system, but we'll have to be patient unfortunately.
The second period was better for our squad. We hit a fair bit and kept up with Calgary. Again though, we looked slightly awkward and didn't capitalize on our chances.
The third was going our way as we kept Calgary at bay while generating chances. We finally got a break and finished a great chance, but OT or a late win was not to be. To me it looked like the puck skipped some, but I still don't understand how it could turn out that badly. I really hope people don't blame this loss on him. We should have scored many more goals tonight and simply didn't execute.
The theme of the night was bouncing pucks. Sometimes they go your way, tonight the majority went the other way. That doesn't mean this loss was bad luck, but maybe we deserved a little better. I still think it's a stepping stone. It's one thing to lose (LOSE not LOOSE) a game like this late in the year and with no effort, that wasn't what we did tonight.
- Ales really didn't do anything too dynamic tonight. He carried the puck well and took some shots that could have generated goals but he was not the force of nature that he can be. So long as this line is kept together I'm probably going to be bagging on it, because although we'd all love Cam Neely playing on Ales' line (as would every line in the league), Jacques is no Neely.
- Previous comments notwithstanding, I don't think Jacques played badly, on the contrary I thought he played well. He finished his checks and didn't get caught badly out of position more than a couple times. I saw absolutely nothing in his game that led me to believe he can be effective offensively on this line however. Leaving a hole on the LW puts way too much pressure on Horcoff to produce. If all you want from this line, which includes your best offensive player, is to battle other top lines to a draw, you'll be fine. I don't think that's what we want. I think once properly cast, Jacques might be okay. Not his fault that this line let down tonight. I would like to point out that he made 2 great defensive puck-blocks in front of the net in the first period.
- He was invisible tonight for me. Not in a terrible way I suppose, but he didn't do anything at all that jumped out at me. Again this might have to do with the combo. I really don't know at this point. Hopefully it changes.
- He was really good tonight at lurking in the right areas and pouncing on the puck as well as skating with it around Flames defenders. I'm fairly disappointed he didn't score. I can think of two fairly distinct chances where if he'd just been more patient and hadn't simply ripped the puck he would have scored. There were also scramble chances but those are less reliable. I'm not worried about him, it's just unfortunate. He looks like he'll be one of the most capable Oilers early this year and I really liked his PP play in the offensive zone.
- Aside from 2 iffy passes in his own zone I liked what he was able to do. He got himself an assist and generally played well in the offensive zone. He had a couple of shots narrowly miss and surprisingly didn't score in close despite a couple of chances. He and O'Sullivan look just excellent on the PP together. They'll be the #1 unit very soon.
- I think Ryan sadly showed why he's not an NHLer tonight. He's slow and doesn't have any upper-level skills. Penner looked a much better fit on the MC-PO line when he was on the PP. I really hope Stone is just a place-filler, but the man who'd fill his place is sadly on the LTIR right now, so I'm not sure what to do about that. He did draw a penalty though, so power to him for that.
- Looked very quick along with Brule and used Penner effectively but struggled with the puck. At various times he looked to use the afterburners and thought twice rather than drive wide or to the net. Andrew cannot be indecisive like that and succeed. He needs to play on his instincts and skate skate skate. I think he could find his game on this line though.
- Where Stone showed he doesn't belong, Brule showed he might. His goal notwithstanding (and it was an excellent shot, something he needs to set up and use regularly), he knocked opposition players down in his own zone and used his footspeed to get into openings. Once there, he made fairly smart plays with the puck. I don't think we have a full corner turn to pronounce just yet, but if he can keep that up, he'll be okay.
- One of the better Oilers tonight. He threw at least three guys off the puck and to the ground while playing solid positional hockey and banging in the type of junk goal he really needs to start scoring for this team. We all know Dustin is capable of this. We just need to see it 75% of the time instead of 15%.
- He was okay I suppose. Didn't do anything spectacular. It was funny that they had his video queued up for the TV timeout that corresponded with his penalty.
- Solid scrap, looked a little sluggish but nothing to worry about.
- He looked motivated as hell out there. He was hitting and skating and chasing the puck with some serious passion. While his goal was a lucky break, he also chased really hard and forced the quick pass up the boards that wound up on his stick (aided by a solid Moreau bodycheck). Sam even got in a strange scrap with Craig Conroy at centre ice...anyone know what that was about? He seemed to get the best of Craig as well. I don't know whether to take this game as that Sam will be our hidden weapon from the fourth line that can be promoted late as Quinn did, or whether Sam just won't be on the fourth line for long. Great game for Sam.
I really didn't like Quinn moving Gagner up and keeping Stone on the line with O'Sullivan though...bad move that didn't help us.
- Played mean but seriously needs to start hitting the net again. He's having some problems.
- I actually liked the way Steve played tonight. He looked rejuvenated and composed. He looked ready for the NHL season unlike some of our D tonight. I hope he doesn't have to be one of the better guys too many times this season.
- YIKES! That pretty much says it all. For those of you who didn't watch, poor Denis was hand-grenading the puck around all night and turned it over on numerous occasions. He also didn't make any elite offensive plays to redeem himself. Not a great start.
- Tom was a fair bit better than Denis in the offensive zone, getting shots towards the net and moving the puck well, but he was almost as shaky in the D zone. These 2 trapped their forwards in their own zone on several occasions with at least 3 different forward lines. Not good. Both men also looked very tired in the third, which is fairly strange.
- He was pretty solid, yet slightly boring apart from his (and Smid's) screw-up on the Glencross goal where he got caught chasing and trying for a block instead of taking away a stick.
- Okay but didn't play much. On for a couple goals and maybe he should have had Dawes before his tip.
- Until the final error I thought he played alight. He needs to be a bit better but made the saves at the end to keep his team in. The mis-play I'm sure will be yelled about to death. Being a hockey player and goalie at one point, you can just say it happens I suppose. Sucks for us; but our event like that will come at some point. Give Nik a chance people, don't start bagging on him for this.
Very disappointing start to our home season, but hope springs eternal and they'll have a chance for redemption in a mere couple of days. I await Tuesday's game!