I think the wave of relief washing over the fanbase is justified and appreciated right now. Regardless of whether you believe the Oilers should have come out of this with a better point total (I think at least 7), I think this win should at least leave a positive taste.
This team seems to be starting games fairly strongly. We are not the sleepy-start-squad like last year. This is a relief for me. Starting as we do tends to lead to a lot of victories, especially later in the season.
I'm not sure we're in great condition right now. We seem to be running out of gas before the final buzzer. I'm sure this is something that can be worked through, but I also think it's noticable right now.
I have a couple of criticisms of Pat Quinn, thought I generally like what he's doing with the team. I still don't understand the fascination with the Jacques-Horcoff-Hemsky line. I still don't see it working. I think we're playing the puck up the boards in the defensive zone too much as well. Our strong-skating and passing defencemen need to take a couple steps with the puck to open up the ice and then make a pass. Right now they aren't taking those crucial strides and it seems to be systematic. Perhaps this is just an early-season place-filler for the breakout, but I hope we make it a little more complex. This method of clearing the zone is generating far too many chances for the opposition. I like that Quinn shortens his bench, but shortening it to include a line of Penner-Brule-Moreau (with Moreau on RW) is a huge mistake. It nearly cost us dearly.
A note for Montreal fans - you are the biggest bunch of weirdos ever. At least you're not jerk-Edmonton-based-Vancouver fan; but you are strange.
- I'd estimate this was his best game of the year so far. It was certainly his best game from the red line back to his own net. Ales was very effective defensively and took away many pucks, blocked a shot, used his body and speed to control the play. It sure looked like he was held up first on his penalty, as he'd actually made a really good effort to get into strong defensive position on what was looking like a dangerous-ish rush. In the offensive zone he was okay. He got a lot of pucks to the net and was far more assertive than he's been thus far. His post-rip was almost a thing of beauty. Really solid passing. At the end of the game he was either fairly tired (he played 20+ BTW) or really angry at himself for missing the EN. He got back to the group very slowly. I hope this game is the beginning of his elevation.
- It was unfortunate what happened on Montreal's second goal; especially after the outstanding save by Khabibulin. That goal is why I always try to block those with my skate facing away from the net rather than a stick which can flex or tip the puck up. Oh well. Aside from that I didn't mind his game. He still hasn't figured out that if he took the passes from Hemsky while moving towards the net instead of away that he would score more...I don't get it. He was responsible defensively though and skated into good positions. He did some great work along the defensive zone boards.
- He was better than he's been the first three games. In addition to his tip goal, he spent a bunch more time getting to the front of the net where he's probably most useful. His presence almost resulted in another two goals. He was effective with his his hits as well. Play with the puck wasn't great. He did however position himself a little bit more effectively than last game.
- An excellent read to skate hard for the open ice, followed by an excellent shot led to a goal for Mike, who is showing on the stats sheet why I'd call him the Oilers most consistent offensive threat right now. He's generated several chances each game and he did again tonight. He needs to be used more on the powerplay. Away from the puck I thought he was fine; not sublime but he didn't have to be.
- I thought it was a really up and down game for Dustin. This was as close to last year's version as I've seen, but he was still decently effective. I liked that he dumped the puck and blew by defenders into solid position in the second period. I liked the way he held the puck and killed off time when we had the lead. I didn't like the way he looked dead tired at the end of the game and I didn't like the way he looked unfocused at points during the game.
- The giveaway at the end of the second that led to a goal I don't think MTL would have got without this specific opportunity was unfortunate. He was in the process of making a responsible transition play and got a little unlucky and perhaps didn't make the safe enough play. Aside from this sequence, I thought he played a pretty solid game and as I've noted before, sure looks like he belongs. Wasn't sure about the cleanliness of the hit on Mara, but I liked that he was being aggressive and went for it. In the end it took a key MTL player out for 17 mins so I think we can certainly count that as a positive. He didn't get as many offensive chances as he has been, but that's okay when he's not making a bunch of mistakes.
- Great to see him get his first, which wasn't the most spectacular but they certainly don't have to be. The shot he rang off the post was beautiful and slightly unlucky. He didn't make any big mistakes and was generally a solid player all night.
- I really liked the way Sam was being agressive towards the play and the puck for the first two periods. He's already come a long way this season and it's quite evident in his play. The pass to Comrie was absolutely perfect. A thing of beauty.
- I took OY's words to heart with regards to Stone and made a point of watching him closely tonight. By some happy coincidence Ryan decided to treat all of us including me to a truly superlative effort. I strongly felt that Stone should have been third star and especially over Jacques. Put aside the absolutely excellent power move he made to get the puck to O'Sullivan and generate a goal; Stone used strong positioning all night to supply puck support in both the offensive and defensive zone. He skated the puck either out of trouble or into trouble for MTL several times. I admire smart hockey above most anything else, and Stone played damn smart hockey tonight. He was also a pain in the butt for Montreal which is something he can do consistently. I have a hard time watching guys like Stone with a more open or understanding mind, but he earned some future attention from me with this effort.
- I didn't really notice him tonight. I'd like to see a little more driving towards the net.
- He's a very good fourth line center; though I've got to wonder if Quinn was testing him ala Gagner and didn't get what he wanted.
- Took a weak penalty, looked out of it at the end and struggled with his skating all night. I don't think he's healthy at all. Why not play Nilsson?
- Steady, but struggled moving the puck in his half of the neutral zone. This isn't surprising. The mission for Jason every night is simply not to get burned. He did a good enough job of that tonight.
- I thought he was pretty good and made some good, speedy recovery plays. He needs to be our #1 right now, but will likely get a good push from Gilbert.
- Speaking of Tom, I liked his game tonight. I remember one shaky sequence that I believe was late in the first period, but aside from that he was pretty good. He wasn't able to jump into the play effectively like he usually does though. I'd expect a fair amount of effort to be put towards this next game.
- I think he looked great tonight. He was supremely confident with the puck and used his skating legs really effectively. I'm not sure how he got caught out of position on the Gionta goal, but it's understandable in that breakout position to be moving ahead of a turnover.
- To me, it looked like Steve is still shaken up. He was twitchy in pretty much everything he did tonight.
- Ladislav will have the opportunity to step up with Souray gone. I think he'll do well with that opportunity. He was boring-solid tonight and made an excellent choice in the Brewer-special wrister that resulted in the Jacques goal.
- I cannot tell you how much joy it gives me to watch a goalie who makes it from post to post faster than the setup passes he's facing; and stops everything but stupid bounces and perfect chances without even looking like he's on fire yet. Khabibulin was good tonight and he made it look very VERY easy. I blame the guy in the row behind me who said "we're gonna get a shutout" twice for the Montreal goals. I almost hit him. His rebound control was sublime tonight.
MY 3 STARS
3. Shared by many
Really great to get this send-off win. I hope they're able to keep improving. They're on the right track...I think...