There are many ways it's possible to feel after a win, despite the prevailing "a W is a W is a W is a W" sort of line. Tonight was not tremendously satisfying, but instead more like the needed dispatching of a team that we should handle with relative ease and certainly did for a couple periods.
The only two criticisms I'd have of our squad tonight are that we got a little weak in the third period, and that we took way too many bad shots (most of which didn't reach the net) that kept this from being a 7-0 game. We were spending our time outskating and outworking PHX to get goals and we should have kept doing it. That turned out in the end to be just fine, but there's nothing wrong with continuing to head to the well if there's a constant flow of water.
Don't forget when we play PHX that we are still in Ilya's head. Odd how that playoff season was so dependent on the heads of the opposition goalies but it was. If we'd have discovered Cam Ward's kryptonite, well, you can figure it out....
For all you Dubnyk fans out there - he looked excellent in warmup btw. Very controlled and tight in his movements.
Back to the game; it seemed like it might be our kind of night when Souray's goal was banked in by PHX, then really became ours when Horcoff's goal counted where he could't make one count against Chicago. Some times the game is just that simple I suppose. We did indeed get a couple breaks tonight, but we also got some strong efforts which will be covered in PLAYER REPORTS
- First so I don't forget him like last time, though I highly doubt I could. I'm not sure a guy could have rebounded any stronger, sustaining his great play even during the ugly defensive effort in the third period. I thought Quinn might give his top line a little more ice to make sure he brought this one home but he didn't. Deslaurier's rebound control only really slipped in the third period because of the onslaught. Prior to that he had this sucker under control and did a superlative job of showcasing his flexibility, athleticism and size. Beauty effort and boy did he look pumped. Good for him!
- Continued to play very very well. He spent his night carrying the puck through opposition checkers (which, if you're looking for something, is what has really improved with him this year) and making plays. It's too bad he wasn't able to connect as he could easily have had 3 by the second period. When he wasn't directly generating offensive chances, he was busy drawing penalties, which he did with hard work and smart skating. Beauty game.
- It's become routine to say he played well and I hope we never forget how far he's come. His game is usually quite simple: a couple power moves here, PK there, shot from the slot here; smart skating play there, some good passes, yak a somebody who's giving a smaller guy trouble, throw some poor bastard around behind the net, simply get it done. What a luxury that this guy is on our team. I'd never thought we'd be saying that. 9-2 on the dot BTW.
- Not his best effort I'd say. There were a number of times when he had the space to do something with the puck and was unable to decide whether to shoot or distribute. He flat whiffed on his best chance of the night which wasn't the easiest play in the world but still Sam should put that in. I hope Quinn keeps the lines this way though because the other 2 are good enough to help Sam out while keeping some balance in the team. Sam will find his way playing with these guys.
- Again a very solid effort. He made his linemates a lot better on the ice and did a pretty solid job of controlling the puck and making simple plays. He also found a way to contribute offensively which is key of course. I'd like to see him make his passes a little more decisively, but for now he's doing fine.
- Very effective tonight. Aside from making it dangerous for PHX defenders to play the puck (job #1) he made some nifty moves with the puck and even channeled his inner Penner for a couple of wide outside drives. Probably one of his best games of the year. Was in front of the net causing trouble on the Souray goal.
- I didn't notice him too much tonight but thought he played okay. His best chance game on a LW rush in the second period where he had a great chance to unleash his hellish shot and didn't quite catch it all. Bryz had cheated and Brule probably would have scored if he'd gotten it. He struggled a little on the defensive side but not so much to hurt us.
- Great to see him go wide and get one. It's been FOREVER since any of us has seen that. Probably his best game in quite a while too. Needs to cover the points better in his own zone though. He used to be great at that and is now caught running around constantly.
- What can really be said other than that the frustration continues? He simply cannot get anything going offensively, and simply being a decent defensive player isn't good enough because he's not elite at it.
- Another excellent night of hard skating, getting open in places to shoot, then making the play necessary. I'd really like to see this guy stay around as a bit part, especially if we're able to parlay some of our skilled players into a top-sixer. He's exactly the kind of guy this team needs in the bottom six to complement some of the bruisers. He's growing on me.
- Well, after getting beat up some guys shrink from the game but #46 did not and I give him credit for that. He went to the net and drew PHX's ire, laid some hits and was generally a pain in the butt. Solid game from Zack.
- Did his job again I suppose. Couple hits, an offensive chance, decent D. Don't really need much more from him despite looking forward to the day he is again replaced by a more skilled guy.
- Handled himself well dealing with what was essentially a demotion. Not much to be had offensively on the line he was playing with but did a solid job on special teams.
- Souray's shot gets the press but this guy's play wins trophies. I'd wager to say that Visnovsky makes the offence of this team go like nobody since...well Coffey I'd bet. The guy is incredible. He can control a game with his skating and passing. I think he's generally the biggest reason we win games and probably the biggest reason we won tonight. The thing about Lubomir is that by the time you realize he's made a mistake, he's already got the puck back and probably made a pass to a streaking forward. As usual, he was calm, collected, distributed the puck excellently and led from the blue line. Great game. We should all be very happy we get to watch this man in an Oilers uniform.
- Flat solid. Unspectacular but he didn't need to be. Great to see him getting in Bison-whoever's face, pissing him off, then waltzing away like the tougher man. This guy is everything we need in a top 4 defender.
- He played well and controlled the puck from his own zone. Watch how effective our offensive rush is when he jumps in. I repeat this point a lot but even tonight though the goal resulted from a PHX player putting it in his own net, it was Souray barging into the zone again that created it. We almost need a set play to get him moving with speed into the zone. It's lethal. He was solid on D, but his shot was ineffectual save for one. He can do better than that. Pity he didn't get to Doan or Bison-idiot...that woulda been a funny beat-down to see.
- Pretty solid in my estimation. Certainly not as effective as last time out in that he didn't really have anything to give in the offensive zone, but also didn't make any really horrible defensive mistakes.
- Much better. He bumbled the puck a lot less, and just like Lubo caught his mistakes rather than panicking. This is a good thing and represents a sign of the normal Tom Gibert. As he improves there, he can resume jumping into the offence and being the effective guy we know and need. Here's hoping Tom.
- Again I didn't notice him bobbling the puck away, so again I'm generally happy.
PLEASE NOTE: These player reports likely reflect mostly first and second period sentiment, as periods like the third are often harder to judge or don't stick out like the others did.
MY 3 Stars
HON M to Horcoff and Penner.
HUGE games Wednesday and Friday. We need those games like you wouldn't believe. We need to win and HEAL. If we can somehow get this ship turned around and start adding players, we'll be fine.
A sad note tonight: Just before the game my fiancee was notified that one of her best friends from High School had died of a lung infection; she was also pregnant with her first, having been married just last year, and the baby-to-be died as well. Stuff like this reminds us all of what's really important in life. So this game report goes out to Shawna Ali; I didn't know her well but had met her a couple times and she was a truly exceptional person who lived all of her 20-some years to the fullest. I thank her for helping make my fiancee the woman she is today.