SAN JOSE 5
In a stinking shootout...
Wow...that was far from the game that I was expecting; especially after the way we started out. We looked listless and lost for a really long time tonight.
Then something happened; I'm not exactly sure what. Please forgive me if I miss a bunch of things tonight, as this game seemed in my mind like some sort of epic adventure into the twilight zone.
Suddenly we decide to play what looks like playoff hockey...then we back right off...then when you think we're dead again it roars back out of nowhere, only to mount the worst powerplay in history and almost lose a lead and a game instead of easily sealing the win...then we pick the wrong shootout shooters and lose. How epic, thrilling, and sad, all at the same time. I really didn't know what to think at a bunch of times tonight.
It's a very interesting night when your best line is Moreau-Potulny-Cogliano; and not because others are playing horridly but because they're playing really well. The emergence of Mr. Potulny, who once again used his excellent shooting, skating and positioning to make a difference, has been something else to watch. An added benefit is that he certainly doesn't play the game softly. On his first goal, he legged out a breakaway when many Oilers would have either given up or been caught, then instead of taking a stupid shot, made an absolutely beauty of a move. His second goal was great positioning and an excellent shot. We need players that score the type of goals that come from that 15 foot arc as we are quite effective at getting the puck there enough times on a nightly basis. Moreau played his best game of the year by far. He was a man on a mission in terms of his skating, his checking, his puck control and his moves in close. He didn't get away any great shots which is unfortunate, and I'm still missed as to how he missed in alone after a great move in the second period, but his game was great even without the results. Cogliano, even though he still hasn't scored, skated like an utter madman tonight. He chased down just about every puck he could and made a key defensive play late in the game to make sure Heatley didn't send us home pointless. He's found a way to contribute in the last couple games and we can only hope now that the points will come.
The other guy that keeps on proving we might have a winner is Gilbert Brule. He scored a nice goal from out front after some hard work, then made another one happen with a nice play to Penner from behind the net. This guy's the real deal and his efforts are now becoming quite consistent. He needs to be kept around most certainly. Penner looked a little lost in the first and second; either tired or frustrated would be my guess, but still found a way to contribute in the third. It's hard to believe this guy is suddenly so consistent, but he is indeed. Gagner complimented the line alright, but wasn't stellar in any particular way. Usually he's capable of being a primary playmaker and offensive threat on a line, but it seems he's relegated to secondary at present. I hope he re-emerges.
The Stortini-O'Marra-McDonald line was an interesting one to watch. I'm really enjoying the way O'Marra plays the game. Seeing him live added to my thought that he may indeed be ready to make this team next year. He takes solid skating lines, finishes checks, plays big and has the confidence of a player that looks like he knows what he's doing. Sometimes that's half the battle. I get the impression that McDonald isn't a good enough skater to be in this league for any length of time, but will certainly reserve judgment for the time being. Stortini was physical, which he had to be. I'm still looking for his slight offensive tendency, which has disappeared from the planet.
It does not seem we have a working combination in Jacques-Horcoff-O'Sullivan. I'm not quite sure why but they didn't really generate much of anything despite Jacques effective physical play. We need to get to a place where he's relegated to the fourth line rather than having to check good players of course. Horcoff was just okay I thought. He was one of the few who had a better first than third. His play dropped off a bit later on. O'Sullivan couldn't seem to buy one tonight. He's a step slower entering the zone which is causing him problems at present. I'm not exactly sure why this is.
The story tonight in terms of our loss is likely how bad Staios and Souray were as a pair. They've never been particularly suited to one and other but tonight was an utter disaster. When they weren't getting tangled up or taking each other's check and getting confused, Souray was busy taking anger penalties. The one against Thornton late was total bull (I never knew such a large man could play hockey like such a girl, and then whine about it like crazy), but the others were stupid. I understand he's likely frustrated but it sure didn't help us tonight. Staios didn't really do much of anything to help the cause in any zone.
Smid on the other hand was stupendous. He kept driving the offence deep into the SJ zone; I'm not sure I've seen him with the puck creating offence that many times in one game before. He stepped up when we needed him to. Visnovsky was good, but not great. He had flashes of brilliance I suppose. I was just looking for the game-changing play (almost scored at the end I guess) but it didn't come.
Strudwick went another game without really driving me nuts, so I'll take it. Gilbert didn't take another step forward, but also didn't step back.
Deslauriers was good; but still managed to allow too many goals. I don't think any were particularly bad, but 4 was just too many.
I must admit, I did get more than I expected tonight. I thought we'd get whomped.
One of my favorite topics every year is why San Jose won't win the Cup. Prior to this year, it was always because their top-end talent was of the wrong sort for this pursuit. What has occured now up front is that San Jose has a bunch of plugs and overrateds on its 3rd and 4th line. I saw an article suggesting signing Malhotra over Comrie would have been a good one...yet I don't see a statistical argument that in any way shows this; especially if you consider that Comrie played a bunch while ill. In addition for the fourth line Malhotra would've been a good choice simply to have more NHLers on this team...anyway back to San Jose. They also have not rectified the issue of their D not really being all that good. They still guys who aren't winning a cup. They'll fail again this year, and not just because Chicago is shaping into a juggernaught, but because they're not built to win.
And this wouldn't be a LMHF Game Report without saying...yeah...that Marleau guy sure is so much worse than Horcoff.......*facepalm*