LMHF Game Report #16




It was great to be back in the building tonight watching the suddenly inspired Oilers play hockey once more. To be honest the reaction from the home crowd was underwhelming. They weren't particularly excited to watch a team going for its 6th straight win; that disappointed me.

We played well at a few different times in this game. It was very much up and down. We were good early, generating many free pucks in the scoring area in front of the zone but not getting to enough of them. Quick wasn't particularly great at this stage, he just didn't let any bad ones in. We had our chances but couldn't take a good whack at them.

LA then controlled until later on in the second period. In this time, Souray scored, and Nilsson, Penner and Horcoff all should have. Those blown chances, 2 clear breaks and a downed goalie, wound up costing us the game in my estimation.

We kept control until a 3-4 minute stretch in the third that saw LA storm our zone. Their goal wasn't pretty in any way shape or form, and I honestly couldn't believe we got beaten again by an iffy point shot from a weak defenceman. Unbelievable.

After that we had our chances too...I could not believe however that Quinn stuck with Nilsson late in the game when Potulny was easily the best offensive player available at the moment. Penner fanned on another in a game of missed chances. Sad really to go down fighting that way.

I wanted to check Deslauriers save percentage in the third period over the last few games. He's allowed all of 2 3rd period goals in the last 6 games. I was convinced he wasn't going to allow #2 save for a fluke...and it happened. Damn.

Watching this team was almost like encountering a new one, more on that in PLAYER REPORTS

- To be honest he disappointed me tonight. It's not that he was bad but that he didn't dominate at any point. He didn't really go on any great rushes down the wing or take more than 1 great shot. As noted he missed a great chance in the second and a good chance to tie in the third. He needs to finish at least one of those. There was a rush he made in the third where the same move he made against STL was open to him and instead he centered the puck to no one. He was just a little off tonight. He also had another tip chance off a nifty pass by Gagner that just missed.

- Save for a couple shifts I really wasn't very impressed by Sam tonight. He seemed to be forever in the way and a step behind the play. He won more battles in the corners than at times this year but just couldn't create any direct offence. He needs to playing with Brule and Penner.

- Still looking really solid. He took a couple of really good shots and missed the opportunity to take a couple of others. His skating was good and he worked hard in the corners. The perplexing thing about this line as opposed to the last time the team was in town is that they didn't look particularly fast or dynamic but more plodding than anything. They got chances but they weren't explosive. I'm hoping they are better next game, but maybe they just got worn out tonight.

- The first half to 2/3 of the game saw a totally new Robert Nilsson. He was working his butt off, took some shots at the net, and was even hitting people AND separating them from the puck. It was truly amazing. Then it happened...the slot-double-clutch. After he started doing that, his offensive zone play got awkward and he simply wasn't as effective as he'd been. Robert needs to let that wonderful slapper go when he's free and clear in the slot, and he refused tonight. Shame. He was on pace for a great breakout game. I think the promotion might be too much pressure for him. Being on the PP definitely seems to be. He cannot be relied on to be the guy carrying the puck in; and abandoning the carry for the dump just doesn't work in a modern PP. They proved that with how many times they gave the puck up that way tonight.

- He was just okay for me tonight. I don't think the new line combo worked very well for him save for a couple shifts in the second. He had one really excellent chance in front of the net that simply required he hold the puck for three feet and go up; but instead he took a weak shot that was easily stopped. Didn't look good on the PP.

- Great to see Ryan Stone and his brand of positional, physical hockey back in our lineup. He does indeed make a difference in the makeup of this lineup. All he needs to do is keep doing what he's doing. The first two periods were really strong for him, the final one less so.

- Crazy idea: when Hemsky comes back, Potulny should play with him. At least on the PP. Any guy who can bang the puck like that can play with Ales and score a TON. What an utterly beautiful goal that was he scored, first making a good decision to go to Souray then readying to fire and making no mistake. He made many possibly unnoticed plays tonight either with the puck or without that show he's here to stay. Everything is moving faster for him now, while the play around him slows down. Ryan has found the NHL confidence that so many struggle to find. When he isn't scoring, he's skating well, playing his position and even getting physical occasionally. He won some very impressive puck battles tonight. Our best on the ice today.

- Definitely signs of life. He blew by several defenders while maintaining control of the puck which is something home ice hasn't seen from him with any kind of regularity in a while. #2 rightly pointed out that after he banged Potulny's already-goal back into the net, at least he'd finally put one in. He just needs to keep working and we need to stay patient with him. If he's not going anywhere for an upgrade, at least he's useful and working really really hard.

- The Potulny-Cogliano combination needs a better version of Ethan Moreau on it. The 20-goal version. He's sped up his decisions and his playmaking to attempt to keep up with a line that moves at blinding speed now that Potulny is playing confidently, but it's still not enough and the play seemed to die with him much more often than either 13 or 16. That's too bad. I think it's time to 4th-line him, though only if they can establish another guy on that line in his place.

- Disappointing to see that the one guy who didn't take flight on the road trip is #19. He's got to keep plugging away. I really think Quinn will turn him into the guy who was here in TC eventually, but there are always some bumps along the way. Quinn seems to take a longer and more complete view of guys like O'Sullivan, so I think we shouldn't lose patience or claim he's on his way out just yet.

- He didn't really do much. One really good shot on net but that's about it.

- Bad fight, but at least he drew the PP. Good hit previous to that, but Stone is a better hitter overall.

- Tom looks like he's turned the corner. He has returned to using his skating and his puck-moving ability to create time for himself to make better plays. He also is using his body to separate the man from the puck in the corner. These are the things Tom needs to do to be effective. When he knows he can skate, the opposition is forced to back off as it was tonight. That is why Tom suddenly isn't turning it over. It's not that he was doing anything dumb before, it's that he wasn't using his strengths to create a situation where the offence has to respect him as soon as he has the puck. He was panicky. Perhaps he took a lesson from Smid, who skates the puck out of harm's way on such a consistent basis. Gilbert uses a more rangy approach while Smid works better by dragging his opponent in close, but it's the same basic idea.

- His shot seems to have smartened up. Had he not clanged one off the post we probably win too. Defensively I'm not sure, he was really confident with the puck but wasn't exceptionally physical. On LA's second period goal, he made a bad decision to lung at the puck carrier rather than truly shut down the pass to the stronger player, but he was in a bit of a desperate spot too I suppose. Mixed game from Sheldon rather than second star in my books.

- He made a very uncharacteristic mistake and couldn't recover for once on that same play that left Souray flat on his face. Aside from that he was quite solid and made the same passes and decisions that we all know and appreciate. I think it's a mistake relying on Souray instead of Lubomir on the PP. Quinn chose Souray tonight. Was it #71 that made that fabulous breakaway flip pass to Brule that was called offside?

- What new is there to say? He was an utter joy to watch as he has been pretty much all year.

- I'd say he made the primary mistake on the first LA goal in that he half-committed to going to Brown and left the seam that got the puck to Richardson. Grebeshkov was caught somewhat, but it wasn't really his fault that he was caught. Staios could've made an aggressive play on the puck carrier with Grebeshkov taking away some of the pass option but Staios didn't. Aside from that he was quite quiet.

- Just okay in his first game back. You could tell he was playing a little gingerly out there. I'm not sure why he was up on the PP so quick, but at least he wasn't shy about jumpinging into the play. I'm sure he'll be fine, and Staios-Grebeshkov making up the bottom pairing sure make us a better team. We didn't give the Kings very many good chances tonight.

- He was alright. I figured he could've stopped at least one of the first two LA goals. He wasn't going to get beaten on a straight play in the third though, as he was locked on. I'm sure enough people have commented on his puck-handling, which is certainly a little scary, but didn't get him into trouble.

To be honest, I thought we were winning this. Especially when down 2-1 going into the third. And even with our horrid PP. A lot of big maybes and what ifs tonight. Oh well. Til Thursday!

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