Certainly not as great to be back as some of the other breaks I've had from hockey life in Rexall, but still nice to get back to what I'd call normalcy.
Tonight of course was fan appreciation night. We never win on fan appreciation night, so tonight's result was a little freaky.
The standard giveaways were all there as usual; though it seemed like they actually did less of them.
Everyone received their obligatory free popcorn, which now appears to be cineplex popcorn. It comes in a bag (not handy on the floor at Rexall) and is tastier than before in my estimation. They also appear to heat the butter now, as opposed to squirting whatever yellow semi-gelatinous goo from a bottle as they did before. Certainly a positive.
On to the hockey game; with most of the focus being on the new players that none of us had seen live at home yet.
Minnesota for their part didn't look interested at all. I'm not sure I noticed anyone really except for Owen Nolan and that's just because he's a jerk and you expect him to score on us. They didn't look like they'd beat us tonight.
I wouldn't say our team was rusty, but they certainly looked to be slow. Also, they seemed to be lining three players up at the blue line a bunch. I'm not sure what the point of trapping would be at this stage, but we might have been doing it for a bunch of the game tonight.
On to the PLAYER REPORTS
- Definitely our star of the game. He's one of the few guys who you can see really wants to win still. He lept in the air after the clinching save and glove-slapped a Minny player who tried to give him the business late. This is one guy who knows his job is on the line, and I personally think he's doing just fine. He wasn't really "under fire" in this game but he made some utterly stupendous saves that were really a treat. I enjoyed the puck-flick he made in the third while lying outstretched to play the puck away from danger myself. I didn't like the goal he allowed; it was really weak, but other than that he was pretty perfect.
- Seems like he comes from the plain school of effective defencemen. That's fine with me I guess. He looked a little tentative but at least he didn't spend all his time ripping the puck up the boards. Will be interesting to see if he's able to warrant consideration as next year's #7.
- I could contemplate for the rest of my days exactly how Theo Peckham was judged to be second star tonight. I don't think I'd ever figure it out. He took two penalties and probably could have received six. He didn't do any of the things that make him particular effective (physical punishment in D zone, solid blue line play in the O) and yet he was still judged to have been the best skater on the ice? Really?!?!?
- Ummm...he didn't screw up bad enough that we lost for once?
- I see almost the same thing every time I watch Chorney play to be honest. He's solid when skating with the puck, and I expect him to get smacked around by the opposition and it just doesn't happen. Good to see. Maybe he can step up offensive for the rest of the year. Might as well give him every chance.
- I like watching Tom when he's in a more featured offensive role. He looked really good controlling the puck on the opposition blue line tonight. I liked the way he skated and controlled his defensive area. We should see a fairly solid rest of the season from him.
- I was very interested in seeing this guy play. My initial impressions were that he had limited footspeed, was slightly ornery after the whistle but not so much during the play, and was really trying to figure out where to go and what to do tonight. I see potential; it's clear he can skate with the puck and stickhandle pretty well as he did a couple times tonight. It's also clear he can pass as he nearly sprung a couple of different guys on breakaways. What is not clear at all is whether he will hit when required, if he has any puck-separation skills at all, and if he can make that extra offensive stride to create rather than merely support the offence. Lots of things to watch. I hope he's passionate about his game next year. He looks like a guy you wouldn't want to see motivated if you were the opposition. Didn't see any elite offensive signs. WEAK effort getting back on the Latendresse goal. Looked to be coasting.
- Well, he got his knee whacked, took a penalty, and would have scored a goal if he'd just been able to hold his ground. He's a very awkward looking player. I'll give him some more chances of course to form a general look, but the first one didn't impress me.
- Aside from approximately 5 offensive zone giveaways (which to be fair came without puck support while trying to make a play) I thought he was pretty solid. At least he wants the puck and will get it to the net still, unlike a bunch of our forwards. I liked his goal because it was a solid wrap from good positioning done with speed. It wasn't all that lucky. He got off a couple of shots that could have been goals as well. He suffered a bit from what I thought was an off game from Potulny despite solid effort. Very nice SO winner, getting Backstrom moving sideways then sliding the puck in against that movement. He's one of the few that seems to consistently move the goalie, which is SO key.
- Like I said, Ryan seemed to have an off game despite the effort being there. He just wasn't quite in the right position and missed some chances he usually doesn't where the puck popped out to him. Go check out his SO goal though, seriously it was SICK.
- Totally disinterested. He did a lot of nothing and missed a really solid breakaway pass. Brutal.
- I noticed him 4 or 5 times when he got the puck and that was pretty much it. He wasn't getting to the right positions.
- Again, I barely noticed him aside from the miss by the side of the net in the third off a nice slap-pass from Gilbert and some defensive zone stuff. He didn't seem to do anything really and got OWNED on the dot.
- Got robbed cold on a great 2-on-1 chance I expected him to just nail. He looked a little out of it tonight. No big shots so he didn't do what he's most effective at. Also a game where some physicality would have been useful and I didn't see it.
- One of his most solid offensive efforts in a long time. I could have done without the glove-slap-fight with Hnidy though, as that was effing weak. He shoulda dropped the gloves a couple times tonight.
- Not a bad game. He was really solid on the puck in the neutral zone and made some nice moves but couldn't seem to translate that into offensive zone effectiveness.
- Couldn't do a bloody thing with the puck despite getting it a lot of the time. He'd get it, take 5 strides and turn it over. Every time. No shooting to speak of. I'm not sure what's happened to his offensive game, really. Knocked over Boogaard though, which is always a huge plus.
- Disappointing in that he got several offensive chances and couldn't convert. Good that he was creating those chances I suppose. My hopes for him rest on him sticking around til next season though as we don't get to see much at all of his rounded game this year. Oh well.
- Not impressed as he really wasn't able to get anything going in a game he could've taken over. Linemates might have something to do with that but he needs to be better than this. Oh well.
My Oilers Stars
Really looking forward to NJ on Sunday!