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11/27/10

LMHF Game Report #10

EDMONTON 3

VS.

SAN JOSE 4
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The result of tonight's game is quite frustrating; with the first reason being that we lost to a team that essentially only had 4 defencemen. It's rather inexcusable that we weren't even able to outshoot SJ tonight. We should have been able to run them into the ground in the offensive zone.

We were of course shorthanded in our own way; without Ales Hemsky and against a decent team we simply had to lean way too hard on one line. More on that in the player reports section.

One positive thing we did tonight was activate the defencemen into the cycle. Too bad we don't really score off the cycle.

I will re-iterate my yearly prediction that SJ won't wind up accomplishing anything this season. They are simply too thin and even in their areas of strength are improperly constructed to win a championship. Their chances increased slightly now that they changed goaltenders, but elsewhere they are still lacking. Their D is the most obvious weakness, and I don't see them addressing that in a major way. They will also have to lean far too hard on Thornton, Heatley and Marleau who have all shown their inability to lead these guys to the promised land. They should have totally reloaded several years ago and have not. Good luck with the insanity SJ!

I have a feeling that many regulars were missing tonight's game to partake in Grey Cup related festivities...the crowd was a very strange one and didn't follow the usual course.

Gerber starting tonight would have been interesting for me. I'd really like to see what he could do if he settled into a bit of a groove. I know why this won't happen, but that doesn't make it the right decision. On to PLAYER REPORTS

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Dubnyk
- A fairly weak game from him tonight. Whether Pavelski whiffed on his shot or not, Dubnyk's got to have that one and looked totally handcuffed. He also handled the puck badly tonight, resulting in a couple chances and seemed to be a little lost in his crease. I'm not sure how Heatley's first beat him so badly either. There were some bad rebounds to boot. He needs to be better than this. He didn't face a ton of quality chances and sure faced fewer shots than he's used to.

Smid-Whitney
- A weaker night from these two than their last couple efforts. It was Smid rather than Whitney who was carrying the puck in his own zone tonight which is kind of strange. Whitney got out of position a number of times and wasn't very physical. He did jump into the offence, which was a plus. Kind of a blah game all around from these guys.

GIlbert-Peckham
- No massive hits from Theo tonight, which isn't really a big deal but you now notice when he doesn't land a big one. With the puck he was just okay. Decent defensive positioning though. Gilbert carried the puck better in the neutral zone and was okay in the offensive zone, but gave it away in his own zone due to iffy passes and panicky play a few times. Not exactly progress. Every time he tries to hit, he gets out of position; he needs to stop that and just play his game.

Vandermeer-Foster
- Kind of a strange game from these guys by my eye. They looked really scary (in the BAD way) on the ice for much of tonight but never really had it bite them. Foster took some hard shots but really needs to do some accuracy work. He should be scoring on several of them and is either missing the net or hitting the goalie square. It's too bad he isn't better at hitting forwards' sticks. Vandermeer took a decently timed shot that ricocheted of an SJ forward for his goal; which I'm sure he'll take. He actually looked like a decent skater at times tonight which helped defensively.

Jacques-Fraser-Stortini
- They had 2 fairly effective shifts in the game with sustained offensive pressure, but unfortunately none of them are able to make a strong enough play on the puck that this matters. Stortini managed to skate himself into a couple shooting situations in the second period which was good to see. He needs to do more of that. I have no real interest in the other 2. One lands one large hit that borders on a charge each game and the other just sorta does nothing.

Brule-Cogliano-Penner
- Nothing at all like their last effort. While Penner had a fairly strong game and ragged the puck by himself on several occasions to generate chances, he had absolutely no help in the offensive zone and minimal help (mostly from Cogliano) in the defensive zone. He needed a Hemsky or Gagner playing with him tonight and he probably would have had a couple more points. Oh well...Cogliano didn't go to the scoring areas during any point of the game tonight and returned to being a perimeter guy; something he's terrible at doing. I will give him credit for some attempted physical play. On a night like tonight with SJ's D short, Cogliano and Brule could've been a holy terror for SJ to deal with and were not effective at all. Penner made a great little play to Gagner for his goal. Beauty read.

Paajarvi-Gagner-Jones
- Penner should have replaced Jones in the second half of the third. While I appreciate the effort Jones gave (he won a lot of races, drove the net and made some intelligent choices), he wasn't enough to make this an effective second scoring unit. It's really too bad he's not a better shooter because he makes the most of his skating and takes excellent lines to the puck. Gagner played a pretty solid game. He fought hard to get the first goal after first being rejected on a nice backhand that required a lot of patience to begin with, helped (along with Magnus) to screen on the third goal, and generally worked very hard in the offensive zone. While he was provided marginal support by his linemates, he like Penner was capable of more tonight. Magnus showed glimpses of his skating speed again, and had a fabulous chance to tie the game late but missed a clean wrister wide-left. Too bad because it would've been pretty.

Hall-Horcoff-Eberle
- These guys carried the offensive ball tonight and nearly got it over the goal line. Eberle made two bad mistakes (1 SH turnover in the second that resulted in the Heatley goal and a similar turnover 5-on-5 in the third that didn't cost us, and was more out of trying to hard than making a mistake) but was fabulous in the offensive zone. He owned the corners, retrieved a ton of pucks and made some excellent passes. After watching Horcoff shoot to the wrong spot on an odd man rush with Eberle, he went over and said something to him; the next rush Eberle led, took a very intelligent shot and the rebound went right to Horcoff for his goal. Beauty. He even got Horcoff a chance late on a pass I have no idea how he got through. Hall showed a lot of promise tonight, carrying the puck aggressively into tough areas and often coming out with it. While his shots from the wing still sailed wide, he nearly tied it in the third on a pure wrister from the slot. It was impressive that shot nearly went in because it was so plain. Horcoff had a mostly strong game and certainly worked his tail off; though I would like to point out that he too made a mistake in the third that cost a should have been goal; he got his first shot attempt muffled in the slot, then the puck came back to him. Rather than take one step to his left, which would have afforded him a wide open shot at a wide open net (Antero had slid the other way), Horcoff simply hacked away and didn't score. Very disappointing. Kind of surprising he didn't score on the chance he had in close in the first after a nifty little play was made at the blue to get him the puck (by either Eberle or Hall). Horcoff got his chances tonight.
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When you only have one effective offensive line, this stuff happens. With that said, we had our chances. Definitely a winnable game as that was NOT an 'A' effort from SJ.

*NOTE* I will be missing the next 2 home games on a trip to Las Vegas to run in a half marathon, so no game reports for those. Sorry guys!

11/25/10

LMHF Game Report #9

EDMONTON 3

VS.

COLORADO 2
--------------------

When we scored #3 tonight, everyone cheered a bunch and most remained standing for some time. We needed this home win and badly. It's one thing to stink; it's another to stink even worse than normal at home.

I didn't see a great game from the guys tonight. Tonight is the type of game that proves you don't actually need to play 60 to win. You need to play 5 great minutes and 55 decent ones. We did that.

We gave up too many shots and spent most of our offensive zone time on the perimeter. Credit to Colorado for keeping us to the outside most of the night, but they paid dearly when they didn't.

Strangest moment of the night: they played a rap-infused version of Free Fallin...so very very very wrong.

I trust that everyone sitting near someone in a hideous green non-hockey jersey calmly informed them that they were in the wrong building watching the wrong sport in the wrong province and kindly asked them to leave. So very annoying...

Colorado certainly looked like a team that played late last night. They were asleep for the first few minutes and dragged themselves essentially lifeless back into the game just enough to have something of a chance but that was it. They certainly have some talent, though all but Duchene looked off their games tonight. On to our squad

PLAYER REPORTS
------------------

Gerber
- Didn't really have his body under control and kept sliding out of the net. I could see how his style would be effective when he's on because he can cover a lot of net, but he looked a little over-amped tonight and gave up some seriously juicy rebound. His best save came only because he'd kicked out a rebound to an open Avs player. If not for Sam scoring on him, he has a 1 goal allowed night which is wonderfully solid for that many shots. He definitely has a unique method of playing the puck; often flicking his stick out with one hand to direct it. I suppose if our players had seen him more they'd know where to go and it wouldn't look so awkward. It generated a goal in the second for the Avs, but generated the winner for us. Congrats on returning to the show with a W Martin!


Peckham
- Just destroyed 3 different Avs players with wonderful right-on-the-edge hits. This guy is the best Oilers hitter in a long time not just because he connects but because he does it without being thrown way out of position like some of the forwards who try to land bombs. Even though he had something of an iffy game in his own zone (he wasn't as strong as usual in the corners but okay in other areas), this was an excellent game for him because it was noticeable after the hits that several Avs players backed off of the puck when he was near. They also must know he can fight because none came after him despite his aggressive play. VERY effective night from Theo.

Gilbert
- Really liked the little rush play he made with tired linemates in the third to gain the red line and get the puck deep. I think I might have caught some of what the problem is with Tom. Normally, he's from the calm school of defencemen and sort of slides into his position, cutting off opposition forwards rather than catching or hitting them. Tonight and recently, when I look for him in the spot he should be (safe side, tight gap, facing the play), he's often overcommitted towards the opposition player. Because he's not physical, this means he often misses his check and the puck and is forced to chase. He's not a chaser. This needs to be corrected.

Whitney
- Great pass to catch Magnus in stride in the third; loved the calm read. Controlled the puck and the play for much of the night, often skating it into the opposition zone and making a solid play. I think without Hemsky as an outlet he took some of the neutral zone responsibility on himself. I'm surprised he didn't bring up his hitting game when he saw what Peckham was doing. Certainly one of our best and much improved since the last games on home ice.

Smid
- He looked a little out of sorts tonight; and that was before he got popped in the third. I was certainly scared for him as he sort of wobbled around the ice the rest of that shift. It appears he's okay and I sure hope so. Looked like a good fit with Whitney tonight as he knew how to find him with the pass and where to provide defensive support.

Vandermeer
- bringmebackshawnbelle! *cough*, nothing special and nothing really bad I suppose.

Foster
- What is it with Oilers players getting caught in the mouth with the puck lately? I don't get it...He got some shots away and made a couple lovely slap passes (the one I remember most was in the second and Penner kind of whiffed on a great chance). He also kept up the minor physical element of his game which is good. Not amazing defensively, but oh well.

Cogliano
- Okay, so let me get this straight: Andrew Cogliano turns into a scorer if we outfit him with a 2-piece mask featuring face and jaw shield as opposed to a full shield? (seriously, find a pic it looked silly as all hell!) If it takes looking like RoboCop's strange hockey-playing cousin out there, so be it I guess! What Andrew did well tonight was use his speed to get to the scoring areas and lurk there. He's forgotten how to do this the last year and some but it certainly came back tonight. The strange thing about this way of playing is that it's actually easier to do than his usual strategy of skating a million miles with the puck but never being in a scoring area. I loved his quick little jump play for goal number 2. Renney missed a chance to use a hot player more than he'd anticipated in the game plan tonight. #13 didn't see the PP (despite his 2 linemates playing there) and didn't get overshifted, yet still managed to come within inches of his trick several times. He was really good tonight and needs to remember where he spent most of the evening. Should've been first star and didn't even get one.

Penner
- The semi-dominant Penner was back tonight; plain owning players while he ragged the puck on command. This is the kind of guy that has a 4-point night with Ales Hemsky. He flourished as the puck carrier and dominant player on his line tonight however. I suspect it was he that gave Cogliano the chance to play in the scoring area. I'm surprised he wasn't able to pop one tonight.

Brule
- Decent, aggressive game from him. His slapper wasn't effective because he was forcing it too much from non-ideal positions but he was aggressive in the corners and actively distributed the puck. For some reason he picked tonight to be horrible on the dot...

Jacques
- 2 hits that I thought should've earned him at least one penalty. I understand why people get excited for some of the stuff he does, but the only other thing I remember about his game tonight was a weak shot from the RW in the third.

Fraser
- Even less. Does he do anything? Seriously? I can't find anything from this guy ever.

Stortini
- Had an even more borderline hit than Jacques behind the Colorado net. Cogliano got booted for something very similar and Stortini's, while slower, looked like a harder hit. He did skate fairly well tonight and made at least one decent backcheck play, but nothing really special.

Paajarvi
- I didn't really notice him much until the end of the game (he hadn't even drawn a penalty!), but boy did he ever have a shift at the end. When he gets his feet moving and commits to making a move with the puck in a protected position, he's very hard to stop. Needs to learn to go upstairs on that play however. The nice thing about Magnus is that he doesn't tend to make mistakes that wind up in our net. Looks like he may have some confidence back.

Jones
- Kind of a mid-physical game from him in that he was finishing checks but not making huge contact. I don't mind this because it can be part of a successful strategy. He also uses his skating well in games like this. It's really too bad he doesn't have just a little more offence to his game.

Gagner
- Didn't love Sam's game tonight, but he was okay. Tough break knocking one into his own net. I'm really not a fan of the way he sets up on the powerplay, and that continued tonight. He also took a couple more of his special slappers that always seem to go high. He grips really low and almost upshoots them...don't quite understand his method.

Eberle
- Nothing quite like taking a pass from your goalie, going the length of the ice, beating an opposition guy behind the net with smarts and positioning, faking another defender to pass between his stick and feet, passed several more, to the guy waiting wide open to finish the game. That play was beautiful for so many reasons and only happens with Jordan Eberle leading it. Just stupendous. He almost led a rush up the middle (that looked like Magnus 3.0) as well and spent the night getting the puck to the slot. His line generated a bunch of offence (even if it didn't succeed often) and it almost always came off his stick. He made two mistakes tonight that I can recall; one was not clearing a puck from his own zone in the third, and he got beat to a puck in the corner in the offensive end. He makes so few mistakes I can usually recount the individual plays. Amazing.

Horcoff
- Pretty solid game from him. He spent the evening in solid puck support position and got some solid shots away from scoring places. Kind of unlucky not to pop one. Certainly worked hard and wasn't overskating his checks.

Hall
- Much better game offensively from Taylor. There was one shift where he popped the puck over an Avs' stick in his own zone (reminding me of a move from NHL 11) and then tried it again and was rebuffed. Rather fun to watch. He got past opposition players much more easily than usual and went to more appropriate spots. Very nice finish on Eberle's pass, showing plenty of patience, awareness and precision to put the puck in even though Budaj was there. If anyone would like to see an example of why I criticize how Hall carries the puck, watch the third period with about 16:30 remaining and he gives the puck away on the rush after a lead pass from Penner I believe. He needs to eliminate that play. Thankfully it was much less plentiful tonight than in previous efforts. I didn't like his defensive game too much because it looked like he was chasing and not winning puck battles. Thankfully his offensive play counter-balanced that.
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Anyone else think if we had a strong D it'd be fun to see what Peckham could do to opposition players playing forward? I think that'd be great.

Winning is so much more fun than losing...YAY!

11/19/10

LMHF Game Report #8

EDMONTON 3

VS.

PHOENIX 4

In freaking shootout....
-----------------------

I really felt we were going to win tonight. Even though we were outshot, they out-played Phoenix for most of the game tonight.

The refereeing absolutely sucked. We should've had a myriad of powerplays tonight and actually looked pretty good on it when we had them. Disgraceful. Cogliano's "major" was just the beginning. That was never 5 minutes for boarding...what a joke.

It is true we played fairly weakly in the third period, but we still had enough chances to win. Whitney was excellent for PHX. He made a play on Eberle at the end of OT that saved the game by lifting #14's stick. Beauty defensive backcheck. We'd been in an OT groove and should've won. Several posts as well, which was a problem.


PLAYER REPORTS
----------------

Dubnyk
- Aside from the fact that he got beat the same way 3 times in the shootout, which is rather bad, he looked fairly solid. In particular he played the puck reasonably well and much better than Khabibulin. The third PHX goal was clearly on Whitney and Horcoff as well as narrowly not averted by Gilbert. Korpikoski's goal he didn't really have a chance. It's possible he could have stopped #2, though it was a good shot. Outside of the shootout, he basically did his job tonight.

Belle
- In the overtime period, Belle's play was stupendous. 4-on-4 his skating shines through wonderfully. He also showed enough instinct to skate to the front of the net which unfortunately Hemsky couldn't work into a goal. Belle also got a nice shot on net on a wide drive. The rest of his game was pretty plain, but so far he looks very good compared to his competition. He's not experiencing any of the nervousness that we were supposed to be seeing. This is great. We may have a late blooming gem by next year. That's the optimism in me, but we'll see.

Vandermeer
- Had his moments. He managed to avoid the bad pinch tonight which, which is good. I still didn't think his play along the boards was particularly good, and he gave the puck away as usual. He was far above Strudwick-level tonight though, which is enough.

Foster
- Got shots away but none were particularly good. Thankfully he had no major defensive screwups. Didn't see him doing much else.

Gilbert
- The struggles continue; partially because he's trying to be physical and can't. He needs to play with a strong stick and good positioning; unfortunately when you're a bad hitter this throws your positioning out of whack. Not Jacques-out-of-whack, but still out of it. He made an utterly horrible play to create a PHX scoring chance in the first and had to make the long march to the bench. Couldn't have been fun. He played a support role to Whitney all night and did just okay. He's better than okay and sure isn't playing like it.

Whitney
- So, we've found the magic move. Whitney gets the puck to Hemsky. He was an excellent puck distributor tonight and facilitated many of Hemsky's rushes. Defensively he was pretty decent actually. This was hopefully a recovery game for Whitney and the Whitney-Gilbert pair overall. Unfortunately this was somewhat ruined by their bad play on the tying goal. Great pass on Penner's goal.

Peckham
- More solid play from him. Fought hard for the puck in the corners and won a decent amount of battles. He was also in PHX's face every time any sort of scrum started. He's going to be excellent for us for many years and is much better with the puck than a guy like Matt Greene, which hopefully will help us when we're finally a good team again.

Jacques
- Congrats bonehead! You nearly killed a teammate. His hit on Stortini was certainly a low moment but he didn't do anything else either. I didn't seem him for the end of the third but wasn't sure whether he'd left the bench or not. The fact that he took away icetime from #91 tonight disgusts me. He helps us win in absolutely no way. He didn't even take the hits he had lined up half the time.

Fraser
- I really didn't notice him aside from getting in the middle of a scrum and taking one decent shot in the first period. He's really the invisible man.

Stortini
- Has lost all of preseason momentum officially at this stage. Even his skating looked pretty weak tonight and that's been a strong point even in his not so great games. I think we broke him; which is too bad. I had hope he'd be doing what Ryan Jones is right now but better because he's smarter.

Jones
- Again, pretty invisible tonight. I imagine most of this was because of the Cogliano booting but I'm not totally sure. Good enough to anger Phoenix on a couple of occasions but not really enough to make a positive difference unfortunately.

Cogliano
- Yeah, not a major. Not at all. Brutal call. Barely even a major.

Penner
- Had maybe 5 moments tonight where he really looked in control of the game. He didn't however get any productive shots off really, but did make a nice play on his goal I suppose. The puck slipped off his stick far too many times tonight.

Gagner
- Why is he still in the shootout? He should really yank himself out of the shootout because he's just not going to score again. He's also still taking his goofy slapshot that goes over the net most of the time. Luckily he didn't try to carry the puck through the neutral zone too much; that is where he usually fails when playing with Hemsky.

Hemsky
- Utterly sublime effort from him tonight. If you watch the highlights, half of them are him taking the puck from Whitney then streaking through the PHX defenders. He went into odd man situations and was almost always productive. This is the kind of game he can play when he's really firing. If any of his linemates had been going too, he would've had 5 or 6 points tonight. He was that good. His goal was an excellent SH read and a solid finish that looked like something of an optical illusion. Great pass to start the Penner goal. There are very few guys in the league who can do what he did tonight. So much fun. *random note* he always plays his best when I don't wear my Hemsky jersey; it's weird.

Hall
- Cannot do anything 5-on-5 because he can't beat anyone 1-on-1 and doesn't skate properly to put himself in a position of advantage. It's very disappointing. 4-on-4 or on the PP he's doing okay, but he needs to be used in a more dedicated way. I suppose he supports Horcoff and Eberle okay. I'm waiting to be blown away again. He made an interesting move between the legs in the first, but I'm still trying to figure whether it actually did anything for him.

Horcoff
- Solid goal due to solid positioning. I didn't mind him much tonight. His shootout "move" was rather pathetic. I still don't understand why people shoot five hole without moving drastically from side to side.

Eberle
- Played very well as per usual. Loved the way he kept the puck away from the PHX defenders who were rather aggressive on him. Probably had an SH goal taken away by the linesman getting in his way as that was a very dangerous looking odd-man rush. Made some phenomenal passes. Play him with Hemsky and Penner just for kicks.
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Another loss...this one more painful than the others because it was close. We shoulda won tonight. BLECH. Not the way to start a weekend.

11/5/10

LMHF Game Report #6

EDMONTON

VS.

DETROIT

--------------------

This is the first report issued from my iphone. I'm off to a friend's birthday and will write more later on.

Once again we had chances to win. After the first we really limited Detroit's chances and got some of our own. We only scored 1 due to a horrid PP, hitting posts and missing rebounds. We could've won this game on the strength of period 2 but didnt capitalize.

While Det's big guys were solid, they were not scary aside from a couple moments (datsyuk off the bar comes to mind). We matched them decently despite being down our best D. Against skating teams we will always contend.

PLAYER REPORTS
--------------------

Khabibulin
- go find the highlight film from his second period save on #40 if you want to see play of the year. AMAZING glove save. He needed to stop the first goal however. Aside from that he was pretty good.


Whitney
- his defining moment tonight had to be the fight after the late hit on Hemsky. It might not have been dirty but it was late. To me, the fight makes it clear that a message was sent in the room after last game. This is a good thing. Ryan didnt have a particularly strong game.

Vandermeer
- when a guy makes you wish for the fine and steady play of Aaron Johnson, you know he's not great. Vandermeer got blown clear by twice in the first and didnt make up for anything by bringing a physical element. He's better than Strudwick but still needs to go as he costs us goals.

GIlbert
- probably one of his better games in a while. He got physical in the corners and won pucks a couple times in addition to solid positioning. He also avoided penalty situations while breaking up 2 nearly clear Detroit rushes (including the one #35 poked away). I liked his game.

Foster
- totally all over the place. He made a great read and slap pass for the Hall goal but was horrid defensively and made a lot of bad passes.

Smid
- not his best, but made some excellent passes and got in Holmstrom's face.

Peckham
- didnt play for some reason...

Strudwick
- blech...best #2 comment of the night: "helm just held the puck longer on that rush than Strudwick has all year!

Jones
- got a couple good chances and thought he might score an ugly one.

Fraser
- the invisible man? He does nothing.

Stortini
- other than owning Lidstrom for the puck twice on the same shift in the third he was terrible. Has totally forgotten his job is to be physical.

Cogliano
- not as noticable as the last few games. Couldnt seem to get going tonight.

Brule
- he played very well aside from a couple giveaways. Loved the physicality, especially the MOnSTER hit on Datsyuk. Had he connected on the shooting chance from his wheelhouse, the night would have been complete.

Penner
- better in that he got his shots away including a second period post that would have changed the game, but not dominant in any way and needs toget back to planting out front.

Paajarvi
- not his best effort. Had a couple nice backchecks but generated litrle offence and shied away from hits too often.

Gagner
- fell down every second shift. Seriously. He also got a couple nice shots on but varied wildly between productive looking rushes and giveaways. I didnt think he gelled with his line.

Eberle
- probably the first game of his i wasnt totally blown away. Solid play still and love his PK, but no theatrics.

Hemsky
- ales got some shots on net but struggled a bit tonight. Didnt seem to have an open man much of the time. The puck wasnt going to him on the rush either, which looked like a planning flaw. Got stuck standing still at times with no outlet.

Horcoff
- carried the puck too much and didnt use his speed to get open. Probably needs a game to adjust to playing with ales again.

Hall
- like that he got his first goal at home but needs to tighten up his skating lines a bunch and stop taking stupid wide angle shots when trailers are open for the pass. He could have had a very good game and squandered it by my eye. 83 and 10 make his job very easy.


----------------------

If our PP didnt stink, we win. We gave the puck up on break in way too often. Back to he drawing board.

11/2/10

LMHF Game Report #5

EDMONTON 3

VS.

VANCOUVER 4

----------------

There were a lot of different stories to tonight's game from my perspective. This one didn't have a discernible flow from beginning to end like many games do.

The first period was an utter trainwreck from an Oilers perspective. We gave the puck away a whole bunch and were consistently turned aside at the top of the circles in the Canuck zone without a fight. This was just painful to watch. We kept letting the Canucks get the puck deep. A big reason for this was a lack of gap control. We let the Canucks D have free reign at the top of the zone when in control, and also backed off WAY too far on the rush. This did lead to some of the plays leading up to the three goals that VAN scored, but didn't really mean we were all that bad. The goals were not great ones by any stretch.

In the second we started to right the ship. While we were still backing off a bit too much, gaps were narrowing and we were taking a little more control of the play. Penner's goal was a huge one as we needed something to start tilting in our favor. Eberle made an amazing play that could've changed the game utterly near the end of the period; stickhandling a puck out of trouble and eventually generating an offensive chance that narrowly missed in the opposing end that would've brought us to within one. So began the first in a series of plays that could have led to a victory.

Then came the third. After a minor stretch following their third goal, the Canucks still didn't have a decent scoring chance and pretty much didn't for the rest of the game. We had all the decent chances and scored two excellent goals as a result. The ice was tilted in our preference and the game was our...oh wait...they sent out Jason Strudwick...oh wait...he's screening the goalie and standing still covering no one...oh wait...Khabibulin didn't move on another weak shot and it's in the net. So goes the game. There was a play Eberle made (I believe before this one but am not sure) that could've led to an Oilers win, save for a brilliantly placed skate of a Canucks defenceman (for anyone who missed this, Eberle made a great play off the wing, had the complete 'eye of the tiger' look and was one step away from a totally open slot with Luongo going the wrong way when the puck slipped away). If the Oilers don't allow that weak 4th goal, they probably win this one going away. If Eberle doesn't get skate-checked, they win. If...if...UGH.

I have to once again comment on the refereeing. It's something that comes up most often it seems with the Canucks. There was a sequence in the third after an Oilers PP where there were 4 non-calls that could've gone against the Canucks. Every Oilers forward was slashed and hooked after they entered the zone. Elbows were flying everywhere and interference was plenty. Why precisely the Canucks, a team the league should be looking at with increased scrutiny, get away with such utter crap is beyond me. We should have been trotting out the 5-on-4 crew 9-12 times tonight and hardly had any PP time. What a joke.

On a night when we effectively shut down the Sedins, Kesler, and the usual suspects, we get beat on crummy goals and crummier reffing. That sucks. By no means were we perfect, but we were certainly good enough to win.

PLAYER REPORTS
-----------------

Khabibulin
- Utterly horrible. I can understand that he was screened and there were some awkward plays and tipped shots, but he wasn't even moving in the correct direction half the time (if he was moving at all). He looked sluggish, and not ready. He should have been pulled after two goals but Renney appeared gun-shy just like last time #35 was getting shelled. I see no point to leaving him in when he's playing like that. A decent effort from him and no Jason Strudwick would have meant we win tonight.

Strudwick
- The death of our playoff hopes personified in one man. Even in limiting his icetime we couldn't keep him from poisoning the effort tonight. Is Jim Vandermeer suffering a serious injury or something? Are we that roster-stupid that we can't call up any of the more capable AHL dmen? (there are a number) All he does is stand there in a weird squat pose screening the goalie. When he touches the puck, it is for precisely .02 seconds so that he can rip it into parts unknown. I am so sick of watching this guy violate everything any defenceman learns about playing his position from the day he starts playing D.

Foster
- He wasn't very good either. For some reason #26 doesn't want to skate with the puck, which is a bad thing because he's not a very good passer. He also kept putting his shots in high even though there were forwards working. A shot with the force of his would generate automatic rebounds that could've been the difference tonight. I can't comprehend how an offensively gifted defenceman in the NHL can't know and do this consistently. Very frustrating.

Peckham
- He was good. He's learned how to use a combination of size and close-quarters explosiveness to win puck battles along the boards consistenly. He did this many times tonight. The next step will be for him to learn how to deck forwards who put their head down on the cycle (the Canucks and teams like them are vulnerable to this in the offensive zone). If Theo hadn't stepped up this way this year, we'd be nowhere. The only unfortunate thing about him having to take on such a big load is that he can't go out of his way to be a policeman (that would leave #43 on to PK, which we know seems to equal a sure goal). It's kind of funny that the numbers show Strudwick a +1 and Peckham a -1 on a night when their games were so different.

Smid
- Ladislav seems to have developed a signature play. He settles down a play, gathers the puck behind his own net, beats the lead forward to a spot 5-10 feet in front our net (using the net as a block) then fires a great pass to someone. He did this at least a couple times tonight and it resulted in at least one goal (Jones). He wasn't amazing defensively and got pushed around a bit more than usual. I think it's still evident that he's coming back from a pretty serious injury in that he's not being as aggressive as he otherwise would.

Whitney
- While he did log 29 minutes tonight, he was no superman really. I'm not sure why, but #6 seems to be getting into some bad habits, mainly associated with standing around too much when he needs to be moving his feet. He also gave the puck away and made some bad passes generally at various times tonight. I prefer when he plays with Gilbert for sure, but not his best effort. Needs to turn it around or get some help delivered by the trade market so there's less pressure on him.

Gilbert
- Aside from the offensive zone, where Tom could have had a very productive night and couldn't capitalize on his shooting opportunities, I liked his game. Very settled and solid, even dished out a hit or two.

Hemsky
- He had his struggles with the puck in the first and early second, and I'm betting some people will rip him for that. If I was Ales Hemsky, I would have had a seriously hard time not throwing an absolute fit in the dressing room after the game. Ales was run more times in one game than I've ever seen a guy get run. There were elbows, slashes, clean hits and dirty, ALL NIGHT, EVERY SHIFT. This is quite frankly what we should do to the Sedins, but for absolutely no Oilers to take umbrage and do something about this was very angering. #83 busted it all night and never quit, even trying to take matters into his own hands on several occasions in terms of redemption. Looked like he was bloodied on the 3rd or 4th shift then again multiple times after. He kept at it. All night. Incredible effort if you know anything about that kind of beating. He should have gone out immediately on the PP after he drew the third period penalty (at least the second of the night he drew); he would've scored. They've got to find a way to protect him against VAN. They started letting Gagner rush the puck, but that limited offence severely.

Gagner
- Looked...decent but not in top gear. At some point I kind of expected him to do something special and find an open player (such as in the second when Magnus led a rush, dished to #89 and broke to the net, only to not receive a return feed) and he just couldn't all night. I can't knock his effort but am still utterly perplexed as to why he's playing with Ales.

Paajarvi
- Didn't look quite ready for primetime tonight. I'm not sure Penner would've done any better on the line, but Magnus just wasn't quite in the right spots when his speed kicked in. I liked what he did defensively to get back to several pucks and always remain in position, but he had some chances to do more offensively and didn't. He had a nice break in the third I believe and tried to go five-hole...he seems over-prone to shoot there. I'm not sure whether we keep him on that line going forward or not. The guy for Hemsky to play with is probably still Hall, but that can't work with Gagner in the middle.

Jones
- Did his job to some degree. I liked the way he played in the offensive zone in terms of applying pressure, and obviously his goal (great example of not quitting on a free puck), but would've liked to see him finish his checks more like the Canuck forwards were doing. They bashed us all night.

Stortini
- Phenomenal effort to set up that goal. Absolutely owned a guy for the puck in the corner, then skated out and rather than taking some stupid sissy backhand, spun and fired a quality wrister forcing Luongo to make a save but not control the puck. I'd like to see what he could do with a little more icetime.

Fraser
- To be honest, I didn't really notice him aside from once in the second period along the boards in the Canucks zone...that was it.

Penner
- Honestly, aside from his goal (which #2 preceded by saying "why can't we have last year's Dustin Penner?" by about 30 seconds) I thought it was the same story as of late for Penner. He was lazy and slow, didn't bully anyone around when he had the puck (especially in the first) and didn't make the passes he can. I don't know what's wrong with him.

Brule
- A couple shifts before his goal, Cogliano came into the offensive zone in a very similar way and decided to shoot even though Brule was open for a pass. I have to wonder if #67 said something to #13 before the goal shift about getting him the puck in his office, because that goal was textbook Brule. He's got a wicked shot from that spot and we should have a set play (or 3) to take advantage of that. Considering he only got 10 minutes of time, I really liked his game tonight. He was decent in the offensive zone and kept up his speed game throughout. He was also solid on the dot and did a lot more to facilitate Cogliano's good game than Penner did.

Cogliano
- Aside from an utterly horrid show in the faceoff circle, Cogliano was pretty excellent tonight. He remembered suddenly how to create off the rush, and found Brule for that third period goal. The second period goal he generated for Penner should have been the turning point in a massive home win. Seeing Andrew Alberts struggling with the puck behind his own net in Strudwickian fashion, Cogliano didn't try a finesse move, but instead knocked the much larger man down and freed the puck to Penner who put it in. Simple hockey beauty. Loved it. He needs to keep bringing efforts like this and DRIVING DOWN THE MIDDLE NOT THE WING!

Horcoff
- I kept looking for him to show off the top gear and get open tonight but it didn't seem like he could do it against the Canucks. He was pretty bad in the offensive corners and had a couple ugly turnovers but aside from that played a pretty solid kid-support game out there. I think we should bar him from the half-boards on the PP however. Almost scored an UGLY goal after great efforts from the kids, but was somehow denied by Luongo.

Eberle
- The man's a hockey-playing genius. Period. I had another "I know I'm watching a special player when" moment in the third when he passed to a teammates heel instead of straight in the center of his blade and I wanted to chastise him. The guy makes so many productive plays with the puck in the course of one game that it is extremely hard to keep track; and you nearly can't take the puck away from him (and surely not with your stick). Maybe you need to give him a shot with Hemsky somehow; they could work some serious magic if one can play LW. We are safe when he has the puck. PKing was solid as usual (Hemsky-Penner unit should be used more too). I think I already mentioned his break for the slot and near goal at the end of the second...he also fed Hall a couple times that could've resulted in goals.

Hall
- Didn't use his speed as effectively as usual tonight. He also should've finished checks...he dodged a couple times. Taylor is better when he hits and is built solid. We need the banging in a game like this. Hall could've scored in the first on rush where he ripped a wrister that caused Luongo to reach back and BARELY make the save. Was really hoping he could start a streak, oh well...
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Needless to say, tonight was a frustrating missed chance. There's no reason for this team to be losing the games like this, Calgary and Columbus other than the D depth. If we're competitive in these games, there's also no reason we shouldn't compete for (and the goal should be) 8th. Add something to this roster. Losses like tonight don't help development; they just frustrate you and injure your best player.

Over/under on how many ice bags Hemsky needed after this one?