This was a really strange game even if it ended with the usual result this year, and the usual Tuesday result of the last couple years (apparently we STINK on Tuesdays).
Looking at the game from back to front, we dominated the third period. Most forwards looked exceedingly confident with the puck and forced the play for the entire 20; even after the 2 DET goals we looked very good. I can't understand for the life of me how we didn't have about 8 PPs in the third period. The only thing more brutal than the Wings were the refs at that stage. On the 4-3 goal alone there were 2 totally blatant picks (including one by neanderthal-boy himself) that were ignored (I won't say unnoticed, because there's no way). Add in tackling Taylor Hall (which has apparently become a new league sport) on several occasions and we should have had at least a couple 5-on-3's. With the way they were playing and #23 in the lineup, this surely would have resulted in at least one goal, and of course no goal on the winner.
It's true the Oilers weren't very good in the first 40. Mostly the first 20, but even then they weren't so bad as to be allowing DET great chances. Osgood won the goalie matchup by a WIDE margin tonight. It wasn't close. Detroit looked rather uninspired for most of the game and certainly felt the absence of some of their best players. Despite those first couple periods, I really felt we got hosed tonight.
Credit to Renney for overshifting the top 2 lines at a key point early in the third. This shifted the momentum permanently and set the stage for a comeback. Once again we had some trouble off the top of the game, but again the score was more the result of being outgoaltended. Rather than a timeout, Renney should have pulled #35 after the 3rd DET goal. Even though a weak D pairing had just been schooled, it was clear that Khabibulin wasn't all there tonight. He'd nearly screwed up a couple other plays besides the goals, and with that let's move on to PLAYER REPORTS
- As noted above, he had his lunch handed to him by Osgood tonight. The first goal he wasn't ready, the second (despite a HORRENDOUS sequence by Cogliano) should have been a routine save and the third he didn't even put up a fight even though Draper telegraphed his move. After that he settled down for some time; and though I can't fault him for the fourth, again he didn't look ready. The fifth was a pretty nasty screen, but again, a goalie should be making himself as big as possible at that point, not as small as possible. I'm not saying all the goals were bad, but I am saying 35 looked unprepared and slow all night. He has nights like this and the coaching staff needs to start recognizing them at 2 or 3 goals and yank him outta there.
- Despite a rather unfortunate skate-pick on the fifth Detroit goal that made him look rather stupid, I liked Theo's game a lot tonight. His goal was a great example of knowing the situation and taking advantage in that DET had a delayed penalty and Peckham took that opportunity to leap into an empty slot, get open for a pass and make no mistake. Great read. He also had a number of nice hits and was generally solid with the puck.
- Again, one really unfortunate play tainted an otherwise solid game. On the fifth DET goal, Gilbert reacted to Peckham's incident by making an awkward play that completely screened his goalie. I'm not sure what caused him to react like this. It would have been much better if he'd reacted by being way too aggressive as opposed to way too backed off. This helps no one in these tight plays, especially on D. At least if you go for broke, you can say you tried and give your goalie a chance to bail you out. Other than this, Gilbert was solid. He and Theo are coming along nicely as a mid-range D pair. It's not ideal for a championship team of course, but it's nice to see progress anyway.
- Possibly his worst night as an Oiler. Where to start...his passes were ineffective, his pinches (both during the main game and late when trying to force a goal especially) were just plain horrible (he pinches too much with his stick and not enough body position), he didn't hit anyone, his shots didn't get through and his defensive positioning was a joke. I know that it can be tough playing with Vandermeer, but we usually don't make it look this bad. Why he continues to get shots from the coaching staff late in games when he's proven he won't deliver is beyond me.
- Came back and didn't look all that solid. He was slow and having to play catchup; which is kind of expected after an ankle injury. It will be interesting to see if he can elevate his game back to the decent area he was playing in before the injury.
- Generally solid game with an unfortunate bounce that cost us big. I liked the way Smid used his physicality and moved the puck for most of the night. It can be tough playing with a young D partner, but #5 did a solid job supporting Petry all night (not that he needed a ton, just that it can be a specialized role of sorts).
- Well, the butterflies appear to be gone. Jeff was big-time solid from the word go and spent the night using solid body positioning and a strong stick to take pucks away from DET forwards even if they held them in a strong position. I haven't seen a game like that since Joni Pitkanen and they have a lot of similarities in style (this is a VERY good thing!). He also got a really strong shot on net and I firmly believe he should be placed into a majority of the offensive situations that Foster has been receiving as he's shown he's capable. He moved the puck well, played aggressively and maintained solid defensive footing. This kid looks very good. If there's a solid story on D this year, it's the development of he and Peckham.
- Jacques had a game just like Foster did. He missed mulitple hits due to his bad technical skating, missed multiple pucks due to the fact he seems to have forgotten the game is played with one, and even sat there twiddling his thumbs on the bench when called for a shift at one point. How he keeps getting chances, no one may ever know. I was heckling him even harder than usual tonight as he was just making so many mistakes I could barely believe it. Playing Ryan Jones on this line completely wasted the fact that he's been playing so well and can be an offensive contributor. He needs people to get him the puck and both Jacques and Fraser are allergic so that was just impossible. He laid a couple hits but was very quiet. Again, Fraser had no sublime offensive or defensive efforts.
- It turned out that this line worked pretty well. Reddox played the exact kind of game I expect from him, but with more polish than past editions of #85. His skating lines were excellent, he hit people, he fired a couple solid shots and always seemed to be aware of his and his linemates positions. He shouldn't be sent back down as on this team he's definitely top 12. Great little play and pass for his assist from behind the net as well. Omark had a very good rebound game after his brief journey to OKC (which I believe saw him get 4 assists in one game?). He was excellent on the PP and I honestly prefer him handling the puck on the half boards to Ales right now. He's just very dynamic from there. He landed some hits and kept things simple but effective on a lot of shifts by playing a solid dump and chase game. He's one of the few guys we have smart and fast enough to make the play effectively. His assist wasn't spectacular, but he made many other solid plays that should not have gone unnoticed. Brule was certainly better than he has been lately, and I liked his goal, but I'll be interested to see if this was him riding on the energy and chemistry of Reddox-Omark or whether Brule got some steam back in his game. He still wasn't hitting anyone which has really shocked me this year as this has always been a key part of his game.
- I really didn't like this combo a lot of the night despite the fact that Ales wound up with 2 assists and Sam got 1 and 1. There was just something wrong about them. They kept rushing 3 strong up the right hand side of the ice and trying to make plays, which sort of worked early in the game and then derailed later. Magnus was really hit and miss as I thought he got to some very nice places on the ice early, but couldn't create any good chances, didn't really use his speed and took kind of an ugly penalty. I just don't think he compliments Ales as well as some of the other players. This was a rougher night for Hemsky than most. He struggled a little with the puck in the offensive zone and didn't get any bigtime scoring chances. It is true that DET plays him tighter than most teams and seems to know the areas he shoots from better, but I still expected more. At least he was still solid in the D and neutral zones. I liked both Sam's goal (quick thinking, solidly taken shot) and pass (good composure, good skate and great play to spot and feed Peckham) a lot. This was probably one of his better games and her certainly looked fired up, but he does need to be better on the faceoff dot. Why can't he be made to play a wing? I like the way he plays wing. The only thing I'll dog #89 for is missing the breakaway he had in the second; while he made a great little skating play to generate it, you have to finish when you deke out a goalie like that. What's with all these guys thinking they can go low nowadays. Nothing has ever or will ever beat a strong move to your forehand then going high.
- In 2 years on a night like this, Hall gets between 2 and 4 goals. He was really really dangerous despite getting absolutely badgered by the wings, especially in the third. There was specifically a key chance with under 2 to go where I still am not sure how he didn't score (Osgood did make a nice play on this one, but Hall still should've finished). Were he an older player I might be dogging him a bit for missed chances on a night like this, but it really helps his case that he generated many of the chances with singular efforts of skating and stickhandling. Heady days are surely not far away, I just hope the guy doesn't get frustrated. He seems to take the beatings and stonings by trying harder (and not in an "I'm frustrated way) which is a positive sign, but man he deserved a couple goals tonight. Cogliano got absolutely schooled chasing around behind the net on the Bertuzzi goal. He really needs to learn to STOP skating like a mad man sometimes. It's costing him dearly in the defensive zone as he uses it as an excuse to neglect his position. No offence generated by 13 tonight. Penner did not have one of his better games in that he seemed to be one step off the puck in both the neutral and offensive zones. With DET playing rather uninspiringly, this could have been a big night for #27 and it just wasn't, especially on the PP.
Big losing streak with Mr. Schremp and the red-hot Islanders coming in to play on Thursday. I have a feeling we'll either tear the rookie goalie a new one or get shutout...only time will tell. For the record I hope Robbie scores 6...and we win 7-6 (Omark (3), Hemsky (2), Penner, Peckham).