I would like to begin by stating that we haven't actually lost yet. The fraction of a second left on the clock after Dallas scored has not been played.
On another time-related note; if the second period was 2 minutes longer we win that game. The team really hit its stride in the late second and racked up a bunch of chances. Too bad we're horrible conversionists.
Our powerplay continued its ineptitude; likely costing us yet another game. We remain reliant on getting the puck to the point to set up a man who either shoots directly into the goalie's chest when he doesn't hammer the puck, or directly into the glass when he does. I wonder if Foster is using the Lidstrom curve...that thing was always good for clearing the zone but never for going just under the bar.
If you're going to the Oilers' games right now and looking for good, fundamentally sound hockey players, Jeff Petry has to jump right out at you. He's a solid puck retrieval guy in his own zone, he gets pucks to the net and moves to create lanes from the point, he pinches with confidence and even when he screws up at the offensive line (as he did tonight in the first), he doesn't panic. On the play I'm thinking of, he stuck to the number one rule for a defenceman going for the puck; get the puck or get the man. You must get at least one. He made a bad attempt at the puck but recovered beautifully to take his man out of the play. I'm seeing things in his game this early that would indicate he's well on his way to being competition for Whitney in a year or two as our best defenceman. Impressive stuff.
On a stranger note, our coaching staff appears intent on turning Ladislav Smid into some kind of rover. I say this because for the second game in a row, Smid actually spent a significant amount of time below the opposition goal line, hitting and making plays on the puck. He did pretty well in his adventures, even setting up Petry's goal with a pass from behind the net (though it was likely headed to the forward it was still properly directed at a scoring lane with 2 Oilers in it). I'm all for aggressive use of skilled defencemen, but this is getting strange. Smid was also decent defensively tonight.
The Foster-Chorney pairing is a disaster waiting to happen ever single time it hits the ice. Chorney didn't really have any impressive rushes tonight, made some bad decisions at the opposition blue line, and didn't cover a thing defensively. I'm back to believing that if ANYONE will give us value, he should be moved while he still has some. Not an NHL defenceman and not looking like he has the tools sadly. Foster doesn't have the excuse of youth...the play he made on Dallas' 2-on-1 that he managed to allow to turn into a 4-on-2 was such horrendous hockey I couldn't believe it. He would have been more effective if he lied down in front of Ribeiro and not moved at all. The way he made that awkward standing play was reminiscent of a PeeWee forward thrust into playing D. I couldn't believe it was so bad and he actually managed to make the initial chance more dangerous by slowing it down so much. He also contributed hugely to the Benn goal. I don't know how a man that big can be so ineffective in the d-zone.
Peckham had his moments tonight but wasn't overly impressive. I'd liked to have seen more hitting from him in a game like this against a group of pesky forwards (who oddly enough seemed to be on their best behavior). He moved the puck well but didn't generate any particular offence. His partner on the other hand continued to struggle with giveaways and coverage. I'm not sure why he's drifted backwards but I have to think it's a confidence issue with Gilbert and he's just good at hiding it in public. He looks like a totally different hockey player from night-to-night, changing how he moves the puck, where he skates to, how he covers, and how well he shoots by drastic rather than small degrees. It is confusing as hell to watch.
We started the wrong goalie again...I'm hoping that Dubnyk was sick and that's the excuse. There wasn't a ton that #35 could really have done I suppose, but he didn't face a lot of quality chances tonight as the Oilers actually did a decent job of limited chances in tight and odd-man situations.
Jacques managed to hit another teammate when he tried to butt in on a very nice hit Petry had lined up. For a minute I thought he'd KO'ed #58 at which point I likely would have charged the ice, stolen a stick from another player and beat on his back until he couldn't play anymore. The guy needs to pay attention already. He also needs to stop bringing his bottom hand higher on the stick when he goes to shoot. No one with any talent does this as it gives you substantially less control. Jacques taking an open shot is one of the saddest Oilers fan experiences and he missed by his usual 5 feet again tonight.
Mr. Stortini got hosed by the ref; after starting a skirmish in the Dallas end on a whistle, he was given a VERY weak penalty almost immediately after the faceoff. Blatant targeting of a player. I have no respect for Joanette and agree with the sentiment that he shouldn't be able to call any Oilers games. Stortini seemed to play decent enough hockey tonight.
Fraser missed a wide open net; which wasn't surprising. I'm amazed we managed to find a non-scrapper with so little hockey talent.
Speaking for a minute about "the Franchise", I'd like to say that while I love intensity, have been known to smash a few sticks in my time (though strategically so as not to break them) and get very fired up, acting like a spoiled child on the ice was rather pathetic of him. First he essentially broke out crying after what looked like an obvious penalty whether the DAL player helped it or not, then he snapped his stick and fell after the Dallas SO goal. Taylor, apply your intensity to hitting the net on your chances, running some opposing D over (he backed away from several hits before 2 in the third) and work on your zone entry (too much going wide, too many times trying to go 1-on-4 at low speed, no passing). His effort was better than last game in terms of hockey, but some of that other BS didn't serve him well.
Penner was much better than last game, especially early. It was a pretty usual game for him, though I think adding Horcoff back into the line through off the chemistry a little bit as there were now 3 guys who could all have been playing C. Penner didn't really come up with anything brilliant, which we could have used. For his part, Horcoff did a decent enough job and certainly looked fit to play. I'm rather suspicious now when guys come back from injuries or guys don't look quite right (ala Gilbert the past few) on the ice.
The 91-89-23 line was pretty decent tonight, though I feel as if 89 is underperforming. He'd already given the puck away too much tonight, then made that totally inexplicable give-the-puck-to-Steve-Ott-and-smash-myself-into-the-boards play late in the game. What the heck was that??? I get the feeling that Sam has a bit of an issue with where to go when he plays with Omark and Paajarvi for whatever reason. They are two fairly unique players, and maybe Sam has to pick up his underrated physical game to be more effective with these guys. Linus was his usual self, creating a few chances and winning board battles. I also enjoyed the way he skated with the puck in the neutral zone and/or found Magnus. I'm miffed at people who think the chance he got in the 2nd where Lehtonen made the toe save could have been one he shot high...it needed to be low to get through at all. Magnus did a lot of good things in terms of carrying the puck tonight...I'm guessing it's a process for him. First find positions to take passes, then learn to carry with high speed, then finish or pass. Looks to be on his way.
Ryan Jones is quickly becoming one of the most controversial Oilers out there, in terms of whether he's having this solid offensive season with smoke and mirrors or maybe some underlying talent combined with a lot of effort. I enjoyed Jones tonight, due both to the fact that he came out hitting early and that he scored a solid goal by being in the right place at the right time. That play was also an example of something Cogliano needs to do more often, as usually he'd have agreed with the moron-contingent and taken a useless shot, but instead he was patient and got the puck to the scoring area. Well done on that play even if he didn't do much else tonight...his checking continued to be atrocious. I'm not sure why Reddox doesn't get the C assignment on that line as he's much more qualified. Aside from missing a great scoring chance, I liked 85's game tonight. He generated a nice little breakaway for himself and was solid positionally.
Another game with a lot of chances resulting in a loss. A lot of pucks were up for grabs tonight in dangerous territory for players who should score (specifically remembering a couple Hall chances) and we didn't convert. Some of the time we didn't even get our sticks on the puck. That's sad, but seems to be the trend. Ugh.