Does the score even matter anymore?
I like to think of myself as a pretty good writer. I was excellent in my high school and university classes, and while I play pretty fast and loose in writing the Report, I can put together a pretty solid piece of writing when I want to. It's part of my job even and plays into my political life of course.
I could spend an entire college-style all night writing session and not make whatever THAT was, and whatever this "team" is look good. Or interesting. Or exciting.
This has gotten to be just as bad if not worse than last season for a number of reasons. I think the most prominent one for me is that I'm having to watch untainted young talent be exposed to some horrendous habits and practices that will likely limit their potential (or at the very least cause it to develop more slowly or with another franchise).
There was really nothing positive to see out on the ice tonight. I'm pretty much going to skip any pretense of making the best of a bad situation at get straight to the crapulence.
I felt really bad for Devan Dubnyk tonight. He started the game out just fine and certainly could have backstopped a competent team to a win. Skipping the chances that were glaring defensive errors, this pretty much ends 0-0 (as I'm not sure any team would have scored in the SO before a league imposed curfew came into effect). It's not like Anaheim was any good. They were just like 3/4 of the teams who come in here this year; coasting for most of the night and taking advantage of a couple outrageously stupid mistakes to score enough goals to win. I'm sure this point has been raised by others already, but it made me sick that the team who wouldn't pull #35 if he weren't able to stand upright pulled #40. I'm sure it was a "mercy pull" or whatever, but that doesn't really help. Dubnyk should get more respect from the team than Khabibulin and he gets less. Sickening.
This team hasn't played with the proper system they supposedly learned in the preseason in a long time. The last I remember was honestly the first game of the year against Calgary, but they may have done so once or twice since. Probably on the road. The home efforts are just disgusting, with this possibly being the worst. Even the fights went terribly tonight.
I'm a big fan of Tom Gilbert as a player; he has shown me some of the best D play I've seen in all the time I've been an Oilers fan, but tonight (and lately) he was a scared little boy on that ice. I decided to watch him a little closer tonight and noticed that he has developed a tendency to freeze his feet and stick while making awkward neck movements, paranoid that he's missing something. This is not the same as keeping your head on a swivel and/or using peripheral vision to track the play. He's literally frozen except for sideways neck spasms. This tendency on a number of occasions meant he was either late to read a play or late to break toward it even though he had read it. Tom is not playing hockey right now. I imagine that in his brain the game is moving about 1000 mph. Not good. I really hope he can snap out of it, but I'm worried that we have no one (either a teammate who is a leader on D or a coach who can spot the issue and get through to him) to help with this process.
Theo did his best to at least annoy the Ducks somewhat and I think he succeeded. As usual, Mr Giant Wuss himself (Andy "I only fight Eric Brewers" Sutton) tried to take advantage and I'm glad Peckham hung around more than the one pretty large punch Sutton landed. Theo wasn't great in terms of positioning, but again, he's dealing with a defensive partner who is gliding all over the ice, missing free pucks and not taking advantage of his positioning. That's tough even for a vet, much less #49.
Part of our problem is that we have too many defencemen who just plain stink. The two of note this evening were (as usual) Foster and Vandermeer. Vandermeer made so many mistakes tonight that immediately went dangerously towards his own net that I lost count. He was nothing but trouble. It was actually embarrassing to see him out there in our uniform at several points because you KNEW he would lose the puck. Foster wasn't much better, but at least he gave the glass-changers something to do being that the guy who used to make sure they had regular duty just isn't good enough for this 30th place club and must play in Hershey. Would someone tell Foster that it doesn't count as 3 goals every time he fires it over the net? Every single solitary time he's open he does this. EVERY FREAKING TIME. There's a guy wearing #47 in Tampa who scored a nice OT winner the other night on a play that looks like the one Foster gets a chance at at least once a game...just saying. Don't tell me that guy can't play D either; compared to Foster he's freaking Scott Stevens...
Petry spent the night recovering. While I appreciate that he didn't quit on his mistakes, he still made a decent number of them. It really wasn't fun to watch. He's got way too much responsibility right now, and while he was doing fine with it early, I think it's starting to grind him down like sandpaper. His partner wasn't too bad, though the spectacle of him standing up for Penner was a little bewildering. Thought he'd have a better fight than he did.
Andrew Cogliano couldn't check a pile of sand. The play he made to create the first Anaheim goal, where he skated himself completely out of position despite having been in a perfect spot to stop the rush might have been the only thing more embarrassing than some of what Vandermeer did tonight. Add in the fact that he did a great job of wrecking several offensive rushes and I cannot see for the life of me why Renney thinks this guy has any future as a good player for our team. He's completely lost whatever it was he came into the league with. That really stinks because we should have had something. I imagine someone will turn him into a player by taking a proper approach to his successes and mistakes, but have a hard time seeing it as us (he isn't even a regular winger yet).
Taylor Hall had a horrible first period. It was full of giveaways and missed shots. I enjoyed that he finally hit someone...then the missed shots resumed. I don't know what the problem is with his shooting precisely, but he needs to work that out something fierce. It's really costing him. He also whiffed on another PP gimme from the slot...which is an alarming trend. Why can't the golden child score on rebounds or slot passes?
Eberle was Eberle. He made another good defensive stop just like last game and set up some chances (unfortunately to Cogliano mostly). I don't want to lump him in with this pile tonight. I must say though, I really hope he turns out better than Hall (with Hall still being excellent); he deserves it more. Even in bad games he does the little things til the end.
MacIntyre's fight was pretty uneventful and I'm rather disappointed that he didn't get into another one. He knows what he's here to do; get it done. Go beat on Andy Sutton. Don't take a wimpy poke at Perry when intentionally trips the goalie, club him one in the teeth. You won't play for another few games anyway, might as well make it count.
Jones created his normal couple chances but had trouble controlling the puck and couldn't score tonight. If one guy would have broken the SO I'd have bet on him. The Jones on the PP experiment with Penner and Hemsky though was one of the saddest things I've seen, and proved itself that way within about 20 seconds. Who is paying these coaches and what have they learned about a PP ever?
Fraser laid a nice hit and made a couple decent offensive plays. These were offset by some giveaways, but he was fairly neutral this evening.
Magnus couldn't get into a groove tonight. The galloping stride was there but his puck control was off and this hampered his ability to make a difference or get open for 89 or 23 to find him. They struggled a little as well. Gagner made a horrible pass in the second that promptly found his own net and couldn't convert in the offensive zone. The unit had a great shift in the first that could've severely shifted the momentum of the game, but no one could follow up. Omark did some great work in the corners and took a lot of abuse from an Anaheim team that appeared to think he would quit, but he also wasn't able to pop a couple chances and made some suspect passes in his own and neutral zones. Overall, these guys actually created some offence which was nice compared to the other lines.
What kind of moron coach would play Liam Reddox on the wing with Penner and Hemsky? Our moron coach that's who! I couldn't believe this when I saw it, but I really shouldn't be shocked by anything anymore. Why when you've got Penner at C do you not add a young star or at least someone with some talent to that wing? Playing Liam there (and again, I like him) means we're set up to lose. Both Ales and Dustin had off nights. Ales came back angry after his two penalties and was better than I've seen him in a long time for a few shifts, but unfortunately nothing happened. Penner looked plain tired, and got pasted in the neutral zone which isn't exactly normal.
What a steaming pile of junk on display tonight. I wish the fans remembered how to boo. These guys deserve to hear anger and the mass doesn't seem to be wiling to give it to them with any vigour.
On a FAR side note, Mario Lemieux should shut up. He's whining about probably one of the most entertaining games in a long time in the NHL because his team got beat up (on the scoreboard and in the alley) by the Islanders, yet he employs one of the biggest cheapshot artists going. If his team is going to run around, and his goalie is going to do what Johnson did, then what NYI did is what did and should happen to them. Play with respect and you'll get it. Otherwise, better toughen up.