NOTE: I'm missing the next 2 home games, which is unfortunate. I'll be in Palm Springs, which is not exactly unfortunate. This late garbage blast of winter only makes that prospect nicer.
I have a feeling that if the Oilers played the Bruins more often they'd be a better hockey team. The way Boston approaches the game seems to bring the toughness in many of our guys to the forefront. They also brought the speed out in our lineup. I'm guessing that if we retain the way we played against BOS in the next game, it will look to our boys like the other team is standing still. I'm not sure they will because consistency isn't exactly our middle name, but it's a possibility.
Boston is a really good hockey team that plays well positionally and has plenty of talent. That'd be a hard combination to beat for many teams in the league. The Bruins (not BROONS, Stauffer) play what I'd describe as a western conference style game; I could see them being very difficult to beat in the east. They are so deep up front and yet their strength is in net. Honestly I think they could have played better tonight, but did enough.
The Oilers had a chance to win tonight; even though the shots were what they were. We got the first goal, and also had a number of good chances that were not capitalized on. Specifically, our powerplay and the sequence surrounding this in the second period could have been a turning point. The puck went through Omark and dangerously towards the net on several occasions (including a missed tip by either 89 or 91, I couldn't tell who) and we definitely should have scored there. Other chances followed and there were a decent amount in the third as well though we didn't show as much drive as we could have. It's hard to complain about losing a game like this, especially when we lost Peckham early and had to lean so heavily on Strudwick and Foster, but we really did have the chances and a couple specific things were off. More on that in Player Reports...
- None of the goals he allowed were particularly bad, though he certainly could have done a little more on the Ryder play (though he was screened). He made a lot of stops, some of them were very good. Nothing to complain about and a good effort.
- I didn't mind Strudwick as much tonight (even though he got caught standing still on one of the goals) because he was mean as hell. Every guy who got to the front of the net against him got a stick in the back or a glove in the mouth. He should be doing this in every single game he plays, but often doesn't. At least he did something to make a difference tonight.
- This was not a night where he went unnoticed. He hit people. He got the puck on net and generated a goal. He had his fight with Lucic after #17 took one too many pokes at Dubnyk. He was really really solid tonight and I would be surprised if one of the scouts in attendance for the last game or two doesn't convince their GM to trade a draft pick to the Oilers to acquire him as a depth guy.
- He was terrible. Specifically, what was he doing on the Peverley goal? Unbelievable, and yet the coach keeps sending him out there at crunch time. I know he's had a little offensive outburst lately, but he's so bad defensively that nothing can justify him being on at crunch time. Smid would have been a much more solid choice.
- I love how in games like this one Smid elevates the meanness in his game to another level. The forearm he laid late in the game at the Bruins blue line was both deserved and a beauty. He got himself to the net a couple times; predictably not scoring but at least he gave the effort. He was also really solid defensively. I think it would be a mistake to deal him tomorrow because he's the kind of 4-6 defenceman we need and he's not going to be very expensive.
- He made a lot of really solid plays with the puck, and certainly fought hard as the leader to keep his short-staffed crew in the game. The problem he had tonight was that he had a very difficult time contributing to the transition and rush. He wouldn't move the puck really quickly and he wouldn't skate with it. This led to indecisiveness and mistakes. I think we all know this is a little too much for Gilbert at the moment, but he's doing a decent job. He really needs to learn a slapper in the offseason. The one-timer he got off tonight was really pathetic.
- He would have been a big part of this game as it gained in pace and got more physical. It is very unfortunate that he got hit with a tough punch and hopefully he comes back soon. I think Theo playing might have led to us winning.
- Playing him proved his worthlessness tonight. The other guys stepped up; he did nothing but make on-ice mistakes. Sorry Steve, you're useless and having guys either losing icetime or languishing in OKC because of you makes me sad.
- Certainly came back with a strong effort tonight. I liked his goal as he took his best shot at the right time and with the flow of the rush rather than awkwardly as he sometimes forces that shot. He's certainly a better fourth line C than some of our other options, but I don't know if we can afford him in that role at this stage. I liked the physicality he brought, including taking a run at Chara. His best time was when Cogliano was in the box and he got to play with Hall and Eberle. They looked really solid together because Brule can both keep up and take/give a pass. There was absolutely no good reason for Renney to send him back to his original line when Cogliano's penalty was over. He wasn't AMAZING, but he contributed positively.
- This was a quieter game from Jones, but he still got some hits in and a scoring chance or two. I sometimes wonder if he's just not strong/physical/mean enough to play the role he needs to. He's not talented enough to be a power forward; but if he played with a little more edge or a little more smarts, he could be quite valuable. This contrasts with nights where he looks to have solid scoring instincts.
- He had a really nice game tonight, and was moving his feet quickly as well as getting into dangerous areas the whole game long. Unfortunately his linemates weren't too amazing tonight and failed to convert on some of the chances he created. Ales could have been more selfish tonight and might have gotten more points (which isn't normal because usually his line is good enough + his passing instincts are excellent). I'm thinking specifically of the example where he took the puck off the boards, drove to the middle and dropped for Penner. If Penner one-times, he scores, but he didn't. Ales should have faked the drop, kicked it to his stick and shot. He had enough room. If anyone even needs to ask my opinion on what should happen tomorrow, barring someone nearly literally offering the moon, you haven't read these reports long enough. He's our best player and should be part of our next stage of winning just as he was important in 2006. He's much more complete and better now. Use it.
- Quiet game from Shawn. I was very surprised when Brule got a shift in his place in the third. He wasn't bad; but he wasn't great either. Was missing some of the jump I noted in the last home game I attended. His scoring instincts really aren't very sharp right now.
- #2 asked quite honestly if Penner is playing to not be traded. He was a little better than the bottom of his efforts tonight, but he still looked way off. He was constantly too slow to react to the puck, didn't skate, didn't bull towards the net or run anyone over save for one shift in the third, and just did nothing exceptional. There's nothing in his skating, lines, positioning or any other technical detail I can see that looks to be off...he just isn't all there. Needless to say, we need him to be in order for the team to be effective.
- He did some really nice things tonight, and was one of the most consisten Oilers in terms of getting the puck to the net and slot to create offensive danger. If his linemates or PP teammates had been on tonight, he would have had several assists. As usual, he had a couple phenomenal sequences in the corners, but that sequence where he stuck the puck under his skate and defended it, then made a kick pass was just amazing. Only once did he make a questionable pass (across his own zone) and that didn't cost us. Very nice bounceback game after being benched. Should have been on when we needed a goal late instead of some of the guys that were out there.
- I saw him drive wide a couple times tonight without much success at the net, and also covered up defensively a couple times when the D that were supposed to be backing him up made mistakes in the offensive zone. He really uses his talent and instincts on these plays and that's a valuable thing.
- I wasn't as impressed with Sam tonight, as he seemed to be weak on the puck and unable to do anything from shooting areas. He wasn't dangerous offensively or physical and he needs to be one of those things on each night.
- This was one of his weaker games. I'm not exactly sure what happened on the Nathan Horton goal, but Eberle was in no man's land, made a horrible play and couldn't recover. At one point, he got a pass in front of the net on the rush and sort of stopped skating towards the net when he normally would have taken a great little shot. I didn't think he could have done much on the Peverley goal, but usually his positioning on Peverley would have prevented him from being caught like that. I liked that he tried to be physical and both set up then screened on the Brule goal, but #14 had one of his only rough nights and one of his only horrid defensive mistakes.
- I liked his approach in getting into that fight, but I think he also revealed where his role should be if he's here and on a good team. If Cogliano is going to play C (which he should not), then he's a fourth line C who must use his speed and play physically. He made some hits which was good, but the offensive struggles he's had in terms of passes (both taking and giving from Eberle and Hall) were there again. Part of me hopes he is traded tomorrow, because if he won't play wing, he's taking up a C spot that shouldn't be occupied by a guy like him, even on our team.
- I really expected Hall to burst out offensively after that episode in the second period where he got pushed around some. The penalty he got was utterly silly...not only had he been hooked previously, but he was jumping around the player to get to the puck rather than committing a roughing offence. I think Boston was watching him quite closely, as there were times when Chara guarded him particularly close. He never could shake loose and got some puck towards the net but never really challenged Rask.
Tough loss, but this is a game that shows how much better we need to be. Boston was tired, had accomplished most of what they wanted on their western swing and still dispatched us when they were decently ripe for the picking.