In a stinking shootout...
This one hurts...this one stings...this one sucks.
If you were in the building tonight, you remembered what it was like to be a fan of a hardworking hockey club. The Oilers busted it for a substantial part of the game. The fans were there from the word go urging them on. It was truly fun to be an Oilers fan again tonight, even if just for a while.
Before delving too far into the final result, I have to give most of these guys a ton of credit; they were outclassed severely in terms of talent on the ice tonight, but they showed what effort can make up for in the first 50 minutes of the game. That style of play will win you a ton of games with a proper lineup on the ice. I hope those players who were either watching from the press box or sitting on the bench with some of these guys fighting for careers took notice of what guys that have no business being in the NHL just yet (or in some cases, are just barely cracking the surface and should be struggling, not thriving and blowing people away) did on that ice to a team fighting for its playoff life.
What should have been the turning point of the game was Devan Dubnyk's utter robbery in the first period. Their were two candidates for POTW in this game and that was just an amazing save. It turned out that wasn't to be, but at least we got to see it.
We also got to see the first NHL goal from a guy who I believe will come to define this team's future in a much more meaningful way than any of us could have thought. There was another FInnish guy whose name ended in "nen" that did a ton of good work for us and was a big part of championships. His modern counterpart looks to be well on his way. More on that later.
I'm going to hang part of the loss tonight on the coach. That might seem a bit goofy, but he underplayed some guys in the third (specifically #56), sent MacIntyre back out after his first stupid penalty to hurt the team dearly, and he needed very badly to call a timeout when it was 4-2 and didn't. He could have guided these guys to a win tonight and didn't.
Some of this is also on the referees; I have never seen such bad and inconsistent reffing in all my years of watching games as I've seen this year. It was absolutely abhorrent that we didn't get a PP until OT. It was an absolute joke that the linesmen were missing offside calls. Those guys should be absolutely embarrassed after that disgusting display. They might as well have been deflecting Calgary the puck.
Lastly, we lost because we are undermanned and just not very good. Our goalie, who looked ready to lock it down in the first, came apart as the game went on. Though I'm not saying goalies should have an easy time with breakaways and the third goal is squarely on Jim Vandermeer, I'm convinced that Dubnyk got way too amped up on that goal and whiffed. The same thing happened on the Staios goal, as Dubnyk overreacted in his reset and wasn't ready for a quick shot. Everyone was overplaying every single play at that stage, but Dubnyk's got to be calm there. I don't know why he wasn't. Getting beat on point shots like he did also stinks. Don't remind me of Mr. Salo.
I really hated losing to those guys tonight. We had victory in our sights and absolutely blew it. In a year when we've had almost nothing to cheer about, there was a chance for a massive cheer against a massive rival on a Saturday night on national TV and we blew it...not to mention they blew the first Sports Select ticket I've played in probably a year (thanks DET and WSH for doing your part). UGH....anyway, let's go through the PLAYER REPORTS
- As I said, he looked really good early but you could feel it slipping away from him from the second period onward. He was overplaying the puck and making easy saves look difficult. I don't know why he suddenly got nervous but it was painfully obvious. It's really too bad; he's played well and deserved better so many times this year, but then his team shows up and he cracks. Crummy.
- You cannot make a mistake like he did to allow that Glencross goal when all you do is play a simple game. I don't know what precisely crossed his mind when that happened but I hope it haunts his dreams tonight. I couldn't believe it when Renney had him out there for the 4-on-3. At what point do you say "no coach, that's stupid, play Linus or Teemu"? I know you don't do that but COME ON. He didn't hit anyone tonight which really surprised me. I thought he'd be in Calgary's face more often.
- Very mixed tonight. He made some really nice plays with the puck on his stick when he decided to skate it, but he didn't get the job done at the offensive blue line and gave the puck away in his own zone when he tried to move it. He overplayed moreso than just about anyone else and got caught trying to bat the puck awkwardly several times. It cost us. I feel bad for the guy, but he needs to be better and IS better than that. I won't dog him for the closing his hand on the puck call; he tried to bat it straight down and the puck got stuck. Not sure if you could see that angle but it was evident live.
- I liked the physicality he brought in tonight's game; as he certainly went looking for hits and landed some. Was surprised he didn't fight anyone. He didn't make any spectacular plays with the puck or do much at the offensive blue line, which was disappointing.
- Struggled through it tonight. The refs missed some calls that should have gone against him as he did a lot of grabbing, but thankfully he managed to not make any huge mistakes that wound up in our net. I guess that's a plus.
- Tom played an absolutely phenomenal game for much of tonight. He was defending like a mad man and making a lot of simple plays with sticks and positioning that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. This made it even more puzzling when he decided to play like a colossal idiot in OT. On the powerplay, he rushed a pointless and impossible shot to the net with more than enough time left to set up a 4-on-3 play that should have at least had a chance to end the game. I don't know what happened. So very frustrating...
- He was excellent in the defensive zone. Beat on the Flames forwards all night and made their life in the corners brutal. When the play got crazy, he was the guy to grab the puck, skate it, slow down and make a pass. Got to keep this guy as we grow; they don't just show up out of nowhere.
- Get this idiot off my team right now. It wasn't bad enough that he takes a stupid penalty putting Jokinen in a headlock for no apparent reason...but then he tries to make some convoluted sort of hockey play and crosschecks a guy offside???!?!?!?! That's an automatic penalty you moron...He doesn't fight, doesn't defend his teammates, doesn't deter anyone...send this idiot to that Quebec goon's league where he belongs. He could be the nicest guy in the world, but he was a big part of costing the team the game tonight.
- Is a terrible, terrible hockey player. Watching him do his once-per-game miss-a-hit routine always makes me laugh. I'll give him credit for a decent shift filling in for Magnus, but trying to watch him and MacIntyre on the same shift made it want to wretch.
- Well, as someone pointed out, he's almost caught Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen in points now...He did work hard tonight on the PK and made some decent plays; I just can't get enough out of his game to really say much because he doesn't really make defensive or offensive plays that often. I nearly forgot though, that hit he laid in the first was probably the best thing he's done all year. That was textbook and beautiful. Show that to kids learning how to hit people away from the boards.
- He did some nice things even if he was outclassed by a decent margin. There was a sequence in the second where he came of the boards with a little deke and made an offensive chance. He went to the right spot and took a really smart low shot to set up the Reddox goal. He didn't land any really big hits but he always gets to his man and makes contact. The thing about O'Marra is that you can tell his baseline skillset is higher than a lot of the pluggers we have floating about. I hope he works his butt off in the summer and takes a good run at our 4th line C job. He's working like he wants it.
- You know, I'm kind of torn here...he did a bunch of really good things tonight. There was his goal obviously; and he made a great defensive play to break up a dangerous Flames chance in the second period, he hustled and got his stick in the way of many sequences tonight. Jones is at his best when he's in a leadership role on his line as "the talented one" rather than backing up some skilled guys and that's what he was most of tonight. The only issue I have is that his game tapered off at the end and he didn't seem to have any push left to finish this one off. Maybe he just got too much icetime? Also, again on the coach, why in hell was he in the SO? It's all well and good to be able to break the glass with a wrister like he did, but we have much more talented players that sat this round out on a night when we should have been all in for the win.
- He will never get the credit he deserves, but that was a truly superlative effort on his part. He hit people, he made offensive plays, he made a ton of defensive plays, he PK'ed well, got the puck out of our zone, skated like a madman. The guy made every single shift count. His play to set up the Jones goal was one of the smartest sequences you'll see: he pushed the Flames d-man into the boards at just the right time to avoid a penalty AND get the puck, then he settles the play down, walks out and finds O'Marra in perfect positioning. That was an absolute thing of beauty. I'm very sad he didn't get a goal tonight; he really deserved better and took a leadership role in this one through his effort. Give the guy a contract and start him in the NHL. He doesn't lose us games (a lot of the others do).
- I must admit I missed what happened in the corner that led to him skating off the ice woozy; what exactly was that play? I will say though, for him to then get up and not only make it to the bench but actually stop to try to take a pass and negate an icing while barely able to stand up was one of the most courageous efforts I've seen. The rest of the night he was really good; flying down the wings and skating the puck to safety. He also used his shot a little more than usual and JUST missed a couple really nice ones. Once he realizes all he can do on those plays, he will be unstoppable. Really too bad his first period deke chance had to be pulled off the goal line by a Calgary defender; that was a great little move. He appeared to not even know he scored, but that was an excellent second effort and a well earned goal.
- Had an absolutely phenomenal shift in OT. I saw more hard work and confidence in that effort of keeping the puck alive and getting a chance than I have most of the season. He actually kept up to his linemates most of the night and was a positive influence, which was good to see. Worked really hard on his PKing, but needs to stop overskating and use his speed more appropriately.
- I'll note the mistake he made first: in the second period he fumbled a puck at the blue line that could have ended in a really good chance because it led to a turnover in a dangerous area. The thing about that play was if the puck doesn't bounce on him, he's got Paajarvi on a clear breakaway on the far wing, which is what he was trying to set up. Other than that he was excellent. He owned the corners as usual; was all over the Flames' puck carriers, made a nifty little pass to Cogliano that set up a Magnus' goal, and was dangerous in the offensive zone all night. Renney screwed up in not using him enough late, on the PP, or in the SO. Just stupid. If you were watching, you saw that Linus did a great job of gaining the red line and making simple plays deep into the zone later in the game, as well as not passing to the blue line but instead making a safer play down behind the Flames net. Lots of maturity already.
- This guy should be in way over his head but somehow found a way to swim tonight. I think he's a very strong contender to make the team out of camp next year. Though his game is a lot quieter than his linemates from tonight, he went to all the right places and made some really strong plays either for the puck or with the puck. If he continues to develop, he'll be an NHLer and probably a pretty decent one. I hope he can find a niche and exploit that. His overall game is very balanced and he just needs to find a way to elevate something.
- I really liked what I saw from Jordan tonight in that he showed he could lead a line. I'm not sure if it was obvious on TV, but the support and safety that he gave his linemates, while still making solid plays with the puck and doing a ton of things right, was astounding. He's so poised and wanted to win this game so badly...I can't imagine how bad he feels after this one. It's really a shame that they don't hand out automatic penalty shots when penalties are taken as late as the last Flames call was, because he was absolutely locked in on that play; no way bonehead was making that save. We've got our future captain and it is always a joy to watch him perform; I just hope that before too long I get to see him leading a line of disturbingly talented players with the same kind of effort to victory in a playoff series.
- We have seriously hit the jackpot. If you want to teach someone how to play hockey, find tape of this guy in tonight's game and show them. I don't know how you come into the NHL so early and do what he's doing. In that second period, you'd swear he was the second coming. He was churning away, making plays and getting chances all night, then he beats a Cgy defender, goes around another, skates into two players and shoots while both of them have stick position and are interfering but scores...such an amazing play. Go watch it somehow if you haven't yet. Mere minutes later, he just PASTES Sarich. You should have seen the boards flex on that hit. Sarich nearly wound up in the 10th row. He skates hard, he knows his position, he can toe drag and nearly scored another beauty with that move, he makes passes and backchecks...the kid is just tremendous. If we can find one more hockey genius to add to he and Eberle, we will probably have the smartest and most unique line in the NHL in only a couple years. It's one thing to see these uber-talented guys like Hall, but the Teemu Hartikainens of the world are often just as important when championship time rolls around. This might seem like hyperbole and a bit much for a guy I've only seen a couple times, but seriously people, this guy is something very special. They don't build em like this anymore. If I knew what number he was going to wear, I'd go out and buy a jersey right now. I saw someone say "I'd take a whole team of Hartikainens" earlier tonight. Couldn't agree more.
Crazy night, wild ride, but found some positivity in it. It hurts that we couldn't celebrate as big a win as we're going to see this year, but I guess that's why they call it the blues...