So, those of you who have been around for a while will recognize this type of game report. On nights like tonight, I don't find it particularly relevant to break down the performances by player. As a team we were so bad tonight that even the bright lights if there were any are worth a quick mention and that's it. I was once +2 with 2 Assists in a 9-2 loss...funny story but it obviously didn't matter very much. The short time where the team played well and the very few players who did anything positive tonight are worth just about as much aside from perhaps Lander's beautiful goal (he looked to change where he was trying to shoot mid-fire because he had his head up and saw Anderson had dipped his shoulder, then took advantage, just PERFECT).
I was in a bad enough mood by the end of this thing that it really angered me when Ryan Jones got excited about scoring to make it 5-2...and off his foot no less. Head to the bench and sit down #28; you just scored a completely meaningless goal on a night when you and your team are taking a beating and you've done absolutely nothing to stop that. That was not the time to whoop it up. I was also disappointed in the other players who celebrated and the fans who were overexcited about it...yeah, I was mad.
If you watched the warmup, you could see this team is off. The smiles are gone. The passes aren't crisp and the players aren't skating with much authority. The shots also weren't very good. Ironically enough, the only guy who actually looked like he had some jump was Taylor Hall. He buried the puck in the warmup and made Khabibulin look like a statue...maybe that was an indication of things to come.
We came out playing a really offensively aggressive game tonight which is certainly something we need to do in order to win. There was a massive problem though...when it came to finishing we had absolutely nothing. It wasn't that #41 in the OTT net was making huge saves...it's that we had time and space and didn't make him make any huge saves. The shots were weak, rushed or misdirected. We had all the go but none of the focus. If a team keeps this up and it is the theme of the game...they'll probably bounce one in and win anyway, but it is very tough for even very good teams to win that way. Teams without any goaltending, and who lose half their defence during the course of the game have absolutely no chance.
Make no mistake, both goalies were horrible. The last 3 OTT goals specifically were just bad. Michalek's goal was a horrible shot. Winchester actually stopped skating and looked back as if the play was ending before he scored his goal and neither the D, nor Dubnyk were able to use that to any kind of advantage. They were all sleeping in a game that badly needed to be turned around into a win. The Oilers needed this win really badly. OTT, while playing decent hockey right now, has a whole lot of non-players on their team and you've got to take advantage when you've got Chicago coming in on Saturday. The final goal is 100% on Dubnyk; missing that puck was inexcusable. I had a very very close up view as I was in much lower seats that usual tonight and that was just terrible. (thankfully I had a great view of the only highlight of the night, Lander's goal, as well).
When the kid line is on, they stretch the opposition's D, either forcing them to back up or creating odd man rushes. On every shift tonight, they seemed to fail to get past the OTT defence in any meaningful way, and either took weak shots through the D or put the puck behind the net where the OTT defence was waiting for it. They were beyond ineffective and got very frustrated as the game went on, Hall especially. Hopkins wasn't too horrible, but he can't lug that line on his own. I don't know why they've shifted their attack strategy so much and they need to hit the practice ice in a serious way to get it back.
When we were winning earlier this year, we did it through solid defensive play from our forwards and defensive units. Odd-man rushes were held to a minimum, players made smart plays with the puck, and we often held the puck in the offensive zone for an extra possession after their first attempted rush. We had none of this tonight. Paajarvi as part of his line with Omark and Belanger was excellent at this, allowing the other lines to attack a more tired opposition. We had 3 lines going that could push the puck. Well, now we have a slumping line of kids, a line of vets who is mostly consistent, and a useless third line. 91-20-28 will not score goals or control possession. They are not built to do it; especially with the D we're currently packing.
Speaking of that D, we appear to have lost 3 of them now. That's terrifying especially when it comes to Potter, but you know what is worse? That Theo Peckham (who I've always liked and want to cheer for) is still in the lineup. He's been horrible. He's been directly culpable for multiple losses and played a huge part in allowing 5 goals tonight. Even with the injuries, I'd still either try to trade him for a different type of defenceman while he still has some value, or waive him. It makes me sad because he really showed he had potential last year, but that appears to have been his high point. He got comfortable and has lost his edge, and now his confidence. Sorry Theo, you're costing this team games.
Tom Renney is not free from criticism tonight; in fact I'd say he did just about everything wrong. It was abundantly clear that #35 was off after the second goal and you have to yank him there...he didn't. He knew Sutton was hurting and didn't insist on calling up a defenceman which made us vulnerable to what happened tonight. Once we were down to 4 D, and had an intermission to plan, he didn't cycle 1 or 2 forwards back to D to fill in and take some pressure off an overwhelmed and undercapable D group (specifically Peckham and Petry). That's effectively giving up. He then was positive after this game...there was nothing to be positive about. Either say nothing at all and start fresh tomorrow or rip the team a new one. If there were any justice, at least 3 guys would be headed out and several would be called up from OKC...I sincerely doubt that will happen.
What you are seeing right now is the risk you take when you don't go get an insurance policy for this team. After we beat Washington and subsequently, we needed to go out and get a defenceman to keep results positive and make sure that even if we hit some bumps, it wouldn't be too bad. Now, we risk doing serious damage to the progress of our players. Some are getting very frustrated and it is totally unnecessary. After those 2 quick goals went in, everyone hung their heads. Good teams don't do that. There's no doubt that it is tough to come back after that deficit is built, but good teams buzz for the rest of the game and at least come close. We quit. That's unacceptable.
I'm not sure if there's much more to say. I'm plain pissed off after that effort.