LMHF Report Webcast Link

1/23/11

Advisory - No game report tonight

Hello all,

I won't be attending tonight's game so there will be no game report. My wife tore something in her knee and there's far too much to do around the house along with taking care of her this evening.

1/20/11

LMHF Report - Game #23

EDMONTON 2

VS.

DALLAS 4
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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.
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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.

1/18/11

LMHF Game Report #22

EDMONTON 1

VS.

MINNESOTA 4
---------------

I think the only reason I'm writing tonight is that I have to wait up to finish laundry as I'm out of town on business the next couple days (but back in time for next game) and need some clothes. Otherwise tonight would have been a good night to just head straight to bed. This is one of the very few times I've come back from a game honestly questioning why I went. Usually even in ugly games there are some true positives that make the experience better than many other things I could have been doing that evening but tonight I think I would have rather been at home doing laundry, building a new shelf unit for the bedroom, and turning the game off so I could watch something on Netflix. But, on we charge anyway...

We'll start with the limited positives that I saw tonight:

- Liam Reddox played a heck of a game and if he gets sent down it is an utter crime. He provides a more consistent hockey contribution than at least 5 roster forwards regardless of size and player type. There were several shifts (but especially a PK in the third) where he showed how strong his skills are in the offensive zone chasing down pucks. This guy has worked hard to go from junior scorer to ECHL washout all the way back to NHL capable forward. He is in many ways the new beginning of a Fernando-type player. Keep him so at least we can watch some consistency.

- I liked the way Peckham mixed it up physically near the end of the game. In a contest like this, you have to do SOMETHING. He doesn't take junk, he lays hits, he stands up to people when they come looking for a fight, and he generated some offensive chances with deft wristers from the point. Aside from a shift of his near the end of the game when he could have annihilated both Clutterbuck and Havlat and instead went for inexplicable poke-checks, I liked his game.

- Omark wins every corner battle you throw him into; it's utterly astounding. Usually they are even 2-on-1 situations. I'm going to try to watch him more closely to learn whatever the secret is. Incredible. Also, he was the only fluid guy on the powerplay again. What Renney did with the lines and icetime was inexcusable, but Omark still managed to make a little something happen at least.

- Magnus managed a PP goal to end our massive drought. Sure it didn't matter, but maybe they don't grip the sticks so tight next game. Maybe. I didn't like 91's effort on the first Minny goal, but he had decent moments tonight anyway. Still finding him perpetually miscast.

- Ladislav Smid appears to be better at getting the puck deep and presenting a credible challenge for it than half our forwards. He cannot score to save his life (what'd he have, three golden chances tonight?) but at least he can control the puck for a bit.

That was pretty much it for positives. On to the garbage!

- A concussion for Hemsky that may have been from a previous game...great. He wasn't exactly playing amazing this game, but did have a pretty good scoring chance early and set up a couple more. I'm sure he makes a little bit of a difference if he sticks in this one.

- Up until the last couple minutes of garbage time, Dustin Penner looked like he'd ran to the Donut Mill in Red Deer and back before the game but was still attempting to play. He was either standing still or moving as quickly as an ornery old creaky iceberg. I really like Penner but this might have been the worst night he's had this year. There were plenty of chances to beat people for pucks and he was having none of it. He also turned it over more than usual and couldn't take a pass.

- Taylor Hall didn't have anything going tonight either. He had at least 1 clear giveaway on his first five shifts in the third period. Add this to those he'd racked up earlier and I'm sure he had 8-10 clear giveaways tonight. Most game as the result of him trying to blindly rush at the opposition's standing blue line defence and failing horribly. The only really good chances he got went into pads and over the net (what else is new...). I understand frustrating nights for young guys, but when Hall isn't going there's a clear formula to get him back on track: get open for shots rather than rushing, and hit people. One of the coaches needs to be telling him this. He skated by several open hit chances today.

- What are we doing trying to play the neutral zone trap by the way? All it did was put us in a non-moving state as Minny blew by. Our break in was constantly stopping at the opposition blue through ill-advised passing plays as well. I don't know what they've been practicing lately, but it was clear that it was planned and SUCKS. Almost as much as the "let's all stand around and pass to the D-men who can't score" powerplay.

- Speaking of defencemen who cannot score, Foster continued his proud tradition of taking pointless shots that weren't scoring chances, or whipping the puck over the net when the chances were there. What happened to this guy's slap pass? Or actually shooting past a goalie rather than taking limp-wrist shots from ridiculous angles? (the Oil as a team probably took 10 of these shots tonight that had precisely 0 chance of going in or generating a rebound).

- I thought Tom Gilbert was BAD in LA, but as many of you know I don't judge too harshly based on the TV. Tom Gilbert was disgustingly bad tonight. That third Minny goal, where he lolly-gagged back to a rightly waived off icing call, then bit it (which he did several other times tonight as well), then tried a weak pokecheck that would only work in NHL 11 to recover, was the crowning glory on what was already a night to forget. He was bad (and over-aggressive) in the offensive zone, and didn't play his man well defensively all night. I'm really hoping there's nothing wrong with him right now and this is a minor aberration, because if another Oiler is playing with a serious injury, I'm going to snap.

- Petry and Chorney largely get a pass from me tonight because the team was so bad. They were very out of position on Minny goal #1, but there was still no reason for that goal to happen. 41 had some good moments rushing the puck, but looks bad as ever in the D-zone; he was another guy who was great at the clear giveaway pass tonight. Petry looked more competent than most of the vets, but didn't really accomplish anything special.

- Cogliano had flashes (his pass for the A, and being probably the second Oilers player all night to win a race to a dump-in) but was otherwise ineffective. Watching him take a faceoff a little more closely sure was a painful experience; it is clear he has no idea how to approach the play. Ech.

- Jones needs to be really physical on a night like this; he wasn't. Stortini needed to get under Minny's skin early, not late. Fraser actually kept a couple pucks in but as usually was essentially invisible. Jacques got beat up and didn't really hit anyone; he also took one of the ugliest whacks at a scoring chance I've seen in a long time. I think he shanked a sandwedge into the netting on that one.

- Gagner looked tired, disinterested, and at times nervous with the puck. I actually want to see him on a checking line because I love the way he simplifies his game. Continuing to force him out on the PP is a mistake as he's not doing anything positive out there.

- Last, and least, our horrendous "goaltender" #35...It's one thing to have a bad night (and he did), but to show up completely unprepared to play and stink the joint out like that? I don't care if your team lays an egg offensively, but when there are so few decent Minny chances and you give up THOSE goals? You have to be kidding me. I don't know how many times it is now that he's looked that way from start to finish of a game, but if I'd have had some UofA kid on the bench, he would've played tonight. #35's act out there was embarrassing.

- Renney didn't help this out in any way. It's like he just wound the toy up and said "let's see what happens". Sucking was what happened.
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I'm disgusted. I hope my caustic mood at least provides some humor on what was otherwise a dreary evening.

1/6/11

LMHF Game Report #21

EDMONTON 2

VS.

LONG ISLAND 1
----------------

The Isotopes win a game! The Isotopes win a game! The Isotopes win a game!

It was rather boring, fairly sloppy and made even more tedious by the complete drunks sitting next to #2 and I, but we survived a late 5-on-3 to pull out the win. Hockey's very odd sometimes in that they probably should have won a couple other games during this streak, but NYI is bad enough that it just happened us tonight.

The first thing you notice about NYI is that they are quite weak; on the puck, in terms of hitting and when fighting for position away from the puck. If we'd hit at all this is a blowout.

I didn't see a lot of difference from some of the more listless performances of the past other than that we scored early. NYI pulling their goalie was certainly the right move, but the Oilers didn't even really test the new guy. One early stop on a Hall break (because Hall made another bad decision when in alone) was really it. Not a lot of shots and next to no legit chances that actually wound up getting on net.

NYI is a confusing team because they certainly have some interesting players...I of course was following #44 and was glad to see him get a nice assist on a decent little pass. The rest of his game was mixed; some really solid decisions and an awesome night taking faceoffs (13-5 for the record) balanced out with some less than stellar play below his own goal line (not surprising, but Hemsky made him look pretty bad on one play). I expected more from some of the other forwards, especially poor Tavares (who if he's sane will bolt at the first chance while he still likes to play hockey).

Once again the refereeing was an issue. To answer a question that was asked last game report, no they don't exclusively maintain the same refs. As I understand it, while the same refs might stay in a region for some time, everyone rotates around. The linesmen stay more stationary. We couldn't buy a PP tonight and that's not because we didn't deserve some (even though we weren't pushing the game that hard).

The only shame in this being the win is that it wasn't very entertaining. It's one thing to slug out a 2-1 W on a bad night when you're in first place; but this is a bad hockey team playing at home against a bad opponent...blow someone out already. Part of the reason I will harp like crazy on management if we don't improve substantially in terms of vets in the offseason is nights like tonight as the team looks like it has almost no motivation.

I remain convinced they're showcasing Cogliano (and to a lesser extent Brule) to try and make a trade. That's really the only explanation for the lines even though Cogliano did indeed have a decent night (aided heavily by #27). With that, PLAYER REPORTS

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Dubnyk
- Obviously the first star and our leader tonight. He made some really great saves, especially in the third while the Isles were trying to get down low in his face. Great fundamentals and calm during the 5-on-3 to preserve the win. Devan is certainly improving this year. I'm still not near as optimistic as some about his eventual potential (I think he's still destined to be a good backup), but he's starting to show a little more high-end performance.

Smid
- I'm of the opinion that Ladislav got 100% jobbed tonight. I don't know if he flipped the ref off at a stop sign or what, but those penalty calls were immensely weak. When he wasn't in the sin bin, or letting off an UGLY slapper, #5 played pretty well. He managed over 20 minutes tonight despite his adventures, and the Islanders didn't seem to know that he'd beat them up if they kept yapping so that wound up working out in his favor. Also love that he went after Sim as that guy is a snot.

Vandermeer
- Re-injured I'm guessing? Didn't see anything specific happen. He didn't look good in his limited time and got beat on several occasions as well as pinching and getting caught when he had no business doing so, generating an odd man rush that should have cost us. It's tough playing with #43 but he's still got to be better.

Strudwick
- Did 2 productive things tonight: moved one puck out of the zone on a PK and tackled Matt Moulson. Other than that he was plain ol' "stand around and do nothing" Strudwick. #2 and I suggest a challenge race at the skills competition between he and Scott Ferguson; though people may fall asleep or run out of beer before they complete their laps.

Petry
- Thought he should have played more and really not sure why he didn't get time 5-on-3 when Strudwick was barely staying above water. He had a couple separate sequences skating through the neutral zone in the third that were just beauty; he's so calm with the puck and makes people miss. Not as much puck-taking as last game but that could have been due to NYI's somewhat passive style.

Gilbert
- He had some misadventures tonight. Don't get me wrong, he was still the obvious leader and still lugged the important mail, but he got caught out of position defensively a couple times and that flipping the puck over the glass to create the late 5-on-3 wasn't smart at all. I did like the way he jumped into the play though, and it is hard to argue with 28+ minutes of solid defensive hockey.

Peckham
- Loved the attempted big hit in the third and even though it was somewhat risky, loved when he got right in Tavares' face behind the play during the Isles' late powerplay. We've been missing a guy like him on the team forever. The fact that he also put up 27+ near-perfect minutes tonight, regardless of the opposition is so impressive and especially considering where he started the year. Excellent night from Theo and probably the unsung hero tonight.

MacIntyre-Fraser-Jones
- There were times tonight where #33 actually looked like a hockey player. It appears he's been working on his positioning as he made an effort to be in some nice spots for short outlet passes and handled them well without generating giveaways. He even got a rather nice slapper on net. Fraser had one of his better nights too as he handled the puck well. I still don't see why he can't get in on the forecheck better than he does as he isn't a bad skater and won't get caught out of position. Jones' presence is somewhat mitigated by playing on this line and he wasn't able to generate any offence until he got boosted up to play on a makeshift line later in the game. He hit a couple people but didn't do much else.

Brule-Cogliano-Penner
- I still don't like the idea of this line or the way they play the game (relying way too heavily on Penner) but they were effective offensively in the early going so I have to give them their due. Penner's SH goal after an excellent feed from Cogliano was a pure power forward play, using positioning and strength to hold off the D then finishing very well. Penner also did some excellent work on the boards and found Cogliano on the Brule goal, which was a good example of how to get the puck on net effectively and take advantage. After that though, they were really quiet and I'm not quite sure why. Brule got stuck with a weak penalty on what was actually an excellent hockey play (his stick lift). I hate that this league now penalizes that play but allows picks and other garbage all over the ice. Did any of you see anything special from these guys?

Paajarvi-Reddox-Omark
- While these guys didn't generate a ton, they certainly didn't suffer in their own zone and could've scored some goals. Omark whiffed on a great chance interrupted by a bouncing puck in the third, which was the most obvious one. They were good on the forecheck and down low, Omark especially when he outfoxed 3 NYI players who had position on him and got the puck to Reddox (also 3rd). This line is nice because Reddox controls well in the high areas of the offensive zone, Magnus provides rush speed and Omark is solid in front and behind the net. I'd keep them together and give it another shot next game. If a few pucks sit down for them there are multiple goals on their resume tonight even though they weren't driving the opposition batty. Magnus needs to refocus though, as he's still just a little bit off his game and has forgotten his a big, fast winger who should be feared.

Hall-Gagner-Hemsky
- If Gagner were 6'4", this line would be excellent. As it stands, Ales is being asked to do a bit too much. He had some pucks sneak off his stick again tonight, but did a pretty good job of finding Hall in the offensive areas (the early chance from the bottom of the circle, the break he and Hall had that resulted in Hall's awkward spin pass attempt and Hall's break alone). I think he might have been trying to do a little too much late when he tried to deke 3 Isles to get to the empty net; I'm guessing he was mad at missing the backhand attempt immediately before that. Hall should have scored goals...again. His breakaway "move" didn't make any sense and that's not the first time he's done something weird on a clean break. It was unfortunate he couldn't convert on Hemsky's early cross-ice pass, but I respect the fact that he didn't take a bad shot and opted for puck control instead. I don't know what he thought he was doing when Hemsky set him up for a gimme goal and he spun backwards into the puck, trying to pass. There was an empty net there and no Islander between his forehand and the puck. It was an awkward play. #89 was fairly quiet but that's probably because he naturally plays the supporting role on nights like his. He had some nice puck-carrying sequences and showed some speed, but nothing uber-special. Leave these guys for another night if you have no interest in inserting Penner as their C. That line would kill.
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And with that win our boys head back out on the road...somewhat sadly that means we'll probably miss some of their better hockey, but at least they managed a win. Homestands aren't easy this year, but every now and again there's hope. After all, if Hall makes a couple plays and Omark pops one, this is a 5 or 6 to 1 rout and we can really enjoy it...though then the drunks probably would have spilled on everyone and started a small riot...so maybe it worked out for the best.

1/4/11

LMHF Game Report #20

EDMONTON 3

VS.

DETROIT 5
------------------

This was a really strange game even if it ended with the usual result this year, and the usual Tuesday result of the last couple years (apparently we STINK on Tuesdays).

Looking at the game from back to front, we dominated the third period. Most forwards looked exceedingly confident with the puck and forced the play for the entire 20; even after the 2 DET goals we looked very good. I can't understand for the life of me how we didn't have about 8 PPs in the third period. The only thing more brutal than the Wings were the refs at that stage. On the 4-3 goal alone there were 2 totally blatant picks (including one by neanderthal-boy himself) that were ignored (I won't say unnoticed, because there's no way). Add in tackling Taylor Hall (which has apparently become a new league sport) on several occasions and we should have had at least a couple 5-on-3's. With the way they were playing and #23 in the lineup, this surely would have resulted in at least one goal, and of course no goal on the winner.

It's true the Oilers weren't very good in the first 40. Mostly the first 20, but even then they weren't so bad as to be allowing DET great chances. Osgood won the goalie matchup by a WIDE margin tonight. It wasn't close. Detroit looked rather uninspired for most of the game and certainly felt the absence of some of their best players. Despite those first couple periods, I really felt we got hosed tonight.

Credit to Renney for overshifting the top 2 lines at a key point early in the third. This shifted the momentum permanently and set the stage for a comeback. Once again we had some trouble off the top of the game, but again the score was more the result of being outgoaltended. Rather than a timeout, Renney should have pulled #35 after the 3rd DET goal. Even though a weak D pairing had just been schooled, it was clear that Khabibulin wasn't all there tonight. He'd nearly screwed up a couple other plays besides the goals, and with that let's move on to PLAYER REPORTS
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Khabibulin
- As noted above, he had his lunch handed to him by Osgood tonight. The first goal he wasn't ready, the second (despite a HORRENDOUS sequence by Cogliano) should have been a routine save and the third he didn't even put up a fight even though Draper telegraphed his move. After that he settled down for some time; and though I can't fault him for the fourth, again he didn't look ready. The fifth was a pretty nasty screen, but again, a goalie should be making himself as big as possible at that point, not as small as possible. I'm not saying all the goals were bad, but I am saying 35 looked unprepared and slow all night. He has nights like this and the coaching staff needs to start recognizing them at 2 or 3 goals and yank him outta there.

Peckham
- Despite a rather unfortunate skate-pick on the fifth Detroit goal that made him look rather stupid, I liked Theo's game a lot tonight. His goal was a great example of knowing the situation and taking advantage in that DET had a delayed penalty and Peckham took that opportunity to leap into an empty slot, get open for a pass and make no mistake. Great read. He also had a number of nice hits and was generally solid with the puck.

Gilbert
- Again, one really unfortunate play tainted an otherwise solid game. On the fifth DET goal, Gilbert reacted to Peckham's incident by making an awkward play that completely screened his goalie. I'm not sure what caused him to react like this. It would have been much better if he'd reacted by being way too aggressive as opposed to way too backed off. This helps no one in these tight plays, especially on D. At least if you go for broke, you can say you tried and give your goalie a chance to bail you out. Other than this, Gilbert was solid. He and Theo are coming along nicely as a mid-range D pair. It's not ideal for a championship team of course, but it's nice to see progress anyway.

Foster
- Possibly his worst night as an Oiler. Where to start...his passes were ineffective, his pinches (both during the main game and late when trying to force a goal especially) were just plain horrible (he pinches too much with his stick and not enough body position), he didn't hit anyone, his shots didn't get through and his defensive positioning was a joke. I know that it can be tough playing with Vandermeer, but we usually don't make it look this bad. Why he continues to get shots from the coaching staff late in games when he's proven he won't deliver is beyond me.

Vandermeer
- Came back and didn't look all that solid. He was slow and having to play catchup; which is kind of expected after an ankle injury. It will be interesting to see if he can elevate his game back to the decent area he was playing in before the injury.

Smid
- Generally solid game with an unfortunate bounce that cost us big. I liked the way Smid used his physicality and moved the puck for most of the night. It can be tough playing with a young D partner, but #5 did a solid job supporting Petry all night (not that he needed a ton, just that it can be a specialized role of sorts).

Petry
- Well, the butterflies appear to be gone. Jeff was big-time solid from the word go and spent the night using solid body positioning and a strong stick to take pucks away from DET forwards even if they held them in a strong position. I haven't seen a game like that since Joni Pitkanen and they have a lot of similarities in style (this is a VERY good thing!). He also got a really strong shot on net and I firmly believe he should be placed into a majority of the offensive situations that Foster has been receiving as he's shown he's capable. He moved the puck well, played aggressively and maintained solid defensive footing. This kid looks very good. If there's a solid story on D this year, it's the development of he and Peckham.

Jacques-Fraser-Jones
- Jacques had a game just like Foster did. He missed mulitple hits due to his bad technical skating, missed multiple pucks due to the fact he seems to have forgotten the game is played with one, and even sat there twiddling his thumbs on the bench when called for a shift at one point. How he keeps getting chances, no one may ever know. I was heckling him even harder than usual tonight as he was just making so many mistakes I could barely believe it. Playing Ryan Jones on this line completely wasted the fact that he's been playing so well and can be an offensive contributor. He needs people to get him the puck and both Jacques and Fraser are allergic so that was just impossible. He laid a couple hits but was very quiet. Again, Fraser had no sublime offensive or defensive efforts.

Reddox-Brule-Omark
- It turned out that this line worked pretty well. Reddox played the exact kind of game I expect from him, but with more polish than past editions of #85. His skating lines were excellent, he hit people, he fired a couple solid shots and always seemed to be aware of his and his linemates positions. He shouldn't be sent back down as on this team he's definitely top 12. Great little play and pass for his assist from behind the net as well. Omark had a very good rebound game after his brief journey to OKC (which I believe saw him get 4 assists in one game?). He was excellent on the PP and I honestly prefer him handling the puck on the half boards to Ales right now. He's just very dynamic from there. He landed some hits and kept things simple but effective on a lot of shifts by playing a solid dump and chase game. He's one of the few guys we have smart and fast enough to make the play effectively. His assist wasn't spectacular, but he made many other solid plays that should not have gone unnoticed. Brule was certainly better than he has been lately, and I liked his goal, but I'll be interested to see if this was him riding on the energy and chemistry of Reddox-Omark or whether Brule got some steam back in his game. He still wasn't hitting anyone which has really shocked me this year as this has always been a key part of his game.

Paajarvi-Gagner-Hemsky
- I really didn't like this combo a lot of the night despite the fact that Ales wound up with 2 assists and Sam got 1 and 1. There was just something wrong about them. They kept rushing 3 strong up the right hand side of the ice and trying to make plays, which sort of worked early in the game and then derailed later. Magnus was really hit and miss as I thought he got to some very nice places on the ice early, but couldn't create any good chances, didn't really use his speed and took kind of an ugly penalty. I just don't think he compliments Ales as well as some of the other players. This was a rougher night for Hemsky than most. He struggled a little with the puck in the offensive zone and didn't get any bigtime scoring chances. It is true that DET plays him tighter than most teams and seems to know the areas he shoots from better, but I still expected more. At least he was still solid in the D and neutral zones. I liked both Sam's goal (quick thinking, solidly taken shot) and pass (good composure, good skate and great play to spot and feed Peckham) a lot. This was probably one of his better games and her certainly looked fired up, but he does need to be better on the faceoff dot. Why can't he be made to play a wing? I like the way he plays wing. The only thing I'll dog #89 for is missing the breakaway he had in the second; while he made a great little skating play to generate it, you have to finish when you deke out a goalie like that. What's with all these guys thinking they can go low nowadays. Nothing has ever or will ever beat a strong move to your forehand then going high.

Hall-Cogliano-Penner
- In 2 years on a night like this, Hall gets between 2 and 4 goals. He was really really dangerous despite getting absolutely badgered by the wings, especially in the third. There was specifically a key chance with under 2 to go where I still am not sure how he didn't score (Osgood did make a nice play on this one, but Hall still should've finished). Were he an older player I might be dogging him a bit for missed chances on a night like this, but it really helps his case that he generated many of the chances with singular efforts of skating and stickhandling. Heady days are surely not far away, I just hope the guy doesn't get frustrated. He seems to take the beatings and stonings by trying harder (and not in an "I'm frustrated way) which is a positive sign, but man he deserved a couple goals tonight. Cogliano got absolutely schooled chasing around behind the net on the Bertuzzi goal. He really needs to learn to STOP skating like a mad man sometimes. It's costing him dearly in the defensive zone as he uses it as an excuse to neglect his position. No offence generated by 13 tonight. Penner did not have one of his better games in that he seemed to be one step off the puck in both the neutral and offensive zones. With DET playing rather uninspiringly, this could have been a big night for #27 and it just wasn't, especially on the PP.
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Big losing streak with Mr. Schremp and the red-hot Islanders coming in to play on Thursday. I have a feeling we'll either tear the rookie goalie a new one or get shutout...only time will tell. For the record I hope Robbie scores 6...and we win 7-6 (Omark (3), Hemsky (2), Penner, Peckham).

1/1/11

LMHF Game Report #19

EDMONTON 1

VS.

CALGARY 2
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Not going to write near as much about tonight's game as the last game against Colorado as there just wasn't much happening for the Oilers tonight.

Our effort was really weak...I can probably count on one hand the amount of times we beat Flames dmen clean, we just weren't willing to work for it. This was true in the defensive end as well; we just didn't want to beat anyone tonight.

Obviously losing Eberle was a huge blow; he brings so much calm and well executed play that we suffered without him. Renney's pregame decisions (dressing Jacques, sitting 91, sending down Omark and not having him available, and playing 43 over Petry specifically) handicapped us offensively (and defensively I would argue as well) before puck drop and we really couldn't get any kind of offensive flow going. It is true that some of this was because the Flames were allowed to clutch and hold all night (we had what, 1 PP?) but we also didn't force them to take us down or hook. We weren't skating past anyone, and that's the key to drawing penalties. It's also something 91 does better than anyone on the roster. It'd be nice if we could give the young offence a rest sometimes, but we're clearly not talented enough to do so and compete.

It is clear this team has problems starting games at home with enthusiasm and focus. I'm really not sure why this is; other than that maybe through lack of competition our roster has gotten too comfortable. There is no actual pressure on the bottom lines because of the way we manage players. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

The Flames are a sorry bunch right now; they just laid back all night despite our lacking efforts in all zones. We should've been torched for 4 or 5 tonight. Our D wasn't solid and our neutral zone play was brutal, but they didn't even look interested in playing. If Jackman doesn't score a semi-lucky one this game probably goes 18 rounds in a SO before Jason Strudwick falls headfirst into Kiprusoff and takes the puck in with him. It was that BLAH tonight.

The only positive that comes out of this game is that maybe Omark gets recalled and some entertainment value comes with him. We're not exactly looking stellar right now in that regard.

The first Calgary goal was an utter debacle for 43, 45 and 13. All were out of position and made bad choices. 13 needs to learn to cover someone, ANYONE in his defensive zone. Just about every Oilers forward on the roster is better at this than he.

The second Calgary goal was an unfortunate sequence; Hemsky and Penner got tangled on the draw, then Hemsky didn't make it to the point while Penner failed to lift Jokinen's stick as the puck came through. Unfortunate play.

Our goal was a beauty; great backhand pass through Calgary D's legs to Gilbert, who sold the shot hard and then made a great pass to Jones who streaked into a perfect position and scored. One of the only solid offensive outbursts of the night.

PLAYER REPORTS
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Khabibulin
- Wasn't really tested with tough shots tonight as the Flames couldn't jump onto offence very well. He played well enough for us to have a chance to win though, especially in the first period. No complaints.

Belle
- Though he showed some solid wheels and skated the puck alright, he struggled more defensively than during his last go round. He kept drifting out of position or playing a little too far from his man. I know playing with 43 probably didn't help, but he needs to be better. Watching him skate with the puck, I'm kind of amazed no one's ever tried him at forward. He could be a rather interesting power-winger.

Strudwick
- There were multiple times tonight where 43 stood, looked around, then seemed to realize that "Oh yeah, I'm playing hockey and have to move, there's also a black disc near my feet...hmmm". He was even worse than usual and certainly contributed to the loss. Every time Renney sent 45-43 over the boards on a shift with the first line, they managed to bugger up the play. This is an element of coaching logic I've seen from both MacTavish and Renney that I don't understand at all. Playing 43 over Petry might've lost us the game frankly, because with 2 more decent breakout passes, or a decent play on the PP or opposition blue, maybe we pop a goal or two and it is anyone's game.

Gilbert
- Struggled a little more defensively than he has in past games, but still joined the rush and made a decent pass or three. Certainly not on him tonight.

Peckham
- I expected a lot more from him tonight; he didn't smack the Flames around and we needed that fairly badly. He was decently positionally and moved the puck alright, but he could've been the X Factor in this one.

Foster
- A few more stupid shots that had no chance of going in. These might as well have been giveaways. One thing I've noticed is he's becoming lazier in terms of trying to rely on his reach rather than skating to and through the puck. This is an unfortunate trend. He wasn't physical either and didn't contribute much.

Smid
- Liked the way he was moving his feet a bunch tonight, and certainly had an improved defensive outing. I was surprised however that he didn't do more offensively. There was one really nice sequence he had which I believe was late in the first, but that was it. Does anyone have any idea why we can't teach him to use his talents to become a more successful offensive player? All the elements are there except a plan...

Jacques-Fraser-Stortini
- Stortini doesn't look near as good playing with this group. He showed some early jump but honestly got pushed around and then backed off a bit. Very disappointed he couldn't follow up last game's strong effort. I'd like to address a point that's been made about Fraser lately: I am not ignoring his defensive game, it just doesn't impress me either. He's not a guy that will go get the puck, win races, throw defensive hits or make great blocks. He literally does nothing, even when he gets the puck in clear open ice, which is just plain not good enough for anyone on an NHL roster. Jacques made his best play tonight without a stick; that says all you need to know about #22. He even got muscled off a puck he was driving down the boards into the Calgary zone by a weak-ish check from a Calgary defender he had excellent position on. What's the point of being a big forward if you can't execute that?

Brule-O'Marra-Jones
- O'Marra was effectively benched after the Eberle injury, which I really don't understand because he is holding his own and playing better positionally than guys like Cogliano, Brule and Jacques. He's also a better hockey player than Stortini most nights this year. Not sure what Renney thinks he's doing there. Brule still didn't show me anything; no indication that he's learned from his benching. His offensive game has degraded and he no longer shows any boardplay or physicality. If they won't let him take faceoffs, what else is he supposed to do? Jones played alright after being promoted to an offensive line. It's nice to have a guy who's versatile like that. It was also nice to see that he kept his effort level up and didn't get frustrated like many of his mates seemed to as the night went on. I would've liked more hitting, but at least he could take a pass.

Hall-Gagner-Eberle
- Hall missing that breakaway killed. I don't know why he went backhand, much less 5-hole backhand (I'm not sure there's a weaker combination in the game), but if he finishes that chance it's a HUGE momentum swing after Khabibulin took that STUPID penalty. He had a couple of other chances as well, but couldn't seem to get anything going. He's also firing wide again, and seemed to have trouble controlling the puck in the Flames' zone. Eberle was playing fairly well before his injury, generating a couple of our best chances. It's going to be tough watching the games without him, but maybe this will force Renney to be a little more original in his line combinations. Gagner was a little less visible than usual tonight. I've noticed he often rushes up the right side rather than the center slot with Hall and Eberle, but I'm not sure how well this play is going to work long-term as that's a hard spot for him to finish from.

Penner-Cogliano-Hemsky
- Cogliano tried to do too much again, and also couldn't take a pass. Combine that with the previously noted defensive struggles and I really hope he's off this line for my own sanity's sake. I know this might be a nice way to gain him some tradability, but it hurts to watch. Hemsky struggled more than usual in the offensive zone tonight, mainly because Calgary blocked the shooting lanes very well and he got frustrated and started to force the play a bit much. The lack of support from the blue and Cogliano certainly didn't help, but Ales needs to be better than tonight. Penner was just okay. He had some great moments of knocking Flames around and making that pass, but wasn't really interested in willing this team to a win or drilling a hole for Hemsky to score from. Even if just these guys had been going tonight, we win.
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Certainly an unfortunate followup to our last 2 periods. That was the quietest EDM-CGY Saturday game I've been to in a long time.

A note of congratulations to the SSAC club that won the Mac's Cup today. A friend of a friend is their head coach and his boys survived a scary penalty-filled third to win one of hockey's finest tournaments at the Midget level. I was an MLAC man myself, but congrats to the boys on a wonderful title.

Hopefully the game against DET is better; but I'm scared of what the lineup will look like...until then, Happy New Year all!