SAN JOSE 4
In a freaking shootout....
Unacceptable shall be the word of the night.
Another home lead going into the third...another loss. Incredibly unacceptable.
Tonight the chances slipped through our fingers at times. The 4 minute powerplay after Havlat went stupid comes to mind. We made more errant passes than I've seen in a while. A lot of that was on us but SJ also happens to have very aggressive and skilled penalty killing forwards who forced the play and hurt us badly. Until Gagner shifted things a bit and got a good screened shot away we looked pretty sad.
San Jose wasn't particularly good at the other parts of the game. In fact, until they killed off Havlat's penalty they looked like a whiny old team who wasn't dealing with losing very well and wanted no part in the effort of correcting their current trajectory. We had them on the mat and then let them up rather than kicking them in the ribs.
I have to single out our coaching decisions again tonight. I don't enjoy it but these are now repeated mistakes and that is not right in a professional sport where everything is broken down over and over. People are paid a lot of money to get this stuff right. Having Mike Brown out there again late, playing with a modified fourth line of Smyth and Petrell (with the only youthful player in Hartikainen riding the pine for no damn reason AGAIN) late in the game, paired up with Whitney who was having a horrible game and Fistric who couldn't pull all that dead weight was a recipe for disaster. Many people knew it. Our coaches for whatever reason did not. That is the third straight game the Brown, and more importantly the coach's decision to play Brown, has played a significant negative part for the Oilers in the third period. Unacceptable.
Once again Yakupov and Hartikainen pay the price for unseen crimes and a goon and a slow old vet get the benefit. Once again it costs us. Unacceptable.
I also don't know why this team cannot possibly figure out 4-on-4. This isn't rocket surgery.
The refereeing was atrocious tonight. In the first period, when a couple iffy calls went our way I mentioned to LMHF#2 that we'd pay for this later if we didn't capitalize. Come the third period that came true. There were a ton of picks, holds and interference plays that went uncalled while SJ got an opportunity and capitalized. I don't ask for much from the zebras because of the BS internal politics that is rife in their profession and the speed at which the sport moves, but I do ask for consistency rather than this back and forth, score-based calls crap. It is an insult to the game. Unacceptable.
Those searching for positives can speak all they want about "points in five" and whatever other barfle they wish to spew. It's not going to matter at the end of the season. This team being "close" to the playoffs isn't going to matter either. Management and the coaching staff have put this squad in a place where it is constantly walking a tightrope with no net. Any mistakes, missing players or bad turns and they are sunk. There's no cushioning to fall back on. There's no excuse for that.
Niemi was terrible. We should have lit him up bad.
Worst three stars picks I've seen in forever. Should have been 1. Couture 2. Gagner Easily. 3. Another Shark, maybe Boyle. Not an Oilers player.
Player reviews will likely be a tad short tonight. I'm not happy. Feel free to add details you saw in the game.
- No good tonight. The first goal he was completely lost on, regardless of how it eventually wound up in the net. Goal #2 was the same story with a little more help from a confused defence. He still should have covered the puck and not be sitting there doing nothing in his net. Goal #3 is from way too far out to beat him clean. The Couture SO goal I'll give him, but the Boyle goal was embarrassing. Getting faked out and laying there on the ice while a defenceman casually slides it into the open net is just brutal. It was like watching a power hitter who has never seen a curve ball before...except it was a 10-year-old's curve ball. I'm sure he'll bounce back, but he did the team no favours tonight. They still should have been able to win him a game for a change.
- Not the right pairing. The Oilers coaches seemed to be trying to match size with size and it worked briefly but fell apart. Whitney continued his points streak but that was the only positive. He was on the ice and guilty for two of the goals and in the penalty box when the other was scored. He went back to being bad in the corners and bad with the puck in his own zone tonight. Fistric was just okay trying to back him up. Disaster on the first goal though.
- Smid was okay and his usual physical self. I'm getting really tired of watching Petry stumble all over himself though. For a supposedly offensively gifted player, he had multiple chances tonight to either score or get a great shot on net and did nothing with those chances. Hemsky found him in the slot with all the time in the world and he couldn't do a damn thing.
- Don't like these two being put back together much at all. They were struggling when we last saw them together and weren't much better tonight. Justin made a great little play in OT to break up the rush but was lacklustre otherwise. He didn't hit anyone, got beat in the corners, missed even seeing a streaking Hemsky for a sure breakaway in the third period and was just generally sluggish. Nick wasn't really much better. He certainly made a good play to get the puck to the net for Horcoff to score his goal, but aside from that he was just too passive AGAIN tonight. How are these mistakes not being corrected? Since when did Nick Schultz not hit people to separate them from the puck?
- Teemu effectively didn't play so it would be wrong to say much about his game other than that he was okay while he was out there. Petrell had a rough night. He was way out of position on the second SJ goal and part of the myriad of mistakes that led to the third. He doesn't bring enough other things to the table to be making mistakes out there. Brown didn't fight anyone when some of the SJ goon squad were giving us problems. He didn't keep his hitting game up. He couldn't clear the puck out of our zone. Unacceptable and the third game in a row that he has had a pronounced negative impact on our ability to win. Again, more on the coaches than him. It is not his job to PK and to be playing important minutes in the third.
- This was a weird combination. Basically what it came down to was, get the puck to Eberle and hope something good happens. The other two either couldn't keep up, or in Jones' case were too busy cheating in the wrong direction (AGAIN). This very nearly led to a goal similar to the third goal on a couple occasions. Credit to Jones on his goal, he did the work, took the puck and beat a completely asleep Antti Niemi. Very good play but that was all he did. I do note that Gagner took that faceoff for some reason. I can't help but think the Jones we originally acquired would have dropped the gloves during that little skirmish he got himself involved in. I know he's got eye issues now or something, but the fact that he has basically dropped the physical part of his game and seems to think he can coast by on his offence and penalty killing is a pretty sad inditement of our depth (or coaching or management depending on your perspective). Smyth was pretty slow and weak along the boards. He got beaten for a lot of pucks in our end. He fared better in the offensive zone, but I still can't understand why there isn't always an Oilers forward standing at the side of the net opposite him when he goes for that slow wraparound. You know the puck gets there most of the time so why not be ready to bang it in? We could have had three of these tonight. Eberle was okay. He showed some good things but didn't really get a lot of time and space. One of his best plays was a sneaky little low shot that generated a rebound and should have got us a goal.
- Probably our best line in the offensive zone...which didn't stop our coach from messing with it yet again. Yakupov played a pretty solid game. In the first he came in with the puck on a 2-on-1 with Gagner. I'm still not too sure why he didn't just walk in and beat the goalie as he was given all kinds of time and space. He did make a good pass that Gagner could have finished but no reason to take the risk when you're as good as #64. Finish that play. Nice little pass to set up Gagner's PP goal later. No major mistakes and a fantastic hit in the third period. You could tell he was a little miffed and he took it out on the Sharks. Also had a second hit that shift. Beautiful. Paajarvi was pretty solid as well. I really liked the way he drove the net with the puck and got back to make some solid defensive plays. I do wish that he would stop burying his head on the rush though. Again tonight (as last game) he missed passing chances as he entered the zone because he was already winding for a shot. Gagner was our best player by a fair bit tonight. He scored his goal obviously, rang a great shot off the far bar in the third that Niemi is still looking for, beat players and carried speed into the offensive zone all night. He was the one guy who was taking the puck into trouble and coming away with it. Even made that bloody spin move delay pass in the second period that could easily have resulted in a goal. Great effort. Is it time to talk contract extension with #89?
- Something was very wrong with Taylor Hall tonight. I can't help but think he may also have been stricken with the flu. He was slow, really slow. He was getting knocked over at every turn. He couldn't beat anyone (with or without the puck) all night. I admire the guy's effort but if there's something that wrong with him he needs to sit or have a very limited role. You could see during the breaks that his face was sagging and there was no extra energy at all there. With Hall lagging, Horcoff and Hemsky were required to adjust. They've been playing a very fast and dynamic game lately that didn't change enough to accomodate their ailing teammate. One of the most common plays we see recently is Hemsky coming down the right wing with the puck, he'll cut in and pass as Hall breaks through the middle with speed. They also make this play just inside the zone at a slightly different angle. This play was mangled tonight because you could see when Hall when to apply the afterburner it just wasn't there. This is why you had so much chaos at the blue line and why the PP struggled. Hemsky was pretty good despite this, though his SO effort was not his best (either forehand wrist to top shelf or backhand roof ALWAYS). Horcoff did okay for himself on the draw but was largely missing in the offensive zone. His goal was obviously a solid read and drive and I applaud him for the timing.
It is going to be tough to win when Hopkins is out at the last minute and something is clearly wrong with Hall...BUT, we still should have come away with this one rather than snatching defeat from the claws of victory again. While the effort was far from perfect, I can't help but note that the effort was sabotaged yet again by ill-timed and illogical changes to the lineup/gameplan. Making these mistakes to lose, rather than simply being best or outworked, is unacceptable.