Our opening topic tonight is potato chips. Why is that? you may ask. Well, I'll tell you...the Edmonton Oilers can't even do potato chips right at this point. Seriously. I'll elaborate - there was an announcement made late in the game that "everyone" would be getting chips as we left the building. Great, most of us thought, as at least we could take SOMETHING home from this game. It turns out that those of us who actually stayed until, ya know, the end of the game, were beyond out of luck. They had already been completely out for quite some time. I say a lot of critical things about the Edmonton Oilers, but I can't recall them screwing up something so damn basic. Just amazing. What is wrong with these people??
Anyway, back to hockey, or whatever exactly it was being played at Rexall Place tonight. One team kinda sorta played, another team didn't really bother.
I'd really like to write another legit game assessment before the end of the season. I do really enjoy getting into the nuts and bolts of the game. I'm less than optimistic this will happen though. There's every chance they come out on Wednesday and paste Chicago, just because we're the Oilers I suppose. It just isn't possible to go through assessing players the way they've played the last few games. Everyone is completely checked out mentally.
It was so sad to watch our team with the goalie pulled. We allowed Anaheim I think 5 attempts at the empty net. The Oilers barely got a shot. Not only that, but they turned the puck over in such a sad and pathetic way...it was either in the neutral zone or barely into the offensive zone every time. Really bad when you can't even muster a whimper.
If I'd been thinking of it in advance I suppose I could've done an Anaheim game report. They showed up and did what they needed to do with what appeared to be a roster where players were resting. It is sad but true that our team has, once again, become just an easy checkmark on the schedule at the end of the season.
Usually when this kind of thing happens there are at least people around trying to earn a job that can impress you. I tried to pay more attention to Lander and Hartikainen than anyone else tonight, though even that was a struggle at times.
Hartikainen managed to get himself a couple scoring chances including a nice tip and control the puck in the corners. He didn't capitalize and I really hope he spends some substantial time on his shooting in the offseason. It looks more than anything like he's just rushing it a little bit sometimes. That happens with young guys but learning to focus and finish is very hit or miss. It takes effort. #56 didn't blow anyone up tonight that I recall and I hope he brings that to the table in the pre-season next year as well as the AHL playoffs if he's eligible.
Lander was less noticeable and had some trouble with the puck from what I could see. He was completely out of place in the lineup of course, but at least it gave us all a chance to see him with some decent players. Paajarvi and Yakupov outclassed him by a lot of course. This doesn't mean he was a failure. While he wasn't as good on the PK as he usually seems to be, he was okay positionally and at least put forth an effort out there.
Aside from those two it was pretty much a grab bag for me. It is tough to focus on hockey that bad.
The top line with Gagner added didn't do too much. Sure, Hall scored but even he was surprised that shot beat Hiller. He kinda whiffed or was shooting for a rebound. As a unit they weren't carrying speed into the offensive zone at all. Gagner struggled to get his shot away despite some strong stickhandling. Eberle really didn't look to be into it at all. Hall was at times, and others not. Landed a big check near the end of the game for some reason
The second line was interesting to watch at times. Yakupov was once again probably the most dangerous forward. He got a couple good shots away from the slot and threaded an absolutely perfect pass to Paajarvi whose stick just disintegrated somehow. It was a grade AAA level pass that required a delay, weight shift, perfect speed and timing. Just awesome. #64 could still break for the open ice better. I hope there's a coach around that can see and teach that. Magnus could have been better but could have been worse. He was a half-step away from a lot of plays.
The old men were terrible tonight. Horcoff, Smyth and Smithson didn't contribute at all. Horcoff even managed to take a couple of stupid penalties to salt it. Smyth was behind every play. Smithson can't keep up either. Not worth saying much more. Smyth tried a double-wraparound....seriously.
Jones hit some people I suppose. At least that's something.
Brown took another dumb high sticking penalty. He's great at that.
The D? I dunno. Smid played tough as usual but also made more mistakes than normal. Petry made a really nice play to Hall to get him a goal then passed the puck away a bunch of times. I'm starting to wonder whether it is Petry's passing or whether at this point the forwards are so bad/disinterested that no one is in position to take a pass. Not really sure. The Schultzes? Just okay. Missed some coverages and Justin at least wasn't constantly wandering the offensive zone as he did during the last game I went to. Fistric and Potter spent most of the night giving the puck away as well. It wasn't pretty.
Dubnyk? Good enough if his team had decided to show up.
If you care about sports and consider yourself a competitor, you wonder what impact all this intentional losing has had on the players. I maintain it results in what we've seen at the end of this season. Rather than a team that fights to the bitter end for at least some improvement, the players know that management is okay with losing. There's no accountability. Why would they want to win? Just wrecking the draft pick. This is why the NHL should have nuked the weighted lottery a long time ago. I would have much rather watched a team forced to fight than one taking the most talentless way out to rebuild a team. Watching hockey this listless after knowing your team is capable of more is even worse than watching a horrible team get beat. There's just nothing there to go after and instead of putting forth a professional, strong effort down the stretch and winning a game or two, this team is skating out the string. Make no mistake about that.
I won't be at the game tomorrow, so no report. See you Wednesday.