I don't see any magic recipe for tonight's loss. Chicago is a very good team and the Oilers are following management's lead in terms of tanking at the end of any season where you're not going for the Stanley Cup. The previous couple years have resulted in this being the end to our season, at least in terms of mental outlook.
Weird to see Emery somehow get hurt and pull himself like that. You don't often see the goalie head straight back to the dressing room.
At least there was some action for approximately a period. The Oilers kinda-sorta thought about putting up a fight in this one. I'm not exactly sure what triggered the complete giving up this time. I do know the fans are pretty well done as well. All reaction and the traditional BOOs were saved for the last few seconds and that is it. No reason to expect that they'd put in more effort than the team. This is much worse than last year or the year before because you know there's much less excuse for this garbage now. I've never heard so many people upset to be there, and the number leaving early or not showing up at all is increasing rapidly.
If you're a team that'a actually serious about taking a step forward, you need to be playing well at the end of the season. You don't need to be winning every game, but you need strong efforts and bright lights. There are not many of those right now.
I focused specifically on Bryan Bickell tonight as I think he'd be an interesting offseason pickup for our team. We were discussing it about a week ago and he was a guy LMHF#2 thought would be worth a shot. I'd tend to agree. Bickell is large and plays that way. Tonight he took a big of a run at Mike Brown and got no reply. He also defaults to the front of the net in the offensive zone, which is something we're lacking and especially in the bottom six. He's not a speed demon but is reasonably technically which matters much more anyway. He made some decent passes tonight and could likely get some things done with a little more icetime. He had one break in alone on Dubnyk and I was disappointed to see he went low, but at least he gained position, can clearly take a pass, and held his ground. I'd still take a long look at this guy in the offseason to add some unique things to our bottom six and possibly give him the opportunity to flourish and move up in the order every now and again.
I'm always amazed at how consistently Patrick Kane plays very well against the Oilers. Maybe it is the Gagner thing or maybe he's just really consistent, I'm not sure.
Is there a reason Krueger loves playing the fourth line against Chicago's top line? That was not fun to watch at all.
- I'm not saying he played badly, but giving him first star in a 30-shot, 4-goal game is lunacy. Sure he made a great pokecheck. Sure he made some nice saves in the third when nothing mattered. He was not very good in the first. He should've stopped Kane's goal. He could've made a much better effort on Toews'. Oduya's shot was nothing to write home about as he'd already squared after the pass from Kane. He also managed to give the puck away multiple times (including a complete whiff behind the net) which should be pretty impossible for a goalie. Again, not his fault we lost and he did make some very nice saves, but not to the point where his effort tonight should be lauded.
- Maybe Corey Potter's worst game as an Oiler. I lost count of the giant mistakes and bonehead plays at around 10. I'm sure he had more. He just couldn't make a pass to save his life tonight other than to a Blackhawk. He also got beat to multiple pucks and beat clean while defending from a positional advantage rountinely. That's no good. Fistric wasn't much better overall, but at least played a physical game. I don't mind taking that elbow on Shaw at all on the shift after he was giving Dubnyk such a hard time.
- Way too many defensive zone breakdowns and getting beat clean on the rush by Chicago forwards without any offensive plays generated whatever. That was the simple story of their night. Justin looks incredibly tired after what has easily been his longest hockey season and Nick just looks disinterested. Not a good combination.
- Smid is one of the only guys playing like a warrior to the very end. There's no quit and his game has changed very little. I would say he got caught out of position a couple times tonight and didn't move the puck that well, but you'd never question the effort. Now, on to Mr. Petry. For the most part he had an up and down game. He made passing mistakes but also some nice plays, and had a mixed bag kind of game defensively. If this were it for him tonight I'd be okay with things, but it was not. Watching the way he played Sharp on the Chicago EN goal made me want to vomit. It was eerily similar to Whitney's play along the boards in the last game of the season last year. Petry had position and lost it, didn't take the puck or the man, then in a 50/50 situation gave a sad sack effort and was beaten, then didn't even bother to haul down Sharp to prevent a goal. What in the blue hell was that Jeff? This guy does some great things but boy is he ever frustrating on a lot of nights and I'm not sure he's really improving. That last play is going to stick with me for a long time. Imagine if the playoffs had been on the line and that had happened.
- Random fact: I think I discovered why Smithson can't skate. He puts about 18 layers of sock tape on his ankles. They had a close up of him doing it going into the third. Back in the old days the tape was somewhat understandable, but with new skates and the need to be able to turn and flex your ankle, this is a recipe for a clunky clod. I'm not sure I've ever watched a large forward who does less on the ice than this guy. That continued tonight. Brown showed absolutely no push back even after getting hammered. There are plenty of targets on the Blackhawks even if you're not interested in hitting someone who matters but he couldn't be bothered. Watching him freeze in place, then get tripped, then trip over himself as he attempted to take advantage of the chance for a clear breakaway was pretty sad. Smyth? He sauntered around the ice doing not much of anything because he's way too late to the puck. He drew a penalty tonight at least by going to the net. Supposedly he had the second most forward icetime for the Oilers? Sad.
- Credit where it is due, these guys generated good scoring chances in the slot on each of their first three shifts. Unfortunately they managed to bungle all of them but that is still more than most of the rest of the roster did tonight. After that Jones went back to being largely ineffective, unable to take a pass and cheating for offence which caused turnovers in the defensive zone. Aside from some strong PK effort he was the same as ever. Hartikainen struggled with the puck tonight which is too bad because he went to the right spots and worked well in the corners. He also ran over a Chicago player while retaining puck possession in the slot on an impressive little play in the third. Disappointing night for him though as he wasn't able to capitalize and didn't pass the puck very well. Lander was very mediocre. Fine on the PK but did a whole lot of nothing 5-on-5 despite some chances to work of strong plays by his linemates.
- Unfortunately for these guys, after the first period the puck seemed to be winding up on Horcoff's stick in the far end of the neutral zone and the unit's zone entries were pretty sketchy after that started. Horcoff has visibly lost a step or two and can't seem to beat anyone anymore even if he maintains possession. Yakupov had a very nice first period. The goal itself was classic Yakupov, using his wicked shot from an unorthodox spot and putting it in the net. He also made a very nice sliding backcheck play and nearly finished it off with an offensive one during the same shift. He tailed off a bit in the second and third but was at least still pushing the effort. He easily could have scored a couple more. Magnus was less visible than many nights this year. He did a lot of skating but not much else. Hopefully that's just an off game where he fell back to his old comfort zone and nothing more.
- You know something's wrong when Eberle in the second period executes the toe drag around a Chicago D, has Crawford at his mercy, and doesn't bother to look up before he shoots the puck. It looked like a wicked Crawford save but make no mistake, that was an Eberle screw up. That extra second he always takes, that little angle change or move to the backhand would have resulted in a highlight reel play and instead he didn't even look up. Damn. I've written that these guys have pretty much checked out for the year and aside from a brief time in the first tonight where they looked like they were considering jumping back into the game, I stand by that. If you noticed anything exceptional that they did, add it to the comments.
One left. Please don't embarrass us all against VAN on HNIC like you did against Calgary. Please.