Well, that didn't last very long. I'm starting to think this team might not have the capacity to get on a roll. The 07-08 and 08-09 teams both had periods where they looked like they may never lose again. I haven't seen that from this core group yet once. They are always several precious steps from falling backwards into the crevice again.
A good team walks into tonight's game with a ton of confidence after the 8-2 win, knows its opponent is in the second half of a back to back during a long, losing season, and dispatches them in the first period, coasting most of the rest of the way to take care of business on HNIC.
In case we had any delusions floating around...the Edmonton Oilers are not that hockey team.
I won't take tonight's result fully away from Calgary. I've seen very few teams as committed to keeping their opponent out of the middle of the offensive zone as the Flames were tonight. The Oilers helped out a ton by taking the path of least resistance (the outside) and then either taking harmless shots or making insanely stupid cross-blueline and backward passes in the offensive zone. How these guys couldn't learn from the way they attacked the net the other night I have no idea. In the top 6, outside of David Perron, not one guy showed any appetite for taking the puck to the net until the last minute of the game. This is with multiple powerplays for...it isn't like the Oilers spent the night slogging away five-on-five.
I honestly don't know what they are doing as they enter the attacking zone. It is too odd and too constant to be a spontaneous decision of the players.
One thing is clear - other teams show a complete lack of respect for the Oilers' point shooting potential and this season they are right to do so. No weapons back there right now. Belov misses too much, Petry takes too long, Justin Schultz has given up, Ference can't shoot, Larsen's too weak and Nick Schultz I don't believe realizes that he is allowed to shoot the puck anymore. The D know how to move to the net - there was a sequence tonight where both Justin Schultz and Martin Marincin went to the slot at the same time - but finishing has not occured this year. This is a black hole where offense goes to die. I'm going to continue to advocate strongly for blowing up the D. For whatever reason tonight made me miss Pronger more than I have in a long while. He'd do that wobbly walk under the derrick as the last guy on the ice and you just knew there was a chance we'd win every single night. On a bad PP night, he'd go stand in the middle of the ice and just blow one by everybody. We have absolutely no one who can have that impact on the team's psyche and on the game. #1 picks and all.
Odd that even after playing what I'd consider a rather pathetic 59+ minutes where they mainly just wore themselves, this team still had a chance to win. Calgary didn't really attack all night, which again is somewhat on them and somewhat a credit to our 5 standing D. They didn't do a lot but they also didn't give up a lot of odd man rushes. Then again, neither did the Flames. I haven't seen that much scrambly play and botched...well...everything, in quite a while now.
On the losing goal, our forwards were gassed after Eakins didn't elect to use his timeout. He'd had 6 forwards on the ice for the last minute and then sent them right back out in OT. That's a big strategic mistake in a game where they had already been frustrated and wearing themselves out. I'm not saying their effort were smart...they were all over the damn place in fact.
- Played good enough for this team to win. Down too early on the first goal of course. Absolutely embarrassing trying to play the puck behind his own net. He fell, threw a stick, gave the puck away, missed it and I believe once actually made one of the simplest plays a goalie is asked to make. I'm not bagging on him because as I say, he was indeed good enough, but how can a professional be so bad at a basic requirement of the job?
- Pretty medium game from him. Had some very off shifts in the second. That still doesn't mean Eakins shouldn't have played him more than 15+ mins on a night where they only have 5 D. He needed to see more ice. No reason for Justin Schultz to play over 27.
- He was either gassed, unfocused or something, but not very good tonight at all. Very little impact on the game for the positive, which is amazing when you play nearly half of it.
- Just okay defensively, and didn't make any strong offensive plays.
- Just all over the place. Excellent skating with the puck and some really nice passes. Horrible when he faced a couple two-on-ones. He has no clue what to do. Not even close to a threat to shoot tonight. Bobbled the puck a bunch.
- Was doing fine until the headshot.
- Beat again for the Flames first goal. Apparently he thought there should have been a penalty called? I didn't see anything but it was at one of the angles where it is harder for me to tell. Looked like Ference being Ference to me. Okay otherwise.
- Did he play? Not really. Not sure why he didn't go punch someone in the mouth after the Petry play.
- Ran around and accomplished absolutely nothing. Par for the course.
- Drew a penalty, did okay on the PK despite Jones trying to force him to play both point men on several occasions.
- Very quiet night and a big fat ZERO on the dot. Yikes. Just couldn't seem to get his feet going or have any impact in the offensive zone. That's not going to translate well for him. Had a couple of good shifts on the wing with Hall and Gagner though.
- Slower and struggled a bit tonight, but no big mistakes or stupid penalties for him tonight. I consider that a success for Smyth at this stage.
- Kind of all over the place like Larsen. There were points during the game where he was clearly the Oilers best forward, then there were times where he really struggled. He at least tried to push to the net on a few occasions, and also generated the tying goal by getting a puck on net from the point when no one else seemed interested at all.
- His early spark and driving the net to annoy Calgary should have provided his teammates with some spark and attitude but this never came to pass. Perron struggled to get into the shooting lanes for himself tonight and no teammates were able to find him. He gave the puck away more than usual tonight in the corners, which might be the one weakness to his otherwise solid game. I'll deal with an occasional unsportsmanlike from him. At least he doesn't skate away or hide.
- Yikes. Rough game in the offensive zone tonight. Couldn't get a step on anyone and didn't get any really good shots away save for a powerplay shot off the post (Perron had one on the same shift as well). He needs to be much better.
- Pretty much the exact same as Eberle, but maybe even less effective. He is skating to really weird spots and losing the puck with almost zero fight at an alarming rate this year. Not sure what's wrong.
- Some good shifts, some bad ones, at least he was around the net I suppose. Made some UGLY passes though, which have sadly been a trademark of his game this year. This gets worse in games like tonight's where he is getting frustrated.
- Just not ready yet. Keeps getting whacked in the face. Where's the slapper? Where are the dekes? I wish we had Grabovski instead...
- Pretty bad game I must say. He's really struggling.
That's all I can muster tonight. Please add if you have additional insights.