Well the team almost salvaged one here. I'd care and think it meant more if this was the beginning of the season rather than at a point when barring "we'll never lose again", the season is over.
Fact is I want to be entertained and I want the team to win. For half the game tonight that just wasn't the case. They were terrible. LMHF#2 were strongly considering leaving for pizza and Madden. I still think we should have even after the third. It's just more painful when the game is made close and there will be excuses made.
Eakins started making them immediately in his post-game. You can't say that team made no mistakes. They gave the puck up like crazy the whole game save for five minutes. What you can say is that for a good while they shut down PHX's ability to get shots on net. That's a very good thing of course.
The D got better after Ference left...just saying. The thing about the remaining group is, although they're not that good when compared to the better teams in the league, they are both better (when playing decently) and bigger than the Oilers usually ice.
The forwards were strongest on the rush. Phoenix basically shut down the Oilers' attempts to cycle and get the puck to the net. Despite this the Oilers kept chipping it in rather than repeat the success of the Hopkins goal. Now, I guess you could argue that the PHX D got worn down but I don't really buy that. There wasn't enough hitting for that to have happened. They were giving away possession to a team that plays back rather than using the gap to generate speed and attack the net. During the times of the night when they did have chances and pressure, it was because they exploited the fact that PHX likes to hang back.
Interesting to watch PHX's PP. They consciously try not to skate with the puck.
The game was lost in the first. Much like the season was lost very early on.
- Not good enough tonight at all. He settled in during the second period but this was too little too late.
- Got caught on another PP goal. Putting he and Petry out there on the PP against a competent opponent is like giving them a goal.
- Got better during the second half of the night. Had one of the ugliest shifts I've seen from him in the early second when he gave the puck away at least 3 times and headed the wrong way as well. Did have some strong defensive moments and was more physical than usual.
- Overcame a couple first period mistakes to have a really strong game. Won a ton of corner battles and stood up at the opposition blue line. Doesn't matter who his opponent is - he played like a competent defender again and showed no signs of being tired late. The guy is a horse.
- One of his best games in a long time. Why? He used his size defensively. Sometimes he gets tentative and backs off. Tonight his gaps were very small and he slowed down the PHX players. Could have been better with the puck but the point was that he was getting to those pucks.
- No magic offensively but he did try to push to the slot in the third when they needed the third and fourth goals. Kept waiting for an amazing pass but it never came. Made some mistakes but also made some really good defensive plays which was great to see.
- Very good when he didn't drift out of position. This happened a few times but other than that he was strong and controlled a lot of PHX forwards. He and Potter both drifted out of place on the first PHX goal...though Bryzgalov could've stopped that if he'd come out further.
- Kind of a weird line. They had some strong shifts but just couldn't quite convert. I like the way Joensuu goes hard to the net in games like this and he was rewarded with a couple tips. He also annoyed some of the PHX D. Yakupov had a few chances and just didn't get it done. Great opportunity on the PP in the third that went through his legs somehow. He had a shift in the second where the line was actually stuck in the D zone, but he landed two good hits and that seemed to get everyone going. Arcobello has been struggling for a while now and couldn't really get anything done this evening.
- Interesting line. They can certainly grind. I'm not going to give Jones as much credit as others likely will, but at least he's fighting for a job somewhere next year. Had a couple horrible turnovers but did get in on the forecheck. Hendricks was excellent at getting into the offensive zone and causing the PHX D problems. He really drove hard for the puck and was rewarded with a goal for going to the net. Nice to see. Needs to make sure he doesn't get the extra in the scrums. I didn't like that Eakins took out Hendricks rather than Jones when Yakupov stepped up. Old reliable Mr. Gordon was excellent positionally and generally as he almost always is.
- Gagner continued his season of being lost in the ocean. He couldn't accomplish anything tonight. Never in the right place, never the right time, couldn't find an extra gear to pass anyone and didn't get any good shots toward the net. Not good. He needs to produce. Perron wasn't much better to be honest. Sure he scored an outstanding goal - but the rest of the night he looked disinterested. I can understand why he's frustrated at this point but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Smyth looked slow and out of place. Why was he on the PP? Were they showcasing for a trade or something?
- Well, they had a very up and down night. Early, Hall and Eberle both struggled. Hall especially who couldn't find a giveaway he didn't like. Again I understand the guy is frustrated and probably just goes home to bang his head against a wall and forget, but that's no excuse to pick up the bad habit of firing the puck everywhere. They both improved as the game went on, and when playing the rush at the end were fairly good. Hopkins stayed fairly level all night and was the best of the three.
Another home loss. Man this has been a long year and we're not even to the Olympic break. With that in mind...
No game report Sunday. I'm going to take my 11-month-old to his first Oilers game and will be concentrating on that. Distinctly possible there will be an early exit or many breaks so I'm not going to write.
Subsequent to that and for the rest of the season my plan is to test out a live webcast radio show each postgame. I've got something set up and will share the links and directions shortly. I figure this is a good time to test it out so that if it works and I'm still going regularly next year, the Report can evolve as it should. We shall see.