Friday, March 30, 2012

Post Game: Game #78 Kings 4 Oilers 1

Scoring Summary
1st Period
LA Anze Kopitar 25 (Dwight King, Dustin Brown) 0:52

EDM Jordan Eberle 33 (PP) (Jeff Petry, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) 1:34

LA Mike Richards 17 (SH) (Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene) 10:48


2nd Period
LA Drew Doughty 10 (PP) (Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar) 6:44


3rd Period
LA Alec Martinez 5 (Matt Greene, Dwight King) 7:45


Penalty Summary
1st Period
1:09 Los Angeles hooking - 2 min M. Greene drawn by R. Smyth
6:22 Edmonton holding - 2 min S. Gagner drawn by D. Doughty
10:05 Los Angeles tripping - 2 min A. Kopitar drawn by J. Eberle
18:25 Edmonton roughing - 2 min R. Jones drawn by J. Stoll

2nd Period
5:01 Edmonton hooking - 2 min R. Nugent-Hopkins drawn by M. Richards
11:15 Los Angeles interference with goaltender - 2 min J. Williams drawn by N. Khabibulin
15:36 Edmonton boarding - 2 min A. Sutton drawn by D. Brown

3rd Period
1:22 Edmonton hooking - 2 min A. Hemsky drawn by A. Kopitar
5:12 Edmonton roughing - 2 min C. Potter drawn by C. Fraser
5:12 Los Angeles slashing - 2 min C. Fraser drawn by C. Potter


Shots On Goal - Oilers 14 Kings 32

Game Notes:
- That game was a disgrace. A total dud. Easiest 2 points the Kings will get this season. I guess as an Oiler follower, we've seen this movie before. I don't know what else to say. As much as I'll miss the Oiers play in the summer time, I'm relieved the season is almost over. Hopefully massive changes are on the horizon. Kings played well enough to win, the Oilers had nothing going on tonight.

Player of the Game:
- Teemu Hartikainen. Mainly because I don't know who else to give the POTG to. Harski had 4 hits and 3 blocked shots. Was one of a few players that looked like they gave a damn tonight. He has looked better and more engaged in his stint with the Oilers this season, not sure if he's a long term fit for the top 6, but he does give the top 6 some much needed muscle.

Goat of the Game:
- Jeff Petry. Petry finds himself as the GOTG for the 2nd game in a row. Had a bouncing puck go by him for the 2nd Kings goal, tipped the 3rd goal by Khabibulin and then left the game halfway through the 2nd because of getting a puck to the face before he could do more damage. Long term prospects for Petry are still pretty good, but its been a rough 2 game stretch for him.

Next Game - Sunday April 1st, 2012 vs. Ducks @ Anaheim on Sportsnet West 6 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #78 Oilers vs. Kings



Another day, another game against a team fighting for its playoff life. As for the Oilers, the Oilers are just trying to play out the string and start anew next season. Considering the Oilers have been out of the playoff picture since January, they must be commended on how they have been able to keep the work ethic high even though there has been very little to play for other than pride. The Oilers seem to have brought more consistant efforts throughout the last month, which is a sign that maturity is starting to show on this Oilers squad. Accountibility seems to be a little higher. After the Wednesday night loss to Dallas, the Oilers seemed pretty disappointed in their effort, which didn't seem that poor, just a lack of execution, but its a good sign that they are taking ownership of their play and losing is starting to become unacceptable. They have a ways to go in terms of on ice talent, but they need to implant in their heads that anything less than winning is not going to cut it. Even though the Oilers have had some success as of late, their team seems a bit miscast still. Not enough size in the top 6, not enough offensive ability from the backend, goaltending is still a question mark in my mind, as is the center play, as it comes and goes as it pleases. The Kings are coming off a 3-0 win against the Flames on Wednesday night. The Kings should be hungry to win tonight, they really need this game.

Forwards Oilers
- The Oilers have a more high octane offense but the Kings have better balance.
Defense Kings
- Kings have a good blend of puckmovers and physicality on the backend.
Goaltending Kings
- Jonathan Quick's GAA is microscopic. (1.93)
Special Teams Oilers
- Should be a good battle between the Oilers 2nd ranked PP and the Kings 4th ranked PK.
Coaching Kings
- Darryl Sutter seems to have stabilized the Kings, getting them into the playoff hunt.
Intangibles Kings
- Oilers can't seem to buy a win on home ice after being pretty good for most of the year.

Oilers:
Smyth-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Omark-Gagner-Hemsky
Hartikainen-Horcoff-Jones
Vandevelde-Belanger-Petrell

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Sutton-Potter

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Kings:
Brown-Kopitar-Williams
King-Richards-Carter
Penner-Stoll-Lewis
Clifford-Fraser-Nolan

Scuderi-Doughty
Mitchell-Voynov
Marinez-Greene

Quick
Bernier

Game Time - 7:30 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Post Game: Game #77 Stars 3 Oilers 1

Scoring Summary
1st Period
DAL Michael Ryder 34 (Mike Ribeiro, Stephane Robidas) 11:53


2nd Period
DAL Mike Ribeiro 18 (Loui Eriksson, Michael Ryder) 5:05


3rd Period
DAL Michael Ryder 35 (Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson) 4:11

EDM Ales Hemsky 10 (Ryan Smyth, Corey Potter) 8:21



Penalty Summary
1st Period
6:37 Edmonton slashing - 2 min A. Sutton drawn by S. Ott
13:11 Edmonton boarding - 2 min S. Horcoff drawn by V. Fiddler

2nd Period
8:25 Dallas tripping - 2 min M. Ryder drawn by R. Nugent-Hopkins
14:49 Dallas hooking - 2 min L. Eriksson drawn by S. Gagner
19:52 Edmonton hooking - 2 min S. Horcoff drawn by L. Eriksson

3rd Period
4:51 Dallas hooking - 2 min A. Goligoski drawn by L. Petrell

Shots On Goal - Oilers 32 Stars 25

Game Notes:
- Its a classic case of when one veteran team needs a win more than a young team playing out the string. The veteran team outwaits the youngsters into mistakes and missed assignments and pots those errors into the net. The Oilers played alright tonight, but just couldn't play with enough patience that a Stars team demands that you play with. Its looking to like the Oilers want to play a game with active Dmen, and if they want to play that game, they'll need extremely mobile Dmen. In hindsight, looking at the deal, Schultz for Gilbert, I know why they did it now. Schultz is more mobile, doesn't give much offensively, but more mobile nonetheless. The Oilers will need to keep this thought up, potentially even looking at the draft for one. The Oilers had some chances tonight, but couldn't sustain any pressure on the Stars. Execution was off. Not much more to say about this one other than, only 5 games left to go.

Player of the Game:
- Ryan Smyth. Smyth had an assist, 6 shots on goal and just played an overall pesky game. Smyth stuck his nose in a lot of business. But to be honest, everyone in general was pretty subpar. Just looked like a total lack of general focus, as if all of the sudden, the Oilers realized these games mean very little in the grand scheme of things. Good on Smyth for putting forth a decent effort as he has had a long dry spell of games in being a non-factor. Only he and Hemsky were the only plus players (+1) on the night.

Goat of the Game:
- Jeff Petry. 3 ugly defensive efforts by Petry resulted in 3 Stars goals. Looked very much like a deer in the headlights on these goals. It looked like he got caught on some long shifts and just couldn't get off the ice. Petry has played well for the majority of the season, so I would consider this a blip on the radar. Petry just needs to learn how to manage his icetime better and his teammates need to do a better job of getting pucks deep.

Next Game - Friday March 30, 2012 vs. Kings @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West 7:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #77 Oilers vs. Stars



6 games left to go in this wretched season and even though the Oilers are winning as of late, the news just continues to get worse. Taylor Hall will go under the knife to repair a torn labrum that has hampered him over the last few months. Recovery time is expected to be 5-6 months. The injury puts next season's training camp in jeopardy for him. Hall does have a gumby like nature, so his recovery time isn't that of a normal player, but a torn labrum is an injury that is a long, slow injury to recover from with a ton of rehab. Hopefully he will be ready for training camp, but I have my doubts. The Oilers have points in their last 7 games going 5-0-2 in that span. The Oilers have really played some solid hockey despite not having much to play for other than pride. If you combine their October and March records, they would have a mark of 13-6-5. A playoff achieving clip. Something went seriously awry in the months of November, December, January, and February. Either the fix was in and the coaching and management sabatoged their own team or the Oilers truly don't know success if it hit them in the face. The pundits will say that inconsistancy is the mark of the young team. Welp, with the Oilers is the vets that need to find their consistancy. The Stars come into this game losers in Calgary, 5-4, on Monday night. The Stars are anywhere from winning their division to not making the playoffs at all, so needless to say, this is a big game for them. Right now they sit in 7th place. Theo Peckham is also out with a concussion. Taylor Fedun was practising with the team yesterday, wearing a normal practise jersey. That's a tremendous sign, he has come a long way since that horrific leg injury he suffered in training camp. It is unlikely he'll see game action before season's end.

Forwards Oilers
- The injury to Hall hurts, but they still have a couple of other kids that can ramp up the offense.
Defense Stars
- Former Oiler Sheldon Souray having a solid season with 21 points and a +17 rating.
Goaltending Stars
- Kari Lehtonen = Vezina finalist.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers powerplay is 2nd while the Stars are 28th.
Coaching Stars
- Stars seem to have the Oilers number for 2 decades now. Styles clash.
Intangibles Oilers
- Oilers should be well rested after having Monday off. Stars are in the middle of a road trip.

Oilers:
Jones-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Hartikainen-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Belanger-Petrell
Hordichuk-Vandevelde-Eager

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Sutton-Potter

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Stars:
Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Benn-Ott-Burish
Nystrom-Fiddler-Vincour
Morrow-Dowell-Garbutt

Souray-Robidas
Daley-Pardy
Larsen-Goligoski

Lehtonen
Bachman

Game Time - 7:30 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet Edmonton.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Post Game: Game #76 Oilers 6 BlueJackets 3

Scoring Summary
1st Period
CLS Mark Letestu 10 (Aaron Johnson) 16:46


2nd Period
EDM Ryan Jones 17 (Ryan Whitney, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) 3:40

CLS Rick Nash 26 (penalty shot) 7:42

EDM Chris VandeVelde 1 (Jordan Eberle, Jeff Petry) 11:40

EDM Ladislav Smid 5 (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Jones) 14:28

EDM Ben Eager 8 (Unassisted) 16:00

EDM Sam Gagner 17 (PP) (Jordan Eberle, Ryan Whitney) 19:29


3rd Period
CLS Derick Brassard 13 (PP) (R.J. Umberger, Rick Nash) 14:22

EDM Eric Belanger 4 (EN) (Ryan Jones, Ladislav Smid) 18:10


Penalty Summary
1st Period
2:13 Edmonton high-sticking - 2 min R. Smyth drawn by D. Dorsett
4:08 Columbus boarding - 2 min R. Nash drawn by T. Peckham
10:28 Edmonton tripping - 2 min S. Gagner drawn by N. Nikitin

2nd Period
1:36 Columbus hooking - 2 min N. Nikitin drawn by J. Eberle
7:42 Edmonton hooking L. Omark drawn by R. Nash
9:39 Columbus slashing - 2 min D. Boyce drawn by E. Belanger
9:39 Edmonton slashing - 2 min E. Belanger drawn by D. Boyce
18:10 Columbus cross checking - 2 min A. Johnson drawn by R. Jones

3rd Period
1:31 Columbus roughing - 2 min D. Dorsett drawn by C. VandeVelde
1:31 Edmonton roughing - 2 min C. VandeVelde drawn by D. Dorsett
1:44 Edmonton hooking - 2 min A. Hemsky drawn by R. Nash
3:48 Edmonton tripping - 2 min C. Potter drawn by R. Umberger
10:37 Columbus high-sticking - 2 min C. Gillies drawn by T. Hartikainen
13:28 Edmonton delaying the game - 2 min T. Hartikainen
17:52 Edmonton slashing - 2 min B. Eager drawn by B. Lebda

Shots On Goal - Oilers 38 BlueJackets 32

Game Notes:
- Oilers took 7 out of 8 points on the road trip by dusting off the Blue Jackets 6-3. Oilers really pushed the pace offensively this game, scoring 5 times in the 2nd period. The Oilers were starting to lose energy in the 3rd period but defensive structure kept them from falling apart. Steve Mason had a rough game for the Jackets as everything the Oilers shot at him seemingly went into the net. A lot of long range shots found twine. Chris Vandevelde scored his first career goal, a feel good moment for him. The Oilers 2nd overall pick in the draft is starting to look in jeopardy. With the win tonight, they tied the Islanders and the Canadiens in the standings. I still think top 5 is inevitable and I'm sure the Oilers will still get the player they covet. The Oilers have had a nice run over the last few and its good to see them finishing strong.

Player of the Game:
- Ladislav Smid. POTG seems to be coming in 2s. For the 2nd game in a row, Smid gets the POTG nod. He was all over the ice today. Chipping in with a goal and an asssist, making countless defensive plays, tied for the shots lead with 4 and finished the night +3. He's come leaps and bounds this year and for me, he's come out of nowhere. A revelation for the Oilers that he has had such a significant impact on this team so quickly.

Goat of the Game:
- Linus Omark. Had zeroes across the board. Caused the penalty shot that eventually led to a goal for Rick Nash. Omark is playing tough and hard but the results aren't there for him right now. as long as he's trying to make some impact anyway he can, he'll be fine. Only he and Peckham were the only minus players on the night, both -1.

Next Game - Wednesday March 28, 2012 vs. Stars @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet Edmonton 7:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #76 Oilers vs. Blue Jackets



Only 7 games left in the season as the Oilers continue on their cross continental journey, ending this afternoon in Columbus. The Oilers have been playing some fine hockey over the last little bit, having taken points out of the last 6 games, going 4-0-2 in that stretch. The Oilers find themselves slowly inching upward to the 28th spot, 2 points back. In what seemed an impossiblity a couple of weeks ago, looks like a real threat now. At this stage of the game, I think the Oilers have their eye on three players at the draft, so standings really doesn't mean much to them. What's more important is a feeling of going the right way and understanding what it takes to win hockey games. Even in these games that are meaningless, the Oilers are "digging deep" to find a way to make these games mean something. The Oilers defensive posture minus a slip up in Nashville, has been very strong over the last 6 games. Centers are supporting the defense, defense is supporting the goaltender, its how the Oilers need to play to have long term success. The offense will come with this team as they have great individual talent, the key is not cheating on offense at the expense of the defense. Now that the Oilers have decided on keeping Ales Hemsky over the next couple seasons, the Oilers are going to have to manufacture a line around him. A player of Teemu Hartikainen's skillset is one piece as he can be netcrasher/boardwork player on that line as long as he can bring it more often than not. The other piece is a straght up shooting two-way center, something Sam Gagner has struggled on and off with this year. If the Oilers decide to move along Sam Gagner for more of a piece that fits, the Oilers should look the way to a couple of ex-Oilers headed to UFAs, Jarret Stoll and Jason Arnott. The Oilers could use more of a veteran presence down the middle if the wings are going to be young. I think one more veteran center is needed if the Oilers are serious about a playoff push next year. Those two could be the straight up two way shooters that could be used on a line with Ales Hemsky. Columbus is coming off a 5-1 win against Carolina on Friday night. Columbus, much like the Oilers, are playing out the string, having 30th place all but locked up. The Oilers have called up Chris Vandevelde from OKC as Shawn Horcoff is likely out with back spasms.

Forwards Oilers
- With Ales Hemsky playing well as of late, it gives the Oilers a dual threat.
Defense Oilers
- Smid and Petry have done a really nice job of playing the toughs over the last few games.
Goaltending Oilers
- Devan Dubnyk is ending this year like he ended last year, consistantly.
Special Teams Oilers
- Big mismatch. Oilers #2 powerplay against Columbus #30 PK.
Coaching Oilers
- The Oilers seemed to have finally bought into Tom Renney's system, may be too little, too late.
Intangibles BlueJackets
- Weary road legs + afternoon game, may catch up to the Oilers today.

Oilers:
Jones-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Hartikainen-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Belanger-Omark
Eager-Vandevelde-Hordichuk

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Peckham-Potter

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

BlueJackets:
Umberger-Brassard-Atkinson
Prospal-Letestu-Nash
Russell-Johansen-Dorsett
Gillies-Boyce-Boll

Moore-Nikitin
J.Johnson-Wisniewski
A.Johnson-Lebda

Mason
York

Game Time - 1 PM MT @ Columbus on Sportsnet West.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Post Game: Game #75 Oilers 2 Panthers 1 (SO)

Scoring Summary
1st Period
None


2nd Period
EDM Ryan Jones 16 (Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) 1:37

FLA Jason Garrison 16 (Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss) 4:58


3rd Period
None


OT Period
None


Penalty Summary
1st Period
7:24 Edmonton holding - 2 min A. Hemsky drawn by M. Samuelsson
13:21 Florida hooking - 2 min D. Kulikov drawn by R. Smyth
18:00 Edmonton holding - 2 min L. Omark drawn by M. Samuelsson

2nd Period
None


3rd Period
4:28 Edmonton too many men on ice - 2 min Bench served by T. Hartikainen
9:02 Edmonton hooking - 2 min L. Omark drawn by T. Kopecky

OT Period
None


Shootout
FLA Mikael Samuelsson shootout saved

EDM Sam Gagner shootout saved

FLA Wojtek Wolski shootout miss

EDM Jordan Eberle shootout saved

FLA Dmitry Kulikov shootout miss

EDM Ales Hemsky shootout saved

FLA Stephen Weiss shootout saved

EDM Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shootout goal

Shots On Goal - Oilers 21 Panthers 27

Game Notes:
- Oilers continue to play good, fundamental hockey. Game was played at a good pace but they didn't get baited into playing back and forth hockey. All of that eventually brought the game to a shootout and this time, a victory. The game was pretty much a stalemate, very few errors throughout the whole game, good defensive positioning, solid goaltending on both sides, it was a fun game to watch from a coaches viewpoint. Its funny how when one of the Oilers offensive guns is out of the lineup, the team seems to have better balance and can hang around in a lot of hockey games. The Oilers seem more dedicated to playing defense and then parlaying that into offense, which is a style they have to play in order to be success. Run and gun died with the '80s. If you don't take care of your own end, you don't win. The Oilers are starting to mature as a team and its just not the kids, but the vets and coaching staff seem to be coming around. 5 out of 6 points on the road trip thus far. There are playing good hockey on this trip so far and look to finish the season on a high note.

Player of the Game:
- Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk played well again, to the point where I say give him another year. Not necessarily the starters gig, but to compete with someone for the starters gig. I think the Oilers should find a way to get out of Khabibulin's contract by either waving him, or telling him to go play in Europe or something to that effect. Have Dubnyk and Goalie X that isn't at the end of his career, battle it out next year for goalie supremacy. The Oilers need to start looking at the horizon and start looking to winning games immediately and into the future. This includes the goaltending. Dubnyk gave up one goal that kinda of smelled of fromage but it was only one and he was rock solid the rest of the way including the shootout.

Goat of the Game:
- Linus Omark. Tough to give the GOTG to anyone tonight since the Oilers team game was outstanding. Omark had zeroes across the board and it was his man (Garrison) that Omark lost on Florida's only goal of the game. Omark has played well in his recent callup, playing a pesky game thats giving the othe teams defenders fits. Sounds like Omark and the Oilers are going to end their relationship in the summer.

Next Game - Sunday March 25, 2012 vs. BlueJackets @ Columbus on Sportsnet West 1 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #75 Oilers vs. Panthers



Oilers head on down the coast to Sunrise, Florida to finish off a back to back in Florida. Oilers dropped a 3-2 shootout loss to the Lightning last night. The Oilers have started to play some good hockey over the last half dozen games. They aren't playing their way out of games. They are playing hard for a full 60 minutes. The team structure of their game is finally start to come around. It is a case of too little, too late but kudos to them for trying to do things the right way in what has been another dismal season. The Oilers will have some decisions to make in the offseason about their centers. The centers will, ultimately, be the reason why they win and lose hockey games. We know Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be here. As for the rest, its all up for debate. Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger will likely be here as well unless management takes a hard right turn on one of them. Anton Lander is on the cusp of being a full time player on the Oilers. Sam Gagner is in the mix as well but may have hit his ceiling and may be a casualty of redundancy on this team. Another issue will be whether or not the Oilers take Mikhail Grigorenko at the draft. The Oilers are likely cemented in the #2 spot, at least until the lottery. Grigorenko is pretty much a consensus #2 pick. It will be interesting to see what happens at that time with the centers. Florida comes into this game losers in Carolina Wednesday night, 3-1. Prior to that, the Panthers had won 5 in a row. The Panthers are pushing hard to win the Southeast division, so tonight figures to be a tough test for the Oilers.

Forwards Oilers
- Ales Hemsky has brought secondary scoring for the Oilers over the last few games.
Defense Panthers
- Brian Campbell and Jason Garrison bring high offense from the backend for the Panthers.
Goaltending Panthers
- Jose Theodore, very quietly, has had a solid year for the Panthers.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers PP and PK are 2nd and 19th, while the Panthers are 8th and 23rd.
Coaching Panthers
- Kevin Dineen could be a Jack Adams nominee with this rag tag group.
Intangibles Panthers
- Oilers are in the 2nd game of a back to back.

Oilers:
Jones-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Hartikainen-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Omark
Eager-Belanger-Hordichuk

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Peckham-Potter

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Panthers:
Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg
Bergenheim-Goc-Samuelsson
Kopecky-Santorelli-Smithson
Upshall-Madden-Sturm

Garrison-Campbell
Kulikov-Weaver
Gudbranson-Jovanovski

Theodore
Clemmenson

Game Time - 5:30 PM MT @ Florida on Sportsnet West.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Post Game: Game #74 Lightning 3 Oilers 2 (SO)

Scoring Summary
1st Period
None
0 - 0

2nd Period
TB Tom Pyatt 9 (PP) (Victor Hedman, Brett Connolly) 3:24

EDM Linus Omark 3 (Ryan Whitney, Ryan Smyth) 9:57

TB Tom Pyatt 10 (J.T. Wyman, Tim Wallace) 18:18


3rd Period
EDM Ladislav Smid 4 (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner) 16:13

OT Period
None


Penalty Summary
1st Period
16:34 Edmonton high-sticking - 2 min R. Smyth drawn by T. Pyatt

2nd Period
1:46 Edmonton hooking - 2 min R. Smyth drawn by J. Wyman
5:26 Tampa Bay tripping - 2 min B. Mikkelson drawn by L. Omark
11:13 Edmonton hooking - 2 min A. Sutton drawn by M. St. Louis

3rd Period
None


OT Period
3:00 Edmonton tripping - 2 min J. Petry drawn by S. Stamkos


Shootout
TB Tom Pyatt shootout saved

EDM Jordan Eberle shootout saved

TB Ryan Malone shootout miss

EDM Sam Gagner shootout goal

TB Steven Stamkos shootout goal

EDM Linus Omark shootout saved

TB Martin St. Louis shootout goal

EDM Ales Hemsky shootout goal

TB Victor Hedman shootout miss

EDM Teemu Hartikainen shootout saved

TB Teddy Purcell shootout goal

EDM Ryan Smyth shootout miss

Shots On Goal - Oilers 36 Lightning 21


Game Notes:
- In what started out as a slow, lethargic hockey game, turned into a game with an exciting finish. The Oilers played well tonight, once again, even though they fell short. The Oilers dominted the play on the shot clock but were thwarted by an old face in Dwayne Roloson. Roloson brought the alley cat tonight, in what was likely his final hurrah against his old club. Ales Hemsky was flying tonight, but didn't get the results, other than a shootout goal. Linus Omark had himself a nice game as well, with a goal in limited time. Tom Renney has finally got this team playing like they should, the pieces may be a little miscast (ie. Omark a grinder, Gagner a two-way C), but they are playing a style thats needed to win hockey games consistantly in the NHL. Tonight they were just beat by great goaltending. If the Oilers had played more games like they did tonight, maybe the playoffs wouldn't be so far away. The much maligned vets are starting to play better. Horcoff, Smyth, Belanger, Jones, those players are playing a gritty, heady style of play thats keeping the other team at bay while the Oilers' skilled players try to manufacture offense. The Oilers defense did an excellent job of keeping things to the outside and keeping sticks in passing lanes. They really limited Tampa Bay's skilled players. As the games wind down this season, its important that the Oilers are playing hockey the right way going into next season. Role definition is key at this time. Every player needs to buy into their roles even if there is a different bench boss next year. The turnover of the team will likely be limited this year, so the buy-in needs to happen right now.

Player of the Game:
- Ladislav Smid. Lots to choose from tonight. Omark and Hemsky were in full dangle mode, the defense as a whole played efficiently, but I'm going with Smid tonight. Smid scored the tying goal that sent the game to overtime, played a big part on a penalty kill in overtime that limited the Lightning to outside shots. Smid has been my biggest surprise this year in how far he has come along. I had him as potential trade bait in the summer. Now he has solidified himself as a top 4 Dman for years to come. Got rid of the "poser" label and now just plays tough, honest hockey.

Goat of the Game:
- Jordan Eberle. Hate to give him the GOTG for the 2nd game in a row, but Eberle seems to have hit a down cycle. Doesn't have a lot of energy in his game. Had only one shot again tonight in over 20 minutes of action. Was a team worst -1 on the night, tied with Potter and Jones in that statistic. He may be adjusting to an increase of icetime and his body hasn't caught up yet. I'm sure its just a lull that scorers go through during the course of a season. He's had a solid season and for my money is the team's MVP. In a game like tonight the Oilers could have used one more goal from someone.

Next Game - Friday March 23, 2012 vs. Panthers @ Florida on Sportnet West 5:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #74 Oilers vs. Lightning



9 games left to go in the season. Its nice to see the Oilers winning some games this month, but the games are even less meaningless than a preseason game. The secondary scoring on the team has finally arrived in the form of Ales Hemsky. 4 goals in 2 games. The line of Hartikainen-Gagner-Hemsky seems to have found some chemistry. Hartikainen is the netcrasher/puckretriever player, Hemsky is the playmaker/pucktransporter, Gagner should be the shooting 2-way center, a role he does every once in awhile but loses his identity and goes back to his old ways. Gagner is the key to that line, if he can consistantly be a 2-way shooting center, the line can have sustained success, but strength and rink awareness are holding Gagner back from the line having consistant success. The play usually starts with the center, so if he isn't on his game, the whole line is usually out of whack. Sounds like changes to the coaching staff are on the horizon, so lets play out the rest of the season and hope for some wins. Tampa Bay comes into this game losers of 3 in a row and have looked to bailed on the season. They currently sit in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, with nowhere to go but down. It would have to be considered a very disappointing season for the Lightning.

Forwards Lightning
- Steven Stamkos is the goal scoring of the NHL right now. 50 on the year so far.
Defense Oilers
- Former Oiler MA Bergeron leads the Lightning in points and +/-. 'Nuff said.
Goaltending Oilers
- The Lightning goaltending makes the Oilers goaltending look stable. Dubnyk has played as of late.
Special Teams Oilers
- The Lightning PP and PK are 24th and 27th respectively.
Coaching Oilers
- Guy Boucher is having a wretched season for the Lightning. Tom Renney seems to have found the buttons to keep the Oilers afloat.
Intangibles Lightning
- Lightning are in the midst of a long homestand while the Oilers are playing the first of a back to back.

Oilers:
Jones-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Hartikainen-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Eager
Omark-Belanger-Hordichuk

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Peckham-Potter

Khabibulin
Dubnyk

Lightning:
Purcell-Stamkos-St.Louis
Malone-Pyatt-Connolly
Wyman-Smith-Wallace
Labrie-Segal

Hedman-Brewer
Clark-Lee
Gervais-Mikkelson
Aulie

Roloson
Tokarski

Game Time - 5:30 PM MT @ Tampa Bay on Sportsnet Edmonton.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Post Game: Game #73 Oilers 6 Predators 3

Scoring Summary
1st Period
EDM Darcy Hordichuk 1 (Ben Eager, Eric Belanger) 12:50

EDM Ales Hemsky 7 (Jeff Petry, Teemu Hartikainen) 16:22

NSH David Legwand 17 (Gabriel Bourque, Shea Weber) 19:53


2nd Period
EDM Ales Hemsky 8 (Teemu Hartikainen, Sam Gagner) 0:28

EDM Ryan Jones 15 (PP) (Jeff Petry, Ryan Whitney) 5:51

NSH Patric Hornqvist 24 (PP) (Mike Fisher, Martin Erat) 12:35

EDM Ales Hemsky 9 (Unassisted) 14:03


3rd Period
NSH David Legwand 18 (Patric Hornqvist, Gabriel Bourque) 4:18

EDM Sam Gagner 16 (EN) (Ales Hemsky) 18:19


Penalty Summary
1st Period
None


2nd Period
4:09 Nashville high-sticking - 2 min S. Weber drawn by R. Jones
10:28 Edmonton roughing - 2 min B. Eager drawn by P. Hornqvist
10:54 Edmonton high-sticking - 2 min L. Smid drawn by M. Erat

3rd Period
0:32 Edmonton interference - 2 min T. Hartikainen drawn by D. Legwand
8:42 Edmonton interference - 2 min J. Petry drawn by P. Hornqvist
14:28 Edmonton roughing - 2 min S. Horcoff drawn by F. Bouillon
14:28 Nashville roughing - 2 min F. Bouillon drawn by S. Horcoff

Shots On Goal - Oilers 20 Predators 44

Game Notes:
- Normally I feel pretty good about an Oilers win, but boy, that game was full hockey anomaly. Pekka Rinne stunk and was pulled after the 3rd goal, Ales Hemsky recorded his firat career NHL hat trick, Devan Dubnyk got stronger as the game went on, just things that you normally don't see during the course of the game. Things that have been seen before are the Oilers allowing Nashville line rushes that turned Dubnyk into a target dummy, especially in the third period where Nashville really cranked up the pressure. Luckily for the Oilers, Nashville does not have a lot of sniping ability, but kudos to Dubnyk for really holding up the fort. Lots of anomaly in this game. Does this game absolve Steve Tambellini for re-signing Ales Hemsky? It doesn't in my view. Is Devan Dubnyk ready to be annointed the starter for next year by the Oilers? I can't see how. Sure, he's been great over the last 5 starts, but he has had many games this year where he looked like a total flake. I still think at the very best, he is going to need someone around his age that will push him next year. But if the Oilers let him walk next year, I'd be OK with that. The Oilers are playing better over the last 4 games, thats undeniable, but you can still see some of the pieces that are still missing. At some point the Oilers will have to go forward with their team, leaving some players behind.

Player of the Game:
- Ales Hemsky. 2nd game in a row for Mr. Hemsky. He had some serious puck luck tonight, but he also had the ability to stay with the puck and finish plays at the net. Hemsky finished the game with 3 goals, an assist and +4. Hemsky is starting to skate better, feels more confident about making plays, it looks like someone finally got through to him about managing the puck. His body language is a lot better these days and looks like a player that truly wants to be here. Its a good sign for him and a good sign for the team. Question is, do the Oilers bring in a center to play with him? Because I don't believe Sam Gagner is that player.

Goat of the Game:
- Jordan Eberle. Its odd to have a game where the Oilers score 6 but the kids get shutout. RNH and Eberle really struggled in their ability to manage the puck tonight. And once they lost the puck, they had a dickens of a time trying to get it back. Games like this will happen and I put it up as a one off, fortunately for the Oilers they still found a way to get the W. Eberle was a team worst -2 with only 1 shot on goal tonight.


Next Game - Thursday March 22, 2012 vs. Lightning @ Tampa Bay on Sportsnet Edmonton 5:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #73 Oilers vs. Predators



Oilers are down to the final 10 games of the season. They head out on a four game road trip that starts in Nashville, then 2 games in Florida and ends in Columbus. The Oilers start the day in 29th spot in the NHL, 11 points up on Columbus but 5 points behind Montreal and the Islanders for 28th. The Oilers look to be cemented in that spot. The Oilers will need to continue with the defenaive play they have been getting lately. Only Columbus has given up more goals than the Oilers in the Western Conference. It's no accident that goals against and spot in standings go hand in hand most times. The Oilers got taught another lesson at the hands of Phoenix last night. The lesson is to just keep playing the game but also play the game on how the score is dictated. Everyone has given Tom Renney a hard time over the fact that his style seems too "passive" for most people. Welp, the reason why he's so passive came to fruition yesterday. Jeff Petry tried to make a big play, got burned, tie game. There needs to be a better balance of "playing it safe and living to fight another battle" and "going out and making a play". Often the score dictates the situation as does personnel. If your team has a 2-1 lead, its not a good time to go riverboat gambling. I talk about "playing the percentages". Players needs to have that "percentage meter" going off in their heads in regards to whether going in and trying to make a play is a high percentage or low percentage play. The great teams have players that do this and have an excellent sense of timing, something the Oilers are trying to install into the brains of every player. Nashville comes into this game, coming off a 3-1 win in Anaheim. They currently sit in 4th spot of the Western Conference. Nashville will get a boost from Alexander Radulov, who is coming from the KHL in Russia to boost the Predators' offense. Radulov is not likely to play against the Oilers tonight.

Forwards Oilers
- RNH and Eberle continue to make things happen.
Defense Predators
- Weber and Suter are likely the best pairing in the NHL.
Goaltending Predators
- Pekka Rinne is likely a Vezina candidate.
Special Teams Predators
- Edmonton's power play is sitting in 3rd spot now. Nashville's is in 2nd.
Coaching Predators
- Barry Trotz has his Predators team playing Predators hockey.
Intangibles Predators
- Tonight is going to be matchup hell for Tom Renney. The Nuge and Eberle are going to get a heavy dose of Weber and Suter.

Oilers:
Jones-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Hartikainen-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Petrell
Omark-Belanger-Hordichuk

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Sutton-Potter

Khabibulin
Dubnyk

Predators:
A.Kostitsyn-Legwand-Hornqvist
S.Kostitsyn-Fisher-Erat
Bourque-Spaling-Tootoo
Yip-Smith-Halischuk

Suter-Weber
Hillen-Gill
Bouillon-Klein

Rinne
Lindback

Game Time: 6 PM MT @ Nashville on Sportsnet Edmonton.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Post Game: Game #72 Coyotes 3 Oilers 2 (SO)

Scoring Summary
1st Period
None


2nd Period
EDM Jordan Eberle 32 (Ryan Jones) 6:53

EDM Ales Hemsky 6 (Jeff Petry, Ladislav Smid) 7:26


3rd Period
PHO Ray Whitney 22 (Unassisted) 7:58

PHO Raffi Torres 14 (Gilbert Brule) 17:37

OT Period
None


Penalty Summary
1st Period
1:25 Edmonton fighting - 5 min L. Petrell drawn by K. Yandle
1:25 Phoenix fighting - 5 min K. Yandle drawn by L. Petrell
4:29 Edmonton roughing - 2 min R. Jones drawn by R. Klesla
5:40 Phoenix holding the stick - 2 min M. Hanzal drawn by T. Peckham

2nd Period
None


3rd Period
None


OT Period
0:27 Phoenix kneeing - 2 min K. Yandle drawn by A. Hemsky
2:42 Edmonton hooking S. Horcoff drawn by K. Yandle
4:21 Edmonton hooking - 2 min J. Petry drawn by R. Whitney



EDM Jordan Eberle shootout miss

PHO Mikkel Boedker shootout goal

EDM Sam Gagner shootout goal

PHO Ray Whitney shootout goal

EDM Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shootout saved

Shots On Goal - Oilers 38 Coyotes 42


Game Notes:
- Oilers played hard and played well tonight, but they got Phoenix Coyote'd tonight. Phoenix just hung around the game long enough, like they always do, to take two points and sweep the season series 4-zip. The Coyotes just do more with less talent and more them, its a mindset. They just keep playing the same way no matter the score. They just keep plugging away, playing like they should. It's a page that the Oilers will need to take if they want to rise to the next level. It would feel like a pretty bitter loss if the game meant anything in the standings, but as it stands right now, its a shootout loss, the Oilers played well, time to move to the next game. They just couldn't get the third goal to put this game on ice. Lots to feel positive about tonight, but to come out of this game without a win feels a bit empty. Very few passengers tonight. Both goaltenders were outstanding tonight.

Player of the Game:
- Ales Hemsky. First time all year he has been in this category. Hemsky has played hard over the last few games but tonight was the first time in a long, long time there was offensive creation in his game. Scored the important 2-0 goal, and just kept making deft play after deft play. Having Hartikainen as a linemate really gave Hemsky some room to wheel as Hartikainen really clogged up the net area while Hemsky was able weave in and out of traffic.

Goat of the Game:
- Jeff Petry. Near perfect game from Petry. But the last 5 minutes of the third and overtime were filled with questionable decisions from Petry. Petry tried to throw a hit on Raffi Torres but missed, essentially sending in Torres and Brule in a on 2 on 1 they scored on. I like the aggressive mindset on Petry but the smarter play would have been to stay back, especially with a lead that late in a game. Petry ended up taking a penalty in overtime as well because the puck got caught up in his skates that eventually led to a hooking penalty. Petry continues to round into a solid defenseman for the Oilers but there is a time to be aggressive and a time to play it safe. Petry is still learning this.

Next Game - Tuesday March 20, 2012 vs. Predators @ Nashville on Sportsnet Edmonton 6 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #72 Oilers vs. Coyotes



The Oilers head back at it tonight sans Taylor Hall. Hall is out with a concussion after being the wrong end of a collision from Cory Sarich. Hall's latest mishap has Oilers' fans worried about Hall's style and his longevity. All I can say is, we have to let it be what it is and surround Hall with more retribution type players and a coach that isn't afraid to let his players do so. Like Pat Quinn used to say, "fight dirt with dirt". Hall's play is high risk, high reward and telling him to lighten up would be like pulling the reigns on a thoroughbred. Hall's game is skating and shooting and pulling the reigns on that would hinder his effectiveness. Hall's going to have car crashes every once in awhile, heck every player does at some point, its how he deals with them and learns from them that will be the key. Hall's focus into a game is key going forward. He has to understand that he will be a target, thats just how the game works. The Oilers defensive play has picked up as of late, limiting Columbus to 22 shots and the Flames to 19. The defensive posture is much better. Centers covering the D, the D covering the goaltender, keeping things to the outside, not cheating for goals. It's all apart of the process. I believe the heavy pursuit for more goals really wrecked the great start they had. Fans were preaching the likes of Belanger, Horcoff, Paajarvi, anyone on the defense, to score more goals. They cheated on offense at the benefit of the defense and set everything into a downward spiral. Like I have said in the past, the difference between winning and losing isn't as great as everyone thinks it is. A player's mindset here, insert a bigger body there, play passers with shooters and understanding when to play defense and when to turn it into offense. Phoenix only has two wins on the month so far, so they come in a bit cold. Phoenix is currently sitting in 10th place, 1 point out of a playoff spot, so needless to say its another foe the Oilers face that desperately needs this game.

Forwards Oilers
- Even without Hall, Eberle and RNH are rolling hot right now.
Defense Coyotes
- Keith Yandle has double the amount of points than any Oiler defender. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is an emerging defender as well.
Goaltending Coyotes
- Mike Smith has given the Coyotes consistant goaltending all year long.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers power play has slipped to 2nd, overtaken by Nashville. Phoenix has the worst power play in the NHL.
Coaching Coyotes
- Dave Tippett has shown to always get the most out of his talent.
Intangibles Oilers
- Oilers have won 2 in a row on home ice.

Forwards: (my version)
Smyth-Gagner-Hemsky
Omark-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Petrell-Horcoff-Jones
Hartikainen-Belanger-Hordichuk

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Peckham-Potter

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Coyotes:
Whitney-Vermette-Brule
Torres-Langkow-Doan
Pyatt-Gordon-Korpikoski
Boedker-Pouliot-Bissonnette

Yandle-Roszival
EkmanLarsson-Klesla
Morris-Schlemko

Smith
LaBarbera

Game Time - 6 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Post Game: Game #71 Oilers 3 Flames 1

Scoring Summary
1st Period
EDM Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 17 (Jordan Eberle) 10:12

EDM Jordan Eberle 31 (Teemu Hartikainen, Jeff Petry) 15:18


2nd Period
CGY Mark Giordano 8 (Unassisted) 12:24


3rd Period
EDM Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 18 (Ryan Jones, Jordan Eberle) 9:25


Penalty Summary
1st Period
1:18 Calgary roughing - 2 min C. Sarich drawn by R. Whitney served by G. Desbiens
1:18 Edmonton roughing - 2 min R. Whitney drawn by C. Sarich
1:18 Edmonton roughing - 2 min R. Whitney drawn by C. Sarich served by J. Eberle
17:47 Calgary holding - 2 min M. Giordano drawn by C. Potter

2nd Period
2:50 Calgary tripping - 2 min A. Tanguay drawn by J. Eberle
8:42 Edmonton slashing - 2 min A. Hemsky drawn by M. Giordano
8:42 Calgary slashing - 2 min M. Giordano drawn by A. Hemsky

3rd Period
3:27 Calgary roughing - 2 min S. Baertschi drawn by T. Hartikainen
10:53 Edmonton cross checking - 2 min A. Hemsky drawn by B. Comeau
10:53 Calgary cross checking - 2 min B. Comeau drawn by A. Hemsky
15:57 Calgary tripping - 2 min A. Babchuk drawn by L. Petrell
16:17 Calgary tripping - 2 min D. Moss drawn by C. Potter
19:54 Calgary tripping - 2 min J. Iginla drawn by R. Nugent-Hopkins

Shots On Goal - Oilers 25 Flames 19

Game Notes:
- Big win for the Oilers. Bigger loss for the Flames. The Oilers seemed to have stumbled into doing things the right way and everyone knowing their roles and playing them at a high capacity. Oilers look to be ending the year the same way they started it, on a positive note. Its those 4 months in the middle that led to their demise. The Oilers need to play like this in order to have any success at all with the way their team is built. Problem is, having a smaller forward corps, its difficult to play with high tenacity, game in, game out. What eventually happens to the Oilers is when fatigued starts to hit, they get squeezed out of games. They need to find ways to win games through smarts. They brought both tenacity and smarts tonight, but there will be games where the legs aren't there and they will have to find a way to win games through guile. The Oilers kept the shot total way down tonight. Flames had only 19 shots, a byproduct of a fatigued Flames team and an Oilers team ready to play. Dubnyk played well again tonight. Has only given up 1 goal in the last 2 starts. I'm still not convinced he's a starter, as when the Oilers can't keep the shot totals down, Dubnyk seems to get fatigud and lose focus. I don't think Dubnyk has the ability to be a 50 game starter, but I think he is a good plan B backup. The Oilers will have to make a decision on Khabibulin or Dubnyk when the season ends. The cannot go forward with both. Problem is Khabibulin has one year left on his deal and Dubnyk is set to become an RFA. It will require some eating of salary if the Oilers want to retain Dubnyk and send Khabibulin away. Taylor Hall was on the receiving end of a KO hit from Cory Sarich moments into the game. He left the game with a concussion and did not return.

Player of the Game:
- Jordan Eberle. It was the Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins show. These two mized in with either Teemu Hartikainen or Ryan Jones, were by far, the best line on the night. They really created offense and applied pressure every shift they were out there. Eberle scored on a beauty of a snipe and had a couple of assists on Nugent-Hopkins' goals. It is such a treat to watch Jordan Eberle when he is executing at the highest level.

Goat of the Game:
- Ales Hemsky. He looks like such a fish out of water on this team. Like he's the "before" on those "before" and "after" pictures. Since the Oilers have re-invested in Hemsky for two more years as a 2nd line player, it would be wise to invest in a shooting center for him, either a Jarret Stoll or a Jason Arnott type. Otherwise, I'd ship him out ASAP and pretend the signing was a mistake. Hemsky is trying to play more of a power forward type game because its what the team really needs from him, but thats like trying to turn a cat into a dog. Hemsky and Gagner were the only minus players for the Oilers on the night, each -1.

Next Game - Sunday March 19, 2012 vs. Coyotes @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West 6 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #71 Oilers vs. Flames



Another edition of the Battle of Alberta. Oilers waxed the Flames 6-1 in their last meeting setting up an interesting game between a "playoff hungry" Flames and a "fighting for pride" Oilers. For one night, the Oilers got back to their stout defensive game, beating an undermanned Columbus team 3-0. As I have mentioned in past articles, the Oilers centers had a big hand in the victory. Playing sound, positional hockey and not chasing the game all over the ice and forcing plays. With the victory over Columbus, it pretty much ensure that the Oilers will not be finishing 30th this year (golf clap). At this stage of the year, you can't help but feel for the Oilers' players and coaching staff. Its been a tough year for a lot of them and playing out the string, seeing the pains of their failures really hits the core. This year was supposed to be a progress year, and while some small steps have been made on the special teams and the kids, there has been a lot of underachievement on this team as well. It all washes out in the standings. Its a big offseason in Oilerville, it will be interesting to see what moves are made and if a cleaning out of the management occurs. Flames come into this game winners of 5 in a row. Won 4-1 against Phoenix last night. They currently sit in 9th place, 1 point below the playoff cut line. They are in a full mad dash to get into the post season. This is a crucial game for them. Teemu Hartikainen was called up from OKC and likely to play tonight.

Forwards Oilers
- Love the 3 kids, but the rest could stand to step up and play more consistantly.
Defense Flames
- Flames are getting slightly more offensive production out of their group than the Oilers are getting out of theirs.
Goaltending Flames
- Kiprusoff has practically willed his team into playoff contention.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers till oen the best power play in the NHL. Flames are middle of the pack on both special teams.
Coaching Flames
- Brent Sutter has pushed enough of the right buttons to keep his team afloat.
Intangibles Flames
- Flames just have so much more to play for in this game. They really need this one.

Oilers: (my version)
Hall-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Smyth-Gagner-Hemsky
Petrell-Horcoff-Jones
Hartikainen-Belanger-Omark

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Peckham-Potter

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Flames:
Glencross-Jokinen-Moss
Tanguay-Stajan-Iginla
Bartschi-Nemisz-Kostopoulos
Comeau-Horak-Desbiens

Bouwmeester-Sarich
Giordano-Hannan
Smith-Babchuk

Kiprusoff
Karlsson

Game Time - 7:30 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Post Game: Game #70 Oilers 3 BlueJackets 0

Scoring Summary
1st Period
None


2nd Period
EDM Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 16 (Jordan Eberle) 7:40

EDM Taylor Hall 27 (PP) (Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) 19:55


3rd Period
EDM Linus Omark 2 (EN) (Assists: Ryan Smyth 25) 18:27




Penalty Summary
1st Period
9:20 Edmonton interference - 2 min L. Smid drawn by R. Umberger

2nd Period
3:20 Columbus hooking - 2 min J. Wisniewski drawn by J. Eberle
8:55 Edmonton high-sticking - 4 min T. Hall drawn by C. Atkinson
17:15 Columbus too many men on ice - 2 min Bench served by C. Gillies
19:49 Columbus high-sticking - 2 min C. Atkinson drawn by L. Smid

3rd Period
0:36 Columbus puck over glass - 2 min R. Nash
1:09 Edmonton hooking - 2 min A. Hemsky drawn by D. Boyce

Shots On Goal - Oilers 27 BlueJackets 22

Game Notes:
- It sure does feel good to win, even on as small of a level as tonight's win was. The Oilers played well tonight, even if the offensive execution wasn't quite as high as one would like it to be. The team structure and the dedication to the defensive end were the keys to the in tonight. Vets keeping pucks out of the net plus kids scoring should have been a template for the Oilers this year, but somewhere along the way, it all went wrong. Either the vets were overplayed and couldn't keep up with the demand, or the vets stopped buying in, either way, its a damn shame. The kids haven't stopped scoring this year and to me, they are the least of the worries. What the Oilers need going forward is pay attention to detail, muscle at forward especially in the top 9, and mobility on the backend. Its hard to be to excited about this victory when Columbus is icing 2/3rds of an AHL lineup and have very little emotional investment in this game. They likely needed to lose this game more than the Oilers did because they need help all over the ice. The lines are still a little disjointed, the Oilers have no checking line, but didn't need one tonight because Rick Nash was the only scoring threat they have and he seems to have checked out. As much as everyone wants to tell me that Hall and Hemsky have all kinds of chemisty, I don't see it. I see two guys that want the puck and Hemsky doesn't do much without it. Besides, I'd rather have Hall make the plays which renders Hemsky useless. Jones-RNH-Eberle has some decent dimension but doesn't have the sticks lined up for any quick shots, its more of a cycle line. A win is a win is a win is a win. Good on the Oilers for manning up tonight.

Player of the Game:
- Devan Dubnyk. I always feel obligated to give the POTG to goaltenders when they get a shutout, even it felt like it was of the Chris Osgood variety. Dubnyk made the saves when he was called on, but it was more likely the defense were more stars of the game. Keeping everything to the outside and forcing Columbus to generate offense from the outside. It was the type of formula the Oilers had success with early in the season. The centers didn't cheat for offense and the defense kept themselves between the puck and the net all night. The Oilers could use another puck rushing Dman to keep the other teams forwards honest. There is a winning formual in here somewhere but it relies all on the centers and how they play. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall deserve honorable mention here.

Goat of the Game:
- Sam Gagner. Just as expected, once Ryan Nugent-Hopkins came back in the lineup, Sam Gagner's offense has gone into the tank. It's not really his fault, he's more at the mercy of the system and how the team is built. The Oilers really badly need two-way play from their centers and cheating for offense cannot tolerated. Gagner is really trying to work hard at both ends of the ice but what happens is he becomes subpar at both ends because of it. The Oilers are going to need more size down the middle in the future and it will likely come at the expense of Sam Gagner.

Next Game - Friday March 16, 2012 vs. Flames @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West 7:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #70 Oilers vs. BlueJackets



Here we go again. It's difficult to write anything positive when the 30th place team plays the 29th place team in mid March. The game means much more to the fans than the players as they naval gaze the standings to see what kind of drafting position they will have come June. After yet another lifeless loss against the Sharks on Monday night, rumour has it there is some dissention in the Oilers dressing room. Welp, its about time. Loss after loss and nothing. Two years later and now they have decided they are fed up. To me, the whole thing felt scripted, the dissention should have came a long time ago. It goes hand in hand with losing. For everyone who wants to boo the piss out of Sheldon Souray for villifying Oiler management, y'know what? He was right. Oilers ownership and management are a bunch of incompetants. To quote Herm Edmwards, "you play to win the game", and not trying to do everything in your power to do so is cheating the fans, cheating the league and cheating your organization. So, if your an Oilers' fan, its either your team is throwing games, or is being run by a bunch of imbeciles. Either way, its not a pretty sight. Columbus comes into this game losers of a back to back set to the Blues. Prior to that they had won 4 in a row. Columbus is a team that has been playing well but still lack a lot pieces much like the Oilers.

Forwards Oilers
- All Columbus has is Rick Nash and even he isn't having that strong of a season.
Defense Oilers
- Defense has been an Achilles' heel for both teams, at this stage, the Oilers have more pieces.
Goaltending Oilers
- Both sets of goaltending has been very subpar this year.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers #1 powerplay versus Columbus' #30 penalty kill.
Coaching BlueJackets
- Todd Richards, since coming in for the Blue Jackets, has them at least playing respectable.
Intangibles BlueJackets
- Blue Jackets haven't played since Sunday and home ice has been a disadvantage as of late for the Oilers.

Oilers:
Hall-Gagner-Hemsky
Jones-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Smyth-Horcoff-Omark
Hordichuk-Belanger-Petrell

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Peckham-Potter

Khabibulin
Dubnyk

Blue Jackets:
Umberger-Brassard-Nash
Prospal-Letestu-Atkinson
Russell-Boyce-Mayorov
Gillies-Johansen-Boll

Moore-Nikitin
J.Johnson-Wisniewski
A.Johnson-Lebda

Sanford
York

Game Time - 8 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet Edmonton.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Importance of the Center Play



The Oilers are mired in another hopeless season. Reasons abound on why the Oilers are stuck in the plight they are in. The goaltending is too inconsistant, the defense is too slow, the wingers haven't brought enough throughout the lineup. The biggest reason why the Oilers haven't progressed is because of the play of their centers. The reason why successful teams have elite centers is because they are the card counters at the blackjack table. They have a direct effect on the game in all three zones, but their effect is in what battles they choose to participate in and what battles they stay out of. They have a percentage meter that goes off in their heads, the higher the percentage that they can win the battle, the more engaged in the battle they become. Elite centers do not engage in low percentage plays, because what it does is take them out of position leaving someone else to attempt to clean up their mess, setting off a bad chain reaction with the 6 defenders on the ice. Everything starts and ends with the centers' initial reaction.

All of this leads me to the current version of the Oilers. Shawn Horcoff is one of the elder statesmen on the current Edmonton Oilers. He's been around for awhile, and his play has started to deteriorate over the years which has culminated to this year where its apparent he cannot handle playing tough opposition anymore. Horcoff is a team worst -21 which shows that other teams' elite players are having a heyday with the Oilers checking line. When you cannot win this battle, its awfully difficult to win games with any consistancy. The Oilers brought in Eric Belanger as a free agent over the summer, but he's -13 and has shown little to prove he can handle the difficult task either. The Oilers have 2 veteran centers that have shown they cannot handle playing the toughs which really hurts their ability to keep pucks out of the net. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner and Anton Lander have all had their shots as well at center, playing in reduced roles. Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner have played in mostly offesnive roles playing against other teams' weak parade to decent result. They are treading water alright but not thriving like they could if the vets were holding up. Anton Lander is the heir apparent to eventually be tasked with playing the toughs, but he is a few years away from that.

The point of this thread is if the Oilers had better "card counters" at center, that would understand the concept of strong positioning and understanding when to battle and when to hold back, the Oilers may not be in such a predicament. The thing is, if a team has solid centers, the defense starts to look good and if the defense looks good, the goaltending looks strong. All of this has a trickle down effect throughout the lineup and it all starts with the centers. The reason why the Oilers got off to a strong October start is because the Oilers centers were playing lights out, but as the games wore on and the minutes were piled up on Horcoff and Belanger, they started to break down and eventually their season just gave way to mistake after mistake. Then the defense started to look shabby as did the goaltending.

Its all a trickle down effect and it starts with the centers.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Post Game: Game #69 Sharks 3 Oilers 2

Scoring Summary
1st Period
SJ Torrey Mitchell 8 (Tommy Wingels, Marc-Edouard Vlasic) 1:07

EDM Ryan Whitney 3 (Nick Schultz, Eric Belanger) 19:10


2nd Period
SJ Joe Thornton 15 (PP) (Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski) 11:36

EDM Taylor Hall 26 (Unassisted) 14:54


3rd Period
SJ Logan Couture 28 (PP) (Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton) 0:38


Penalty Summary
1st Period
18:37 Edmonton slashing - 2 min J. Petry drawn by D. Winnik
18:37 San Jose slashing - 2 min D. Winnik drawn by J. Petry

2nd Period
5:24 San Jose holding - 2 min D. Murray drawn by A. Hemsky
11:29 Edmonton tripping - 2 min T. Hall drawn by J. Demers
19:12 Edmonton puck over glass - 2 min L. Omark

3rd Period
None

Shots On Goal - Oilers 22 Sharks 33

Game Notes:
- Ugh, I'm not sure if this season has been harder on me or the players and the coaching staff. The whole game felt so anti-climatic that it felt like a preseason game without the ability to check in on some prospects you have never seen before. The whole game felt so inevitable as if the game was staged. I can't see the Sharks making the playoffs, they look just as listless as the Oilers did, who have nothing to play for. The whole Oilers team looks defeated before the opening faceoff. I don't think it can be cured now. These games mean nothing and everybody knows it. The Oilers are in a state where the bodies are trying but the minds are defeated. Not the mentality of a champion and now we are starting to infiltrate "the Oiler way" to a new breed of Oilers. Things need to be flipped on their sides and things need to change. The Oilers need a Florida type overhaul where only a handful of players are safe (Hall, RNH, Eberle, Paajarvi, Lander, Petry) and everything else just needs to be moved along. A total cleansing, if you will. Losing is a virus that just keeps spreading from player to player to the point where it is tolerated and accepted. It's pretty mindnumbing right now, and there is no end in sight. I don't know how they get out of this mess, its going to need a whole lot of mind trickery and the Oilers are going to need a lot more of mind trickery, if you know what I mean. Tough times indeed.

Player of the Game:
- Ryan Whitney. Whitney has had a rough go of things this year after having a very promising half-year last year. An ankle injury has really limited his mobility and therefore his effectiveness. Tonight against a slower Sharks team, Whitney was able to play a more simple game and keep things in front of him. Scored a nice goal on a wicked, accurate slapshot. Top shelf, glove side, a goal I was hoping to see more of from him this year. I'm sure last year's Ryan Whitney will ever be back, but it was good to see he can still be an effective Dman in a puck control game.

Goat of the Game:
- Sam Gagner. All the fears I had about Sam Gagner being a #2 center on the Oilers going forward, came to fruition tonight. Gagner missed his backcheck on the first SJ goal and he and his line were largely ineffective tonight. Gagner was 22% on the dot and only had 1 shot on goal in 16 minutes. When Gagner plays against bigger bodies, he becomes pretty ineffective much like 85% of the Oilers team. I've said it in the past and I'll say it again, when the Oilers uttered the words, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at the past draft, it meant the end of the effective tenure of Sam Gagner as an Oiler.

Next Game - Wednesday March 14, 2012 vs. Blue Jackets @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet Edmonton 8 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #69 Oilers vs. Sharks



14 games until the season is done. Another team comes to town, struggling mightily to make the playoffs, this time, its the San Jose Sharks. The Oilers are playing out the string with absolutely nothing to play for. I'm not even sure if pride is an option at this point. When you have been absolutely beaten down into oblivion for the 3rd year in a row, its difficult to get up for games like this, as if the players and coaches have turned into mindless drones. With being 5 points behind, Montreal for 28th in the league and up 8 points on Columbus for 30th, it seems 29th in the league will be the reality for this years' edition of the Oilers. The team as a whole id due for an exorcism, right from management to coaching staff to a 25% turnover in the player personnel. As a fine farewell salute, the management handcuffed the next set of managers by resigning Ales Hemsky. I'm still convinced that the Oilers are better off without him than with him. They were better off paying a pylon a million dollars per year. But thats the way it goes in Oilerville. Ths Sharks come into this game losers of 5 in a row, gaining a couple of loser points in that span. Sharks are reeling and in danger of missing the playoffs entirely which be absolutely disasterous for them. Piece by piece, the Sharks are losing their identity of being a big, tough team to play against. Now they just look lethargic and uninspired. If the Oilers show up, they could take this game, much like they did last Tuesday against the Sharks, 3-2 in a shootout. Sharks are a supremely flaky team. They may show up, they may not.

Forwards Sharks
- Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski and Couture are featured in a scoring lineup for the Sharks.
Defense Sharks
- Burns and Boyle have been up and down this year, but are better Dmen than anything the Oilers can ice right now.
Goaltending Sharks
- Niemi has had an above average year while the Oilers goaltending has been hit and miss all year.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers #1 powerplay against the Sharks #28 penalty kill.
Coaching Sharks
- I have a hard time giving Tom Renney the benefit of any doubt over any coach including Todd McLellan, who is on the coaching hot seat.
Intangibles Oilers
- Both teams has road games on Saturday. Oilers have home ice where they haven't won in awhile.

Oilers:
Hall-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Omark-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Petrell
Hordichuk-Belanger-Jones

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Sutton-Potter

Khabibulin
Dubnyk

Sharks:
Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski
Clowe-Couture-Wingels
Winnik-Moore-Mitchell
Desjardins-Handzus-Galiardi

Boyle-Vlasic
Murray-Burns
Demers-White

Niemi
Greiss

Game Time - 7:30 PM MT @ Rexall Place on TSN.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Post Game: Game #68 Avalanche 3 Oilers 2 (SO)

Scoring Summary
1st Period
EDM Ryan Smyth 19 (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle) 19:23


2nd Period
COL Cody McLeod 6 (Ryan Wilson, Kevin Porter) 4:44

COL Peter Mueller 6 (Milan Hejduk, Mark Olver) 10:05


3rd Period
EDM Taylor Hall 25 (Jordan Eberle) 15:17


OT Period
None

Shootout
COL Milan Hejduk shootout goal

EDM Jordan Eberle shootout miss

COL Peter Mueller shootout goal

EDM Sam Gagner shootout saved

Shots On Goal - Oilers 30 Avalanche 32

Game Notes:
- Tough one to lose. The Oilers were in a see saw affair. I game they should lost, then won, but ultimately lost in a shootout. The Oilers got jobbed on a call in the third period that denied the then tying goal by Ales Hemsky saying Sam Gagner interfered with the goaltender Varlamov. Gagner never touched the goaltender but was in the crease when the goal was scored. Goal should have counted but was waved off by referee paul devorski and ultimately robbed the Oilers of a win. The Oilers have had a tough time with the refs this year. Poor quality reffing is very apparent this year, at every level. I really think the speed of the game is catching up with them and the calls seem very shaky from game to game. Hockey, in general, will have to find ways to help the refs out. They are having a tough time keeping up to the game. The fact that the rules seem so gray these days isn't helping them out. As for the Oilers, they played hard, found some dumb spost as usual, got the game to a shootout and lost the coin flip badly, 2-0. If this game meant more, I think there would be more venom on the missed call, but since it wasn't, there wasn't.

Player of the Game:
- Nikolai Khabibulin. If Khabibulin didn't play a fantastic third period, the Oilers would have never got a point out of this game and if the Oilers didn't get jobbed, they would have gotten two points out of it. Khabibulin let in a somewhat soft first goal and went 0 for 2 in the shootout but otherwise was solid if not spectacular. Hemsky, Hall and Eberle had decent games as well, but went long stretches of nothing like a lot of the rest of the team did.

Goat of the Game:
- Ladislav Smid. Smid and Petry had tough games in general. Smid was on the ice for both Colorado goals. First goal, he covered his area well, but the shooter found a soft spot between he and Petry, 2nd goal Smid got caught trying to attampt a line change but caught up the ice and was too late getting back to cover his player, Mueller, who eventually scored. While Smid has had a strong year, defensive defensemen who bring little offense, have little room for error, because ultimately, you want everyone on your team to outscore the opponent. Toughness, grit and paying the price are big parts of the game, but when you bring little offense, the margin gets cut down significantly. Smid is what he is though, a solid, stay at home Dman.

Next Game - Monday March 12, 2012 vs. Sharks @ Rexall Place on TSN 7:30 PM MT.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pre-Game: Game #68 Oilers vs. Avalanche



Another day, another game. Season's almost over, 14 games left. This game means a heckuva lot more to the Avalanche than it does to the Oilers. The Avalanche are one point out of a playoff spot while the Oilers are checking and re-checking their draft lists. I expected the Oilers to be where the Avalanche are in the standings this year. Playing meaningful games in march fighting for some semblance of a playoff life. Instead we are treated to meaningless games in March and naval gazing about where this team is really headed. It's tough to see the Oilers vets mail the season in while the kids seem exasporated at the struggles of the Oiler franchise. Oilers fans seem to be looking for answers in all the wrong places. Oilers fans thoughts are all over the map right now, everything from gutting the team and management to keeping the status quo. Truth is, all of that lies somewhere in the middle. The next person to head up the team will need a fine tooth scalpel and cut precisely, understanding what pieces need to be kept and which pieces need to be replaced. Going forward and improvement in the standings should be what this team is all about. This team should be better than what it is this year. Its safe to say they have underachieved this year, from top to bottom. Their plan needs to be more clear and concise. Colorado comes in to this game coming off a 4-2 loss in Nashville. This is pretty much a must win game for the Avalanche. This game will show if they are contenders or pretenders. Ben Eager didn't make the trip due to the flu and Corey Potter will be a gametime decision.

Forwards Oilers
- The kids need a better effort than they gave against Montreal. Matt Duchene is out of the Avalanche which is a big blow to them.
Defense Avalanche
- The Avalanche defense hasn't been great but the Oilers defense has been so erratic you don't know what to expect from them.
Goaltending Avalanche
- Oilers goaltending has been so inconsistant that I don't know how I can give them the nod. Avalanche goalies have been somewhat stable.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers still the owners of the best powerplay in the NHL. PK has slipped of late, now 18th.
Coaching Avalanche
- Both coaches on the hotseat, but Joe Sacco has gotten more out of his group.
Intangibles Avalanche
- Both teams had long travel days. Afternoon game will be a tough one for the Oilers to get up for.

Oilers:
Hall-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Omark-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Jones
Hordichuk-Belanger-Petrell

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Potter
Peckham-Schultz

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Avalanche:
Landeskog-O'Reilly-Downie
McGinn-Stastny-Jones
Mueller-Olver-Hejduk
McLeod-McClement-Connolly

O'Brien-Johnson
Hejda-Wilson
Hunwick-Elliot

Varlamov
Giguere

Game Time - 1 PM MT @ Colorado on Sportsnet West.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Post Game: Game #67 Canadiens 5 Oilers 3

Scoring Summary
1st Period
EDM Shawn Horcoff 13 (PP) (Corey Potter, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) 12:06

MON P.K. Subban 6 (PP) (David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty) 19:43


2nd Period
MON Max Pacioretty 29 (Scott Gomez, P.K. Subban) 2:02

EDM Linus Omark 1 (Unassisted) 6:42


3rd Period
MON Tomas Kaberle 3 (PP) (Rene Bourque, Tomas Plekanec) 3:00

MON Lars Eller 15 (Ryan White) 5:07

EDM Taylor Hall 24 (Nick Schultz, Ryan Whitney) 13:12

MON Max Pacioretty 30 (EN) (P.K. Subban) 19:43


Penalty Summary
1st Period
10:50 Montreal roughing - 2 min P. Subban drawn by L. Omark
16:10 Montreal tripping - 2 min C. Campoli drawn by A. Hemsky
19:37 Edmonton interference - 2 min T. Peckham drawn by L. Eller

2nd Period
3:09 Edmonton slashing - 2 min N. Schultz drawn by A. Palushaj
11:48 Montreal tripping - 2 min E. Cole drawn by J. Petry
16:33 Edmonton slashing - 2 min T. Peckham drawn by T. Plekanec

3rd Period
2:20 Edmonton hooking - 2 min T. Peckham drawn by A. Palushaj
9:47 Montreal hooking - 2 min L. Eller drawn by N. Schultz

Shots On Goal - Oilers 27 Canadiens 31

Game Notes:
- I'd say tough loss for the Oilers, but its likely the way Oilers fans would have wanted to end anyway. Putting a 4 point gap between the Oilers and the Canadiens for the 2nd overall draft pick. Columbus won tonight to put themselves within 7 points of the Oilers for the claim of being the worst team in the league. Any way you shake it, it looks like the Oilers will be drafting within the top 3 again this year. On a personal note, it was a tough loss. It was a game that was very winnable from an Oilers aspect but brain cramps, once again, did in the Oilers and it eventually cost them this game. I felt a win from the Oilers tonight, I figured the Oilers would be able to take advantage of the Canadiens suspect defense and goaltending. Instead the Canadiens took advantage of the Oilers suspect defense and goaltending. The Oilers looked very generic tonight. Put forth some effort but not enough to want to win the game. I guess as a fan, thats what one would like the games to end this season, but for myself, these games are pretty mundane. Win and it doesn't matter, lose and it doesn't matter. Bottom line is I just want to see good, fundamental hockey, but instead we get slapstick comedy. Watching tonight's game was watching two bad hockey teams go at it, the Canadiens won the game because they wanted it a little more. Onwards and upwards.

Player of the Game:
- Nick Schultz. If you took the names and numbers of the jerseys tonight, I wouldn't have been able to tell them apart. Everyone looked the same and calling the POTG is a tough task tonight. I'll give it to new guy Nick Schultz because I've been modestly impressed with his play since the acquisition. Schultz mobilty and poise on the ice has been a nice blend with the current Oilers D. Not a total lockdown D, but a passable one in terms of not getting into trouble in his own zone. The Oilers got a lot of the same out of Tom Gilbert but the Oilers fans had so much hatred for him that they were blind to the good he brought. Schultz is here now and the Oilers will need to continue to turnover their defense.

Goat of the Game:
- Theo Peckham. Peckham is not endearing himself to the Oiler faithful by taking needless penalties and chasing the play all over the ice. Peckham is a player that needs to let the play come to him and make a play at the moment of impact. He isn't mobile enough to chase. Took the hattrick of penalties tonight of which the Canadiens scored twice on, scorning the Oilers fans. I still believe there is a player in Peckham but he is in too much of a hurry to make an impact. If he lets the play come to him and then throw a hit or use his stick, he'll be much more effective that way. It looks like the relationship between Peckham and the Oilers have hit troubled waters and will likely be ended in the spring. Peckham still looks peeved that he has been a healthy scratch for all of February. Khabibulin get an honorable mention here, he wasn't very sharp either tonight.

Next Game - Saturday March 10, 2012 vs. Avalanche in Colorado on Sportsnet West 1 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #67 Oilers vs. Canadiens



15 games left to go. This game should have the appeal of a neutral site game as the Canadiens come to town which leads to flocks of Canadiens fans invading Rexall Place. The Oilers are coming off a hard fought 3-2 shootout win in San Jose, a game where the Oilers finally dedicated enough hustle and brain power needed to win a hockey game. The fight in the body hasn't left the Oilers, which is a good sign, but sometimes the fight in the mind disappears from them. The Oilers will need to find a way to battle the mental demons down the stretch, to allow the games to mean something. The Oilers need to finish strong, draft pick be damned. If anything, to allow themselves to feel good about heading into next year. The Oilers need to establish a higher will to win, and that can start right now. But that isn't solely on the players. Its also incumbant on the coaches and management to feel this as well, after all it starts with them. If they don't feel the urge to win, how can the players? The Oilers still need to adjust some pieces on the team but they also need to adjust their mindset. The Canadiens come into this game losers of their last 2 games, dropping a 5-4 game to Calgary on Tuesday night. This is a battle for the 2nd overall draft pick, so its a very winnable game for the Oilers if they choose to seize it.

Forwards Oilers
- Would love to see the kid line reunited. (Hall,RNH,Eberle)
Defense Oilers
- Smid and Petry have been a solid pairing as of late.
Goaltending Canadiens
- Carey Price is a fantastic goaltender on an otherwise pretty weak Canadiens team.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers have the NHLs best powerplay while Montreal has the NHLs best penalty kill. Montreal's powerplay is 28th.
Coaching Oilers
- I have to give Tom Renney the nod here as I'm not even sure how long Randy Cunneyworth will be around in Montreal.
Intangibles Oilers
- Oilers get slight advantage if only because of last change. Crowd should be neutral.

Oilers: (my version)
Hall-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Smyth-Gagner-Hemsky
Petrell-Horcoff-Jones
Omark-Belanger-Eager

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Schultz
Sutton-Potter

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Canadiens:
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole
Bourque-Plekanec-Leblanc
Geoffrion-Eller-White
Engqvist-Nokelainen-Staubitz

Gorges-Subban
Campoli-Emelin
Kaberle-Weber

Price
Budaj

Game Time - 7:30 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Post Game: Game #66 Oilers 3 Sharks 2 (SO)

Scoring Summary
1st Period
EDM Jordan Eberle 30 (Sam Gagner, Ryan Whitney) 0:10

SJ Jim Vandermeer 1 (Dan Boyle) 3:17


2nd Period
SJ Ryane Clowe 12 (Logan Couture) 15:19

EDM Ryan Smyth 18 (Jeff Petry, Ladislav Smid) 16:13


3rd Period
None

OT Period
None

Shootout
SJ Joe Pavelski shootout saved

EDM Jordan Eberle shootout miss

SJ Michal Handzus shootout saved

EDM Sam Gagner shootout goal

SJ Brent Burns shootout saved


Penalty Summary
1st Period
None


2nd Period
None


3rd Period
6:05 San Jose puck over glass - 2 min J. Braun
7:01 Edmonton tripping - 2 min S. Horcoff drawn by D. Murray
8:20 Edmonton high-sticking - 2 min R. Jones drawn by B. Burns

OT Period
None


Shots On Goal - Oilers 26 Sharks 30

Game Notes:
- Oilers pull through in a shootout win, 3-2. I had a good feeling the Oilers would put forth a good effort tonight and they responded. Dubnyk had a very up and down night. Let in a couple of ugly goals but played flawlessly the rest of the way. This game has been a lot like his season. Very up and down. The defense as a whole played fairly well tonight. Whitney was solid after having a tough game in Anaheim last night. Potter was more steady than usual. Smid and Petry were rock solid again. The forwards played, even though the lines seem a smidge disjointed. Would like to see the kid line reunited again soon. I think the time is right to reignite that magic. The Sharks played well and hard but just seem to lack a sense of "seizing the moment", in their game something that has plagued them for the last many seasons. Its a hard fought, feel good win for the Oilers and most of all, it was well deserved, good to see them get back in the win column.

Player of the Game:
- Ladislav Smid. Its not often Smid will find himself in this spot, so I figured its a good time to give him the kudos tonight for a solid game and a solid year. Smid chipped in with an assist and was +1 tonight. Smid's game has flourished leaps and bounds this year to the point where he has become reliable when on the ice. Its too bad there isn't an offensive bone in his body but he is what he is and he has been above average this year on a team where many players have been below average.

Goat of the Game:
- Theo Peckham. Looked rusty as all jebus tonight. Just could not make a play with the puck tonight, took a couple of big hits that rattled him. Overall, just looked out of sorts. Was a team worst -2 tonight. All that being said I hope he gets some games in to end the year, but the writing is on the wall with him with Sutton, Schultz, Whitney and Smid all signed for next year and Peckham looking for a contract. Its too bad, I had high hopes for him.

Next Game - Thursday March 8, 2012 vs. Canadiens @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West 7:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #66 Oilers vs. Sharks



Back to back games as the Oilers travel up the California coast. Good effort, poor execution type game from the Oilers last night as they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Ducks. A night of running into good goaltending and just an overall lack of finish on the Oilers part. Jonas Hiller played well for the Ducks and likely got into the Oilers head a bit. Its a tough grind for the Oilers. They really have nothing to play for. Their best players are the 3 kids, the vets are taking turns checking out on the season, the next tier of youngsters are playing in OKC are being "groomed". There is a lot of dead weight on this team that I have no desire to see on the team next year. All these games are a total waste right now. Linus Omark is the recent callup to take a crack at trying to right the good ship Oilers. Omark will get his shot, likely tonight, but he is another shrimp to throw on the barbee. The Oilers, right now, live and die with their power play. They finally got one after going 6 periods without getting one and, lo and behold, they scored on it. Tom Renney looks like a coach thats on his deathbed. He knows he is out of answers and a lot his vets have checked out. The Oilers are playing like a team that has nothing to play for and its showing in the results. The Sharks come into this game losers of their last 2 games. Last game they lost 3-1 to the Blues on Saturday night. The Sharks have such an enigmatic team that I wouldn't be surprised if the Oilers found a way to pull this one out.

Forwards Sharks
- Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Couture et al. Oilers defense should be in for a long night.
Defense Sharks
- Burns and Boyle are having fine seasons for the Sharks.
Goaltending Sharks
- Niemi stats are respectable having 5 shutouts on the season.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers continue to have the best powerplay in the NHL while the Sharks PK is 28th.
Coaching Sharks
- Its a tossup really, both teams are underachieving. Sharks are better in the standings though.
Intangibles Sharks
- Tough back to back for the Oilers while the Sharks are waiting for them in San Jose.

Oilers:
Hall-Gagner-Hemsky
Omark-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Smyth-Horcoff-Jones
Eager-Belanger-Petrell

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Potter
Sutton-Schultz

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Sharks:
Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski
Clowe-Couture-Wingels
Winnik-Moore-Mitchell
Winchester-Galiardi-Vandermeer

Boyle-Vlasic
Murray-Burns
Braun-White

Niemi
Greiss

Game Time - 8:30 PM MT @ San Jose on Sportsnet Edmonton.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Post Game: Game #65 Ducks 4 Oilers 2

Scoring Summary
1st Period
ANH Jason Blake 6 (PP) (Bobby Ryan, Cam Fowler) 17:18


2nd Period
EDM Shawn Horcoff 12 (Nick Schultz) 19:29


3rd Period
ANH Bobby Ryan 25 (Teemu Selanne) 8:09

ANH Corey Perry 32 (Niklas Hagman) 16:40

EDM Jordan Eberle 29 (PP) (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff) 18:14

ANH Corey Perry 33 (Unassisted) 18:46


Penalty Summary
1st Period
15:19 Edmonton tripping - 2 min A. Hemsky drawn by B. Ryan

2nd Period
None

3rd Period
8:33 Edmonton roughing - 2 min A. Sutton drawn by T. Selanne
17:13 Anaheim tripping - 2 min T. Selanne drawn by C. Potter

Shots On Goal - Oilers 36 Ducks 31

Game Notes:
- Game meant a lot more to the Ducks than it did the Oilers. Ducks didn't look great tonight as the Oilers took the play to them for the majority of the game. The Oilers played hard, but it almost seemed like a false hard because everytime the puck got near the net the execution wasn't there. Just not enough focus to make a play at the net. Its the usual problems that plagued the Oilers. Not enough push at the net, not enough finish around the net, brain cramps in own zone, goalies couldn't make a big save at the right time, all equals another loss. Its tough to critique games like this because we all know the Oilers have little to play for and playing so many meaningless games has to weigh on them heavily. Its just a trickle down effect that starts from the rafters and works its way down to the ice. I just feel bad for Oilers fans that have to pay full price for games like this.

Player of the Game:
- Shawn Horcoff. It was a night he had great jump and played with a purpose. Was responsible in his own zone and was eager to make a play with the puck. Games like tonight for Horcoff have been too far and too few in between for him. The Oilers needed a lot more fom him this year and he has failed to deliver on many a night. Good to see Horcoff come out and play with some pride. Had a goal and an assist tonight.

Goat of the Game:
- Ryan Whitney. It's his first GOTG of the year, but its likely been a long time coming. Whitney hasn't played well for awhile and it all came to a head tonight. Whitney was coughing up pucks left and right that resulted in 2 Anaheim goals and he was caught chasing the third goal. Whitney's mobility has been surely hurting him this year and its not getting any better. The Oilers lack of mobility on the backend isn't all on Whitney but some decisions will have to be made too add some mobility there.

Next Game - Tuesday March 6, 2012 vs. Sharks @ San Jose on Sportsnet Edmonton 8:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #65 Oilers vs Ducks



Back to the grind for the Oilers. It's been opposites time once again for the Oilers. They have won their last three road games but have lost 6 of the last 7 at home. They have struggled all year on the road while being respectable at home. I'm not sure what the answer is for this Oilers team, that even though they are healthy, they are horribly undermanned. A lack of size up front, a lack of mobility on the backend, questionable goaltending from game to game all leads the Oilers to where they are right now, stuck in no man's land. The Oilers are going to let the season trickle away while trying to secure as high a draft pick as they can. It's about the only thing can do, in whats been another waste of a season. The Oilers have some soul searching to do in the offseason, from player personnel, to coaching, to management, all of these things need to be put under the microscope and scrutinized hard. Anaheim comes into this game, coming off a 4-2 loss to the Los Angelas Kings. Anaheim is trying to make a last gasp effort to make the playoffs, but currently sit in 13th place in the Western Conference, 7 points out of a playoff spot. Rumor going around Taylor Hall may not play tonight, we'll have to wait and see.

Forwards Ducks
- The Ducks forwards have more experienced set of forwards that sets them apart from the Oilers.
Defense Oilers
- Jeff Petry emerging sets apart the Oilers from the Ducks. Ducks have a couple of young Dmen in Fowler and Sbisa they are trying to break in.
Goaltending Ducka
- Jonas Hiller has been a big reason for the Ducks playoff push.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers continue to have the best power play in the NHL despite their record. Now, if they can only get a power play in a game...
Coaching Ducks
- Bruce Boudreau has turned the Ducks fortunes around while Tom Renney still searches for answers that aren't there.
Intangibles Oilers
- Oilers are coming off a Palm Springs siesta, should be rested and raring to go, in theory.

Oilers: (my version)
Hall-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Eager-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Jones
Hordichuk-Belanger-Petrell

Whitney-Schultz
Smid-Petry
Sutton-Potter

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Ducks:
Hagman-Getzlaf-Perry
Ryan-Koivu-Selanne
Blake-Cogliano-SmithPelly
Beleskey-Bonino-Parros

Beauchemin-Fowler
Sbisa-Visnovsky
Lydman-Brookbank

Hiller
Deslauriers

Game Time - 8 PM MT @ Anaheim on Sportsnet West.