Friday, December 24, 2010

Postgame: True Grit

The above is Theo Peckham if he was a white 60 year old man who lived in the 1880's and had a Saloon-sized chip on his shoulder. He's one of those guys that is built from door hinges and bricks, a real throw-back, and nastier than Bobby Brown's dance repertoire. Even though he will never dazzle like Cindy or Geno he gladly pulls his guts out his chest cavity every game and whacks dudes around with 'em. He's exactly what the doctor ordered for this team of flyweights and flywheels - a meat grinder in the midst of fancy cuisine.

If I had to pick a moment that exemplified the Oilers game tonight I would chose Teddy Peckman's tilt with Kyle Clifford. Teddy popped Kyle with a couple of Snooki-specials and it really seemed like the Oilers played a determined, gritty game after the fight that split the first period roughly in two. They played tough, and when tough wasn't enough Dubnyk generally was. He made a handful of great stops to keep it even, and even though he let in JJ's softie second goal I'd say the outing was a positive one for him. I also liked his aggressive play in the shootout - he explodes outwards from the goal line the moment the opposing player touches the center-ice puck and really challenges them to try a deke.

On a side note, Scuderi's face sports one of the uglier facial cuts I've seen on a dude before - the LA feed I was watching had 4 minutes of closeups on his ground-beef mug after Gilbert whacked some more ugly into his face. Rob Scuderi's face was like 'oh no way dude, I'm already full of ugly'. Pretend Scuderi's facial wound is saying that in a Southern Cali Surfer voice and you will be rolling with the same image as me.

In the end it would have been nice to get the full two (we really need every point we can get so desperately to have any shot), but I don't think you can fault the Oilers effort tonight. Both goalies finished 27-29 (.931), and both teams had a completely even sheet for +/-. An even, seesaw affair that was finally tipped by a Deking with the Stars skills competition.

Some thoughts on individuals after the hop and a yuletide conclusion.

Sam Gagner - The kid looked good. I don't know how much of that is the Taylor F-----g Hall effect, but he's playing a crafty, compact game with the puck right now and making good touches. He always seems to get burnt at least once a game by a down-low coverage that would have required more strength and size but by no means is he a huge defensive liability. Had an apple, 4 shots and played a lot: ~23 minutes. He keeps playing like that and he will definitely eclipse 50 points this year.

Linus Omark - Looked a lot better than last game. He really is incredible at shielding the puck from bigger, stronger defenceman. The problem is he will hold onto the puck forever and still Ryan O'Marra would not understand the concept of a soft-slot presence. He had 2 shots in limited ice time (only played 11:39) but I liked his game overall. I have to wonder if a guy like Horcoff in O'Marra's place right now would show us more than we've seen already.

Taylor Hall - Got a goal off of a lightning release, and had 5 shots to go with almost 20 minutes in ice time. While not his most dominating game ever, he still is a buzzing bee making honey. If there is one thing I can complain about, I'd like to see Taylor Hall incorporate a physical aspect to his game. He plays like a ice nymph sometimes, darting in around, and about, but sometimes I want to see a bit more abominable snowman. Lower that shoulder, bomb a few guys. I don't know enough about the player to know if that was ever really a part of his game, but it sure would be nice.

Tom Gilbert - I actually thought Gilbert played one of his best games of the season. Whitney's effort was probably dragged down by the boat anchor attached to his other hip, but I think Gilbert was the best Dman on the night. He had one spazzy shift where I was slamming my forehead with an open palm, but otherwise he not only looked calm in the D-zone, but he looked confident in the O-zone. I think he will forever be a streaky defenceman. When he's on, though, he's very valuable.

Jason Strudwick - He played alright. I still sometimes think a stuffed sack on skates would be better but he played alright tonight. There was one play where the LA forechecker was bearing down on Strudwick's back, and had a backup forechecker trailing behind on the boards - covering the quick reverse out of the zone. I was so sure that he was going to try and force it through two LA forechecker's that when he held on and found his partner I think I shed a tiny tear. He became all growns up!

Devan Dubnyk - The second goal was soft, and unfortunately it probably cost us the extra point. The margin for error with the Oilers is thinner than Melba toast right now and letting in a Jack Johnson wrister from the left side of the circle was definitely a key moment in the game. All that said, he played an overall excellent game. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: he looks calm. Tourettes inflicted Dubnyk seems to have withered in the bright lights of the big league, and what we have left is something that resembles both a stick-insect and (potentially) a number one goalie.

J.F. Jacques - My mom always said if I don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Thankfully I have something nice to say: he managed to touch the puck slightly with his stick which may or may not have contributed to the second Oilers goal. *crickets*


Dear Santa,

I'd like more scoring from players other than the kids, and I'd like pictures of Dean Lombardi with a Tranny and mirror full of cocaine so we could Trade Strudwick for Doughty. Barring that, I'm fairly happy with the Oilers progress in the last little while. There was a stretch there where we really did look like a last-place team but that seems to be evaporating everywhere except in gloomy-gus blogs and nuts-in-a-knot HFBoards posters. Please, I would also like a playoff spot. And maybe some gin. And a Ferrari while we are dreaming.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a lets waive Strudwick and Jacques.

P.S. Please send a random Vancouver Canucks fan some face herpes


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