Saturday, January 8, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 40: Straw, Thy Name Was Strudwick

From top to bottom: Daniel Sedin, Jason Strudwick
I'm of course referring to the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, pictured on the left here. With the game still in reach at 0-2, Strudwick decides the world is ready for his best Nick Lidstrom impression. With the play in the Casux zone he surveys the situation: No Oiler covering his pinch, check. Sedins on the ice behind him, check. Puck about to enter Canucks possession, check. Outcome: Pinch at the blueline! Cowabunga! as the Ninja Turtles used to say. Unfortunately we are dealing with a multi-billion dollar professional sports league, flying the zone when you are the last line of defence against the second most dangerous duo in the league is not a great idea (sorry Canucks fans, St. Louis + Stamkos = 107 pts, Sedins = 105 pts). You could just see the realization dawning on Strudwick's face as he valiantly katana-slashed his stick at the puck flopping over his head towards the Oilers zone. Then the tiny thread that the Oilers had been hanging by from the start of the game snapped when Daniel dangled backhand and deposited. We were once again shown how far it really is they have to go to be a day-to-day competitive team in the league.

Khabibulin seems to be making a habit of letting in clearly stoppable goals at critical times. I don't care if Kesler's packing a T1000 arm under the Canucks stripes, that shot HAS to be stopped. The Oilers were only down a goal at the time, and who knows how much momentum would have built is Khabibulin stays up and gloves that puck. I highly doubt Dubnyk would have made a lick of difference in the outcome, but I think he's been the Oilers best tender this year and I think it's time to squeeze Khabibulin into the passengers seat and see if our stud camel can gallop a bit. Probably a good idea with his DUI history anyways.

But, to beat a quadriplegic camel (they were out of dead horses), the real problem with the Oilers squad is defence, defence, defence. Forget about Strudwick for a moment, he's a stop-gap doing the best with the cement-blocks-for-feet that he has. I want to talk about what happens when Gilbert has to play 29:00 minutes of ice against one of the best offensive teams in the league. That story ends about as well as the Matrix Reloaded (I can't be the only one who thought that ending sucked). He's not a number one guy, not really a number 3 guy, but when he's forced to play half the game, results like these are inevitable. He ended -1 and he was definitely on for the Edler goal on the PK. He managed to show off his prettiest pirouette on that play as he fished for the puck sitting right in the most critical of erogenous scoring zones.The Russian judge gave him a 9 at least.

I end the preliminary part of the report with this fucking beauty:
"C'mon, be serious here, let's go," Vigneault shot back. "Toews and Kane, it's 6-0 going into the third. What do you think? Let's be serious."
Vigneault was referring to Quenneville's decision to run a 5 on 3 with his big guns; there was 11 minutes left and the Hawks had a 6 goal lead. Well, up nearly an identical score of 5-1 with 7 minutes left in the game, guess which favorite frog heads were out on the ice at Doctor Greasy's request:

13:02 VAN PPG - Alexander Edler (4) Wrist Shot - Assists: D. Sedin (29) & H. Sedin (44)

Yea Vigneault, let's be serious.

Thoughts on individuals after the hop.

Nikolai Khabibulin - I already reserved a paragraph for him earlier, but his play is slipping. He had a momentus run for a bit there, but the gibbous moon is down, the Stolichnaya levels are low. It's time for the Ginger Giant to get his full time shot (is he even red head?).

Ales Hemsky - He made a guy miss on an in zone flight, and made at least one top notch pass. We are seeing glimmers of PPG Hemsky and with a little luck we may see a little Hemmer Penner magic in the near future. He had 5 shots in 18 minutes of ice time but I especially liked him whacking the hell out of Tanner Ass in retaliation for the hit at the blueline. It's nice to see that fire from Hemsky, its exactly what the team needs, a little brimstone and hate.

Ladislav Smid - The top-4 Smid experiment continues. He was -2 in 21 minutes of ice time, and its hard to say how much of that red ink was from bad posturing by Smid or having Tommy Twinkletoes at his side for most of the game. The experiment is not going well. However, I would be willing to bet a box of q-tips and a used birthday card that he can be a competent 5/6 guy.

Andrew Cogliano - Had a few chances and 3 shots in the first, and even saw some PP time (3:22). I was harping on him last game to shoot more, it's too bad I forgot his wrist-shot is positively Smyth-esque. If you don't know about Smytty's wrister, well, he coined the term muffin shot. Coglianos's shot has got about as much velocity as Ozzy Osbourne's synaptic transmissions. Sigh, at least he can PK, right? Right?

Jeff Petry - I know he didn't get run out against the toughs very much, but he had 20 minutes, 3 on the PK, and finished even. He exudes a certain calmness with the puck and to my eyes every pass he made was a step up from anything Strudwick could dish. I'm starting to like the toolbox more, especially knowing the great tools inside. Don't forget, he's only 5 games into his NHL career.

Jason Strudwick - You know, he's just doing his job. He's not fleetest of foot. He has no genius, tactical hokey-mind. His offensive instincts involve rimming the boards. His best shots are in practice. That all said he does go out and work hard, and try hard. It's just too bad that he is easily the Oilers worst Dman (including Belle) and is one of the worst in the league. Lowetide's prediction that he would retire and coach was unfortunately way off base.

Linus Omark - He played a decent little game in ~17 minutes, and was funneling pucks into danger areas (4 shots, second after Hemsky's 5). D-train was off, and Cogs is like Herpes, doesn't do anything good except flare up once and a while. His stop and shoot play was poo-poo'ed by Debrusk but I was actually a big fan of it. That is exactly the type of shit that gets the Sedin's tap-in goals rather then shots to the breadbasket on jumbo-fat goaltenders. Debrusk is one of the last players I want to hear about offensive creativity from. I'm just hoping we get to see him paired with a decent center so we get a chance to see what happens when he get's a bit more space. I think I have a soft spot for the little meatball, hopefully he delivers.

Ryan Kesler  - Professional jack-wagon. Oh, and he's a pretty good hockey player too (but please Debrusk stop with the Modano talk - crack is bad mmk).

Gene Principe - HA HA HE WORES THE BIG GLASSES. ugh. Nothing quite rubs me the wrong way as a woman giving me a hander and finding out it's a dude - that and Gene Principe's puns. I can't figure out which is worse. OK, I can, Gene Principe's puns. Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now. Let's hope it was Principe, because the last thing I need is a Principe pun after getting our ass delivered to us in a postage paid package.


Not many other players to go over, since everyone pretty much sucked, stunk, sunk. Whitney out continues to be a serious strain on the teams chances to win, but in all honesty a high draft pick will allow us to fill that C or D hole, something we are clearly lacking based on efforts like tonight. That could be enough to give a future version of the Oilers a chance to see the world from the top of the mountain like a certain nameless franchise that rhymes with sucks is currently doing.

Hey Canucks, while you are planning your parade route don't forget to tell your goalie it's the playoffs that matter (how many series has he won again?).


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