Sunday, January 16, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 43: Butterfinger Butterflies

Hey look it's Handzus' spirit totem
Above is the majestic Chaos Butterfly, the wing beats of which can topple whole cities. That is if you believe in the basic principles of chaos theory, the premise that a complex system that is sensitive to the inputs of its manipulators can have a plethora of different results when they vary even slightly. In terms of hockey, it is the 'every inch counts' theory or the 'don't miss that rebound with a gaping net in front of you Gilbert oh no they are going back the other w-- damnit' theory. I can specifically point out four of the LA goals that were a result of bad luck, bad bounces, or plain old Edmonton Oiler chaos.

LA Goal #1: Foster swipes at the puck on a 2v4, and nicks it slightly, sending it directly onto the stick of Marco Sturm who promptly pots it from a bad angle. Foster misses that puck, or gets it more full, there is basically zero chance the puck goes in. Kevin Weekes, one of the worst analysts to ever grace the CBC broadcast, determines it is a 'perfectly executed 4 on 2'.

LA Goal #2: Williams and Kopitar are on a two on one with Peckham defending and Gagner applying back pressure on Kopitar. Williams makes a lousy move to the center and his stick and Peckhams have a french kiss session at the top of the slot. After the sloppy kiss is parted the puck is back in Williams possesion, and almost as a motion of fighting off Peckham's stick, he sends it over to Kopitar, who is now almost behind the goal line. Kopitar attempts a tap in, but instead fires it into the back of Dubnyk's leg where it promptly ricochets into the net. To have it told by Kevin Weekes, it was a perfectly executed 2 on 1.

LA Goal #3: As described in the impromptu manner above, this was a puck that squirted out to Gilbert in the low left slot, and he promptly whiffed it. Dustin Brown then takes a chip pass to the races and sifts one over to a streaking Stoll, who has ragamuffin Omark attempting one of the more futile looking back checks I've ever seen. Stoll promptly pots the puck in a mano-eh-mano situation. If Gilbert even catches a little piece of that puck, the Oilers likely go up 3-2 versus the other way around.

LA Goal #4: Paajarvi chops a dump attempt out of the air which sends it directly onto Gilbert's stick. He makes a reactionary clear up the middle which is picked off by Doughty. With Gilbert so deep and flat-footed, Doughty walks top slot and rifles a glove side laser beam for a goal. Paajarvi gets more puck, or none at all and its again a totally different outcome.

Of course such is the game of hockey, tiny bounces here and there can have dramatic effects on the outcome of the game. This was one of those games where Penner stepped on a puck, Foster lost an edge as the Oilers last man, and Hall's pass to get the puck down low in the last minute ricocheted into a waiting LA King to ice the game. Not to say the Oilers couldn't change their luck. One might note, for instance, that 3 of those 4 goals occurred on odd-man rushes. Or they might look at the abysmal Power play, 0-5 tonight.

The power play is now entering the conversation that had previously been dominated by the PK. It's running at a carbonite-cool 0% over the last 10 games, a total of 0 for 32. They had roughly 4 powerplays worth of extra man time and managed a measly 4 shots during it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Foster is not the answer on the PP. I don't like him shooting the puck, I don't like him passing the puck, I don't like him touching the puck. I will bet you my boxed cuticle collection that Petry would be a better option right now on the PP. If I see that ham-fist hand-grenade the puck one more time...

Weirdest thing? The Oilers actually outshot the Kings. What is that like 4 times the whole season?

Kurtis Foster - No. No, man, no. Come on. Ugh. That's a sampling of my play by play when Foster is handling the puck. Or passing. Or breathing air. He was -2 in 19 minutes. He needs sheltering with a lace parasol.

Tom Gilbert - I do think he was on the wrong end of some bad luck, but he certainly wasn't lighting the world on fire with his play tonight. He was -4 in 25:57, and the primary culprit at least on the first Stoll goal and Doughty's goal. Tough night, that got tougher when CBC announced (no linkage, sorry, but his agent told CBC) that Whitney was having surgery on Monday, speculated to be season ending. And if its not season ending, there will be no rush to get him back on the ice until he's 1000% healed. You gotta wonder, is this the kind of thing that's going to signal the slow downward slide of a promising career because of injury? Let's hope not. Gilbert has more than a few more 30+ games on the horizon, that's for sure.

Theo Peckham - In my humble estimation this was Theo Peckham's worst game this season. Numerous baubled pucks, bad reads, and poor passes in the Dzone. We sometimes need reminding he played 31 NHL games previous to this season. Sometimes he reminds us by how he plays on the ice. Tonight was one of those nights. He was ornery like usual, but even more than we need a shoulder-chip dispenser, we need solid Dmen who can soak up minutes against tough opposition. So far its been like 35 steps forward, 5 steps back. Lets hope he keeps his cowboy clompers goin' towards the sun.

Devan Dubnyk - Tough outing for the kid (18-22 for .818), with a mixture of hot shots and clear breaks for goals. I don't know how much you can really fault Dubnyk, it just seemed like one of those nights when the shots were just right to beat him. I don't think the coach, team, or Dubnyk himself gets to down about the 'tenders effort tonight.

Linus Omark + Sam Gagner - Due to budget cutbacks we will be reviewing these two players together. Combined they were -7 with 1 shot in about 27 minutes of icetime. I'm not sure if it was bigger forwards in their match ups, poor play by their line-mates, or simply an off night. Any way you look at it, it was not a good night for our small forwards.

Liam Reddox - That is, unless your name rhymes with Zeddox the Life Destroying Alien. He was +1 in 16+ with a hamburger helper to boot. He plays a simple game, but when the puck is not bouncing your way, he looks good. Don't look now, but he has a .666 pts/game average going. He is a redhead after all. You know what color the devil is? Now you are reading my mail...

Magnus Paajarvi - I'm pretty sure I saw one of Maggie's testicles make a sneak appearance when he pulled the uber-slick inverted drag move around Scuderi on a full head of steam. He was thwarted by a bauble, but like I've said in the past, I crave this stuff from Maggie. I want to see his bacon and eggs (in a totally hetero, sports-fantasy way)! He had 3 minutes on the PP (out of 15:09), and finished -3. I will go on record and state that he is easily one of the most defensively responsible forwards on the team already. I do not think he was a primary contributor on any of the goals against.

Jeff Petry + Ladislav Smid - Cutbacks are hitting us hard here at Hockeyzen, and once again we will have to lump two of the similarly performing defencemen together. Both of these guys played some solid hockey, evidenced by their combined 40 minutes (22+18 respectively) and +2 (1 each). If Smid was a rookie, I would probably have been equally impressed with him as Petry, but we know Smid can play solid, simple defensive hockey (sometimes). Petry, on the other hand, is still making at least a gaffe a game, but more than making up for it with superb instincts in all three quadrants (yea, I know that makes no sense). Weekes weird white companion (Old man McPlaybyplay) mentioned that an anonymous NHL coach was gushing about the icy-cool demeanour of Petry on the ice. Clearly I'm ready to coach in the NHL because I have been man-gushing (like a man crush with fluid exchange) over Petry since he started getting major league at bats.


Penner's goal was nice, and Cogs has found a little run of offence to try and salvage the season. Both were not big factors after their scoresheet contributions, however, hence the lack of individual entries.

I think most will agree one of the most mystifying thing was the Oilers running the 4th line out against the 1st line of LA. I'm starting to wonder if Renney just no longer gives a fuck. Maybe Renney is tapping Smak on the shoulder and saying 'Hey Big Deisel, go check Kopitar to death'. Otherwise I just don't get what in the cunnilingus he is doing. In the end, maybe they deserved a better fate, but next time they could try scoring a PP goal and giving lady luck the middle finger.


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