Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 57: Oh Me So Chorney

Mam, I find your pantaloons to be both stylish and titillating
After receiving a fairly public tongue lashing from the various parts of the Oilersaurus (think the Transformer made out of 5 little Transformers), it was unsurprising that the Oilers would come out and play a fairly complete game. Not only is there only so much shit that a team can take without getting a little belligerent, there is also only so much abysmal play an NHL team can produce consecutively while playing guys like Eberle, Penner, and Hemsky.

There genuinely was a sense of turning a corner there right before Whitney went down, enough so that the most hardened, jaded fans had to admit there was improvement. Then when Whitney's tendon decided to funky-cold-medina out of its groove in his leg, the Oilers went into a precipitous tailspin, culminating with a 4 zilch whitewashing at the hands of the Ducks. I wrote probably one of my harshest postgame breakdowns as a blogger, perhaps a little over the top, but certainly justifiable and heartfelt. I was getting sick of watching the team that I cheered for. They simply weren't doing enough: they weren't mean enough, couldn't defend well, and ultimately were making Oiler-watching a chore rather than a joy. At the very least I had been hoping for some fire-wagon hockey, instead of was getting the excitement of tapioca pudding in a cafeteria line.

The game tonight was pretty much a script written by Michael Bay - minus 4000 tons of TNT exploding in a slow-motion pyrotechnics display of ludicrousness to obscure the fact that he can't make films. The Oilers had been struggling on PP (really, you exclaim, shocked at this revolutionary piece of information), and potted 2.99 PPG's. The Oilers top line had gone cold, especially Horcoff (0p in his last 5), which produced 5 points and a +3 combined. Khabibulin, on most nights, looked like a bag of whipped crap, but he came though with some HUGE early saves and finished 24 of 25 (.960). Finally the little Chorney that could potted his first NHL humdinger, the game winner, and as far as I'm concerned, the point at which the ice tilted towards Dallas for good.

They outshot, -chanced, and -hit the Brad Richards'less Stars, and after a couple of stone-jobs by the Northern Estonian Wall (yea, he's been that impressive), it really seemed that the Oilers were the better team on the ice. What's probably the most amazing is that a team like Dallas would more or less roll-over when they are balancing their necks on a razor edge of the tough Western competition. One slip and they will be wishing they put Richards on an auction block with a pretty blue ribbon and got the most silver pieces possible. The division is so close right now that Dallas is in a four-way tie for fourth, and only 3 points clear of 9th place. I've seen my share of tight but this is tighter than Mother Theresa's mouth in a forest of cocks*.

*tasteless analogy warning

Some individuals after the hop.

Shawn Horcoff - After a few years of enduring Whore-crap and Whore-coff and NoScorecoff - incredibly witty ripostes all around -  it seemed like finally the hook-nosed captain of ours had figured out his game enough to perhaps quiet some of the dissenters. Unfortunately that had not been the case recently. He was 0-0-0 -2 in his last 5, and there had been some mumblings and murmurs that maybe he was a total rip off at 5.5M for the next 6 million years. Thankfully he has nights like tonight, where not only was he carrying the puck well, he was also making good touches in the offensive zone, and perhaps even more importantly, playing a sophisticated style of defence that only a solid two-way center can provide. He's still overpaid, but hopefully Captain Corsi decides to stick around for a while. His 1-2-3 +1 was full value tonight, something that we will likely never say about his contract unless multi-point nights become a lot more common.

Ales Hemsky - Another guy on the 'top' line that I felt was under-performing. This is a world-class pizza deliverer combined with x-ray vision and a propensity to use the power of his mind to separate players from their jockstraps. That's the kind of superhero I want on my hockey team. Unfortunately the only thing that recently seemed to have any success was when he was delivering pizza pies. It was probably a testament to Penner potting on the regular that he was still pumping out points, but still. I know he can be the best offensive player on either side on any given night, now I'd just like him to put a run of games together. He finished 1-1-2 +1, 6 shots, and almost 19 minutes of ice. A great score line, and a sexy juke on his goal (no one puts Hemsky in a corner).

Taylor Chorney - Surely not the worst tagline you ever heard, right? The Sun can be pretty fucking asinine with theirs, so while mine might be classless, it is at least somewhat punny. Regardless of the physics of bylines, Chorney played a pretty decent little game after he got over his call-up shakes. I was definitely not impressed with his play in the first ten minutes but I truly felt like he settled down and obviously you can't hate his goal, a rocket from the right side that ripped past rubber-band groin. He ate up a solid 18:42, with 4+ of those on the PP, and finished with a score and a helper. I noticed Renney started giving him first PP unit from the second PP on. He certainly does not look overmatched out there, but his 46gp 3-13-16 line from the baby Oilers did not make this kind of production apparent. Not that he doesn't have the tools, but I could have easily expected Smid or Paajarvi to get at least a chunk of his (premium) PP time.

Nikolai Khabibulin - The much maligned 'MVP' had a whale of a game, approximating play that he generated at the outset of the season - we were a young and naive bunch, but now the hard, twisted, smoggy world has left us with a bitter taste in our mouth and a propensity for products with high nicotine contents. I don't know why but I always picture Khabibulin with a tumbler of whisky and a cig drooping from a cocksure mouth, poring over the latest case files while a fan passes a shadow across his face in the dusty confines- shit I'm doing it again. After he made a couple of huge saves (including a clean 2 on 1 where he slid across to stone some Dallas flunky), the Oilers carried most of the play, but still had enough cracks in the Dzone coverage that he still had about a half dozen tough pucks to stop through the remainder of the contest.

Jordan Eberle - Aside from his slot-presence goal, he also rang one off the pipe, and had a couple of other serious chances throughout the game. He had two shots in 17 minutes, and to my eyes was playing a classic Eberle game. A handful of great chances for which he cashes at least one. Eberle may not be the most efficient finisher of chances in the NHL, but his overall game generates enough per game that not only will he put up solid points in his career, he also has the chance to become an elite offensive player if he can improve his ability to cash.

Andrew Cogliano - Seems to be settling in nicely aside from his ability to win FO's - his last two games he's had a FO% of 29.4 and 27.8. That's not just bad, that's Shane Brolly's acting in Underworld bad. That said, he would have had a gobble-gobble in today's game if it weren't for Lehtonen's flat out rob-job with his blocker while sitting on his keister. Three points and a +1 in his last 5 games is a decent mark, especially considering he was going on dozen-game dry-spells at the start of the season.

Taylor Hall - Had four shots, and was buzzing. On the two on one with Hemsky (He was caught on the ice a bit, but the puck turned over and he went in with Hemmer), I just sensed he was going to pass, but was hoping he would shoot. He has a heavy, heavy shot - I don't know how many times we've seen top-caliber NHL goalies take a medium range wrister off his banana blade and really have to squeeze the puck for fear of it greasing through a hole somewhere. Strangely enough he usually has great instincts for shooting; I feel pretty confident he will never be in the same category of Hemsky, a guy who doesn't shoot enough but would have better point totals if he did. Hall almost had a tap in goal from a sexy cross-creaser from Ebs, but he missed by just a quarter second of timing.

Ladislav Smid - I witnessed his game live tonight (hubba hubba Octane), and I did not come away happy. When he was off the puck, I was not particularly enamoured with his movement nor the way he was angling his man. It was only one game, but he certainly did not put on his best dress for this ball. In the first ten minutes he was guilty of coughing the puck up at least 3 times for a premium scoring chance that I noticed. As usual, I come away from a Smid viewing wanting more. I really think he's a great bottom pairing guy, but every game played I just get the feeling that his ceiling is dropping a few inches. Eventually we might be faced with a Malkovich situation (a really low ceiling).

Tom Gilbert - Made a number of great plays in the offensive zone, including some immaculately timed pinches deep along the boards, and a couple of nice looks from the point. He finished with over 23 minutes of solid all-situations play, and hopefully his minutes stay in this more comfortable area, as he did not seem to have the sustain to play with gusto in a string of 29+ TOI games. There has been a bit written by the MSM media basically detailing that he's undervalued. I would tend to agree, he plays tough competition, big minutes in all situations, and he was the leagues 8th best shot blocker coming into tonight's game. Certainly he is being overpaid for the offence he has provided this year, but I'm confident he can make up the bet as long as he's basically solid on both sides of the puck.


This game was exactly what the doctor ordered. The whole Oilogosphere was turning into a grim, dreary place and god knows what kind of ridiculous tagline I would have had to write had the Oilers been decimated tonight. 'Oilers Get Diamond Cock Mouth Raped' or something like that.

Regardless, the scent of W is in the air and now we anxiously await for the main course follow up on Thursday after a splendid appetizer.


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