Saturday, February 19, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 59: The Natural

On February 17, 2009 Steven Stamkos registered his first career hat trick. It was game 57 for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and racked up the 8th, 9th, and 10th goals of the season for Stamkos. Almost two years later to the day, Taylor Hall decided to completely take over the game in greedy-goal-scoring fashion and he too netted a hat trick in his rookie season. It was impressive display by T-Hall - after he pots one its like he's a shark on the ice, and the puck is a bloody giblet of goal-scoring. His whole demeanour intensifies: it's clear he wants the puck, and it's also clear that when he gets the bouncing biscuit, he's going to make shit happen.

Hall's heroics overshadowed the fact that about a minute into the third, things were looking fairly dire for the Oilers. They had generally been outplayed for the first two periods, and coughing up a two-goal lead to a team desperate to make the playoffs did not seem like a winning proposition. That's the beauty of a star player, however. At any time they can take a game over and reverse virtually any form of negative momentum to swing things in their own teams favour.

Both goalies let in a couple of cheesy goals; first Byfugliens knuckle-puck from the point, and then PRV's 5-hole squeaker from the wide right wing. Other then that it was a pretty unremarkable game as far as the backstoppers were concerned. Dubnyk was probably the better of the two goalies, as he made a couple of B grade stops and finished 28-31 for .903. Mason was a bit more maligned, letting in probably 3 of 4 that he'd like back and his .840 was not impressive either (21-25).

Ales Hemsky continued his hot streak with 1-2-3 in 18:29, including a perfect first assist on Hall's second. I can only hope this is inflating his value to the point where we either get some gem of a prospect or he's simply too expensive for another team to acquire. The magic is back in Hemsky for whatever reason; I'm guessing a lot of recent success is simply a fact that he's comfortable in terms of his line-mates, ice-time, and roles on the ice. I'm sure some interested teams are forming saliva-puddles on scouting reports right now.

Following the sentiments of Debrusk during the Sportsnet broadcast, Liam Reddox was playing in beast-mode this afternoon. His waterbug stature allows him to constantly disrupt backend connections as well as puts an inordinate amount of pressure on the first forward touch on the wall since he closes in so fast. I guess the coach agreed with both Louie and I, as Reddox saw some time on the 2nd line after being such an effective part of the fourth line. For a cheap, bottom 6 guy, Reddox has definitely provided everything we could ask for at this point. What's probably most amazing about his effort tonight was the fact that he was very noticeable in only 7 EV minutes.

Finally, in a tiny piece of sad news, the Oilers climbed out of the basement pending the results of the Sens-Leafs game that is currently underway. Like I've stated in the past, there was no way the Oilers could be that bad for that long when they were rolling out a fairly solid set of forwards on a nightly basis. In my opinion drafting second is likely to net a player of roughly the same impact as first, so I won't be worried until NYI starts an ECHL goaltender (they've played 6 goalies so far this year).

Taylor Hall - Taylor Hall is the kind of player that needs to play a little greedy at times. His puck tenacity and ability to get it to the danger areas seems to be at its best when he's gobbling up pucks from his linemates and forcing his will upon the other team. His box score from the game says about everything else I need to say: 3-0-3, 9 shots, 19:38 (14:05 EV/5:33 PP). NHLbyMatty: Taylor Hall's 9 shots vs. Thrash NHL high. Had 8 vs Leafs Dec. 14. "I think that guy might be here a bit," said C. Ramsay

Magnus Paajravi - Had a fairly quiet game overall, but I continue to believe that PRV is being underplayed by the Oilers squad - he hit 12:17 this afternoon. I think he has more to give this team if the coaching staff would let him, and I wouldn't be adverse to swapping Horcoff to perhaps give that third line (now seemingly firmly the third line) a bit of the boost. I would understand if Renney didn't want to disrupt the chemistry of the Horc/Pens/Hemmer line but at some point I think you need to see more from Gagner and co (2pts for Gagner in his last 7). Paajarvi will be key in that turn-around.

Dustin Penner - If you remember Evander Kane's fancy-foot through the Oilers blue for a roof-rockin' goal, the forward who did an ineffectual spin-and-flail - getting burned hard by Kane - was D-P. He finished -2 with 0 shots and was the culprit for a couple of lazy penalties against. Renney actually gave him a few shifts off in the third period because of lackluster play, and I imagine anyone scouting the D train wasn't going to come away with the most glowing impression. This really is nothing new for Penner, though. He's up and down like a hotel elevator.

Devan Dubnyk - The giraffe has probably the advanced the most this year in terms of his mental game. Generally he seems to be fairly unflappable in goal. He rarely shows much emotion even when he let's inthe odd bad one (haven't been a ton of those this year), and this is such a critical trait in a number one goalie that I think it has allowed some in the Oilogosphere to speculate about Doobz as being a potential front-line stopper on the Oil. The physical and mental traits are there, now we just need to see the consistency.

Tim Gilbert - He had a fairly quiet game overall, which is probably fine when he's playing 25+ minutes, and his two apples were a bonus for a solid day's work. He's been a lightning rod for differing opinions in the various factions of Oiler fan, and while I can see the viewpoint of the anti-Gilbert group, I'm generally in the pro-Gilbert crowd. He's in a tough bind to produce up to his contract (he probably got too much money), but in terms of being a useful Dman, he certainly is one of those. Guys who think we should discard him for virtually anything are people I don't really respect as Oilers fans. He eats big minutes and generally is one of the better Dmen for moving the puck out of zone. Pair him with a high caliber Dman and you could see an offensive explosion from him once again.

Kurtis Foster - This guy seriously gets three scoring chances a game almost every game, and it still mystifies me how the guy can miss the net so damn often. I think he probably missed two GOLDEN in close chances - blowing pucks haphazardly into the stands and the boards behind the net. Foster continues to have his overall time limited by Renney, as he played a fairly typical ~15 minute amount. If he could hit the net once and a fucking while, he'd actually be close to having a 7 figure value for the Oilers. Even with all the misses, he still had 3 strike the net, and he's still second on the team in shots. Someone tell him: it's quantity AND quality.


The Oilers were outplayed for most of the game, but actually remained a fairly stalwart defensive pose for much of the contest setup of the individual theatrics by Hallsie. I love strong systems play as much as the next guy, but having a Hall presence on a team can transcend all of the X's, O's, whiteboards, pep-talks, strategies, and team-play an opponent can muster. He's a game breaker folks. And He's all ours.


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