Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 60: Fargo

The Minnesota Wild are like the character Marge Gunderson from the movie Fargo. Boring, relentless, and homely: the Wild are a podonk pregnant sheriff with a propensity for hard-work and getting the darn tootin' job done.

The name with the most sizzle on their roster is the glass man Havlat, who is a top forward but definitely outside of the elite group. The rest of the team is the virtual who's who of ultra-pluggers and responsible and grizzled forwards and defencemen. In many senses, because of their roster they probably have little choice but to stack up the neutral zone and pick off the odd straggling Romulan. Even backstopped by an on-point Backstrom it's hard to figure out how a team that's so average could finagle a Stanley Cup except for the old axiom anything can happen.

Regardless, the 53 goal differential between the two teams gives you a pretty good idea that regardless of the Minnesota team's warts, the Oilers are not going to beat a team like that unless they play a sharp, opportunistic game. It's been a while since I've heard the Sportsnet guys trumpet out the fact that the Oilers haven't cashed on a 5 on 3 all year, so I'm not sure if it's over or such a statistical surety they no longer mention it. Tonight gave the Oilers another long 5 on 3 (about 90 seconds), and aside from a single Foster pop-rock, was easily as ineffective as Paris Hilton wearing crotchless panties. The PP had been a lot better recently, potting 5 PPG's in the last 3 games (of course 3 of those by way of a natural Taylor Hall hattie), but it's never too late for the Oilers to establish the worst special teams in their franchise history. It will take a lot more 0-6 nights I figure, but if any team can figure that out it has to be the Edmonton Oilers.

There were plenty of culprits in tonight's loss. I think my number one goat was Ladislav Smid. There is something about his effort and his downs syndromesque face that seriously make it hard to root against him. I mean the kids got heart, he loves his Edmonton Oilers mates, and I think he geniunely has appreciated the little life he's carved in the barren and desolate landscape known to only as Northen Alberta. According to the original X-Men movie, it is a land of illegal bare knuckle boxing matches, unlimited snow, and burly beer-drinking brutes. But I digress; Ladi is a great guy, it's just a shame he's been a few pepperoni short of a pizza-pop recently. He finished the night with 21+ on the backend, and a -1, but more then that he wasn't very effective. On the Pierre-Marc Bouchard'o'rama goal that sealed the game Smid was mystically attached to Clutterbuck's hip at the Wild blueline with the puck already moving the opposite direction. Forget about Gilbert's fall, Smid should have not pinched in from the neutral zone with such a low percentage puck in front of him. It was a bad judgment call, and certainly was not his only bad one of the night.

I'm sure some Oilers fans are pointed at a the moon, howling their displeasure at his -2, 25+ minute night. He got tap-danced by Havlat for the first goal, and of course looked like a blubbering girl who had a wittle fawl down on the PMB goal. Vandermeer and Peckham managed to blow coverage on the Brodziak game winner (it was not Taylor Hall's coverage as DeBrusk incorrectly ascertained - it was a clear 3 on 3, and Eberle took the left winger). All in all a crap effort by the Dmen both in preventing the triple-X chances the Wild need to win games, but also in moving the puck to our forwards to allow them a chance to actually get the offence on track for a few shifts. Against a team that clogs up the middle and counter punches, it is of utmost importance that you can thread it through the wall of shit the Minnesota Mild throw up.

Some individuals after the hop.

Tom Gilbert - It was generally a bad game for old twinkle-toes. Sometimes the Tutu gets slipped back on and he's all '3rd movement from Swan Lake'. Thankfully it doesn't seem to last much more than half a season at most. He's 28 now, and I don't think it's too likely that the consistency required to be a top pairing guy are ever really going to be within his grasp. He simply makes too many mistakes over a season to really bring you that solid, unflappable Dman that coaches are confident running out for half of a game.

Taylor Hall - A contrasting game from his monster effort versus Atlanta - a lot of this is because of the cloistered systems play that Lemaire's phantasm seems to have cursed the Minnesota franchise with. He only had two shots in 5 minutes of PP and over 12 EV, so clearly a frustrating game for TFH. Still, on viewing his PP time, I find he likes to defer with the puck. Fuck that Hall, you take that baby and you slam it into the scoring cage device. No passing to Kurtis "Oh my leg, I'm a baby" Foster*.

*too soon?

Theo Peckham - Wasn't the worst defender tonight, but on a night with a lot of chipiness, it would have been nice to see the kid absolutely wrecking ball someone, like 'oh snap you need dentures now: the body-check musical' kind of action. One strange stat from the night, Peckham led all Oilers with 3 shots on goal. Get that game puck, Teddy, because we will probably wait a couple hundred games before we see that again. In all seriousness, though, he actually has shown that he's not a complete plug when it comes to doing some OK things in the OZone. He's never going to put up Roman Polak type numbers, but he could certainly put up Erik Johnson type numbers (ha ha cheapshot Avs). In all seriousness, though, he's got a tiny bit of offensive ability that generally he uses well.

Jonaten Frashwas Jacobeaner - Is probably how I would say his name if I was drunk and had like 14 Malteasers in my mouth. If you have read my blog with any frequency (you know, the blog you tell all your friends about) you would know that I absolutely LOATHE Ze Jacobeaner. The next time someone says 'Oh but he hits' I will clock them in the mouth and say 'See? See?! I can hit too, asshole. Does that make me good? Does it?'. OK, so we've established he can throw the odd body check. Here are some other things JFJ can do well:
  • Nothing
  • Suck
  • Score points at the same rate as Tanner Glass
  • Polish Knob
  • Take useless penalties
Dustin Penner - What the fuck is wrong with this guy? It looks like he's off his Zoloft and he's moping around the ice like a big baby. Sure, he has one of the best through the legs no-look pass in the NHL but Penner is getting paid to big-body some jerks and bang home a couple biscuits. He had zero shots, and that was with over 4 minutes of ice time on the PP. He's gone iceman in his last 5: -2 and 0-1-1 with 4 shots. JFJ, the equivalent of hockey kryptonite, is +0 and 0-1-1 with 2 shots. That's with half the fucking ice time. Here's a way to tell if you haven't been playing well recently: you start getting your stats compared to JFJ's over the same period.

Sam Gagner - Speaking of cold players, Gagner has been playing 2nd liner minutes and eating the poo-poo. He has 3 points in the last 8 games and is minus 3. In a game like tonight, when you need those guys with the ability to do something special, he was utterly invisible.

Nikolai Khabibulin - Meh. Not much fault of his, but the numbers certainly don't look good. He finished 19-23, or .826. PMB did make him look like a bitch however. Less cowbell, more Dubnyk please.


Alas, all good things have to come to an end. The Oilers run of PP success, for instance. The three game win streak. Gilbert's solid play. And JFJ staying off my shitlist for two consecutive games. All done with now.


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