Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 4: Ryan's Rubicon

The idiom "Crossing the Rubicon" means to pass
a point of no return, and refers to Julius Caesar's army's
crossing of the river in 49 BC


  1. A stream in northeastern Italy that marked the ancient boundary between Italy and Cisalpine Gaul.
  2. A point of no return: "on the way to political union we are now crossing the Rubicon".
It might be argued that The Nuge had reached his point of no return, Crossed his Rubicon, with his hat trick goal careening into the net. The goal was the birth of chaos theory and confused camera angles, but the mystical three goal barrier was breached, and I stated firmly that he was here to stay.

The kid himself played it coy afterwards:

“This morning I woke up and just kind of forgot about (Saturday) night,” he said. “It was pretty exciting but I’m still disappointed we didn’t get the win,”

It's a typical well-groomed, burnaby-Joe inspired quote: humble, determined, politically-correct. You will have to look elsewhere if you want inflammatory statements or even a hair dislodged from the kids carefully coifed, new-kids-on-the-block hairstyle. I'm sure when he shits, they come out as bricks as gold as well. He might not win a lot of faceoffs right now, but he's more slippery than a butter-basted eel and is passing the puck like Hemsky, pre shoulder injury (sigh).

Of course there was a game played tonight, but don't tell the Nashville Predators that. I recently fingered them as the second least exciting team in the Ligue nationale de hockey, and none of their chopped-liver, euro-mutt forward corps did anything to dissuade me from that position. The scoring chances according to Dennis King were EIGHTEEN to six - approximately one of those six NSH chances came in the third period. The Predators finished the game with twelve shots on goal, and I think Ben Eager could have made his return playing goalie and we might have still had the same result. Some of that is certainly due to a conservtive road game and holding a lead for about 10 minutes, but really, 12 shots is embarrassing, emphasis on bare and ass.

The other Ryan on parade was honored with a (mullet-less? Who do they hire to do these things?) Bobblehead. His deke to the backhand shovel left Rinne like the odd girl out at the prom: legs slightly spread, looking for who had just scored. Well it was the mullet'ed one, and Smyth in fact played a strong game in general, played in all situations, and had 3 shots, 2 points, and over 20 minutes of ice.

Perhaps the best news of the night was the game that Horcoff played. He was the first star, and rightly so. It wasn't just that he made a couple of decent dishes in the game - the Smyth one was slick and sweet like a popsicle - but more it was the way he was penetrating the offensive zone. He was using his way above average foot-speed to gain the zone, and then snapped his periscope up to make drops and cross-seamers as if he were a play-making center *gasp*. You always know Horcoff is going to play an efficient defensive game, and he's wining faceoffs at a plaid rate (beyond ludicrous, he's third in the league according to the stats). When he mixes in a bit of offensive acumen, that stitched on C starts looking like it's on the right chest. If he can find some magic with the old Smyth, Hemsky, Horcoff line, that's going to make Renney's new found power-on-power matching look even more genius.

Not that Nashville had any power to match, that is.

Individuals and a conclusion after the hop.

Tom Gilbert - Well, well, well, Mr. Rocksteady showed up to the party again. Or whichever alien (that had sex with Tom Gilbert to take his physical form) is playing defence for the Edmonton Oilers showed up. He has played now almost 4 perfect games, and I would post the haters gonna hate meme, but you all know who you were Gilbert haters. I have been a believer almost since day one, and I'm praying I don't have to weather another dip into Janne Niinima territory for Gilbert ever again. Gilbert had 24 all purpose minutes, and while he didn't put any notches on his belt, he also was as smooth as Dana White's head.

Ben Eager - Played 3:04, and I actually loved his couple of shifts. It was sort of a mystery why he played so little, but I suppose they are easing him back into the flow a little bit. One thing you notice in a limited viewing is that Ben Eager can actually wheel. His foot speed is impressive for a big body, that's for sure.

Cam Barker - Plays a very curious game most of the time. I would say in general he looks disengaged from the play, almost a nonchalance that seems to cause all of his facial features to droop. He kind of looks like he's playing hockey because he's kind of good at it versus hockey fills his soul with light and his belly with fire. Look at Smid's face when he plays - every single fucking hit, and opposing pass, and enemy Nazi in his zone twists his face into a junkyard dogs. He really cares. I'm not sure Barker ever will, and without the will, he will find himself in a uniform covered with strange Dutch advertising soon enough. He also finished with a negative chance differential somehow.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - He's showing everyone that his game remains the same. He does the following:

  1. Plays hard defensively every shift
  2. Go to the greasy areas to score and whack and bang pucks
  3. Dipsy-doodle dandies to give himself space and time to find passing lanes
  4. Maintains an immaculate Beiber-cut suitable for much man-crushing
All important traits for our anointed savior.

Jordan Eberle - Cycled like demons with the other still-illegal-in-Vegas linemates, and his 4 shots led the Oilers (tied with Hallsy). No points in almost 18 minutes of ice, but you can't help but love Eberle's tenacious zone presence and overall game. THe sickest part is he's STILL getting better, but he's already a big time outshooter and is a swiss army knife in the offensize zone.

Taylor Hall - See above. And *still* illegal in vegas.

Nikolai Khabibulin - We could have had 40-year-old Tommy Salo tending the nets tonight and I doubt it would have made a lick of difference. Khabi also breached some barrier for listing on the NHL leaders page, so if you want to catch the last sighting of Khabibulin on that page, have at 'er. At least he's not... I don't know... Drunk on the ice? So, props to him.

Ladislav Smid - Damn it, I almost might as well not post about him any more. He got a a blank sheet except for 2 PIMs and 21 minutes, but that seems about par for the avuncular Laddy Smid. He's a great personality, a fearsome Oiler, and playing the kind of hockey that Teddy Peckman is praying resurfaces for himself right soon.

Ryan Smyth - There isn't much more I can add except that it pleases me a great deal to see that Renney is playing the veteran trio (all apologies to Jones) power-on-power, and sheltering the zone starts and line matches for the lunch pail gang. Smyth and Horcoff can certainly play that role into oblivion as long as the kids can keep preying on mediocre matchups.

Eric Belanger - I think he has been slowly improving each game with the Oilers, and paired with Leenus, he actually was involved on a few sustained offensive forays. He's way behind previous years pace, but a couple of two point nights would quickly rectify that. Like I have stated several times, he doesn't really do anything great (except winning faceoffs), but his well rounded game should allow him to at least chip in with double digit goals here.

Linus Omark - I was basically happy to see the Swedish Meatball back in action. No matter his shortcomings (that's a pun, write it down), he can really manufacture a panic state in the opposing zone simply by holding on to the puck far longer than a mighty-mouse has any right to. That rising tension usually causes a few players to drift out of position, and I just don't see how that line can continue without generating offence. It's coming (I hope, for Linus' sake mostly, he's sure fun to watch).

Shawn Horcoff - His scoreline was solid: 0-3-3 +1 2 SOG, 21:32 TOI. He was ace in the dot, on the PK, and carrying and distributing the puck. Pretty much exactly the kind of game we need out of Horcoff on the regular to have any chance of making the Big Show. His form really reminded me of PPG Horcoff, who is a rare and elusive beast who seems to come out every other hunting season.


I don't think that there is much not to like in a performance like this. Those mongrel pups gnawing bone under Trotz's system are in for some sweaty, boring nights, and I for one am happy to take the two, and chalk off another game versus a trap team.

Bring on the flames. Oh yea, you didn't hear? We're doing it wrong:
I’m sorry — Edmonton finished where last year, caller? Want to wager on where we finish relative to Edmonton this year? I’m tired of this question, I’ll tell you very honestly. I’m getting a little sour. How many teams . . . every year, for the last 10 years, five years, eight years, have finished in the bottom five, bottom seven, bottom 10? They’ve had a pick anywhere from No. 1 to No. 10 year after year after year after year, and they still wander in the desert. And they’re no closer to getting out than they were 10 years ago.

“You know what? I look forward to the Battle of Alberta for the next X number of years. If the idea is, ‘Burn it to the ground,’ then Ken can find another manager to do it.

-Jay Feaster


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