Friday, December 2, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 26: Counter Flow

You can't stop the flow... But why would you want to?
After getting cream-pied in the first period by the lowly BJ's, there was a palpable sense that losing a game like this could be the lynchpin on a downward spiral into shitty season. The Oiler fan ego is a fragile one, and we are possibly the worst fan base for turning into debbie downers the moment a few rainclouds appear. Recently there were a few rainclouds, as the Oilers started off a crucial 6 game home stand with two losses (3 in a row overall), and did not look particularly sharp in any recent game.

Fortunately we slowly stepped back from the ledge with a fantastic effort in the third, and with some decent goaltending by the big guy throughout, there was enough gas in the Oilers tank by the end of the game to prevent any late charge by Columbus. It didn't hurt that we got 4 goals from sources outside of the top-6; the top 6 group has been responsible for virtually all of the early season offence, and balanced scoring is going to be key for any future success by the copper and blue.

Of course I can't prattle on too much longer without mentioning his Royal Flowness, a.k.a. Jones, a.k.a. 'The guy that all the stat-letes thought was lousy last year and would continue to be lousy'. My words regarding Jonesy have been immortalized in digital ink, and I have nothing to hide. I said Jonesy had a chance to be a solid spot duty third liner if he could improve his defensive game. He's done that, and in spades, and I still feel quite confident we got it right as bloggers last year. Last year he wasn't that great defensively (or at all), but no one could deny his opportunistic nature offensively. For that reason alone, virtually all bloggers and hardcore math-nerds were willing to give RJ another chance. That all said, he had another typical Jonesy game, and scored what I can only term a Ryan Jones hat-trick: one garbage goal, one bang-bang goal, and an empty netter. For a guy who drives a lot of his offence with hustle, sweat, and grease, it makes sense that each of the three goals had a bit of each.

Lost in the shuffle of the game was a couple other nice to see things.
  1. Smid potting another in the same calendar year is either amazing or incredible, I'm not sure, but you love to see grit guys like Smid getting rewarded for getting pucks pumped off their shins and fleshy bits. I'm almost tempted to suggest that maybe Smid still has some untapped offensive upside, but really I think that ship has sailed.
  2. Devan Dubnyk really kept the Oil drop in it early, and while he only had a couple 5-bellers to stop, there was plenty of tough shots to stop and he handled himself very well. Any one of those tough-but-saveable pucks gets by him and there is a good chance that the Blue Jackets curl up into a defensive shell and wait it out. He made 36 of 39 saves, and was the Oilers best player for the first two periods.
  3. Ales Hemsky is the kind of player that when he's only scoring at about 0.6 points a game, people start questioning if 'his heart is in it' or wonder if his 'surgically repaired shoulder is OK?'. We've seen Hemsky go soft for stretches, but invariably he opens up the playboy and gets limbered up again. His goal was a thing of beauty, and after he crushed a couple BJ's with hits in the third, it was funny how much of the MSM and blogger crowd was convinced he was going to be due for something. I guess they were right this time...
We have to be cautious with optimism though. Peckham still is stuck in defensive quicksand, and it was another goalless game for the usual suspects. There's no question, for instance, that Gagner is playing mucho burrito better than a half dozen ago, but strong play isn't enough to win games, you need results at the end of day.

Anyways, whatever malaisonnaise that coated the Oilers in the first was, let's hope we don't see much more then that, as most teams will have a more potent lineup than Derek Dorsett and Pantywaist Huselius.


Beating the worst team in the league at home that had just slid into town on a back-to-back is nothing to send flowers to Jesus about. We were actually somewhat lucky that Renney found the sniffing salts in between the 2nd and 3rd periods or else there might have been that plaintive moaning from our fickle fanbase demanding changes or proclaiming armageddon.

Now, lets beat the pants of the Flames and hopefully we can cause calgarypuck to melt in a deluge of blood-colored tears.


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