|I would have titled this post Ass Bandits in closer relation to how the Oilers played but this is a family site.|
And folks, they laid a dinosaur egg tonight. Not the normal kind of egg you might see coming from underneath a Jewish caricature in the Borat movie either. We are talking Brontosaurus sized, brown and blue speckled, feed-the-village-for-a-month egg. It was reverse night, as Gilbert made a number of critical mistakes, and the top-two lines sucked more knob than Monica Lewinsky circa 1997. This has been a trend recently, as the Smyth, RNH, and Eberle line have managed a goal here and there, but no consistent 5v5 offence or momentum generation. Of course there will be lulls in the season, and no doubt they have been the Oilers best line by a Siberian mile, but you just hope for a bit more consistency at this critical juncture of the season.
Here are three primary junknozzles I want to point out that I think are harming the Oilers immensely (after the hop).
Eric Belanger - This guy scores his first goal of the season (and what a goal it was, backing into the crease slowly with his stick off the ice, genius), and it was still a completely pablum game from Belanger. He's like the forward version of Cam Barker, his glossy, beady eyes scanning the ice with a complete lack of passion, and virtually zero intensity off the puck.
Here are some numbers for you: Eric Belanger is ranked 294 out of 314 forwards who have played at least 20 games in points per 60 minutes of play. Ethan Moreau is outscoring him by this measure. He's scoring at the same rate as Colton Gillies or Steve Staios. DID I MENTION HE'S PLAYING A REGULAR PP SHIFT? TOM RENNEY HALLUCINOGENICS MUCH? OK, that made me feel better but fuck me if Belanger plays one more god damn shift on the Oilers PP. Making 1.75 and stealing every penny.
Ryan Whitney - OK, the experiment is over. We could not rebuild him, we could not make him better. Whatever wizardry they performed on his soft tissues seemed to have involved accidentally neutering him while simultaneously sacrificing whatever speed were left in his gnarled booties. I saw at least two plays tonight where Whitney explicitly avoided a physical collision; in one case Dubnyk had to poke the puck into a corner at the last second because Whitney basically refused reception of the disc. His passing isn't back to 27p in 37g, and defensively, when he's not left with his jockstrap raining down in ashen embers from being burned so badly, he's being completely ineffective with his defensive assignments.
I know you want his awful numbers, so here goes. His +/-ON60 is -1.68, dead last on the team for regulars, and only ahead of Hordichuck's truly awe inspiring -3.26. It gets worse though. He's playing the 7th out of 7 ranked opposition. He has the worst scoring rate of any current Oiler at 0.42 P/60. The guy is a train wreck right now, case closed. Train. Wreck.
Ales Hemsky - This entry really pains me. It does. The Pardubice Prince has entertained me for so long, and been one of those few bright spots on many a dark, dour season that I'm still almost inclined to give him a free pass. Alas, he's 'healthy' now, and has played more than enough hockey that there are no more excuses. Hemsky is just turning the puck over way too much, trying for passes that are not there. Hemsky is at his most effective when his passes reach the players on his own team, and while have Eric Ball-anger on your PP unit can't help a lick, his PP performance has also been lacking. His underlying numbers are actually pretty decent (2.44 P/60, CorsiRel of 18.1, and drawing 2 penalties per 60), but we need Hemsky to carry offence here so that we don't have every top pairing raping our young phenom.
Just shitty, awful game where our defence looked lost and the Refs did too. It was a parade of bad calls and terrible coaching decisions by Renney. Really nothing redeeming from the game, and I wasn't even really happy with Renney's limp-dicked answers during the post-game wrap. See for yourself:
"Your leaders have to step up and seize games like this by the throat, and we struggled with that tonight." - Coach Renney
"We didn't have enough passion to play. We didn't have an emotional connection to the game. I'm pretty disappointed." - Coach RenneyThey better right this ship fast, as we are about to get stretched on the rack over a grueling 10 for 14 road-trip, and the road has not been kind to the Oilers for about the last decade. Hall's shoulder can't heal fast enough...