Wednesday, October 5, 2005

The Cup is Ours!!!!

Edmonton 4
Colorado 3

"Hello this is NHL Open Line," says Al Stafford "and your talking to Fernando Pisani, hello?"
"Feeerrnnnaaaannnnddooo! How ya doin' buddy?" says the caller
"You guys played a great game tooonight!"

Post-game radio host Al Stafford, the Thomas Hobbes of Oilers media hacks, spends most of his show batting away slightly drunk callers, almost always hanging up on them mid-sentence. But he couldn't stomp out this pure moment between fan and player. Welcome to the New NHL! No doubt this is part of the "new openness" of the league and I can't help but wonder how long this will last.

But tonight was a special night. An Oilers win is an Oilers win, even if they seemed rusty for most of the game, and even if it was against a AHL-caliber Colorado lineup. The Avalanche don't have much past that first line; all it's gonna take is some key injuries for them to be bottom-dwellers this year. This is heady talk for an Oilers fan, but it was nice to see the powerplay get some points (unofficially 2 for 7), with Horcoff (2 G, 1 A) and Hemsky playing up to their new roles. Peca isn't going to replace Mike York's offence, but he sure can win face offs without being Adam Oates. Not saying it wasn't sloppy: Dvorak's hands wasn't keeping up with his speed; there were lots of broken passes by the D (except Bergeron, Pronger); Torres was overly physical, mostly forgetting the puck in the Colorado zone; and Conklin still looked uncomfortable out there -- he didn't let in bad shots, but his reaction was delayed or non-existent, especially on the those two cross-crease goals.

The only thing that sucked was I missed about half of the goals in the first few minutes, thanks to TSN's steadfast resolve to stick with the last minutes of the 6-3 Calgary/Minnesota game, which seemed to have a stoppage every ten seconds, with an injury, and a timeout thrown in for good measure. The Flames find a way to vex Oilers fans even when we don't play them. At least they lost!


Pleasure Motors said...

Amen, Mikey Boy. Aside from TSN's absolute retardedness (thanks, you unrepentant tits, for showing us the Wild picking up hats after an empty-net goal when there was a real game going on), I thought overall it was a fairly good game. Not perfect, of course, but good. The ways I see it:


-It seems as though we can at least compete offensively. We were buzzing around all night (31 shots), and controlling the tempo of the play for most of the game.

-Our defence was, for the most part, fairly solid, limiting chances and rebounds, and not letting Colorado's one big line get loose too often (hell, even Cory Cross managed to avoid a major screw-up)

-As Mike alluded to, everyone who was supposed to step into a certain role seems to have sort of done it. While Horcoff certainly won't be scoring 164 goals this year, he looked fairly solid all night, and Hemsky was reading the ice like a Dr Seuss book (as a complete aside, I really think the key to sports writing is cutesy similes, so, uh, yeah). Dvorak and Torres weren't everything we'd love them to be, but they weren't stiffs, either

-Our third line is still dynamite. Moreau, bless his heart of an ox and hands of an amputee, was everywhere when he was on the ice, and Stoll is looking like a pitch-perfect third-line centreman. And there's always Fernando, too.


-Conklin let in 3 goals on 17 shots, which is sort of scary. Granted, two of those goals were things he more or less didn't have a chance on (Conklin strikes me very much as a goalie who will stop the ones he's supposed to stop, but can't be counted on to make the unexpected save, which is fine, I guess, and certainly better than the preseason), but still, let's hope we get a better save percentage out of him in future games. He also looked pretty shaky handling that puck, which could come back to bite us

-Igor Ulanov's poor defensive positioning was more or less directly responsible for two goals (why, dear lord, was he standing in the back of the crease with the puck on the opposite end, not once but twice?), and he looked pretty out of place a fair number of times during the game. This wouldn't concern me as much if he was our 6/7 guy, but he seems to be sliding into a number-five type slot (18 minutes played, which puts him at number four, actually), and we need better defence from a five guy

-Our offence was good, but as I mentioned in my divisional preview way back when (I can't figure out how to link directly to it, sorry), Colorado is pretty weak in their own end. Blake, Liles and Brisebois are their top three, and while Blake is fine both ways, if 36, both Liles and Breezy are pretty lax defenders (like Tom Poti without the on-ice vision). I wonder how we'll do against a team like San Jose or Calgary (speaking of which: ha!)

-I still worry about MacT as a coach. Pronger only played 26:39, which was number one on our team, but when you consider we had seven powerplays and were protecting a one-goal lead for most of the third period, that number should be higher (Ulanov, who I already ragged on, was on the ice for part of the last two minutes, which is absolutely ridiculous given how he played). I realize we've never really had a horse before, but in any game that's being decided by one goal, Pronger should have 28 minutes, bare minimum, and probably closer to 30.

-Our forth line was invisible-to-sickly, which is worrisome because it's almost always been a decent source of energy in the past, and they were normally playing against the collection of anthropomorphic coat racks the Avs have on their fourth line, so they probably could have done better.

But, hey, a win's a win. Myself, I need to clean my shorts.

Prus said...

I wish i could have seen the start of the Oilers/ Avs game too....and i was at the Xcel Energy Center.

I've actually not seen the highlights of the Edm game (it seems ESPN doesn't care about it), but just from the score it looks like a much better game then the CGY-MIN game. Calgary was slow, bad on defence and was woeful on the powerplay. They deserved to lose and will lose if they play like that all year.

I take solace in the fact that from the last part of the second period on they looked awake and finally figured out the lockout was over and showed some skill and speed. But the Wild's stifling (and boring) defensive play kept the game out of CGY's reach.

Ross (in Minnesota)

Chris! said...

Stifling and boring defensive play? Man, Ross, which game were you watching? Minnesota was flying fast and loose out there all night, and from what I saw, they didn't do anything more stifling than employ a standard 1-4 defensive system in the last five minutes and ice the puck a lot.

Personally, I think people need to update their books on Minnie; yes, they play defence well, but they're also one of the faster teams in the league and boast a fair bit of balanced scoring talent up front. If you were bored, it's more likely due to the fact that your Flames couldn't thread more than two passes together in a row without coughing up the puck, which the Wild then promptly carried out of the zone.

mike w said...

First off, apologies to readers for the strange formatting problems on the site recently. Simple things like having a centred paragrpah followed by a left aligned one left me in a snit last night.

Looks like the fourth line only got 9 minutes, which I guess makes sense since MacT was doubling up on Hemsky's magic. Also weird is the continued love of Cory Cross, in place of Alexei Semenov. Weird.

Jonathan W said...

Cross looked decent last night. Ulanov, in contrast, looked like he was still fighting injury- I had hoped Semenov would play in place of him.

Chris! said...

Yeah, I actually have to say I didn't hate Cross last night. He was still slow and not very phsyical, but he didn't stick out half as badly as he did during the preseason. Nonetheless, I'm far from won over.

Poor Semenov. For some reason, the coaching staff has decided you're the worst defenceman we have. Won't be long now until Lowe starts backhanding you in interviews, causing Edmonton's sports media to start trying to run you out of town for no particular reason—"Is he bad? Of course he's bad! They're not playing him! Quick, someone dig Terry Jones out from under that pile of chicken wings so he can ruin yet another big, talented defenceman's career in Edmonton!"

We're awesome.

Colby Cosh said...

I dunno. Tom Poti's a big, "talented" defenceman who got run out of town, and I wouldn't take him back if you paid me (which Rangers fans probably would, at this point).

Pleasure Motors said...

Oh, man, no—I thought you were better than all those petty Edmontonians, man. Man.

Seriously, though, what the hell is wrong with Poti? The man had the best offensive vision of any defenceman we had since Paul Coffey (not, to qualify that, that we had a bevy of defencemen with great vision after Coffey, but still). He did such beautiful things with the puck, but because our neo-troglodyte fans can't figure out that, you know, sometimes defenceman can be somewhat lax in their own end if they make up for it in other areas, and, you know, with four punishing, physical, defensive-minded defencemen, it's probably okay to have one guy who knows how to make a good breakout pass.

And, you know, on top of that, he's not all that bad defensively: the last two seasons (02/03 and 03/04) he's been -6 and -1 on a Rangers team that was -21 and -44, respectively. Last year, he had five of the Rangers' 27 game-winning goals (plus, he was out for 15 games). I took him in my pool.

Sorry, but I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Poti, and I think he gets a bum rap in our neck of the woods; I'd take him back for our team in a second.

Jonathan W said...

Even admitting that Poti was better than most gave him credit for, getting Mike York for him was a major steal for Edmonton. I'd do that trade any day of the week.

mike w said...

I say we trade Mike Peca for Mike York again.