Well, in a game that looked eerily like something out of last year, the Oil took their first defeat from the hands of the dreaded LA Kings. Following the format that's been somewhat established these last few game reviews, I thought I'd do a good/bad sort of deal, and use a lot of bold.
Marc-Andre Bergeron built off of his solid game against Anaheim to pot his first of the season, and looked pretty solid all night. He was moving the puck well, and he seems to have a really good sense of when to pinch and when to stay back, something he lacked at points last year. His puck-moving should come in handy as we hit the breakaway pass more often.
Though they were kept off the score sheet for the first time in a few games, our 1A line (Torres, Hemsky and Peca) was solid again, creating chances and was generally the only consistent threat all night. Torres even tried to pump the team up with a manic hit and an ill-timed fight near the end of the game (ill-timed in the sense it could have come earlier, or, you know, our leading scorer could have not taken himself out of the game when we were two goals down with a minute or so left).
Marty Reasoner was once again solid wherever he played; it's a real shame he's gotten pushed down the depth chart by the emergence of Horcoff and Stoll (who also, it should be noted, was solid again), but I can't complain about a fourth-line centre earning his kind of minutes on a regular basis.
We were up against a good face off team and still managed to do pretty solid (stats aren't available yet, but it seems as though we won more than half, and usually pretty important ones, too). We're looking to be a team that can control the puck off the draw, which every colour commentator in the league, ever, will tell you is important.
Ty Conklin was fine for most of the night, but there wasn't one goal that when in that he shouldn't have had, and the last two were absolutely inexcusable (stick on the ice, Ty, stick on the ice). This is what I meant when I said eerily like last year: the team plays a fine game, getting chances here and there, but is unable to convert anything, then gets done in by some poor goaltending. What's worse is, one or two puck-handling miscues aside, Conklin looked mostly solid on anything that didn't go past him. Nothing that went past him was good, though, and it really seemed to take some of the life out of the team.
The first line is suffering without Smyth. Horcoff, Dvorak, and whoever were largely invisible outside the powerplay, and didn't seem to create anything for themselves. It really looks as if Ryan Smyth was the cog making that line work, and without him, it's starting to look, well, like our second line did last year: more or less non-existent.
I don't know Jani Rita's history, but it wouldn't surprise me to find out if he had a semi-serious injury somewhere in the past. He more or less refuses to actually get involved in plays, floating around looking for passes or backing off when he should be rushing in. I get the feeling that if he was a bit more reckless, he'd probably be a hell of a player, but as it is, he looks afraid to get hit on the ice, and he can't create, much less finish, anything while drifting around the perimeter.
I also don't really get why Brad Winchester doesn't seem to be getting any chance at all. He looked sort of shaky his first shift, but I thought he settled down fine after that, using his body a bit and even drawing a penalty. Still, he evidently spent the entire second half of the game on the massage table or something, because he couldn't even see the ice from where Mactavish buried him, a fact more indicative of MacT's inability to trust youngsters than any poor play on Winbister's part, at least from where I'm sitting.
On that note, I don't see the faith MacT has had in Laraque (who shifted into Pisani's spot on the third line when Pisani replaced Rita). I mean, we all love Big Georges, but he hasn't done much of anything so far this year; not even a memorable hit or scramble in front of the net, much less a fight. He seemed to be on the ice in the third solely to intimidate Sean Avery, who we all know is just aboslutely vital to the Kings' attack.
And finally, and not to sound whiny, but I thought the officiating was pretty uneven. After two welcome periods of pretty lax calling--they got the important stuff, but there was no "I'm pretty sure there was a stick somewhere near that guy" hooking calls--they must have got a call from the league or something, because the refs called two absolutely atrocious penalties on the Oil back to back: Pronger's supposed "slash" that wouldn't even qualify as a love tap at a hemophiliac convention, and Moreau's finish-the-check "elbow."
That said, though, this was a game the Oil probably deserved to lose: they couldn't get a lot going on the offensive end, and Conks probably played himself onto the pine for the next few games, at least. Bah. I just hope we beat Dallas. And, of course, that Calgary continues to forget how to play hockey.
Kris Russell, A Molehill.
2 weeks ago