Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Hemsky brings his bloody gameface

Blowing the dust off of this blog (afterall, it's been 3 days) and let's see what we have here...

Aha! An Oilers rout!

Edmonton 5
Columbus 1

First off: Whooo!!! [ Quick trot up and down Whyte Ave ]

Hemsky, once a shy debutante, has blossomed into an Oilers gamebreaker with a nose for the net. Hemsky is much stronger on the puck this year, and while some may want to explain that as part of getting older and gaining some size, I think the real turnaround came when he got some teeth knocked out between seasons. Crazy theory, yes. Using photographic forensic evidence however, I've got him losing a chiclet before his coming-of-age at the World Championships last year, which neatly coincides with his improved play. The new rules help, but he's playing somewhat fearlessly, narrowly escaping big open ice checks every game, using his body to contain the puck on rushes and even playing the PK for MacT, blocking the odd shot. To see him shooting top shelf (shooting!) with a trickle of blood on his cheek is to know he's become the player Oilers fans hoped he would be. Losing a tooth and forever marring Hemsky's Tiger Beat babyface seemed to do the trick: perhaps we can curbstomp the teeth out of Semenov to get more grit in his play?

(Of course, tough talk aside, I'm such a pussy that I'd probably cry if I got a puck in the mush)

The Oilers completely dominated the Blue Jackets in this game, and if there were a puck possession stat I'd just use that for the headline. The Oilers have been pretty good all year at controlling the puck (even if they weren't scoring) and the defence seems to have adjusted to the new rules, using their stick and body positioning to keep pucks away from the net. If you takeaway the early season rust of Cross and Ulanov, most obstruction penalties come from the hands of of our backchecking forwards. Chris Pronger, if you didn't love him already, has only taken two minors all season.

The Blue Jackets defence, on the other hand, looked hapless. When they weren't giving the puck away, they were beaten to the puck most of the time. In one play, Smyth made the Blue Jackets' $5 million player look slow, slightly retarded, and sad. And I'm not sure where Richardson was on that last Hemsky goal.

The fourth line also rocked the house. Laraque seems to only play well when the Oilers win, and win by a lot. I'm not sure if it's just ice time either. He actually skated and anticipated the play down low real well, although I still get scared watching him "backcheck" in our own end. Todd Harvey sure makes it a lot easier to forget Rita or Winchester.

Anyway, it's 4:00 AM here. If my post reads poorly, blame it on fatigue...a happy, sated Oilers-just-won fatigue.

PS: Looks like Peca bit off half of his tongue on the questionable Nash hit. Hope he's ok.