Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Devil's Rejects

NJ 2, Oilers 1 (SO)

I know the image is blurry, but c'mon--that's just friggin' awesome.

Anyway, there's not a whole lot that can be said for this particular little shindig. It was very much an end-of-the-road -trip game against a team that still likes to sit back and make you come to them. The boys looked pretty weary for the first period and a half or so--they really only got their legs when they got three PPs in a row--but managed to finish pretty strong. No one really stuck out, either in a good or bad way, and there were no really exceptional plays--at least not until overtime.

The big story, of course, was Conklin. I think I've figured out his problem--the guy needs a solid 15 minutes to warm up and realize that he's supposed to be playing goal. He didn't even react on the lone NJ goal (in the first, natch), and all through the period, he looked sort of like the poor novice kid whose turn it is to try out goal, just sort of lunging around in the general direction of the puck, hoping it hit him. There were a couple shots that ended up wide that he clearly wasn't ready for, and overall, I thought that if New Jersey had been a bit more focussed on offence, we probably would have been down by one or two more by the end of the first. Holy flirckin' snit did be bounce back though. He looked more and more solid as the game went on, and he was the only reason we made it through the overtime, making several key saves, and (mostly) controlling his rebounds. Based solely on his play in the third and OT, we'd have an obvious number one. Definitely a slow starter though.

As for the rest of the team, what can you say, other than things that are to be said in point form?

-We really do need another 5/6 defenceman in place of Cory Cross and Igor Ulanov to get better. Obviously, with only three goals in the last two games, our offence isn't firing on all cylinders, but I think part of the problem can be traced to these two (despite Cross' eyes-closed pool shot that counted tonight). While they've both cut down on the mistakes, for the most part (there was one that lead to a breakaway tonight), neither actually brings anything to the table besides being a warm body. No heads-up passes, no breaking up plays, nothing--they just kind of sit there and remind the other teams' forwards that we do actually have defenceman. They can play fine when put on a line with a capable defenceman (as on the PK), but together, they're pretty much like an anchor on a jet fighter. A good five guy, and rotating these two as six, would be ideal. (Speaking of which, Dan McGillis, who's in the dog house in NJ, had a good game, and could be moved. $2.2 mil, I believe, but not entirely unworth that if we get him in January, after half of it's paid).

-Marc-Andre Bergeron is our #2 d-man, and he entirely deserves it. He's always making smart offensive plays, has cut down on his defensive lapses to the point of non-existence, and even sort of looks a bit leadery out there, joining the rush and throwing the body. My grandmother, who loves the cute little French leprechaun (would that be a le leprechaun?), is undoubtedly pleased.

-I liked Conklin's ridiculous smile and shrug after he got flamed by Viktor Kozlov in the shootout. At least he's in good spirits.

-Todd Harvey was on our PP, and subbed in for Dvorak a couple of times on the second line. I don't know whether that's a good sign or a bad one, but I'm leaning towards bad. Speaking of fourth-liners, I don't think Laraque saw ice after about the 15-minute mark of the second period (oops, that's a lie--according to the shift chart, he got about 15 seconds at the end of the second period, and maybe another 25 in the middle of the third).

-Speaking of our powerplay, outside of one flurry in the second--where we happened to miss about six shots, but had good puck movement--it was bad. Our PK was absolutely terrific, but the PP did nothing. Wasn't Simpson a goal-scorer when he played?

-My favourite quote from Kevin Quinn: in the middle of the second, after Pronger broke up a John Madden rush on the PK, he drops "The Devils only have one shorthanded goal this year," as if it was some massive failing in their offence. Still a fine, fine play-by-play guy. Oh, and I don't know how Sportsnet handles these things, but either the camerapeople or the set-up angles at Meadowlands arena are terrible. Nothing but half-cut-off action shots and ridiculous close-ups that give no sense of the play.

Rating: I don't actually do ratings. That's Mike.


Robert Cleave said...

Sportsnet is at the mercy of the local broadcast for away games. The feed would come from Fox NY or whoever, and Sportsnet would only supply a coordinating producer. What you saw tonight is probably what Devil fans watching put up with all year.

As for the goalies, if Lowe doesn't get a very good deal for Conklin, he probably stays, with the Oilers trying to sneak Morrison through waivers. This does presume that Conklin doesn't go right back into the tank, which is hardly certain. The whole thing is unfair to Morrison. If they had a spot for the guy in the A, that would be one thing, but sending him back to Greenville would be an utter waste of a goalie who should at least be an NHL back up.

sacamano said...

Despite the lack of goals, the PP actually looked great to me at some points. There was actually a bit of movement.

As for Conks, he was great during the game, but is absolutely brutal at shootouts. Didn't brushback mention this?

The first he was faked out of his shorts, but it was the second that really sucked. He was on his stomach when the puck went in.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember Conklin seeming to fair poorly on breakaways last season, too.

Does MacT have the nuts to play Conklin all game and throw Mo or Juicy in for the shootout??

Might be worth a try if Ty loses a few more.

mike w said...

For the record, Conklin has let 5 straight shootout goals, including his last AHL game. His rebound control was a lot better though, which was somewhat encouraging. I'm thinking we've got 3 goalies until one is traded, so I don't think anyone is gonna be sent down, unless there's some special "conditioning" assignment.

The PP: same as in Long Island. Started off real strong and it fizzled as the game wore on, almost like they ran out of ideas.

Yet another loss to a team that barely did anything to earn their win. Too many dumb penalties, especially Horcoff. This is the kind of thing that kickstarts slumps.