BUFFALO "GUTLESS" SABRES 3
Frustrating. It's tough when an opponent seems so beatable, and yet you lose. So, let's see here, what excuse can I resort to to explain another Oilers' loss:
b) opponent's goaltending
c) a disgraceful job by the referees
We're all familiar with option "a", so let's stick with "c" for tonight, with a little help from "b." Ryan Miller is one of maybe ten really good goaltenders in the league, so I don't want to compare him unfairly to Markkanen. Markkanen let in the kind of goals I've seen in dozens of other games I've seen this year. I just better not see Conklin in the next game.
The refs, on the other hand, gave Buffalo 3 Five on Threes, two of the them very questionable, and simply handed the Sabres an entire half period of constant powerplay in the second. After Jim McKee tried to end Hemsky's career with a knee-on-knee, Jason Smith naturally went straight for him, only to get Kalinen jumping into the fray. According to hockey's code, Smith did the right and honourable thing for a captain, and yet he ended up costing the Oilers two minutes for "instigating" (Kalinen got a game misconduct, but that hardly helped us from being shorthanded - It was just one of those nights).
Sabres were flopping all over the ice like it was the World Cup of Soccer, and when they weren't getting called for dives they were too busy trying to draw penalties by not fighting. Fitting perhaps, that Diver-of-the-Game Derek Roy sealed it late, leaving Oilers fans to endure the inevitable slow-bleed death of a late game two-goal deficit. Clearly, the Oilers have hit a bit of a skid, with key players cooling off. Raffi Torres clearly beats himself up too much when he's not scoring and it effects his timing and decision making out there on the ice. The first liners Horcoff, Smyth and Hemsky seem to tune out out at the worst times on the back check. It's especially odd since they all get penalty kill time and are pretty good at it, especially Horcoff, who made a bunch of nifty plays near the point on Sabre Powerplays.
Cory Cross haters can put away their foam middle fingers for now, since he was one of the better Oilers defencemen out there. Matt Greene finally lived up to his North Dakota reputation for big hits, even clobbering Sabres chickenshit Andrew Peters with punches right after decking Jiri Novottny with a big, clean hit (he all stood up at the blueline and made some good defensive plays). If there was ever reason to get rid of the instigator rule (or change it somehow), it would be players like Peters, who end up chirping all game to the Oilers bench without having to do anything to show for it (Sean Avery also comes to mind). Even if we had Georges Laraque in the game, could we have even used him?
Oh, and before I choke on my own bile, I might as well add something everyone should know: Rexall Place has terrible ice. You may have heard otherwise, but the last time that was true was when that Dan Craig guy left the team in 2000 (or whatever) to work for the NHL. Anyone who's played hockey would know just from the way the puck skittered on the Oilers crucial 3rd period powerplays. For a skating team, it's a sad thing to see for a home "ice" advantage.
Phew. Okay. Time to submerge my head in a bucket of ice.
GAME RATING: 3 KENT NILSSONS out of 10 PETR KLIMAS
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
BUFFALO "GUTLESS" SABRES 3
Posted by mike w at 12:14 AM