Thursday, May 25, 2006

Fans' playoff beards fail Oilers

The Hated Ducks 6
Edmonton 3

Okay, all mentions of "lucky charms" and "hubris" must now officially end, at least on the Covered in Oil blog. I've been as guilty as the next guy, but things like shaving, when not to shave, lucky hats, lucky mugs, wearing the same ginch, etc; all of it must come to an end. I mean, ARE WE NOT MEN??

When I was a kid I had more than a touch of OCD, constantly afraid that I'd die tomorrow, or that my dad would die tomorrow and that I'd have to start working at McDonalds at the age of 8 to support my family. This extended to hockey games, of course, and I had a bizarre array of rituals to help the Oilers win, including: making sure I clicked my teeth on left side of my mouth the same number as the right, flexing my leg muscles during commercial breaks, making side-deals with a god that now, when reflecting upon it, was clearly of the Old Testament variety - picky and mean. Crazy, huh?

Well, lately, it doesn't seem all that crazy.
If the Oilers are as good as we secretly think they are, they'll win. If not, we'll go back to wallow in our little grief holes. But after tonight's game, I feel oddly optimistic. My thoughts are pieced together mostly from what I saw at work, along with the last half in a Toronto bar, but I liked what I saw. The ease in which the Oilers wormed thier way back into a game that was essentially spotted to Anaheim through penalties and sloppy play is much more encouraging than the alternative lock-step 4-1 Ducks win. Anaheim's defence makes more mistakes than Stanley Cup finalists should, whether it be inexperience or an over-reliance of 1-2 D to chip in most of the offence. They also pinch a lot, and for the most part, it's cost them (cue: Peca highlight reel goals). Goaltending, at the very least, so far, is a wash.

But Anaheim hasn't played like a team that deserves to be swept, and a 7-game winning streak is a remarkable thing at any point in a season, so I'm not surprised the luck ran out on the Oilers. Some of the early penalties against the Oil made me spray coffee over the TV screen in disbelief, but as they say, you have to pick your battles. The key to next game is slowing everything the fuck down in the neutral zone. This is the third game in a row where I've seen Andy McDonald and Selanne zip past two guys at the Ducks blueline. The beat us with team speed, so bring out the trap if necessary, but I like our chances when we play a defensive, patient game.

Debate topic:
Covered in Oil blogfriend Chris! thinks Dvorak is kind of ass (notably, when down two goals late in a game). As Sacamano at BoA knows, I'm also a big D-Vo fan, even if he has hands made of Cabbage Patch doll parts. My argument, as such, is that Dvorak is a) probably the most consistent Oiler and b) good defensively, and most importantly, capable of using his speed to get the play deep in the opposing team's zone. Opinions are welcome.

Matt Greene, I wish you skated better. Then again you're what, 20? A couple of big hits made me feel like a man, vicariously. Still, our back pairing is a horror to watch in our zone, and guys like Torres (what's a matter? lose 12 pounds or something?), Stoll and Moreau have had better games.


Dan-O-Mite said...

How many of those 7 wins did D-Vo play in? Just sayn'.

Also the blogger verification word is txurrd

mike w said...

"Txurrd" is how I'm feeling. Poor D-Vo.

sacamano said...

1) Agreed completely on the karma talk. I'm done. I'd post it over at BofA, but we're all so incestuous that I'll just assume that stating it here is sufficent.

2) Kind of ass? Are you kidding me?

I'm too lazy to go find them, but I'm positive that those numbers freaks have cruched it all out in their spreadsheets to demonstrate convincingly that D-vo plays about the toughest minutes on the team with the lamest linemates, and still rarely gets scored on.

He has wheels, he makes things happen, he forechecks like a demon, he is terrific down low on the cycle, and he can pass like crazy. He is just permanantly snake-bitten. That's the only way to explain it. He gets himself into position for tonnes of high quality chances and the puck always seems to hop, or his stick breaks, or a whiff of air alters his backswing. I don't know what it is -- but if you ignore the fact that he can't score, he's incredibly valuable.

mike w said...

>He has wheels, he makes things happen, he forechecks like a demon, he is terrific down low on the cycle, and he can pass like crazy. He is just permanantly snake-bitten.

That's my take on on it, too. Dvorak getting the cross-ice feed reminds me of when you'd play street hockey with a wooden stick that's been whittled down to a 1 inch blade from the ashpalt. The puck simply jumps past his stick at the worst times, but in a series like this I'll take him as Torres insurance any day.

Chris! said...

Look, guys, I know Dvorak is fast and he plays really hard, but I don't care: like Murray and Laraque, he shouldn't be out there when we're two goals down with three minutes to go. Seriously, is he going to set up a goal? Score a goal? Contribute to offence in any meaningful way whatsoever? I have no problems with the guy as an Oilers roleplayer — but tonight, I would have rather seen a little more of Toby Petersen.

Dvorak is an offence-killer, pure and simple. I don't see what's debatable about that.

theDrizzler said...

D-Vo will be rewarded with the biggest goal of the play-offs for the Oilers.

It's destiny...

mike w said...

But, uh, he has 8 goals in 2006?


sacamano said...

Torres insurance? You've got the equation backwards.

Why did Mac-T put Torres out there 14 pounds lighter than normal, instead of Harvey.

I mean, Torres is a bit of a loose cannon even when he has his legs -- without them I'm not sure what he brings, but I know it is less that what Dvorak brings.

jon said...

I have to side on the "nay" side regarding Dvorak after that game. I spotted a few times where he wasn't "with it" positionally or effort-wise. Most notable is perhaps the second goal, where he let Marchant stroll to the front of the net. And honestly, is it so much to ask for him to bury that opportunity off of the Peca pass? I mean, the chances don't get much better than that, and he has to shoot low on the prototypical lazy butterfly goaltender.

On a non-Dvorak topic, did anybody notice that the Ducks seemed to be consciously trying to go high on Roloson? That's how most of the goals in game three found their way in, deflections or not, and that's how a few of the goals went in tonight. Maybe they have "figured" him out just a little.

Anyway, the loss tonight wasn't entirely unexpected (at least to me), but it makes me a bit nervous since it's the first time of these playoffs that we were both outplayed and significantly outscore.

Dirk said...

Loved this post. Especially the "When I was a kid" bit.

Re. Dvorak, I think MacT put him in to allow him to get back in the swing of things. That he was caught out of position should be no surprise given his long absence. Assuming that what Oilers ppl are saying about the flu bug really having run its course is true, I'm fairly certain our guys will come out a lot stronger in game 5.

There's a reason the Oil won the first three games: Anaheim consistently makes tons of mistakes. And when the Oil are on, they happen to make fewer.

Andy said...

The best thing that happened to the Oilers in the Detroit series was when Dvorak got hurt. He's a burden and a liability. Typically, he gets the puck along the boards in the neutal zone, takes two strides while pushing it forward, then simultaneously runs into the linesman and defenceman as the puch dribbles aimlessly towards the other defenseman. He made one pass last night, to Staios in our end while skating towards Roloson. He's the hex. Burn him at the stake in Churchill Square.

LittleFury said...

Keep D-Vo, shelve Torres until he gets a few more Big Macs in him, get Harvey back in. Dump Murray for Peterson. Above all, can someone lock Spacek in a broom closet until training camp? He's brutal, just brutal. I think an Ulanov/Greene pairing would work wonders for the kid. Plus, Uli looks like a Russian mobster, which is a good thing to have in the corners. Trust me on that.

One last thing: is the Oil's 5-on-3 based on World War One trench warfare strategy? What do they have against moving?

lowetide said...

I think whichever side of the Dvorak issue you are on is becoming a kind of secret code that makes it simple to weed out the dummies.

Anonymous said...

Forget lucky charms and playoff beards combed with loving care by Robocop, Devorak in = lose the game.

The French Fork's got nothing on the Devorak Fork as in "Fork you Devorak."