Friday, May 19, 2006

First Look... and oh yeah, a Win!

Edmonton 3
Anaheim 1

Wow. A neat little win, played with the limited emotion and efficiency of a road win in November. The next game will be tough to steal, but an Oilers fan has to be moderately pleased with the result (and by moderately pleased, for Edmontonians this means choking the streets and burning down Stanley Milner Library).

As great as they've been so far, I've maintained (belligerently, in bars) that the Ducks haven't faced a real challenge since the Flames offence started to dry up after 4 games: Colorado simply didn't belong in the second round and were fortunate to face Dallas, a team that had the biggest meltdown of all in the postseason (sorry Sens fans, Buffalo is actually a good team). Watching the Colorado series, I watched some very Penguins-esque defensive zone breakdowns coupled with an offence that drops off dramatically in skill after Joe Sakic's line. This will be the Ducks first test, and although I don't share Colby Cosh's daring optimism ("Oilers in four!"), I secretly hope this young team chokes on the magnitude of being in the Final Four. A few things standout from having played the Sharks:

- How much can Scott Niedermayer dominate from the the backend? The likes of Beauchemin, Joe Dipenta, and Sean O'Donnell have played well, perhaps
too well. They have exploitable holes in their game and game 1 featured rare open ice chances for the Oilers in the slot.

- I was actually surprised to see the Oilers look good at even strength for most of the night, limiting the Ducks to EV 4 shots by around the midpoint of the game

-Incredibly, Todd Marchant somehow looks younger with a playoff beard

- Now we know why the Oil put Todd Harvey in place of Ales Hemsky on the first line: it allows MacT to throw out Horcoff and Smyth in the last, most important minute of the game. Todd Harvey gets the goal. As much as I love Hemsky, is there anyone he can't give the puck up to? Also: I miss Dvorak.

- Wild Card/bizarro world: Mike Peca has another brilliant game (well, he took some dumb penalties) which leaves me unsure if I'm actually living in a EA Sports dreamworld .

- I'm thinking the penalty kill will have a tougher time against the Ducks Powerplay in this series. We're gonna need some luck.

- The Ducks are probably faster, but they also have a fourth line they barely use, unlike the last two teams we've faaced.

- fans coming in late, graciously shutting up, with luxury boxes left vacant: perfect!

- Good ol' Randy Carlyle is a welcome change from Ron Wilson

- They say to distrust accepted truths. One I'm sick of is Brian Burke as a hockey genius (also the most cited reason why other bloggers are cheering against the Oilers). The guy has won what exactly? Doug MacLean was dumb enough to take Federov? Scott Niedermayer is an excellent player and Brian Burke signed him? Shocker! That and this isn't really his team to begin with, at least with all of the young impact players reaching fruition just as he got there. Burke's a breath of fresh, quotable air, and a good GM, but I'm not joining the cult just yet. You hear me, Tom Benjamin?!

Off to bed, I have to work tomorrow (which, considering recent news, is a blessing I'm not taking for granted)

Go + Oilers = GOILERS.


Doogie2K said...

Instant classic? Hell, no.

Win #9? Yes.

Therefore, worth watching? Hell, yes.

jon said...

I have to say, if the games are similar to this one, this series will only be half as entertaining to watch as the SJ one. The coach isn't belligerent and arrogant, their style isn't full of flare, their superstar is a defensemen, and the CBC play-by-play actually makes me want to overcome my laziness and set up a radio for Rod.

In regards to Brian Burke, he obviously must be the best GM in the league, because Vancouver fired him for no good reason. Seriously though, the man really has done an excellent job with the Ducks this year.

mudcrutch79 said...

I think that's the trifecta: all three of you have now taken unprovoked shots at Tom Benjamin.

mike w said...


Nah. Tom Benjamin loves to hate the Oilers, especially ownership (for the most part, I can't blame him there), but I think it fogs up his asessment of the team itself, more specifically in his appraisal of Kevin Lowe's intelligence.

I think for Benjamin, the Lawyerin' outsider-renegade Brian Burke vs. ex-hockey jock and old boys' boy Kevin Lowe fits a little too neatly with his larger "Bettman ruined the league" argument (of which I do agree).

Lowe has made some stinky moves over his tenure (Dopita, Oates, handling Comrie's trade), but he's also made some good moves, including the trade for Spacek, Samsonov, and sticking with Horcoff when everyone was clamouring for a number one free agent centre. And he also acquired Dwayne Roloson, the best available goalie at trade deadline (if Lowe was truly Doug MacLean-esque, he would have nabbed Curtis Joseph).

In the laggard world of sports journalism, the accepted cliche is that the Oilers are a hard-luck, small-market team, while the blogosphere's accepted cliche is that they are a nepotist throwbacks who don't have a clue. With a Final Four appearance, neither can be accepted as true. (Although, I still wish Craig Simpson wasn't behind the bench).

Pleasure Motors said...

I also disagree that my shot at Benjamin was unprovoked--it was a reaction to fan-hate, which as I outlined below, ain't fair.

On an unrelated note, as I was coming out of a liquor store after the game yesterday, a small black Toyota was absolutely blasting "Y'all Ready for This"; now that, friends, is devotion.

case said...

i wish we could trade cherry for hrudey. why would we want an east lover covering our games when we could have the suave, light blue bandana/headband that is the hrudinator.

"i like todd harvey cuz he gave me a tie." i'm glad harvey burned him right after. ten moustaches out of ten!

Adamn! said...

I think you mean ten perv-staches out of ten, but I digress...

Unrelatedly , too bad myopic septuagenarian Bob Cole pulls rank over Jim Hughson (sp?): the latter was doing a fine job -- that, plus his association with the EA Sports series gives the games a dream-team, fantasy-world feel that fits in nicely with the Oilers' unlikely post-season run.

(On the other hand, it's pick your poison between Greg "Stop right there. Whoa!!" Millen and Harry "he shot that puck from 36 1/2 feet out" Neale...).

Oh well, at least it's not TSN.

Coluch said...

Haha!! WOW adamn! I always get a kick out of Harry Neale telling me the exact distance when something happens on the ice. It's one of the things I will sorely miss when he goes off the air - along with Bob Cole's 'Ohhh Baby' type of comments, in that olde-tyme hockey grandpa way that only he can deliver so truly. Senile or not, I love that pair of commentators.

I have a love/hate for Hrudey, since he's got little personality, and I don't agree with him as much as I would like to, but I am coming around slowly. I love Don Cherry strictly for entertainment value though, and the odd-couple charm with Ron Maclean. Sometimes even (albiet rarely) for his input on modern hockey, but he is definitely stuck in the past.

Anonymous said...

For anyone who had the pleasure of watching the game on CBC:

Watching game one with Commentators Bob Cole and Harry Neil, who know nothing about the western teams was quite painful. Beginning with player names Bob and Harry had trouble calling the game it seems they never knew what was happening. I think they should stick to leaf broadcasts and leave the west to anyone else.

Anyone else feel the same way??

Anonymous said...

PS that's an Email I sent to the CBC.

Coluch said...

No seriously... they are just old. Ease up on the western sensitivity.

Bob Cole called Belfour 'Joseph' during one of the leaf games this year, and Harry Neale is just as bad with the senility factor.

Doogie2K said...

Of course, you could try to argue that, with Cole and Neale returning to the 2K Games series last year, replacing Thorne and Clement, that the same could be said for them, but really, I didn't think much of the audio commentary on that game, so I just turned it off.

Anonymous said...

I guess you have to roll with what you get... so we've managed to add just a bit more entertainment to the games by making fun of Bob & Harry! Basically calling the game for them. It's been fun! :o)

I wonder what the producers think of them at times. Especially when the cut Bob off and take a commercial break. Too funny!