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.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Posted by mike w at 9:48 PM