Last night was actually a pretty good game. It's a shame that TSN ruined it with dumb storyline that revolved around a tenuous Sidney Crosby connection to the Oilers Gretzky heyday (how much longer can we milk the strained, leathery teat of the 1980s?), and then followed it up with an absolute fixation and veneration over his every move and every shift, where run-of-the-mill passes in the eyes Pierre McGuire became "the mark of a superstar!"
It was annoying then, that Crosby's eventual late game heroics had a double-whammy effect: a) the Oilers lose a game they could of won, and b) it vindicated the near-total fixation on Crosby, which allowed the post-game panel to say his name an extra 57 times.
Sometimes when I run out of Lysol to huff, I'll listen to HockeyCentral at Noon, which is usually Nick Kypreos, Bill Berg, Darren Millard and other dudes (but never enough Ray Ferraro) going on about the Leafs, lame beer jokes and how they wished they were getting free tickets to sporting events.
Briefly today however my ears perked up as Darren Millard, reporting from the Saddledome about last night's Oilers game had this to say:
Why is Zack Stortini still on the ice matched up against Sidney Crosby's line? That's a coaching miscalculation. And some of the Oilers players aren't happy about it.
Bill Berg: Oh wow.
Doug Farraway: Okay, we have to ask this question: are you in an arena or is someone cleaning up the bar you're in? (laughs)
Nice follow up there, guys. Anyway, apparently Team 1260 had a report to the same effect, although it singled out Raffi Torres as a player unhappy with sharing the ice with Stortini. Story goes that after the Letang goal, Torres snapped about having Stortini on his line when Coach MacTavish criticized his defensive zone coverage.
If you look at the goal (seen here, at the 3 minute mark), it starts off with Stoll dumping the puck deep, and you can see Stortini trying to make a hit to keep the puck in, getting caught behind the play, and then slowly gliding back into the frame as the goal is scored. Both Torres and Stortini seem to be playing each other's wing position, which probably lead to the confusion of having the entire right side of the rink uncovered for Letang. I'm not sure who's fault it was, as it could just as easily be Stoll getting caught so deep. But the interesting contrast is between Torres' aggressive pursuit and the late arrival of Stortini after the goal was scored, just in time for Torres to notice and look skyward in frustration.
So yeah. The whole line looked ragged on the play, but this wouldn't be a blog if a player wasn't singled out: Stortini is not a premier checking winger and the Torres-Stoll-Stortini line shouldn't be on the ice against top lines. It's all there in the shift charts, too: MacT put this now-dysfunctional line out against Crosby's line on purpose late in the game and the Oilers lost because of it. It sucks and I don't get it... was Pisani tired or something?