November 19 2009 12:21AM
Edmonton Oilers: 6
Colorado Avalanche: 4
That was an ugly and haphazard game, but at the end of the day the Oilers not only won but solidly outplayed the Avalanche on the night. That's about as much as any Oilers' fan can ask for from this team right now.
Oilers Three* Stars, According To Me
1. Horpensky. Yes, I dislike silly nicknames almost as much as Brownlee does, but the trio was far and away the Oilers' best line tonight and frankly I don't have room to differentiate between all the guys who played good, so I'll say this - they combined for two goals, three points and 11 shots on Peter Budaj. Scoring chances-wise, they were 11 and three. Also of note, every minute of Oilers' 5-on-3 penalty killing was done by Shawn Horcoff.
2. Visnovsky/Smid Pairing. Sticking with my theme for awarding stuff to groups, Visnovsky and Smid both finished the night plus-3 and with a very favourably weighted scoring chance count. They also contributed offensively, combining for three assists.
3. The Second Line. I wanted to pick just one player, but it was a little difficult. Patrick O'Sullivan scored the game-winning goal, so that's in his favour. On the other hand, Gilbert Brule had a goal, two points, and a crushing hit on Paul Stastny. Meanwhile, Liam Reddox had a fantastic game, including one fearless shot block late in the third period and a bunch of other good plays, and continues to show why he's blown past other Oiler prospects on his way to the NHL.
Jeff Deslauriers looked like two different players tonight. During the first half of the game, he was brutal and I was raging at the television demanding that Quinn pull him. Seriously, it's been a while since I was that irritated with any one player. Every second shot the Avalanche took blew by him, and as Ray Ferraro noted (repeatedly), for a 6'5" goaltender he lets in a lot of high shots. In the second half of the game he was brilliant, stopping several high-end chances and blanking Marek Svatos three times on the 5-on-3. I'm not going to give him a ton of credit for making big saves since if he'd been less of a sieve in the first half they wouldn't have been 'big' saves, but I will say this: I can only imagine how difficult it is to get shelled early and then close the door, and he did it. If there's one thing he should have picked up along his helter skelter development path, it's mental toughness and I'd guess that was a factor tonight. After the game, Quinn said that he kept him in so as not to give the Oilers an excuse for the score and defended his goaltender; I can get behind one of those but not the other.
The hit on Ethan Moreau was a cheap shot and deserves suspension. I can respect Bob McKenzie's point that the shoulder was the point of contact, but Ryan Wilson got his elbow high and went for the head. Moreau didn't return, and as much as I've criticized his play I just hope it was a precautionary decision.
Tom Gilbert was stapled to the bench and played less than four minutes at even strength (Dean Arsene played more than nine). Quinn seemed to be taking advantage of his spare defenceman to send a message, and good on him because Gilbert earned it.
The second-worst team in the league on faceoffs are the Colorado Avalanche, with 46.4% win rate. They brutalized the Oilers tonight, with a 61% win rate, knocking them to the league basement. Brule's been better than expected in the circle. Horcoff can win draws when he isn't playing with a seperated shoulder. Other than that, the Oilers have the same lousy options they had last year. It's obviously something that Steve Tambellini and the Oilers brain trust don't care about, because we're going on a year and a half and they've made no move to fix it.
After 16 points in their first 10 games (a 131-point season pace), the Avalanche have 13 points in their last 12 games (which works out to an 89-point season pace).
I haven't heard Quinn happy after a game yet, and tonight was no exception. I'm fairly upbeat; it was an earned win and a bunch of players snapped offensive droughts. I'm a little worried that it's going to be important to look for these sort of positives whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Exchange of the Night
This one goes to Jason Gregor and a commenter going by rubbertrout. Cue the transcript:
Rubbertrout: "Game Day Prediction: Oilers win 4-3 in overtime. Souray gets 1 G 1 A and 4 PIM. Manitoba Fats pots 2 and Sully gets one."
Jason Gregor: "I'd be willing to say I'd have a better chance scoring with Lohan tonight than 19 will on the ice."
Rubbertrout: "I'll be at the game on Saturday. I'll bet you one of your vodka drinks against a heroin beer that he scores tonight."
Jason Gregor: "Done...easy money on my part."