December 22 2009 08:24AM
St. Louis Blues: 7
Edmonton Oilers: 2
I had a pretty cool seat for tonight's game; David Staples was nice enough to invite a few of us bloggers to take in the game with him, so I finally got to meet him in person. I was also rather pleased to meet Bruce McCurdy, BlueBelle, and Smoking Ray.
Unfortunately, that was pretty much where the positives ended, as an overwhelmed Oilers' PK allowed four goals in a 7-2 loss. Rather than head back to the hotel and write about it immediately, I decided to go out and drink beer. It seemed preferable.
Oilers Three Stars, According To Me
1. Gilbert Brule. I've decided to choose my three stars exclusively from players who weren't on the penalty kill, and Brule played fairly well despite his AHL call-up centre and Ethan Moreau on LW.
2. Denis Grebeshkov. Grebeshkov actually did appear on the penalty kill (0:42) but wasn't scored on and had a few dangerous shots on the night. He also had at least one brain cramp but on the whole was a positive for the Oilers.
3. Tyler Dellow. Yes, it turns out a blogger can win this award. In this particular case, Tyler gets mention for perfectly summarizing my feelings about last night's game.
The penalty kill stinks. It has for a year and a half. We knew it probably wasn't coaching before MacTavish was fired, since he's had success previously, and with a new coaching staff we know it's probably not coaching now - unless Kelly Buchberger's been handling the duties for both coaching staffs. In any case, I've been told again and again that bringing in some grinders won't win the team games, but given that the Oilers' kill rate now sits at 76.6% I can't agree with that. Of course I didn't agree with it in the summer either, so that doesn't mean Steve Tambellini is going to do anything about it.
At even-strength I thought the Oilers carried the play, especially early on. They were outscored, but in this case I think that had more to do with bounces than anything else. The team didn't play badly five on five.
I was happy to see Devan Dubnyk's first NHL start in person; I was less happy when he failed to make a single big save all game. In a 7-2 loss it's rarely just the goalie, and it certainly wasn't here, but he wasn't helping things.
Ethan Moreau's a dirty player. He's also an undisciplined player. Late in the third he was hit cleanly by the Blues' T.J. Oshie and knocked to the ice; he retaliated by tripping Oshie, approaching him from behind and cross-checking him in the neck. It was a gutless, classless, stupid play, and frankly it turned my stomach. But hey, he made up for it by fighting Darryl Sydor, a vintage tough guy who has participated in (count 'em) three bouts since the NHL lockout. Last night he wasn't fit to wear the jersey.
Bruce has more on this over at Copper & Blue, but midway through the second there was a five minute period where the Blues went from being badly outshot to taking over the game entirely. It was nasty hockey, and the Oilers couldn't do anything right.
In closing, I'd like to thank the Oilers. I've reached the point now where I'm unable to muster the same sort of anger following a miserable loss as I have in the past. No, I just look for positives in individual players, and I'm fairly sure it's because I've written off the team. I have no confidence in the current roster, and I have less confidence in the management team running the Oilers. When the team first brought Tambellini on board and announced promotions for others, it was heralded in some quarters as an attempt to replicate the Detroit model. At this point it looks more like they're replicating the Islanders' model. As of today they sit dead last in the Western Conference, and have earned a spot in the draft lottery. In the long term, perhaps that's for the best. A finish that low would certainly give the team an elite prospect, and might be enough to result in the ouster of the current management team.