Oilers vs. Flames Postgame: Slowly Pulling Away From 28th In The NHL

Jonathan Willis
December 28 2009 10:57PM

Calgary Flames: 4

Edmonton Oilers: 1

With yet another home ice loss, the Oilers have managed to put a little distance between themselves and 28th in the NHL; they now have a three point cushion on the third-worst team in the NHL. Carolina won tonight too, reducing their firm grip on dead last in the league to seven points. Dare to dream.

Oilers Three Stars, According To Me

1. Ryan Potulny. Scored the Oilers' only goal, and now has eight on the season. The only forward in Springfield last season who managed to overachieve, Potulny knows a thing or two about playing for a miserable team.

2. Ryan Stone. Another member of the Oilers' AHL brigade, Stone had a solid game that included a third period fight with Aaron Johnson - one of the few things the Oilers' won on the night.

T3. Patrick O'Sullivan. Signs of life from O'Sullivan, who was unfairly victimized on his cross-checking penalty. Sure, he would have been smarter not to make the little push he did, but if what Dion Phaneuf did after the "hit" wasn't a dive, than I've never seen one.

T3. Ladislav Smid. The fight with Iginla was frosting on the cake, as Smid finally got a proper bite for his little post-whistle shenanigans. Played a solid if unspectacular game.

Random Thoughts

Despite the lop-sided totals on the shot clock (the Oilers out-shot the Flames 35-23) and the goal clock (as per above) this was a fairly even game territory-wise. The Oilers were far more effective at shot blocking (creditted with 23 to the Flames 11) and were led in that department by Shawn Horcoff and Tom Gilbert (four each) and followed closely by Ethan Moreau (with three).

Speaking of Horcoff, the high hit on Conroy was unnecessary and somewhat reminscient of Moreau snapping on T.J. Oshie a few games back. The constant appeals for "emotion" from the team are interesting, given that emotion can be positive and negative and right now this team reaks of frustration.

The referees made the right call on Glencross' deflection; the stick seemed pretty clearly over the crossbar.

A comedy of errors led to Calgary's first goal. Moreau was probably the least to blame; he let the puck past him on the boards and got caught watching as the goal went in. Gagner never caught up to Rene Bourque and didn't really seem to try. The real culprits though were the defenceman - Staios lost the battle behind the net and Strudwick in particular looked bad on the play, watching the puck and despite being the closest player failing to take either man around him or block the pass out front. Pat Quinn called them both on it after the game. I wonder about Strudwick's level of rust; on Calgary's power play goal he was unable to handle Bourque again in front of the net and was really the only guy obviously to blame on that goal.

A rare mistake by Visnovsky led to the Flames' short-handed goal and the finishing touch of Bourque's hattrick; the fact that neither Visnovsky nor Gilbert could block the cross-crease pass to Bourque was also a little irritating.

More irritating though was the lack of urgency from Visnovsky on the next power play; he made a soft, soft pass to Penner (who didn't seem all that fired up either) and cost the team precious seconds; towards the end of the game the power play (which I thought looked quite good on its first attempt) couldn't seem to clear its own end.

On the Giordano goal, Brule probably deserves a little blame for turning the puck over with two forwards deep, but the real culprit was Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who can't let goals in from that angle without any kind of traffic. Ugly goal against and his only really atrocious goal on the night.

Strong first period notwithstanding, it's getting really hard to watch this sort of garbage. 

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 29 2009, 02:12PM
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Chris. wrote:

When you sign with a young team that finished a few points out of the playoffs... it is easy to imagine that you can make a difference. You can be sold on the notion that the team is on the rise....

There is a grand chasm between 20th and 29th. No player wants to waste their prime playing years rebuilding a last place team. No player in their thirties wants to spend their last precious playing years exclusively as a mentor for youth... Furthermore, I don't believe that there is enough good young talent in the organization by which a Taylor Hall can become the catalyst to catapult this franchise back to respectability. Finishing last is a disaster. Period. Hall is not enough compensation for the black eye that is last place. Edmonton cannot recover (for years and years) from being both the league's worst destination in combination with having the league's worst roster... There is no doubt that the rebuild will be on. Just expect it to take several years just to climb back into the mediocre range.

You guys are fooling yourselves if you think a first overall pick will reverse the negative momentum of this season. How does having Taylor Hall help us get further ahead when Penner refuse to resign? When Gagner signs an RFA sheet to play somewhere else? When Hemsky demands a trade? These are dangerous times for the Oilers. I think it's terrible to cheer for losses; because horrific seasons have consequences that extend beyond just aquiring a good draft pick.

You and I can glibly talk about high draft picks and watch games in fast forward in PVR... These guys have to live this season... and players talk.

Mark Striet Ohlund Antropov Malone Komisarek

Those are all competent players that signed with Lottery teams over the last couple of years.

It isn't losing keeping players from here/driving them away.

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#52 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 29 2009, 02:13PM
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Chris. wrote:

When you sign with a young team that finished a few points out of the playoffs... it is easy to imagine that you can make a difference. You can be sold on the notion that the team is on the rise....

There is a grand chasm between 20th and 29th. No player wants to waste their prime playing years rebuilding a last place team. No player in their thirties wants to spend their last precious playing years exclusively as a mentor for youth... Furthermore, I don't believe that there is enough good young talent in the organization by which a Taylor Hall can become the catalyst to catapult this franchise back to respectability. Finishing last is a disaster. Period. Hall is not enough compensation for the black eye that is last place. Edmonton cannot recover (for years and years) from being both the league's worst destination in combination with having the league's worst roster... There is no doubt that the rebuild will be on. Just expect it to take several years just to climb back into the mediocre range.

You guys are fooling yourselves if you think a first overall pick will reverse the negative momentum of this season. How does having Taylor Hall help us get further ahead when Penner refuse to resign? When Gagner signs an RFA sheet to play somewhere else? When Hemsky demands a trade? These are dangerous times for the Oilers. I think it's terrible to cheer for losses; because horrific seasons have consequences that extend beyond just aquiring a good draft pick.

You and I can glibly talk about high draft picks and watch games in fast forward in PVR... These guys have to live this season... and players talk.

So what's the answer then? Trade some picks/prospects and try to finish 10th? I agree that this isn't the team to take another strike against, but at this point we don't have much choice.

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#53 Chris.
December 29 2009, 03:58PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

So what's the answer then? Trade some picks/prospects and try to finish 10th? I agree that this isn't the team to take another strike against, but at this point we don't have much choice.

Look this team is a lottery team whether or not it sheds vetrans for draft picks or attempts to make a "hockey" trade...

I'm just saying that this is a a bad thing. It rings hollow to pretend otherwise.

Sure, the Oilers could use another top six forward. Hall could be that guy. But this team also needs a slew of mature, capable NHlers to fix the PK, win faceoffs, reduce the horrific number of turnovers, and help defend down low... Taylor Hall is NOT going to do all these things. In fact, scoring isn't the principal issue; it's goals against... Finishing last will seriously hinder managements ability to add these elements. You think it was hard to lure people here last season..?.. Just wait till next year.

I will NOT be celebrating every loss. To do so is both pitiful and stupid.

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#54 Harlie
December 29 2009, 05:39PM
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@RossCreekNation

yeah but Soft as Toffee has been finishing his checks this year and has been getting his hands dirty and his passes have been crisp and on the tape - for the most part. Last year he was non committal and he would float in the neutral zone and would button hook and stop each time he reached the offensive zone on a rush. Basically exactly the way Patio is playing this year. I like Patio's hands and he has good foot speed but he may need more 4th line time to get some toughness and urgency back in his game. He is playing like a big WIMP right now. Everything on the outside is Patio lantern stylez.

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