Oilers vs. Sharks Postgame: Parity My Foot

Jonathan Willis
January 16 2010 05:39PM

San Jose Sharks: 4

Edmonton Oilers: 2

This one had trainwreck written all over it, and the Sharks didn't disappoint, outclassing the Oilers early and jumping to a quick lead. They sat back in the third and the Oilers kept the score respectable, but these teams could have been in different leagues.

 

First Period

 

Thomas Greiss getting the start for San Jose, which isn’t surprising given the disparity in talent between these two teams. In net for Edmonton will be Devan Dubnyk, who looked fairly good against Pittsburgh. I should also note that Gene Principe is in stellar form in the early going, on a roll with coffee analogies. I kid you not – on some nights he’s absolutely the best part of Oilers broadcasts.

Brutal lineup tonight – Stone, Pisnai and Brule are all out, and Shawn Horcoff’s still iffy, meaning the Oilers have 11 forwards (including Strudwick). Ryan Potulny is centering Penner and Nilsson, while Horcoff is between Moreau and O’Sullivan. Jacques joins Cogliano and Gagner on the third line.

Tom Gilbert jumped in on the play to help out down low with Cogliano and Jacques, but rather than cut back and cover the point, Zack Stortini came piling in behind him. The result wasa three=on=one the other way, but it’s disappointing to see a relatively experienced guy like Stortini make such a simple mistake. When the defenceman jumps in, the high winger needs to cover and Stortini didn’t.

Patrick Marleau scores the first goal on a cross-crease pass that deflected in off Dubnyk’s stick (although Heatley seems to be getting the credit); there’s no way to look at this one as anything other than a bad play by Dubnyk.

Dustin Penner is getting double-shifted as the fourth line centre between Stortini and Strudwick. That has to be the first time in the post-MacTavish era that he’s been on the fourth line.

The Sportsnet feed is pretty sketchy today; nine minutes in and it has cut out five times.

This game has the potential to get really ugly. The Oilers have been dominated, and aside from some smart plays by Gagner haven’t even looked dangerous offensively. The sharks seem to be winning every shift.

Positive news – I was trying to think of forwards the Oilers could recall and it seems Marc Pouliot is having a very good conditioning stint in Springfield; he has three points and a plus-1 rating in two games. He’d be a top-nine forward if he was on the team today.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with this Sportsnet feed; maybe it’s only on Centre Ice, but it’s cut out twice more since I mentioned it four minutes ago.

The presence of Penner on the fourth line gives the Oilers one matchup battle they have a chance at winning; they just had a lovely shift against the Sharks dregs.

Denis Grebeshkov ties the game at one off some hard work and a sick pass from Sam Gagner. Gagner’s been easily the best Oiler on the ice so far in the game, and gets rewarded for his labours. Andrew Cogliano also helped out with the spade work behind the net, and collects an assist for his work.

Patrick O’Sullivan’s reputation for soft play seems entirely ludicrous, at least based on the last half-dozen games. He’s been throwing his body around and absolutely destroyed a Sharks defenceman off the faceoff.

First penalty – an accidental high stick – goes to Dustin Penner, who got caught out with Stortini and Strudwick against the Joe Thornton line. Matchups like that are what kill me about Quinn’s rolling the lines style. Setoguchi scores on a strong shot on the ensuing power play.

2-1 to end the first; the Gagner line has been the only real bright spot for the Oilers so far.

 

Second Period

 

I’m on a bit of a time crunch today (skating with my wife, playing hockey tonight) so I’m skipping my usual intermission segments.

Setoguchi scores to make it 3-1 just over 20 seconds in; Dubnyk made one good save but the Horcoff line was embarrassed by the Sharks’ second unit and the puck was going to go in eventually. It’s all Sharks after the goal too; the Penner line’s out but they’re getting buried.

Comical segment as Stortini makes a three foot pass directly into the skates of Jason Strudwick. Strudwick, not blessed with incredible puck reception to begin with, flubs it, and the two spend 15 seconds trying to find the puck as the Sharks converge. Stortini’s had an ugly game.

The shots are now 21-8, which reflects the score almost perfectly.

The Gagner line now matched up against Thornton, and Gagner calmly moves the puck out to Cogliano who dumps it into the offensive zone. Gagner’s worlds better now than he was as a rookie (including during the hot ‘Kid Line’ stretch) but for whatever reason it sometimes seems like he’s underappreciated by Oilers’ fans. He’s going to be a real difference maker in a few years.

Gagner sprung J-F Jacques for a beautiful chance all alone, but Thomas Greiss came way out net and knocked the puck away from him.

The Sharks are winning the faceoff battle 19-8 so far. That seems like something that could have been addressed over the off-season.

A great shift for the fourth line, as Zack Stortini ragged on the puck whenever he got it, but the really dangerous player (again) was Gagner, who set up the play and gritted it out down low.

Odd play. Patrick O’Sullivan went to pass the puck to Moreau as the Horcoff line broke out of their own zone, but Moreau wanted to change so he turned to the bench. Unfortunately, as a result the puck went the distance and the tired line had to come back out in their own end.

Dubnyk with a very nice save on Heatley from in close; the puck goes to the other end and Benn Ferriero chips it over the glass to give the Oilers a power play.

Sheldon Souray pinches in deep against the Thornton line, but the puck goes the other way. Thornton’s line goes 3-on-2 the other way, and Jacques gets badly outplayed as a defenceman, allowing Thornton to sneak in behind him and tip a goal in to give the Sharks a 4-1 lead.

Every so often, Ladislav Smid shows some offence; he made a beautiful play where he skated the puck out of danger in the offensive zone and got a nice shot away on net. It had looked like the Sharks would get an odd man rush the other way but Smid’s quick thinking turned it into an Oilers’ opportunity.

Steve Staios made a lovely play one-on-one with Patrick Marleau to thwart a scoring chance. The referees probably could have called him for tripping (he got the stick out and it didn’t contact the puck) but it was close enough that he got away with it.

 

Third Period

 

Sheldon Souray manhandles Pavelski in front of the San Jose net and gives the Sharks an early man advantage.

The Oilers did a nice job killing the penalty; Dubnyk in particular was sharp. O’Sullivan with another fairly big hit towards the end of the penalty.

The Oilers fourth line is now caught out against Thornton and Marleau, and once again they’re road kill. I generally like Quinn as a coach but this sort of thing drives me nuts.

Great shift for the Horcoff line; Patrick O’Sullivan had a great chance off an Ethan Moreau shot.

Puck comes free to Gagner sitting all by himself below the hash marks and Greiss had to make a tremendous save to stop him.

The Sharks are sitting back here in the third and it’s allowed the Oilers to even things up a bit; the Horcoff line is having another great shift that resulted in a few chances (notably a Tom Gilbert shot from the high slot). Shots are now 30-24, a total that flatters the Oilers immensely.

Sam Gagner takes a hooking penalty in the offensive zone to (presumably) kill the momentum the Oilers had.

The Sharks power play looked incredibly lethal early, but surrendered two chances – the first to Cogliano, and the second to O’sullivan on a two-on-one with Horcoff; O’Sullivan scores the Oilers’ first short-handed goal of the season to make it 4-2 San Jose. I know bashing O’Sullivan is a popular pastime right now, but he’s been very good the last little while.

Some numbers to back that up: O’Sullivan now has four goals and 10 points in his last 10 games.

Some great work by Shawn Horcoff in the corner is undone as Lubomir Visnovsky abandons his spot on the point; instead it turns into a 2-on-1 for San Jose and Devan Dubnyk makes a great save.

Denis Grebeshkov is now partnered with Visnovsky and has looked good. I may have spoken to soon; the Sharks outman Visnovsky and Grebeshkov and generate a very, very dangerous chance against the Oilers. Dubnyk somehow managed to keep the puck out.

With less than a minute to go the Oilers finally clear the zone, and Devan Dubnyk heads to the bench. Patrick O’Sullivan manages a nice shot from in close before the puck goes the other way. Lubomir Visnovsky manages to stop an empty net goal against, blocking a shot by Jed Ortmeyer.

 

Oilers Three Stars

 

1. Sam Gagner. Gagner was the one Oiler who was good on almost every shift and consistently generated offensive chances for the Oilers. In a game where the Sharks dominated territorially, Gagner was the sole Oiler to finish in the black by Corsi, and managed an assist on Grebeshkov’s goal.

2. Patrick O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan had a solid game and scored the Oilers first short-handed goal; he also threw his body around and landed some surprisingly effective hits. Very nice game for O’Sullivan.

3. Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk was struggling to make the big save early but that changed as the game wore on, and he made a number of highlight reel stops to keep the Oilers in close.

No dive for five star tonight; nobody was bad enough to really warrant one (Jacques, Stortini, Horcoff and Nilsson all struggled but none of them were especially bad) as this was a team effort. The final score and the shot clock flatter the Oilers.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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 Heavyd
January 17 2010, 11:20PM
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@WT

Didn't realize that Klowe had any control over the nhl schedule. And is he in charge of the Oil kings Schedule.

These start times has nothing to do with Klowe.

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#52 Jason Gregor
January 18 2010, 12:00AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Oddly enough, I'd say the Oilers coming out of the lock-out followed that model fairly closely. They had a pretty solid team and then added Pronger.

Hellooo my man...Peca, Spacek, Roloson, Samsonov and Tarnstrom all came after him...that is 25% of the roster and they played key roles.

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#53 Reagan
January 18 2010, 07:02AM
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Anyone ordering the PPV? LOL

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#54 Eddie Shore
January 18 2010, 08:24AM
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Anyone see the Cormier elbow? Unbelievable.

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#55 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 18 2010, 08:47AM
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Not even sure what to say about the game on saturday. I guess I would've wished I knew that we had the flu before I picked a sports select tie for that game.

Dubnyk seems to be very quick in the net, but like JDD he doesn't really care about kicking out the rebounds to the wrong spot.

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#56 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 18 2010, 08:55AM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Anyone see the Cormier elbow? Unbelievable.

Just seen it for the first time. It was very dangerous, but I really expected something worse. Very stupid move and the results don't look good, but I was expected a flying elbow with someone not looking.

Question becomes how long is that suspension? Rest of the year?

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#57 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 18 2010, 08:57AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Hellooo my man...Peca, Spacek, Roloson, Samsonov and Tarnstrom all came after him...that is 25% of the roster and they played key roles.

I guess my point was that they were decent the year before (89 points, in 9th place) and then added the superstar.

You'll never find a team that is static for a true comparison, and superstars don't switch teams that often.

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#58 madjam
January 18 2010, 08:59AM
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Coincidence or not ? Since that long cold snap came to Alberta the Oilers and Flames seem to have gone into hibernation- unable to get the energy levels up . Since Comrie got mono our record has been abyssmal. Maybe thats what our losing streak all boils down to without over analysing everything else (tongue in cheek )?

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#59 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 18 2010, 09:28AM
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Pouilot recalled, safe to say guys are still sick?

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#60 The Fish
January 18 2010, 09:57AM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Anyone see the Cormier elbow? Unbelievable.

That was absolutely disgusting. How did that guy end up as captain for Canada at the WJ's? Usually the players that are chosen to wear the "C" have some measure of class and respect for other players. This idiot has a history of playing dirty. Ban him for the remainder of the year.

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#61 Crash
January 18 2010, 10:24AM
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madjam wrote:

Coincidence or not ? Since that long cold snap came to Alberta the Oilers and Flames seem to have gone into hibernation- unable to get the energy levels up . Since Comrie got mono our record has been abyssmal. Maybe thats what our losing streak all boils down to without over analysing everything else (tongue in cheek )?

The Flames are one injury away from being a lottery pick team...nevermind would they have to lose both their top goaltender and top skater...they would just need to lose Kipper and they would be done. Never seen a more overhyped bunch than them.

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#62 Jason Gregor
January 18 2010, 10:39AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

I guess my point was that they were decent the year before (89 points, in 9th place) and then added the superstar.

You'll never find a team that is static for a true comparison, and superstars don't switch teams that often.

My point is rarely, if ever, do you build the team and then add the superstar. That was the point. It doesn't happen that way.

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#63 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 18 2010, 11:00AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

My point is rarely, if ever, do you build the team and then add the superstar. That was the point. It doesn't happen that way.

At least if you build a team you aren't relying on that one superstar. If we had a solid team then maybe guys like Hossa or Heatley would come here.

CBJ, ATL, FLO, CGY are teams off the top of my head that have tried the route of building around a superstar. Where have they gotten?

At least if you have a good solid core you can at least stay so what competitive year after year.

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#64 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 18 2010, 11:05AM
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Anybody know if that kid Cormier hit is okay? It looked like he was convulsing.

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#65 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 18 2010, 11:13AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

At least if you build a team you aren't relying on that one superstar. If we had a solid team then maybe guys like Hossa or Heatley would come here.

CBJ, ATL, FLO, CGY are teams off the top of my head that have tried the route of building around a superstar. Where have they gotten?

At least if you have a good solid core you can at least stay so what competitive year after year.

Ya, obviously theirs way to many moving parts to state deffinitivly one way or another.

That said, for the Oilers specifically (baring a miricle) the only way this team gets a superstar is through the draft...hopefully we have one coming this June.

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#66 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 18 2010, 11:20AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Ya, obviously theirs way to many moving parts to state deffinitivly one way or another.

That said, for the Oilers specifically (baring a miricle) the only way this team gets a superstar is through the draft...hopefully we have one coming this June.

Thing is even that is not a sure thing. Team still needs to build a solid core, so that superstar can grow with the team. You can't just draft Hall and expect the current team to go places with him.

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#67 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 18 2010, 11:20AM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

Anybody know if that kid Cormier hit is okay? It looked like he was convulsing.

Sounds like he is stable now.

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#68 Crash
January 18 2010, 11:21AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Ya, obviously theirs way to many moving parts to state deffinitivly one way or another.

That said, for the Oilers specifically (baring a miricle) the only way this team gets a superstar is through the draft...hopefully we have one coming this June.

All that's left to do is to convince Carolina and Toronto to start winning some games

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#69 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 18 2010, 11:27AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Sounds like he is stable now.

That's great to hear. Yikes.

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#70 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 18 2010, 11:42AM
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Crash wrote:

All that's left to do is to convince Carolina and Toronto to start winning some games

Brian Burke "we blew the season on purpose we wanted to make sure we controlled who had the #1 pick".

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#71 Jason Gregor
January 18 2010, 12:08PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

At least if you build a team you aren't relying on that one superstar. If we had a solid team then maybe guys like Hossa or Heatley would come here.

CBJ, ATL, FLO, CGY are teams off the top of my head that have tried the route of building around a superstar. Where have they gotten?

At least if you have a good solid core you can at least stay so what competitive year after year.

I never said you don't need a nucleus, but the main part of the nucleus has to be a superstar in my mind.

You can't build a great team without a superstar. I can't recall any team that has done that.

Flames are a joke in that they have top-end, and no middle ground, and to me they have a two year window to win or they are screwed.

CBJ and ATL have done nothing to build around their superstar and that is a problem as well. THey should have made strides, but haven't due to bad management.

Of course Hall or Seguin won't guarantee the Oilers become a dominant team, but there chances are better if they have some good building blocks around him.

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#72 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 18 2010, 12:17PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I never said you don't need a nucleus, but the main part of the nucleus has to be a superstar in my mind.

You can't build a great team without a superstar. I can't recall any team that has done that.

Flames are a joke in that they have top-end, and no middle ground, and to me they have a two year window to win or they are screwed.

CBJ and ATL have done nothing to build around their superstar and that is a problem as well. THey should have made strides, but haven't due to bad management.

Of course Hall or Seguin won't guarantee the Oilers become a dominant team, but there chances are better if they have some good building blocks around him.

My issue is this team wouldn't add those building blocks for the last 3 years, what makes the next 3 any different?

Just looking at how this team has been built over the past how many years I don't see Tambo addressing the Nucleus. I have a good feeling that they try get that pick and then hope things fall into place.

I hope I'm wrong, but until Tambo starts addressing the obvious weakness's of this team I won't hold my breath.

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#73 RossCreekNation
January 18 2010, 04:32PM
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@Jason Gregor

Flames are a joke in that they have top-end, and no middle ground, and to me they have a two year window to win or they are screwed.

Depends what they can parlay Dion Phaneuf in to.

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