January 29 2010 12:08AM
St. Louis Blues: 2
Edmonton Oilers: 1
One of the most boring games of the year ended with the usual result.
I was at the last Oilers/Blues matchup, which featured Devan Dubnyk in his first NHL start. It was an ugly affair, a 7-2 loss that was difficult to watch. I’m hoping for something a little less lopsided tonight.
Jeff Deslauriers seems strangely calm. I have no reason to be reassured, but somehow I feel good about him in net tonight.
The puck gets tangled up behind the net after some lousy communication between Souray and Gilbert; the latter dumped the puck behind him but Souray wasn’t there. I’m not sure who was to blame but it resulted in some sustained Blues possession in the Oilers’ zone.
A nice forecheck by Dustin Penner leads to some time in the offensive zone for the Oilers; he didn’t look like he was moving past but he snuck right up on Roman Polak and calmly took the puck away.
Jason Strudwick looked horribly uncomfortable with the puck, but managed to get it deep for the line change and I don’t care how awkward he looks as long as he can make those plays.
I’ve missed Mike Comrie. He’s calm with the puck, he takes his time when he can and he just knows what to do in the offensive zone.
Sometimes I think people focus too much on the minutes played by the fourth line and view it only as a demotion; sometimes it can be an opportunity for a guy like Cogliano, since he goes from playing top-nine guys to the assortment of goons, rookies and penalty-killers that inhabit the fourth line. It’s a position he should be able to succeed in.
Pisani is a nice complement to Gagner and Penner in the offensive zone; back when he was more or less healthy he was “Mr. Chemistry” and he has some underrated skill.
Gilbert Brule negated an icing call with some good speed and tenacity.
Barrett Jackman gave Robert Nilsson a few shoves after the latter tripped him up along the boards. I’m not sure why there wasn’t a call; possibly the referee thought Jackman went down a little easy but I think Nilsson got away with one there.
The Horcoff line swapped chances with the McDonald line.
Ryan Potulny draws a penalty from Patrik Berglund after the Blues’ forward slammed him into the boards.
Brule is now playing on the fourth line; I’m not sure if Quinn’s demoting him in the hopes of easing him in, or double-shifting him, but either way he’s in and Jacques is out.
The panel calls out the Oilers, given that St. Louis is playing their second game of a back-to-back. The Oilers have been horrible facing teams who played the night before, probably because they’ve been terrible overall.
Somehow, Lubomir Visnovsky fits into the “young core” displayed by Sportsnet.
To my complete surprise, I find myself agreeing with Doug MacLean that the Oilers need to add checking forwards and a pair of physical defencemen. Bang on.
And... apparently the Lightning are being sold, although it supposedly isn’t a done deal yet. This is probably for the best; the circus in Tampa Bay needs to end.
Carolina beat the Islanders 4-1.
Louie DeBrusk was much, much more impressed with the Oilers in the first than either me or the intermission panel was.
Very good forecheck by Ryan Potulny, who despite his lack of speed managed to generate a turnover which led to a nice shot for the line and some pressure.
Potulny dangerous again; the Blues’ defenceman flubs the puck, and Potulny stole it and almost deked the puck in, running out of space in the last second. Very fine shift for him.
David Backes just owned Sam Gagner. Gagner had a very nice first period, but Gagner lost at least three battles along the boards to Backes that resulted in some impressive looking chances for hte Blues.
I love the Deslauriers/Hasek comparisons. Just love them.
Nice passing by the top line; Sam Gagner got the puck through the neutral zone to Robert Nilsson, and Nilsson flipped the puck over to Dustin Penner at the side of the net. Penner tipped it past Chris Mason to put the Oilers ahead 1-0.
The world’s shortest lead ends as an Eric Brewer point shot deflects in off Keith Tkachuk. 17 seconds, and it’s 1-1.
Mike Comrie went after Mike Weaver a little more aggressively than the Blues’ defenceman liked, and the two drop the gloves and tussle. Advantage to Weaver, but a nice thing for Comrie to do. The referees call it roughing and give coincidental minors.
Incredible shift for Shawn Horcoff, who was all over the ice and forechecking madly before finally getting hauled down, drawing a holding penalty.
Another relatively uneventful power play ends with the score still tied at one goal per team.
Penner with a gorgeous series of one-on-one moves in the offensive zone dancing in and around multiple Blues before passing back for a one-timer.
Sam Gagner takes a penalty on one of the more blatant trips I’ve seen this year.
Interesting play – Shawn Horcoff wins the faceoff on the PK, the Oilers ice the puck, and Horcoff changes for Potulny but Moreau and the defencemen stay on the ice.
Jeff Deslauriers has played very well so far tonight.
Gorgeous chance for Gilbert Brule after a brilliant pass from Ryan Potulny; the puck comes the other way and David Backes put it off the post. Backes was free because Jason Strudwick skates like Gordie Howe. Not in his prime Gordie Howe – Gordie Howe now.
I’m not at all convinced that NHL’ers in the Russian Olympics is in the best interest of the league, but on the other hand it’s a good bet that NHL’ers – European NHL’ers in particular – will want to go to the 2014 games. The league should be able to extract other concessions from the splintered NHLPA in exchange for Olympic participation.
Kelly Buchberger sounds as cheerful as I can recall him sounding in months; maybe he’s just a big fan of Jeff Deslauriers, who has been excellent.
Tkachuk’s goal has been taken away from him, and he gets a little more bad luck as he rings a shot off the crossbar.
Tom Gilbert goes into the boards off an ugly hit; Gilbert turned at the last second which was why it was so brutal.
Alex Steen scores to put the Blues ahead 2-1. Steen beat both Deslauriers and the sliding Grebeshkov cleanly from the right faceoff circle.
Jacques had a sneaky shot the other way off a Cogliano pass; he went five hole but Mason managed to get it shut in time.
The Blues are now showcasing the greatest defensive strategy in the world: keep the puck in the opposition zone.
Great Visnovsky shot after an effective forecheck which involved all three members of hte Oilers’ fourth line.
Paul Kariya almost snuck right past Sheldon Souray and Dustin Penner, but the pass was too far forward and went to Jeff Deslauriers instead.
Lots of exciting neutral zone hockey!
Finally, a nice shot for Ryan Potulny breaks the tedium of neutral zone play and dump ins, but Chris Mason deflects it high for a whistle.
Jeff Deslauriers trips on a loose strap off his pads behind the net and it very nearly results in a St. Louis goal, except for Sheldon Souray’s quick action to break it up.
Chris Mason with a huge save on Gagner as the Oilers scramble with the net empty; it was a very nice shot that Mason never saw, but he got lucky and kept it 2-1.
A Dustin Penner wrist shot from the blue line is gloved easily by Mason, and that ends the game.
1. Dustin Penner. Penner scored the first goal and had a sneaky sort of night where it would look like he was coasting until he was a threat to score.
2. Sam Gagner. Aside from one regrettable shift against David Backes, Gagner had a decent evening and continued his strong offensive play of late.
3. Gilbert Brule. Added some fire and had a gorgeous scoring chance in his first game back.