January 03 2010 01:55AM
San Jose Sharks: 4
Edmonton Oilers: 1
The Oilers actually had a fairly good game this evening, considering the level of their opposition. They were undone by poor goaltending, which takes me to my next point.
Why I Respect Jeff Deslauriers
Excerpts from Jeff Deslaurier's post-game:
Pretty tough for me tonight; I'm not happy about the way I handled the puck, or was able to control very much tonight. I can't play like this right now.
The first three goals, even the fourth one, I had a chance to do something on those goals, and for some reason the puck just went by. Like I said, I'm not supposed to allow those goals at this level, so it's just disappointment right now.
Playing the puck was okay, it wasn't great... maybe I should have been more involved behind the net, playing the puck tonight.
I've said it before; we have to be great, we can't be good, and for myself right now, tonight, I wasn't good. That's not enough, if we want to win. It has to start from the goalie first, and the players will follow that.
It's impossible not to respect that kind of brutal honesty from Jeff Deslauriers, and it isn't for the first time. He's calm and measured but unforgiving of a poor performance on his part, and there are definitely other players on the team that could look at the statements Deslauriers makes about himself and learn something. Nobody on this team is more accountable than Jeff Deslauriers. I found myself in total agreement with Shawn Horcoff's comments when he was asked about Deslauriers:
It's a tough position, especially for a goalie in his situation, a younger guy that's been thrust into a situation where he has to play every game. We're doing our best out there to try and keep shots to the outside, and 90% of nights we're not there for him, we have to do a better job. Jeff's going to have those nights, but he's been playing terrific for us lately and we have a lot of confidence in him, that he's going to be able to bounce back and give us solid performances.
I'm not as sold as Brownlee on Deslauriers' ability to be a long-term starter; I'm agnostic at this point, although I do believe Deslauriers can be part of a strong tandem. That said, I've always been impressed with Deslauriers' resiliency, and his demeanour and attitude in front of the camera have been extraordinary.
That's Enough Of That...
So rather than spend more time dissecting an Oilers' loss, telling you all how wonderfully Robert Nilsson and Dustin Penner played while trying to avoid screaming in rage at the rest of the team, I thought I'd mention something else entirely.
Conz went undrafted this past summer after a mediocre under-18 tournament, and Hockey's Future wastes exactly two sentences in describing his ability: "Conz is a small netminder, who plays deep in his net. He has very unusual technique, which is not very effective."
After 50 saves earlier today, I think they'll be revising that entry. Those 50 saves knocked Russia out of the World Juniors, and continued an incredible run for Conz that has Switzerland guaranteed of a finish no worse than fourth. For the Swiss, whose best result at the tournament ever was a bronze medal, this is huge news. As for Conz, The Score's Sean Tomlinson put it this way: "Conz was more than a leader; he was a saviour for the Swiss."
The Dive For Five
Today's Dive For Five Rankings:
- Carolina: 29 points
- Edmonton: 7 points back
- Toronto: 8 points back
- Columbus: 10 points back
- Florida: 10 points back
With their second straight loss and one win in their last ten, the Oilers are gaining steadily on Carolina (4-5-1 in their last 10) and may have a shot at first overall. They need to watch for the Leafs, just one point back and on a two game losing streak of their own, but with some clutch play from their goaltender and the various AHL players dotted along the roster, the Oilers should be able to hold them off.
They'll need to be careful, though. The Oilers play the next four and 10 of their next 13 at home, and if they aren't careful they could easily slide into a couple of wins.