Oilers vs. Blue Jackets Postgame: Clutch Loss

Jonathan Willis
January 07 2010 10:57PM

Edmonton Oilers: 2

Columbus Blue Jackets: 4

On a night where the Carolina Hurricanes lost to Nashville, and facing an opponent nearly as inept as themselves, the Oilers needed to come up with a solid effort if they were going to lose this one. Fortunately, they did, as middling goaltending and a disastrous night for the Smid-Staios pairing earned them a hard-fought loss.

Three Stars

1. Fernando Pisani. I'll admit there's some bias in this particular choice, but there aren't many things that make me grin ear to ear in an Oilers game any more (I think the last one was Colin McDonald's goal), and Pisani's goal tonight made me do that.  It was vintage Pisani - a great forecheck to strip the puck off the defenceman's stick, and than a perfect shot to beat the goaltender.  A beautiful play, from a player who deserves a little success now and then.

2. Sheldon Souray.  Souray's struggled at times this season, but played a very nice game tonight.  He drilled Rick Nash early in the second period, he made smart plays all night, and his shot may not have resulted in a goal but it was very evident. 

3. Andrew Cogliano.  Playing with a somewhat limited player in Zack Stortini and a liability in Ethan Moreau, Cogliano played aggresively, charging the net and generating chances off the forecheck.  He also used his speed to draw a penalty late in the third and was at times a real joy to watch.

Dive For Five Star

Steve Staios.  I'll come right out and say it: without Staios' efforts tonights, the Oilers might have got away with a win - they were the better team, all things considered.  But it was Staios who was undressed by Fedor Tyutin and then left R.J. Umberger untouched in front of the net on the Blue Jackets' first goal, and it was Staios who lost a puck battle to Raffi Torres which resulted in a scoring chance and then a Staios penalty as he tried to recover - a penalty that led to a perfect shot by Kristian Huselius, a shot that stood up as the game winning goal.

Making this particularly difficult to say is the fact that Staios selflessly blocked hard shots at least twice that I saw, and looked in pain both times.  Like Jason Smith, Mike Grier and Ryan Smyth before him, Staios embodies the kind of self-sacrificing, do anything for the team mentality that is impossible not to admire.  Somewhere along the way though, he's lost a step or two.

Random Thoughts

Staios was bad, but his defence partner Ladislav Smid had a rough outing too.  On the Blue Jackets' second goal it was Smid who got crushed by Raffi Torres, which was half of the equation leading to the goal against (Patrick O'Sullivan failing to take Antoine Vermette was the other half).  The pairing was on for all three even-strength goals against.

Devan Dubnyk was okay.  He looked a little sketchy handling the puck behind his net, he looked shaky early, and he probably should have had the Huselius goal (although I'll cut him some slack because of the situation) but between freak deflections and missed coverage, the goals against were hardly his fault alone.  That said, any night a 'tender gives up four isn't a night to remember.

On a semi-related note, I'd like to thank my fantasy goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, for yet another miserable outing (Yahoo! stats line: 11.06 GAA, 11 saves, .733 SV%, 0 wins).  As if his effort last week wasn't enough.

Where was I?  Right, my fantasy team.  Nice goal by Gagner.

I thought the Oilers top line looked pretty good tonight.  All the players did that thing they do at times (Penner disappears, Nilsson gets too cute, Horcoff mishandles the puck) but despite that the line generated a bunch of quality chances and outplayed the Nash line for the majority of the evening. 

Tonight in improbable NHL'ers: Mathieu Roy.  It's nice to see the brittle defender, who set a career-high in games played last season with (a whopping) 59, playing in the NHL.

Patrick O'Sullivan went out of character tonight with a brutal hit on Jan Hejda.  He also whined about the penalty he took after kicking out Raffi Torres' feet; I'm still trying to figure out what his problem with it was.  Probably something along the lines of: 'C'mon it was Raffi Torres. RAFFI TORRES!'

Ethan Moreau made a couple of boneheaded plays at evens but had a splendid night on the penalty-kill, and despite my annoyance at superfluous cross-checking (it didn't get called but boy it could have) I have to give him credit: he played a few inspired shifts while the team was down a man.

With 30 seconds left in the game, and Pat Quinn and Tom Renney on the bench, I found it interesting to see Kelly Buchberger planning the attack.  Not that I have a particular critique, mind you; it was just interesting.

The Oilers are now on pace for a 69-point season, which should put them comfortably in the NHL's bottom five.  It's two points worse than their 2006-07 finish, and in the years since the lockout would have placed the Oilers anywhere between first and fourth in the draft order.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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.
Avatar
#101 TigerUnderGlass
January 08 2010, 03:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Chaz wrote:

You mean his cap hit is 5.5 Million. His salary is 7 Million this year, and then 6.5 for the next two years before dropping after that.

I've seen a lot of people make the argument that the only thing people should worry about is his cap hit, but I disagree. It's his salary that makes him untradeable at this point in time. What owner, even one with a team that has 5.5 Million in cap space, would pay this guy 7 Mill, then 6.5 for the next two years? When owners pay that much for a player they're expecting a difference maker, someone who will fill empty seats in their arenas. Horcs is not that guy and therefore I think his salary does matter. We are stuck with him. Even if his salary was actually only 5.5 we would have trouble dealing him, but the fact it's 7/6.5/6.5, means we're stuck with him for at least three years.

Hopefully he is just hurt or having an off year, but if he falls back any further, the criticism's are only going to get worse.

I like Horcs, but I honestly think it may be the worst contract in the NHL.

Lupul - 4.25 until 12-13 - 14 points Vanek - 7.14 until 13-14 - 23 points Drury - 7.05 until 11-12 - 14 points Gomez - 7.36 until 13-14 - 29 points

or how about Kessel until 13-14 and his whopping 56 point pace?

These are just the ones that come to me immediately without looking, and it doesn't even count all the guys making 6 million plus cap hits who are signed long term and are only on pace for 55-65 points.

Avatar
#102 Chaz
January 08 2010, 03:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Check Chris Drury. worse production for 2 million more.

I agree, that contract is definitely worse. I guess things could be worse in Oil country.

But why limit ourselves to bad hockey contracts? Why don't we bemoan bad contracts in all walks of life as a way of easing our trepidation towards all things Oil?

Stephen Harper and the rest of the lazy Poroguing MPs come to mind.

So does the annoying guy from the A & W ads. Whatever they're paying him, Horcs contract is better.

How about all of the Fat Cat CEOs who make more than I do in a year by Jan 4th according to Yahoo?

What about easily distracted and lazy consultants who waste hours per week reading and commenting on Oilers Nati....never mind!

Avatar
#103 rubbertrout
January 08 2010, 03:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Lupul - 4.25 until 12-13 - 14 points Vanek - 7.14 until 13-14 - 23 points Drury - 7.05 until 11-12 - 14 points Gomez - 7.36 until 13-14 - 29 points

or how about Kessel until 13-14 and his whopping 56 point pace?

These are just the ones that come to me immediately without looking, and it doesn't even count all the guys making 6 million plus cap hits who are signed long term and are only on pace for 55-65 points.

Of course Kessel did miss a big chunk of the start of the year and all of training camp. I wouldn't put him into that category of player just yet.

I was actually surprised that he is doing as well as he is seeing as he doesn't have Savard with him this year.

Avatar
#104 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 08 2010, 06:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Chaz wrote:

You mean his cap hit is 5.5 Million. His salary is 7 Million this year, and then 6.5 for the next two years before dropping after that.

I've seen a lot of people make the argument that the only thing people should worry about is his cap hit, but I disagree. It's his salary that makes him untradeable at this point in time. What owner, even one with a team that has 5.5 Million in cap space, would pay this guy 7 Mill, then 6.5 for the next two years? When owners pay that much for a player they're expecting a difference maker, someone who will fill empty seats in their arenas. Horcs is not that guy and therefore I think his salary does matter. We are stuck with him. Even if his salary was actually only 5.5 we would have trouble dealing him, but the fact it's 7/6.5/6.5, means we're stuck with him for at least three years.

Hopefully he is just hurt or having an off year, but if he falls back any further, the criticism's are only going to get worse.

I like Horcs, but I honestly think it may be the worst contract in the NHL.

thats BS.

that same owner, if they cared about actual money, can look at horcoffs deal and see how the last bit of it has less actual money but keeps the same cap hit.

so, if you are an owner trying to hit the cap floor, and apparently the owners care so much about actual dollars, horcoffs deal actually has a decent trade-off.

horcoff is horribly overpaid, dont get me wrong, but you honestly think the extra million dollars of "actual" salary is going to make an owner walk away from a deal? i would assume the cap hit will be the first thing to make them sh*t their pants...

Comments are closed for this article.