Oilers vs. Coyotes Postgame: The Vindication of Barry Fraser

Jonathan Willis
February 08 2010 11:31PM

Phoenix Coyotes: 6

Edmonton Oilers: 1

It was a rough night for the Oilers, and especially Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. There isn't much more to it than that; this is a hard team to watch.

 

First Period

 

As the world’s third-biggest Marc Pouliot fan (behind his mother and Lowetide) I’m very excited about his elevation up the roster. Okay, ‘very’ is probably pushing it, but I have to find something to enjoy tonight and this is what I’ve settled on. I’ll also enjoy Ryan Potulny on the top line, and the potent rum and coke that will be my companion for at least the first part of the game, and of course Gene Principe, who is in rare form with a power tool.

Nilsson and Penner with a 2-on-1 but Nilsson hung on to the puck too long and then couldn’t get it past the sliding Phoenix defenceman (Michalek).

The checking line routine continues on the road, as Horcoff and company are matched against Shane Doan’s line.

The commentators are discussing Dave Tippett as a Jack Adams candidate, and I agree completely. If I were voting, he’d be my first choice this season. He’s always been a good coach; he did a fine job with special teams in Los Angeles and I was a little surprised when Joe Nieuwendyk fired him in Dallas.

Robert Lang just walked past Jason Strudwick; Strudwick had half a step on him but his lack of speed was exposed once again. He seems like a stand-up guy, but I’m hoping his contract isn’t renewed this summer.

Tom Gilbert with a brutal giveaway to Lang leads to some Phoenix pressure; Shawn Horcoff did a nice job getting the puck but then flipped it straight to a Coyotes defenceman standing on the blue line which, needless to say, undid that earlier work.

Phoenix goon Paul Bissonnette ran Jeff Deslauriers and tried to make it look unintentional; that’s just a boneheaded play by a guy on the fringe of the line-up any given day. Power play for the Oilers.

Ryan Potulny had a nice chance in front but it went high; a few moments later Robert Nilsson drew a holding penalty from Michalek, giving the Oilers a 5-on-3.

Comrie and Nilsson both had fine chances on either side of the net; Comrie’s in particular was very good but he couldn’t jam it in; then Visnovsky had a great shot from the high slot, but unfortunately the Oilers were unable to convert on the 5-on-3. After that penalty expired the Oilers couldn’t get much going on the 5-on-4.

The Oilers managed seven shots on those two power plays, shots are now 8-4.

Ed Jovanovski records his 10th goal of the season (he’s had a great rebound year) on a delayed penalty, a point shot through traffic. Shane Doan provided the screen in front of the net.

Matthew Lombardi with a great chance in close, but Jeff Deslauriers made a fine save.

Gilbert Brule made a great move and almost set O’Sullivan up with a goal; he went into the net hard after the play with a Phoenix defenceman on him.

Nilsson, Potulny and Penner buzzing in the Phoenix zone.

I could be wrong but I think Jeff Deslauriers’ puck-handling is getting better; he just made a good hard pass through a Phoenix fore-checker to Fernando Pisani.

Interference penalty to Adrian Aucoin; Patrick O’Sullivan did a good job to force the penalty by pushing into Aucoin.

Daniel Winnik has a reputation for being very effective on the penalty kill and he hasn’t disappointed at all tonight; a hard fore-check kept the Oilers out of the offensive zone, and in two full minutes the Oilers were never able to generate any real sustained pressure.

Matthew Lombardi scores with less than a minute left in the first period. Shane Doan had a beautiful no-look pass that landed right on his stick; Lombardi had snuck away from Horcoff who failed to cover him. 2-0 in a period that has been all Phoenix (aside from the 5-on-3).

 

Second Period

 

Looks like one of those nights for Deslauriers; Matthew Lombardi scored just over a minute in for his third point on the night. Steve Staios was in front of Lombardi but it didn’t look like he did anything wrong; Deslauriers was just slow.

4-0 Phoenix. Jim Vandermeer’s point shot bounced off a player in front of the net and blew by Deslauriers.

Staios with a solid shot off a Cogliano faceoff win (I haven’t been counting but I think he’s actually been pretty good on the dot). Bryzgalov’s been pretty sharp.

Vernon Fiddler, who would have been a nice addition to the Oilers this summer, is taking a beating; first Cogliano laid into him and the Strudwick nailed him.

Dustin Penner gets four minutes for high-sticking Martin Hanzal and making him bleed. I’m not sure Penner even knew his stick was up.

Surprisingly effective penalty kill so far.

The Oilers kill all four minutes, and Penner gets sprung on a breakaway coming out of the box, putting a dangerous shot just high.

Great chance for the second line, again generated by Gilbert Brule with a smart pass, but Bryzgalov came up big. The line sustained the pressure, with Pouliot crashing the net shortly thereafter.

Dustin Penner with nice hit on Jovanovski.

Andrew Cogliano dodged a big hit from Petr Prucha, who has been feisty, and then comes around and starts working him over along the boards.

Pouliot smacked into Bissonnette along the boards, knocking his face into the glass. Pouliot’s getting brave.

Penner with a nice job on the fore check again, setting up Robert Nilsson, whose stick snapped. Every time I go to write Penner off he starts playing a little better.

 

Third Period

 

Brilliant shift for the top line, as both Penner and Potulny did a great job forechecking. Bryzgalov robbed Potulny at the side of the net; the one-sidedness of this game shouldn’t distract from his incredible performance.

That gutless coward Patrick O’Sullivan just held off Paul Bissonnette and took a body slam into the boards to make a pass.

Pouliot was dragged down in the slot; his shot rang off the post and the Oilers will go on the power play. Lang was the guy pushing on Pouliot, and he’s actually a pretty big guy; Pouliot did a great job to get the shot away.

Lots of Oilers jerseys in the crowd. I hope they didn’t travel to attend this game.

Radim Vrbata got a breakaway as the penalty ended. Denis Grebeshkov was the guy behind him, but Steve Staios was the guy who jumped forward to try and play the puck rather than backtracking with two Coyotes trying to move out of the zone. 5-0 Phoenix.

I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve decided on a new performance predictor for Jeff Deslauriers. No matter how good he’s been of late, the moment Robin writes a post talking about him in a remotely positive light, I’m going to expect an utter collapse. That’s twice so far this season Deslauriers has responded to a positive article with a stinker of a game.

Whoa, a shot of Bryan Pitton sitting on the bench. Pat Quinn really ought to stick him in net with the game out of reach; given Pitton’s track record this might be his best shot at NHL minutes.

Gilbert Brule just crushed Joel Perreault against the boards. Huge hit.

Louie DeBrusk is talking about how a guy like Pitton might be able to step up. The way he says it makes me wonder if he even believes it.

Fight between Strudwick and Bissonnette; Bissonnette dominated early but Strudwick got some good shots in at the end.

Perreault, Winnik and Doan have all left the bench in pain.

Matthew Lombardi’s a joy to watch right now. I wonder if he gets a special thrill out of playing Edmonton, given his history with the franchise. I know in his shoes I’d take a special pleasure in pushing the blade in a little.

Robert Lang scores on a backhand from the high slot to make it 6-0, breaking his 20-game goal slump. Jeff Deslauriers absolutely has to make that save. Maybe another ugly goal will convince Quinn to put Pitton between the pipes.

Five points on the night for Lombardi.

Shawn Horcoff takes a hooking penalty.

Great stuff! On the delayed call, Mike Comrie drilled Petr Prucha and then the two of them dropped the gloves; Comrie got the best of it and landed on top of Prucha.

Ryan Potulny does a nice job tipping a Robert Lang pass down the ice.

Horcoff’s digging away at the side of the net and once again looks visibly frustrated.

Wow. Sportsnet’s Right Player For Today’s Game is Lombardi. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a non-Oiler.

Dustin Penner scores off a give-and-go with Robert Nilsson; Penner bowled over the defender and then finished it off at the side of the net. 6-1 Phoenix.

A nice pass from Brule to Pouliot, who spun and got a shot away despite being covered in the slot.

Great shot by Nilsson off a behind the back Penner pass.

The Oilers have now tied their record for consecutive road losses, with 10. Gregor’s game-day comments about this being a record-setting season were bang on.

 

Oilers Three Stars

 

1. Barry Fraser. For approving the selection of Matthew Lombardi in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Nice pick, Barry.

2. Dustin Penner. He looked slow at times, but was once again the Oilers most dangerous player, and scored the team’s only goal.

3. Gilbert Brule. Brule seemed determined to stay in the lineup tonight, generating chances single-handedly and throwing his body around. Honourable mention to Mike Comrie for his work with limited ice-time.

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
#51 Crash
February 09 2010, 10:19AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I don't even know what to think anymore about Horcoff, he can't even bring those intangibles that he use to. If he is injuried why even play the guy? We have extra forwards right now why not use them? It's not like we gain anything by showcasing Horcoff.

Exactly...it's not like we need Horcoff for a playoff push...we have a ton of guys who are or have been injured this year....if Horcoff is injured then sit his ass out until he is healthy...especially now that we have an extra body or two sitting out every night.

No more excuses for Horcoff...There are many who don't care what his salary is..he is a whole lot of suck out there and isn't playing like he's worth the minimum salary nevermind his 5.5 mil cap hit.

Avatar
#52 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
February 09 2010, 10:30AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Crash wrote:

Exactly...it's not like we need Horcoff for a playoff push...we have a ton of guys who are or have been injured this year....if Horcoff is injured then sit his ass out until he is healthy...especially now that we have an extra body or two sitting out every night.

No more excuses for Horcoff...There are many who don't care what his salary is..he is a whole lot of suck out there and isn't playing like he's worth the minimum salary nevermind his 5.5 mil cap hit.

I think your last parapgraph is probably pretty close. I see that there are fewer people complaining about him being overpaid and realize he will be overpaid, but there is a big difference between being overpaid 2mil then 5mil.

Avatar
#53 Matt Henderson
February 09 2010, 10:59AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

The biggest problem with Horc as an asset isnt even his bloated 5.5 cap hit. It's his actual paycheck of 7 million. It makes it infinitely harder to trade him for the next 2 years before it goes down and it makes it that much harder to consider the only other option which is sending him to the AHL and wiping him from the Oiler's Cap.

Once his actual take home pay starts to slide there might be someone willing to take him to make the league minimum cap spending or the Oilers wont mind spending 3 million on an AHL player. Until then, we can only hope that a) he magicly gets better, b) the Oilers find someone dense enough to take him, or c) the Oil are willing to bury him.

If he really is injured then the team ought to be finding a way to get him on LTIR so that they can sell the available cap space to teams that need to get rid of underperforming contracts before the trade deadline, at the price of prospects and picks of course.

Avatar
#54 papaburgundy
February 09 2010, 11:04AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

To quote SNL Celebrity Jeopardy,"And the show has reached an all new low!" Watching the Oilers play hockey is like watching a small child reach to the top cupboard from the kitchen floor. You just know he isn't going to reach that shelf. The futile effort the Oilers put forth is somewhat comical as the other team, regardless of who they play, skates circles around the Oilers and makes them look like a bantam tier 6 team. C'mon Oiler fans, are you gonna put up with this heartbreak year after year after year? Management will not make the neccessary changes to make this club successful and they will stick with the same old thing that's out on the ice right now. The ancient Oiler Empire has long since collapsed and WILL NEVER RISE AGAIN!

Avatar
#55 Drinkin' the Oilaid
February 09 2010, 06:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Matt Henderson wrote:

The biggest problem with Horc as an asset isnt even his bloated 5.5 cap hit. It's his actual paycheck of 7 million. It makes it infinitely harder to trade him for the next 2 years before it goes down and it makes it that much harder to consider the only other option which is sending him to the AHL and wiping him from the Oiler's Cap.

Once his actual take home pay starts to slide there might be someone willing to take him to make the league minimum cap spending or the Oilers wont mind spending 3 million on an AHL player. Until then, we can only hope that a) he magicly gets better, b) the Oilers find someone dense enough to take him, or c) the Oil are willing to bury him.

If he really is injured then the team ought to be finding a way to get him on LTIR so that they can sell the available cap space to teams that need to get rid of underperforming contracts before the trade deadline, at the price of prospects and picks of course.

Horc-awful's contract doesn't make it infinitely harder to deal him over the next 2 years, but the next 4. His actual dollars remains over his cap hit until the final two years, when gets 4 mill followed by 3 mill (thanks, capgeek.com). The only chance the oilers have to move his contract is if he were to somehow catch fire in a season before the 2013-14 season (=fat chance!). If not, some team needing to reach the cap floor might consider his 35-year-old carcass. In other words, look forward to another 3 seasons of number 10 suckin' cap space and whiffin' on tape-to-tape passes.

Avatar
#56 Reggie Dunlop
February 09 2010, 10:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Why does the TV camera always pan on Pat Quinn when the Oilers are getting the boots put to them? It's always the same dumb founded look like he doesn't know where he is. It's exactly the same look Don Matthews had when he coached the Argos. Stunned, old coaches who are waaay past their bedtime. What does Quinn have on Tambo that he's still around? At least Matthews retired after 8 straight loses.

Comments are closed for this article.