Oilers Vs. Canucks Postgame: The Jeff Deslauriers Experience Continues

Jonathan Willis
March 23 2010 10:47PM

Edmonton Oilers: 3

Vancouver Canucks: 2

At times like this, it’s almost possible to forget how the Oilers’ goaltenders have struggled this year. Devan Dubnyk was out with illness after two strong efforts, and the timing forced the Oilers to turn to an unlikely backup – Nathan Deobald out of CIS. That left Jeff Deslauriers as the starter and he didn’t disappoint, putting in an at times spectacular effort and easily outplaying opponent Roberto Luongo on the other side.

In the end, the goaltending was the difference; the Canucks carried the play but the Oilers snuck away with a close win.

Oilers Three Stars

1. Jeff Deslauriers. Jeff Deslauriers was brilliant, making 31 saves and stymying the Canucks offence – in particular Kyle Wellwood, who he robbed several times, with his best save coming at the side of the net as he stacked his glove over his pad and knocked the puck away. He had a decent night puck-handling and is the biggest reason the Oilers won.

2. Tom Gilbert. A tentative start for Gilbert didn’t set the tone for his game; he scored the Oilers first goal, assisted on Cogliano’s game-winner and along with Ryan Whitney had a very solid night. This tandem has been the Oilers’ most pronounced strength since the trade deadline.

3. Andrew Cogliano. It wasn’t a great game for Cogliano, who was a key contributor to one goal against, but he was active offensively and scored the game winner. On a night where the forwards weren’t all that effective, he was a threat to score all night.

Other Stuff

Shawn Horcoff has struggled against the Canucks all season, at least in part because he’s been consistently matched against the Sedins. That happened again tonight, and while there were some good points I thought he had at best a lukewarm game. He also had a bad night on faceoffs, winning four of 12. He’s now at 46.8% on the season, either indicating that he’s completely lost his game or he’s been playing hurt most of the season.

The Oilers have three NHL defencemen at this point; the two named in the three stars and Aaron Johnson. Strudwick and Chorney put in their usual performance (of the Canucks’ 28 even-strength shots, 15 of them came with Strudwick on the ice) while Dean Arsene (up on an emergency recall basis) looked overwhelmed.

While I’m on defencemen, here’s how the ice-time broke down at even-strength:

  • Ryan Whitney – 19:07
  • Tom Gilbert – 17:21
  • Jason Strudwick – 17:20
  • Taylor Chorney – 17:15
  • Aaron Johnson – 15:31
  • Dean Arsene – 14:04

I’d be grumpier about Jason Strudwick’s ice-time if it mattered at this point.

There was a nice to pace to the game, start to finish; in fact, it was so good that I almost didn’t mind watching the Canucks feed.

What did everyone else think?

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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.
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#51 Matt Henderson
March 24 2010, 12:37PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

He is above him because of ten games. You consistently jump the gun on evaluating players. Sorry man.

I've watched Johnson, and he has been okay at best.

Of course, Strudwick's best days are behind him, but to suggest he isn't an NHL defenceman is misleading.

You might not like him as a player, and that if fine, but he's played over 600 NHL games and that makes him an NHL D-man.

But to suggest that Johnson is a lock to be better moving forward is a knee-jerk reaction at best.

He works hards, and competes hard which is great. But he isn't strong on his skates and moving forward he will be a #6 at best. He might replace Strudwick, but I haven't seen enough to suggest he is a slam dunk to be better.

He isn't tougher, and he isn't that much more offensive, despite his irregular goal-scoring spree with the Oilers.

Let's all slow down here.

1) After re-reading all my posts on this subject, not once did I say that Strudwick isnt an NHL defenseman. I DID say I didnt think he'd be one next year.

2) All I have been saying is that Strudwick is probably below Johnson on the depth chart. The fact is the kid is 8 or 9 years younger and hasnt appeared out of place.

3) They are not really that close offensively. If you project Johnson's numbers over Strudwick's career 622 games you get 127 points. More than double the offensive output of Strudwick.

4) Strudwick is a great person, he came to my son's school and talked to the kids. It was a highlight for all the students.

5) I didnt say Johnson will be the next Chris Pronger, it doesnt take a lot to see that the kid will play more NHL games than Strudwick over the next 3 seasons. If I have jumped the gun evaluating other players I would gladly re-examine my position as soon as you give me the list of guys I messed up on. These are the guys I remember being "high on": Penner, Gilbert, Schremp. Penner i think has proven to be much better than he showed. Gilbert is a mess some nights, but the jury is still out on him. Schremp had an excellent rookie campaign in New York before ending it to injury. I will gladly debate others if someone brings them up.

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#52 Jason Gregor
March 24 2010, 02:22PM
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@Matt Henderson

These are the guys I remember being "high on": Penner, Gilbert, Schremp. Penner i think has proven to be much better than he showed. Gilbert is a mess some nights, but the jury is still out on him. Schremp had an excellent rookie campaign in New York before ending it to injury. I will gladly debate others if someone brings them up.

You loved Penner at the start of the year, what has he done since Dec 11th? He has nine goals and 19 points in last 41 games. What did he prove this year? That he can be dominant if he commits himself, but so far he has only been able to do that for a 30-game stretch.

I think Gilbert is okay and has upside.

I don't see the point in debating the other guy, since a 40 game stretch isn't long enough to evaluate anything. One goal five-on-five in goal (that wasn't an empty netter) in EV 500 minutes doesn't make me think he is on the verge of being an offensive stalwart.

And arguing the offensive merits of Johnson v. Strudwick is like arguing who is better at being inconsistent Nilsson or O'Sullivan.

Offence isn't the game that will keep Johnson in the league, just like it wasn't the reason Strudwick has played 13 years.

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#53 jake
March 24 2010, 02:31PM
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I am not sure but when Wellwood went on his razzle dazzle dash to the net last night in the 3rd, he embarrassed someone just inside the Oiler blue line, think it was Johnson.

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#54 Matt Henderson
March 24 2010, 02:43PM
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@Jason Gregor

Penner will end the year as the Oilers' highest scoring forward, goals and points. He went through a terrible slide in the middle of the season, but I think he's done remarkably well this year in comparison to last year. MacT thinks so too. The guy might make team Canada at the Worlds this year.

I dont know why Strudwick's 13 year history in the NHL is being used as evidence to prove he will be in the NHL next year. His history isnt going to make him any faster next season. It might make him more qualified to become a coach in the minor leagues though. I dont think it's disrespectful to Strudwick to say that I think he's at the end of his career, it happens to every player eventually.

"And arguing the offensive merits of Johnson v. Strudwick is like arguing who is better at being inconsistent Nilsson or O'Sullivan." LOL. I like that one.

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#55 Bucknuck
March 24 2010, 03:43PM
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@Jason Gregor

"And arguing the offensive merits of Johnson v. Strudwick is like arguing who is better at being inconsistent Nilsson or O'Sullivan."

Now that is comedy.

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#56 Cameron
March 25 2010, 10:44AM
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Gregor....what a nice job, assume now that you require zero preparation for your radio show after listening to you go back and forth on nicknames for most of the show yesterday. It was hilarious and really enjoy Brownlee's anecdotes. Thumbs up to both Muff and Buff, it was a hoot!

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#57 David S
March 25 2010, 04:50PM
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Cameron wrote:

Gregor....what a nice job, assume now that you require zero preparation for your radio show after listening to you go back and forth on nicknames for most of the show yesterday. It was hilarious and really enjoy Brownlee's anecdotes. Thumbs up to both Muff and Buff, it was a hoot!

Robin and Barnes are the three best spots of the week. When Meg gets into it with Gregor, the needle is pegged.

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#58 michael clarke
March 27 2010, 07:59AM
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Arguing who is better at this point is like saying where you would like the guy to punch you. When the season is done we can tear this thing called a team up and throw it in the trash. It'll be done. Then we can pick the carcass clean and start over. Its been hard for all of us this season to watch this team. Alot of mistakes have been made that have come back to haunt the OIlers management this season. You reap what you sow.

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