Edmonton Oilers: 2
Vancouver Canucks: 1
Oilers Three Stars, According To Me
- Nikolai Khabibulin – A brilliant performance on the evening. The performance was so brilliant in fact that I’ll even credit for giving up a morale-crushing goal for the Canucks just seconds after the game ended.
- Patrick O’Sullivan – O’Sullivan was in on both goals, but aside from that he had jump all night and was great on the penalty-kill.
- Lubomir Visnovsky – There were at least a handful of other guys who could have gotten this spot, but Visnovsky made calm plays all night and easily the Oilers’ best defenceman (with all due respect to Ladislav Smid’s goaltending turn).
Other guys just missing the cut for me include Sam Gagner (game-winning goal), Dustin Penner (a far better player in the second half of the game) and Taylor Chorney (who played as well as I’ve seen him play since his WJC days).
- The idea that fighting deters pests is at times laughably false. Zack Stortini, for instance, was cleanly beat in a fight by Rick Rypien early in the game but over the rest of the night hounded everyone (including Rypien). He threw hits, he agitated, and he was in the crease slashing at the puck and running Luongo. Fans around these parts sometimes focus too much on the guys on the other side doing stuff like this; I have my doubts about how much it affects winning but Stortini was perfect in the role tonight.
- Nikolai Khabibulin is glacially calm. I’m still not a fan of the contract, but I’m pulling for the player and I have to admit that I love watching him in net.
- All night, the Canucks commentators were saying how the Oilers were owed powerplay opportunities, but the referees made up for it by putting their whistles away in the third when the Oilers got away with a ton.
- What was Ales Hemsky doing on the ice with a little over a minute to go? He was brutal all night – quite possibly because he’s still day-to-day – and laying down when he was stick checked as he sauntered in on an empty net was ridiculous. I like the player, but he wasn’t up to it tonight and I think it says something about the Oilers’ RW depth that Quinn chose to send him out.
- On a similar thought, Jason Strudwick shouldn’t see the ice after the 10:00 mark of the third.
- Miserable night for Mike Comrie, who took three penalties (although the slashing call was weak) and got away with at least one blatant interference call. Pat Quinn already took a shot at him in one post-game press-conference, and the Oilers need Comrie to play a smarter game.
- The Canucks kept trying to overload the right-hand side of the net; better than three-quarters of the shots that they took were from that half of the ice.
- Ryan Stone left the game early with what looked like an ankle injury.
Comment of the Night
From Victoria at 1:21 PM:
"Khabibulin struggles more v. the Canucks than any other team, he is only 6-16-3 with a 3.39 GAA. He hopes to change that tonight."
But then, he’s been great against the Flames in previous years and now he seems to suck against them. Maybe that trend will continue.
Highlights from the Press Conference
"We’re going to get better. I don’t want to say fragile, but we’re still a team with a low threshold."
"We want to be better in our own zone, and we will eventually. Tonight it didn’t kill us – it hurt us, cost us a goal."
"We’re going to screw up, but that’s okay because good teams screw up too. But at least it’s errors of commission rather than hiding in the turtle shell."
"Penner… set a tone."
"Our defence [in the final 20 seconds] looked up and saw all the bodies coming at them and decided to back up and pray, it looked like."
"MRI tomorrow [for Stone]."
"We’ve got four, maybe five guys showing symptoms [of the flu]… we’re going to take a day away from each other and see if we can nullify anything that might be going on."