Edmonton Oilers: 6
Detroit Red Wings: 5
What a game.
The saying says that all’s well that ends well, and by that standard the Oilers came out okay. A five-to-one lead blown, and then a shootout victory on the back of Nikolai Khabibulin’s three saves and Patrick O’Sullivan’s goal. Also, on the back of a great offensive game from the new top line of Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff.
Oilers Three Stars, According To Me
1. Dustin Penner. Once again, Penner was the straw that stirred the drink offensively for the Oilers; not just charging the net and making life difficult in the offensive zone, but also carrying the puck and making plays.
2. Shawn Horcoff. I thought Horcoff had a decent game against Colorado, and he put it all together tonight. Played a strong two-way game and was rewarded with three points on the night.
3. Ales Hemsky. It’s tempting to bump Hemsky ahead of Horcoff, but unlike the first two players he disappeared a bit (by my eye, anyway) in the last half of the game and lost more than one puck battle. Still one of the Oilers better players on the night.
- There was a point in the game where Denis Grebeshkov was in the penalty box and Tom Gilbert was in the dressing room dealing with an equipment issue, and all I could think of was that Ladislav Smid was the only real NHL defenceman available to the coaching staff. It was a recurring theme throughout the night actually; Strudwick was repeatedly embarrassed by Detroit’s high-end players, Chorney was shakey (although that Zetterberg goal was just bad luck) and one of my favourite prospects, Theo Peckham, looked out of his depth. This will continue until Visnovsky, Souray and Staios are back in the lineup.
- Gilbert Brule’s a heck of a player. I was critical of him in the preseason, but he’s been getting a truck-load of defensive zone draws and he’s done very well. The scoring probably won’t continue, but I think he’s a bonafide NHL’er. On a slightly different note, did anyone else think that his hit on Filpulla could have been a boarding penalty?
- Sam Gagner looked like he was yapping all night, especially after getting tangled up with Brad Stuart. Maybe that was part of the reason for his line’s miserable play (a combined -9 on the night, by the way) or maybe it was just that this line was more suited to Craig MacTavish’s stringent line matching where they got a little more shelter. Regardless, none of the three looked good.
- Speaking of MacTavish, the ex-coach showed class on the TSN broadcast tonight, admitting that part of Penner’s problem last season was the way he used him. He’s brilliant as an analyst, and TSN’s crew (Bob McKenzie and James Duthie on the panel, Ray Ferraro and Chris Cuthbert doing colour and play by play) did a great job, as they usually do. It’s night and day from the Sportsnet crew; particularly in the comparison between McKenzie/MacTavish and Kypreos/MacLean. It’s a shame TSN doesn’t broadcast all the games.
- Finally – and this is completely unrelated – great episode of The Office tonight. I can’t help but pass along this video, despite the fact that it’s somewhat cringe-inducing: