GDB XIX: Where the Sabres roam

The Oilers fresh off their most complete road game of the season, even though they lost, head in to Buffalo tonight with a new goalie and a chance that they might get one of their stars back.

Ales Hemsky is a game-time decision, and if he is ready to go it would seem obvious that Ryan O’Marra would take a seat. In his six minutes last night I thought O’Marra was okay. He had two hits, won his only faceoff, but he was -1. His foot speed still needs to improve for him to get a long look, but he looks like a much better player than the previous few years.

The Oilers are 2-0-1 in their last three visits to Buffalo. They lost in OT in 2007, and won 4-0 and 3-0 in 2001 and 2002. Their overall record is 13-10-7-1 in Buffalo, and you would think they might have a bit of revenge on their mind after the Sabres destroyed them 10 to 2 at Rexall Place on January 27th.

It’s too bad the Sabres still don’t play in the Auditorium. That small rink was great. I loved the pitch yellow creases, the smaller surface and the horn they played after goals was awesome.

But the best part about the old rink was Rick Jeanneret, their play-by-play guy. Jeanneret is one of the more entertaining PBP guys in the league. He is revered by Sabres fans, and with calls like this you can understand why. The MAY DAY, MAY DAY clip is one of my all-time favourites.

TSN did a top ten Jeanneret calls, and while the film work is grainy, these calls are great.

I’ve had Jeanneret on my show a couple of times and he is a character. He brings energy, creativity and excitement to the game. One of my other favourites is Mike Lange.

Some of his calls don’t make much sense, but they crack me up. “He doesn’t know whether to cry or wind his watch,” WTF? Or: "Get that dog off my lawn mower," … “Get in the fast lane grandma, the bingo game is ready to roll.”

Absolute beauties.

The Sabres are 9-4-1, but have they’ve lost two straight, and haven’t played since Saturday so they should be hungry. The Oilers will have to come out with lots of energy or hope Khabibulin holds down the fort in the opening ten minutes.

The Sabres lead the league in shots on goal, 34.9 per game, so it is doubtful the Oilers will out shoot their opponents for a second straight game. The Oilers have been getting better and getting shots through, Penner goal last night was a good example, and the Sabres are middle of the pack allowing 30.1 shots per game.

Right now only Atlanta, Anaheim and Florida are giving up more shots than the Oilers’ 33.9, so you’d expect the Khabibulin to be busy again tonight.

The Oilers have played two pretty solid road games so far on this trip, and if they get Hemsky back tonight, that should only help their cause.

Like Brownlee pointed out yesterday, I don’t understand what Gilbert Brule needs to do to get more icetime, but Quinn needs to use him more. Let’s hope that late goal yesterday will get Brule more minutes.

  • Shawn Cronin

    The powerplay looks much less dangerous with the beloved Ales Hemsky on the ice. Back to Hemsky doing donuts on the side boards while looking for the Horcoff cross ice one timer or the Souray slapper while everyone else stands still. Looks like he is still locked in to last years power play plan.

      • Travis Dakin

        add O'Sully to that and there's no wonder they are 0 for 5 for 5-on-3 and were absolutely sterile in the 5min pp tonight.

        problem is nobody in the organization will ever call out Mr.Star…

        frustrating. unless of course they still have the flu.

        was nice seeing the 'other' oilers team against the Avalanche and Senators, though.

    • You know, I didn't want to sound like one of "those guys", but things looked a lot more simple on the PP without him. I'm all for ripping one timers off a cross ice pass, but it clearly doesn't work as well as Hemsky thinks it does.
      If they start playing simple, passing the puck around the perimeter and peppering shots on net I think they'd be way more successful.

  • And as I mentioned before, I don't want to alarm anyone, but….

    #128 jeanshorts November 08 2009, 08:20PM
    I am a little worried though. The powerplay is firing on all cylinders tonight, so the Oiler fan in me is starting to wonder if that means they've used up all their powerplay goals for the next 4 or 5 games.

    • Travis Dakin

      that was the Colorado game, right.

      no, they didn't used it all up. difference was they actually had the puck moving.

      as opposed to today when only Mr Dangles had the puck moving:l in small circles close to the left board.

      what happened to Comrie? he used to get the pp fired up.

      oh, we'll be fine.
      this is just frustration talking.

      reminds me about that terrible 5-on-3 in game 7.
      you know what I'm talking about…

  • Shaun Doe

    Buffalo had busy sticks all game long and were clogging up the lanes pretty effectively so I don't know why the play book read cross ice seam pass. I say drive hard to the slot with the puck drawing a dman down then drop a pass to the point for the shot. Then you have two bodies down low for the screen and rebound. They have Penner as the only man down low and continue to cycle the puck around the perimeter while he gets his kidneys worked over.

    • that Penner guy should get quite frustrated.
      however, he seems to handle it pretty good.
      do i sense some leadership being built up?

      anybody knows how that locker room is doing?
      better then late last year?

  • A proposal.

    we should form a when will smid score pool. Every time we hit a post or miss a breakaway, a predetermined amount goes in the pot from all participating.
    When his dubious streak ends, i get the pot cause i suggested it.


    • Librarian Mike

      You had me right up until the last sentence. Nice try though. haha.

      This sounds suspiciously like one of my wife's 'deals'. i.e. "If you go to the store and get some candy, I'll go ahead and finish watching Jon and Kate."

  • I guess Grebeshkov got hurt in the last minute according to @NHL_Oilers. Hurt his knee & will be flying back to Edmonton, missing the rest of the road trip.

    Walking wounded this team is. Peckham, welcome back to the big leagues – or will Souray step in as Brownlee suggested?

  • so this is beyond ridiculous, I don't think I have ever seen an Oilers team this badly hit by injuries, you know it's bad once the call ups start getting hurt, we are already halfway to the amount of man games lost last year, and we are only 19 games into the year

  • Shaun Doe

    Hey Brownlee, was there any pressure for Hemsky to return early or has he simply recovered from his most recent injury. It still seemed like he was coasting at times and not exactly a threat at there. He did mix it up with Kaleta which would seem to indicate he is feeling better but still… Also, in your personal oppinion how do you feel about the Oilers powerplay with and without Hemsky. I only ask as others and myself have noted that Hemsky has seemed to take away more than he has given to the PP recently.

    • I don't know about Brownlee, but I bet more than a few of us were screaming at our TV's tonight those last 5 minutes. I know I was (in my head anyways). Since then I've been thinking that this was Ales' first game back from another one of those "undisclosed upper body injuries". Who knows if he's 100%. Even if he is, it'll take a few games for him to get up to full game speed. Still, its not often you see a player rag the puck in the OFFENSIVE zone during a PP (I'm still at a loss as to what those 360's do).

      Problem with this team is there's no margin for error as far as a guy coming back from injury. Even if Souray comes back the next game he'll still take a few to get back in the groove. And we'll probably be whining that he's playing like crap until he cranks that first one in.

  • Shaun Doe

    Yeah Dave thats what i was thinking too, that he just isn't at his game form just yet (lingering injury/cold from sitting). However, with the Souray analogy even if he misses the net for the first 5-10 powerplays he is manning the point, to me at least that is a shot taken, a chance risked. An errant shot can bounce in off a stick or create a fortuitous bounce off the back boards or glass. At the very least its a shot taken which is something our PP seems to be hesitant to do when Hemsky is quarterbacking it. I just feel that Ales is more inclined to wait for that perfect pass either by nature or schooling. This makes him deadly on the PP when his game is working, when it isn't it just makes the rest of us prematurely bald. Again just my oppinion.

  • BarryS

    Not much wonder we lost, played last night and today played a team who had a couple days to rest and stew over a stinker their last game. Their goalie helped the stinker along by playing like one of us had played goal after ten whiskeys.
    Still, in spite of that, we outshot them, the second team in a row we outshot and lost to.

    Hmmm. I think I prefer the Oilers being outshot and winning myself. Think I won't complain about being outshot anymore as long as we win.

    So now we're getting over the flu and getting actual injuries. Glad I'm not a fan of the farm teams, since they are not likely to get any players back for a while.

    Then again, somewhere there is a hockey player bagging groceries going to get to play in the East Coast League now their players are called up to the American League. Could be a while before he has to go back to bagging groceries again.