GDB XXI: Garon swathed in a blue jacket

The Oilers will try and salvage their five game road trip with a win tonight against their former goalie, Mathieu Garon and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Oilers enjoy playing at Nationwide Arena racking up an impressive 9-3-3-1 record since the Jackets came into the league in 2000. The Oilers have scored 56 goals in 16 games while giving up 38.

Special teams are pretty much a saw off between these two. The Oilers are 79.2% on the PK and the Jackets are 79.3%, while the Oilers’ PP is clicking at 21% and Columbus is 21.7%.

The Oilers PP percentage wise has been okay, but yesterday they couldn’t get the timely goal from the man advantage. In fact, their PP looked awful yesterday, never setting up and rarely getting a shot. It was Souray’s first game back and he looked understandable rusty. I’d guess he will look better tonight.

The second quarter of the season starts tonight, and as I stated in my report card, the Oilers need to have a better second quarter to stay in the hunt. Columbus will be one of the teams the Oilers have to beat out if they want to make the playoffs, and heading into tonight the Jackets are four points up with two games in hand. A regulation loss would put the Oilers six back and the potential for the gap to be bigger if the Jackets win one or both of the games in hand.

Sure it’s only game 21, but don’t fool yourself Oiler fan, the Oilers can’t be in ten-point hole come January and expect to make up that much ground in the three-point-game era. They need to keep treading water, stick close to the pack and hope that they can get on a run and get production from some forwards not named Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner.

Tonight Pat Quinn will go with Nikolai Khabibulin, which is a bit of a surprise considering Quinn wanted to avoid playing him in back-to-back games. I think it shows that Quinn understands the importance of this game and really wants a win. Or he doesn’t have any confidence in Deslauriers, which is a topic for another day.

The Oilers don’t want to go to a shootout, because Mathieu Garon is the best in the league in the SO, with a career record of 17-4. Garon has been playing well at 3-1 with a 2.60 GAA and a solid .923SV%.

More injuries

The Oilers might be without Sam Gagner tonight. Gagner blocked a shot in Atlanta and according to Quinn he is doubtful for tonight. If Gagner can’t go, then Quinn has to a choice to make. Would he move Gilbert Brule up and slot him in between Mike Comrie and Patrick O’Sullivan. Or will he put O’Sullivan in the middle and insert Robert Nilsson on the wing with Comrie.

Andrew Cogliano will play with Ethan Moreau and Zack Stortini on the other line it looks like.

Nilsson hasn’t been good so maybe Strudwick might move up to the wing and Dean Arsene could slot in for his first NHL game after seven and a half seasons in the AHL. The reason Quinn might go with Strudwick and Arsene and keep Nilsson out is because the Blue Jackets have lots of size dressed tonight.

Columbus’ fourth line will consist of Jared Boll, 6’3” 210 pounds, Tom Sestito, 6’5” 220 pounds and Michael Blunden, 6’4” 211 pounds. Quinn might be concerned his team could get taken advantage of tonight, so he might go with Strudwick on the wing and Arsene on the blueline.

Look for Hemsky to be productive tonight. Hemsky loves playing the Jackets. He had eight points in four game last year and has 25 points in 21 games over his career.

  • Does Quinn get kick backs from the media for trying to make story book endings?

    First Comrie in Ottawa, now Brule in Ohio? What the hell? Although I don't mind Brule getting a shot at all. And man he was damn close.

    Exciting game tonight boys!

    • It's definitely an easier pill to swallow when they lose exciting, hard fought games, as compared to games where they play okay for 20 minutes and then just coast along the rest of the time.

      A lot of good things to take away from this one. Especially on the verge of a 5 game home stand.

  • Harlie

    Brutal call to have Brule taking a turn so high in the rotation.

    Too bad Eberle is wasting time getting 2 points a game in the minors when he could have buried one for us in the shootout.

    Captain Bonehead takes another stupid penalty to kill our momentum.

      • HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

        Lemiuex isnt Gretzky, Crosby isnt Lemiuex, Eberle isnt Crosby. let Eberle be Eberle.

        just joking, im with you let some of our youth develop through the come-ups.

    • I believe you mean Juniors. At least he'll have some confidence next year, and will be a year bigger too, so he won't get killed. It's not like they just haven't called him up, like he's in the AHL putting up 2pts/game down there. He was borderline ready to play at camp, but didn't outplay any of the bums we already have. Seems like a case of Schremp-itis.

      It's not wasting time, either, it's called development, and if people wonder why Detroit keeps getting great players in later rounds, it's because guys like Zetterberg DEVELOPED for years before coming to the show instead of just being rushed in, like, say, Brule.

  • BarryS

    The Oilers showed more energy tonight for sure, but they should be sending Justin St. Pierre flowers and chocolates — the hooking call he made on Blunden that led to Hemsky's goal was pure fantasy, a phantom call.

    The tap on the hip Blunden gave Reddox meets none of the rule book criteria for hooking. Somehow Quinn and DeBrusk failed to point that out.

    • Pajamah

      no worse than the call on Staios for hooking. I'm sorry, the "stick is parallel" crap doesnt work for me, unless its buried in the guys midsection (wrestling slang for gut).

      PP's were mostly even, if now we could only score 5-on-5, or ever

        • Pajamah

          The guy had a step, and in hockey where reactions take a fraction of a second, you need to have your stick there, just incase. To me, thats all it looked like, Staios was "prepared" to hook him

          But in hockey, theres no such penalty as "attempted hooking". He either hooked him, or he didn't, therefore, in my opinion, there shouldnt be a call

          • HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

            your first two sentences say it all, so there should be a penalty.

            there is no positive to come out of the play and it should be a penalty.
            since there is no positive going for steve staios in having his stick there, his stick shouldnt be there.

          • BarryS

            Since they call hooking penalties when no one goes down or even slows down, it seems to me if no result, no foul sould be the name of the result. It the guy falls down or you slingshot ahead then it is hooking. Just like slashing is called everytime there is a broken stick and an opposition player is nearby or when a player is touched by another with only one hand on the stick. Given how the new sticks seem to shatter so easily from the number of slashing calls made you would think there were dozens of sticks broken over players. It not like the old days when sticks were about an inch square really were clubs.

            It seems to me the NHL is trying to be ~ no touch at all league ~ which would be fine if they called it the same way both ways.

    • That was some of the worst reffing I've seen all year, both ways. I'm all for the Oilers going on the power play but I was screaming at the TV tonight over most of the calls that went our way. Absolute garbage.

      • BarryS

        If the ref's won't call real penalties that happen right in front of them, then they have to make some up, There were plenty of missed calls both ways. For once, I don't mind a few calls going our way, especially since some games we only seem to get calls. Seems to me I have seen a few Oilers tackled by the opposition with no penalties as a result. Wish the Esk's could tackle as good as some of the D men in this league.

    • rindog

      Maybe they forgot to mention it just as you forgot to mention how the phantom call to Moreau gave the Jackets an extended 2-man advantage (and essentially the first of goal of the game)???

      Last time I checked, you actually had to put your stick on a person in order to trip him??

      Bad calls both ways – hardly worth mentioning in terms of giving one team an advantage over the other…

      • BarryS

        So that's an impartial observation, then, or is the Oiler fan in you coming through? If you think Moreau's penalty was a phantom call, I have my answer.

        Last time I checked, you can trip an opponent without using your stick, as in a little bump with a skate in tight quarters, which is exactly what Moreau did along the end boards.

        That aside, Moreau could've easily been penalized on the same play for roughing because he took a couple of gloved pokes at the Columbus player when he was already down after the trip.

        • rindog

          I guess we disagree on that play.

          To me, the d-man clearly fell on his own as he was turning and Moreau fell on top of him as he was about to hit him.

          As far as the glove pokes you mention, they were let go numerous times by numerous players on both teams. "What ifs" are most often a waste of time….

          Trust me, I don't give the benefit of the doubt to Moreau very often (ask JG), but I do not think he deserved a penalty at all (especially not to go down 2 men).

          I just don't think the reffing had an impact on the result of the game at all. There were suspect calls handed out both ways.

  • HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

    good game for the team as a team.

    o'sullivan looked good on two plays. it looks like his head is not in it most of the times. it appears he doesnt even know what he is going to do most of the time.

    penner had solid effort all over through out the night. it is very exciting to see him come in down the wing.

    Brule and reddox deserve an honorable mention. i didnt notice potulny out there as a presence, same goes for comrie as well.

    i liked coglianos forecheck tonight, and the fight stortini showed. moreau ofcourse i cussed a few time, im sure you all know on which plays.

    horcoff i wasnt much impressed with. he started to look like he was going to have a good night, until the first powerplay. he messed a few plays but still showed effort so we wont hate.

    hemsky looked so so as well. good effort and jump most of the night.

    souray looked awesome tonight. gilbert didnt loook too bad paired up with him. staios was ok, got away with one penlaty because another one was already called on the oilers, IMO. plus the one he took as the front half of the 5 on 3. smid looked very comfrontable with the puck tonight, solid all night. i wanted to see him and nash go after nash punched him like that, just a pipe dream. lubo was solid on the pp, almost got sodomized twice in the ot. i didnt notice much of arsene, but atleast he didnt stand out for the wrong reasons.

    solid game by khabi, couldnt really blame him for either goal.

    the line changes looked very good and smooth tonight. the game was very fast and exciting, especcially in the third. the previous few games i watched before the atlanta game(i didnt watch that matinee) the line change seemed to be the biggest thingg that killed the play for the team.