Oilers vs. Avalanche Post Game: Rust, Thine Name Is Deslauriers

Edmonton Oilers: 6

Colorado Avalanche: 4

That was an ugly and haphazard game, but at the end of the day the Oilers not only won but solidly outplayed the Avalanche on the night.  That’s about as much as any Oilers’ fan can ask for from this team right now.

Oilers Three* Stars, According To Me

1. Horpensky.  Yes, I dislike silly nicknames almost as much as Brownlee does, but the trio was far and away the Oilers’ best line tonight and frankly I don’t have room to differentiate between all the guys who played good, so I’ll say this – they combined for two goals, three points and 11 shots on Peter Budaj.  Scoring chances-wise, they were 11 and three.  Also of note, every minute of Oilers’ 5-on-3 penalty killing was done by Shawn Horcoff.

2. Visnovsky/Smid Pairing.  Sticking with my theme for awarding stuff to groups, Visnovsky and Smid both finished the night plus-3 and with a very favourably weighted scoring chance count.  They also contributed offensively, combining for three assists.

3. The Second Line.  I wanted to pick just one player, but it was a little difficult.  Patrick O’Sullivan scored the game-winning goal, so that’s in his favour.  On the other hand, Gilbert Brule had a goal, two points, and a crushing hit on Paul Stastny.  Meanwhile, Liam Reddox had a fantastic game, including one fearless shot block late in the third period and a bunch of other good plays, and continues to show why he’s blown past other Oiler prospects on his way to the NHL.

Random Thoughts

Jeff Deslauriers looked like two different players tonight.  During the first half of the game, he was brutal and I was raging at the television demanding that Quinn pull him.  Seriously, it’s been a while since I was that irritated with any one player.  Every second shot the Avalanche took blew by him, and as Ray Ferraro noted (repeatedly), for a 6’5" goaltender he lets in a lot of high shots.  In the second half of the game he was brilliant, stopping several high-end chances and blanking Marek Svatos three times on the 5-on-3.  I’m not going to give him a ton of credit for making big saves since if he’d been less of a sieve in the first half they wouldn’t have been ‘big’ saves, but I will say this: I can only imagine how difficult it is to get shelled early and then close the door, and he did it.  If there’s one thing he should have picked up along his helter skelter development path, it’s mental toughness and I’d guess that was a factor tonight.  After the game, Quinn said that he kept him in so as not to give the Oilers an excuse for the score and defended his goaltender; I can get behind one of those but not the other.

The hit on Ethan Moreau was a cheap shot and deserves suspension.  I can respect Bob McKenzie’s point that the shoulder was the point of contact, but Ryan Wilson got his elbow high and went for the head.  Moreau didn’t return, and as much as I’ve criticized his play I just hope it was a precautionary decision.

Tom Gilbert was stapled to the bench and played less than four minutes at even strength (Dean Arsene played more than nine).  Quinn seemed to be taking advantage of his spare defenceman to send a message, and good on him because Gilbert earned it.

The second-worst team in the league on faceoffs are the Colorado Avalanche, with 46.4% win rate.  They brutalized the Oilers tonight, with a 61% win rate, knocking them to the league basement.  Brule’s been better than expected in the circle.  Horcoff can win draws when he isn’t playing with a seperated shoulder.  Other than that, the Oilers have the same lousy options they had last year.  It’s obviously something that Steve Tambellini and the Oilers brain trust don’t care about, because we’re going on a year and a half and they’ve made no move to fix it.

After 16 points in their first 10 games (a 131-point season pace), the Avalanche have 13 points in their last 12 games (which works out to an 89-point season pace).

I haven’t heard Quinn happy after a game yet, and tonight was no exception.  I’m fairly upbeat; it was an earned win and a bunch of players snapped offensive droughts.  I’m a little worried that it’s going to be important to look for these sort of positives whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Exchange of the Night

This one goes to Jason Gregor and a commenter going by rubbertrout.  Cue the transcript:

Rubbertrout: "Game Day Prediction: Oilers win 4-3 in overtime. Souray gets 1 G 1 A and 4 PIM. Manitoba Fats pots 2 and Sully gets one."

Jason Gregor: "I’d be willing to say I’d have a better chance scoring with Lohan tonight than 19 will on the ice."

Rubbertrout: "I’ll be at the game on Saturday. I’ll bet you one of your vodka drinks against a heroin beer that he scores tonight."

Jason Gregor: "Done…easy money on my part."


  • Oil Fever

    Personally, I thought Horc had a tough time last night. He continually turned over the puck trying to break into the zone; either refusing to dump it in, or making a bad pass.
    His faceoffs were weak but we all know that's because of his shoulder.
    He played short-handed on the 5 on 3's, but really I thought the Ave's had plenty of chances to score; either JDD made a nice save or the Ave's players (Svatos mainly) just missed the target.
    I think he's one step behind for whatever reason… maybe it's purely his shoulder.

    • Oil Fever

      I'm with you on this one BingBong, but you must realize this…ANYTIME anyone says anything bad about Horcs play for whatever reason this season, these two have been jumping all over them in an instant. Perhaps it isn't our eyes we should be concerned about , all I heard at the game last night was how brutal Horcs was playing. I sit in the same seat for years and this is the first everyone has been on Horcs. I really would like to see him get it together, really I would for the better of him and the team, but if you opinion doesn't match these two, then prepare to defend whatever you say because they WILL tell you its black when we all know its white. IMO

      • Ender

        Count me among the religeous zealots then because I think Horcoff is doing pretty well too. If the coach had to take someone out of the line-up, how many players would be ahead of Horcoff? Most of the team by any rational measure, which tells you how valuable he is. Is he the Horcoff we saw during his contract year? Maybe not, but he's still pretty damn good.

        • Oil Fever

          I am just stating my opinion, the way I see it, without the cameras, live, and behind the plays. Game in and game out this season……the play has left the opposing teams end and has entered the Oilers end then Horcs wanders back to the Oilers bench SLOWLY…..drives me crazy from 14 rows up EVERY game! Perhaps I will stay at home, watch it on TV so He'll start to look better.

      • Dan the Man

        What on earth are you talking about?

        You had two claims.

        1. That he needed to learn how to skate

        2. That he needed to learn how to pass

        He's proven he knows how to skate (very well) the results at the ASG is all we need to see to know he's at least a competent NHL level skater

        Without looking I'd bet he's had the 2nd most assists of anyone on the team since the lock-out… pretty good proof the man knows how to pass.

        Has he been good enough this year? Absolutly not.What he needs to do: Factoring in his cap hit, ice time and opportunity given, he needs to score 50+ points and give all of his intangibles to even have an "ok" season.

        What he doesn't need to do: Learn how to skate and pass.

        • Oil Fever

          Totally agree, thats what I'm talking about…This year. Don't get me wrong I have always enjoyed Horcs playing ability except this year. Geeze I don't hate the guy, I'm simply saying what I've seen this year. Not last year, not since the lock out but this year alone.
          I guess the only way to put this to rest is to factor in his junior career (which was stellar) and every year as a pro and say hes the best player ever and the only one ever that played injured!

          • Oil Fever

            I don't take issue with critizing him. I take issue when the critizism simply isn't true.

            Saying Horcoff needs to learn to skate is the same as saying Souray needs to learn to shoot or Hemmer needs to learn to dangle.

            Their would be people on you for any of those statements.

          • Pajamah

            I don't know what you're talking about, Big Sex can do everything…….everrrrything!!

            Infact, I'd let him have a roll in the hay with the missus, just to say I had Souray

          • My favorite part was when you said that they were defending Horcoff ANYTIME anyone said ANYTHING because they disputed your absurd claim that Horcoff is a poor skater.

            The guy is probably at least in the top 10% of the league in terms of skating.

            If you want to criticize him, choose something for which deserves criticism. Lord knows there is enough reason without spouting ignorant nonsense.

          • And if you'd aid that stuff in the first 10 games I would have had to say, 'well, Horcoff's playing a tough role but he's not doing it very well and I see your point'.

            But he was good in this game, IMO, and scoring chances (among other things) back up what I saw.

    • I might have selective memory (beer will do that to ya!), but I remember quite a few very weak plays at the blue line, especially during our powerplays.
      And as I recall his first one-timer from Hemsky he missed the net no? I think he hit the post or maybe it was wide… the announcers were saying the goalie stopped it but the replay showed he just missed the empty net.
      I like Horc – I just think his shoulder is limiting him right now. He obviously can't take faceoffs for one thing – I definately think he's the weak link on that line, which is understandable.

    • Ball Buster

      And at least one nice "tic-tac" play in the 3rd . . the "toe" just didn't want to happen though.

      There have been issues with Horcoff's play this season but last night's game isn't one I would use as evidence to support that view.

      • Oil Fever

        That was a nice play – I think Penner mishandled the "toe".
        I just noticed Horc's mistakes last night – maybe I was getting a beer when he was making his good plays. 🙂

  • Oil Fever

    Well hopefully we can all agree that Quinn made the right move by benching Gilbert. That guy reminds of Poti WAY too much. He looked like he was massaging Hedjuk in front of the net last night while he put the puck in.
    And anybody wanna take a guess at what Moreau said to Wilson before skating off??

    • Dan the Man

      It was a good call on Quinn's part, if Gilbert wants to stand around and watch the play he should buy tickets or watch it on TV, sometimes it seems like he doesn't realize that part of his job is to stop the other team from scoring.