Vancouver Canucks: 7
Edmonton Oilers: 3
Remember shooter tutors? Well, for good portions of the night the inexperienced tandem of Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk eerily resembled shooter tutors; not so much along the ice but certainly over the shoulders. It’s been Deslauriers’ weak spot for the last while and it was hard to watch the Canucks tonight and not think they’d been told to aim for the corners.
Jeff Deslauriers said after the game that the loss was on him, that he cost the team the game. While he certainly wasn’t sharp, I’m going to agree with Pat Quinn, who appreciated the gesture but acknowledged that it was a team loss.
Not many things can make me grin ear-to-ear when the Oilers are down 5-1, but Colin McDonald’s first career goal was one of them. It was a beautiful shot on a quality goaltender, and after years of hearing Kevin Prendergast talk about McDonald’s shot being one of his greatest assets it was nice to see it at the NHL level. I also liked seeing Ryan O’Marra’s reaction (aside: the assist was O’Marra’s first NHL point) to McDonald’s goal; he seemed almost as thrilled as his teammate. They were linemates in Springfield, and it was great to see that bond. While I’m at it, I should acknowledge the fourth line was tremendous; it’s easy to see why Rob Daum’s been raving about both McDonald and O’Marra, and Stortini’s found a comfort level with them.
I get the feeling it’s going to be important to find things like that to focus on as this season continues.
The penalty kill was probably the worst part of the Oilers’ game tonight, and that’s on the veterans. Speaking of veterans, Souray, Staios and the one-armed ghost of Shawn Horcoff all struggled for (at least) the second straight game. Tom Renney switched to a Gilbert/Souray pairing in the third which should help, although that leaves Staios and Strudwick paired together and their track record isn’t encouraging. As for Horcoff, he had a couple of good shifts but for the most part didn’t handle the puck well at all, and it seems like he’s in the right spots but can’t fight the physical battles.
Brule and Penner both had a nice game offensively, and looked very smooth on the power play. The only bad news about Brule (from an Oilers’ perspective) stepping up to help carry the offence is that he’s a free agent after this season; he could very well use this opportunity to earn a payday that wouldn’t be coming otherwise. That caveat aside, it’s nice to see a player who struggled for so many years start to turn a corner.
I’ve been picking on Andrew Cogliano a fair bit this year, but he certainly seems to have come around (Moreau too, for that matter). Ryan Potulny probably matches up a little better to those linemates than Zack Stortini did, and I’m sure that’s part of it (as is having Cogliano play wing) but both players deserve a ton of credit. It’s also a treat to watch Cogliano’s combative nature; he has been very involved in that department the last few games.