Edmonton Oilers: 3
Dallas Stars: 2 (SO)
I was feeling pretty good about the Oilers’ second win in as many games, until the Sportsnet crew went and ruined it by reminding me that it was the first time since October. Still, it was nice to see another win, particularly in Dallas, where the Oilers have struggled since forever.
Oilers Three Stars, According To Me
1. Ladislav Smid. Smid was credited with nine hits on the game; three more than any one else on the team. I think that’s selling short Sheldon Souray, among others, but there’s no denying that he was a physical presence. He got hurt blocking a shot, but got the puck out before heading to the bench, and in general just had a very nice old school hockey game. He also scored his first NHL goal (with a little help) since the 2006-07 season; the goal that put the Oilers in the shootout.
2. Jeff Deslauriers. I’m a little leery about putting Deslauriers in here because he looked shaky a couple of different times. His attempts to imitate Marty Turco invariably ended badly (aside from the most obvious gaffe, he bounced the puck off the boards on to an opposition stick at least twice), and he got lucky on shots missing the net when he was down and out a couple of times to. That said, his results were solid: 33 saves and only one goal allowed in the shootout.
3. Lubomir Visnovsky. It might seem a little cheap to stick just the goal scorers on this list, but Visnovsky absolutely deserves a place here. I can’t recall seeing any Oiler in the last decade as calm with the puck with absolutely no space; Visnovsky feints and dodges like nobody else. He took hits to make plays and was a vital part of the win today.
Apparently all this team needs to win games is Ryan Stone. Seriously, though the fourth line looked pretty good again tonight, and Robert Nilsson earned a spot on the second line in the third period. I’m not sure if Jacques was hurt or if he was getting knocked down in the pecking order, but it seems clear that Quinn’s willing to give Nilsson some rope here.
I’m always a little confused not to see Shawn Horcoff in the top three shooters. Sam Gagner’s below league average in the shootout now (33% or thereabouts is the league average) and Horcoff has a great conversion rate. His goal tonight wasn’t fancy, but it was effective.
Jason Gregor called it in his gameday post; you can almost feel the faint optimism rising among Oilers’ fans. This team isn’t going anywhere, recent success notwithstanding, but it’s nice to have these positive moments.
The pairing of Steve Staios and Jason Strudwick continues to frighten me; I like seeing Gilbert alongside SOuray and I think they complement each other nicely, but it’s going to be a lot easier to watch this team when Denis Grebeshkov gets back.
A good solid effort, and a good solid win. Against Dallas, in Dallas, no less. The contingent of fans that repeatedly question the heart of this team really needs to give this group kudos for some solid efforts the last little while, and while they needed some bounces to win today, even a loss wouldn’t have detracted from the effort level on the ice. At least, that’s how I saw it.
Sportsnet, as always, includes some unintentional hilarity in their intermission pieces. Today, it came in the form of a list of candidates for the next vacant NHL coaching job. One of the candidates listed was Tom Renney, so they’re either not watching the bench of the team playing or they’re way, way ahead of the reporting curve. In fairness though, they also mentioned that Marty Turco completes 94% of his passes. Given that pass completion percentage is a stat so obscure even I don’t know where to find it I can’t compare it to other goalies, but I have to admit it sounds impressive.