Oilers vs. Stars Postgame: Back to Back Wins

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.

Random Thoughts

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. 


  • BarryS

    Two wins in a row, am I dreaming or is it something I ate.

    How many games we lost to "bounces"? In hockey, dispite what purests think, games are usually won/lost on "bounces", especially by two teams playing even on the day.

  • nice game to watch this afternoon – too often these nooners end up being snoozers.

    Even though it may not be best for the team long term, I'm happy to see a win like this in Dallas. Makes me think this may be an actual team by the end of the year.

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      Can't say I blame Willis for giving Visnovski a star every game. He's such a good defender, and one of the most underrated in the whole league. He makes the best/right play 95% of the time.

      Also in defence of Willis, my fiance has already proclaimed me to have a man crush on Visnovski. It's just so nice to watch a d-man make the right plays FOR the Oil and not against them.

  • Lofty

    Missed the game because I was playing golf today… suck on that!

    Nice to see Smid cash in… if anyone should sign a long term deal its him. Good stay at home D man that makes the easy play and takes care of buisness. its painfull to watch Strudwick although he is a great guy.

  • Lofty

    Nice win for the Oil!!!

    I like really like how Nillson's played the past two games. He's finally showing signs of why he was given the contract he has.

    Brule was good again, a couple good chances, especially the one in front of the net from Penns.

    Lets keep it going boys. Dare I say 3 in a row? On the road none the less!

  • Harlie

    I'd love to indulge in some of the K-A that's goin around, but I prefer to remain bitter beer face and wait to be proved wrong. Nice to see these guys playing like a team, I'm diggin that. My brain says the key injuries are too much of a hill to climb the rest of the way in though. And also, don't we always play better against Die'n Roit and Dally? Strange thing is we stole the wins in their barns this time. Crazy year for sho.

  • I hate it when the Oilers win and people start saying they only won because they got some lucky bounces. Of course they won because they got lucky bounces – that's how most games are decided. You create lucky bounces by playing good, aggressive hockey with lots of shots on goal. "Put the puck on net and good things happen" aka you get good bounces.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      usually after about 10 minutes i am so angry with debrusk i dont even pay attention to Quinn.

      seriously, stop saying "if you will" debrusk..

      or else i will…well….i will ask you again to please stop

      • BarryS

        How about any CBC broadcast of any game in the last 40 years. At least Quinn can keep the two teams that are playing correct. Honestly how hard is it to correctly call a Toronto vs. Montreal game, they have only been broadcasting the every Saturday night for way too many years in a row now.

        On a happy note…. the Oil won, and yes i predicted a 3-2 loss in the SO. Hmmmm …. hat!!

  • Harlie

    kudos given! with no second thoughts.

    we have no idea where the team is going and we're lovin' it.

    did a comment today on T1260 said that Quinn's team get it on in the latter part of the season?

    keeping the faith!

  • Benhur

    Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how weak Gags is defensively. He is a smurf along the boards…he does have compete but not the strength or size to compete. The 2nd Dallas goal he was whacking at the puck instead of tying up the stick or taking the body.
    I would trade him for Neal in a heartbeat.

    • BarryS

      that's why us fans make poor GM's. You'd lose that trade big time. Dallas would take that trade in a heart beat. 20 year old centers in the league coming on three years don't get given up that easily.

      • DO you watch many games? Oilers taking James Neal for Gagner would be a great trade. Neal is bigger, faster and scores more. Gagner MIGHT become a player, Neal is a player. Watch a Dallas game before you make a comment that Neal isn't good. He is already proven and not old…

        • BarryS

          So you like neal and I like gagner. that's nice. I love fans, we watch one game, see a guy play good and want him on our team. Sad fact, might be his best game this month, or he might like Dallas and not Edmonton, or his linemates make him better. So.

        • Bucknuck

          Gagner gets more Points per game than Neal, and when Neal was his age he wasn't yet in the NHL, never mind on his third season. Neal is good, but he is no more proven than Gagner at this point.

  • dAMagEd

    I wouldn't say trade Gagner or anything but he has definately been weak defensively the last few games. Both Dallas goals in this game were from players that got away from him.

  • Dan the Man

    Gagner is weak defenseively thats pretty evident, but its because hes not strong enough physically to contain alot of players, remember hes only 20 and hes got lots of time to fill out his body. what i'm getting frustrated with gagner is i always thought of him as this great passer, and more often then not his passes are getting blocked or stolen, hes just trying to force it all the time instead of making the simple play, but as i said before, sometimes we forget hes just 20 years old and hes got alot of time to mature as a player

    • BarryS

      Just as long as everyone remembers the passee has a responsibility to get in a position to make the pass easier, I agree he does seem to get picked off a lot. Of course if the player passing the puck and the player you're passing to is standing still, it makes it easier to pick off and how many times have we seen that picture this year, and that's not counting the blind passes, the hurried passes and the here, you have it, don't hit me passes the defence seems to specialize in.

  • Milli

    And Smid becomes the snipper!!!! It was a pretty solid effort all around. Amazing the diference when we have a few guys throwing the body. Souray looked alot more like the BEAST that I love!!!! Man did he throw some hits!!!! No koolaid, December shows us where we will finish, I'll decide if I should cheer for the tank on New year day, until then, all I want for christmas is WINS.

  • Yeah, Gagner had a lousy effort defensively today. The second goal in particular was all on him.

    But his age and track record so far make him a definite keeper. Developing players make mistakes; certainly we've seen that with all the kids the Oilers have brought along the last few years. Don't get me started on the Matt Greene penalty machine.

  • Alan:

    You're way off base if you think Neal's a good return for Gagner. Let's look at these guys at the same age.

    In his draft year, Gagner had 118 points. Neal had 44.

    When Gagner was pushing the 50-point mark in the NHL as a rookie, Neal was busy missing the 60-point mark in the OHL.

    Last year, Gagner scored 41 points in the NHL. At the same age, Neal had finally started scoring in junior, with 65 points in 45 games.

    This year, Gagner has 17 points in 28 games. At this same point in his career, Neal put up 37 points in 62 AHL games.

    Yes, Neal looks like a good player so far this season. He's also two full years older than Gagner, and last year he only had 37 points. Trading Gagner now would be pretty much the biggest mistake the Oilers could make, especially for a player who looks good but has a little over two-dozen games as a top-six forward on his resume.

    • Jason Gregor

      Not sure why you think Neal is a bad trade. He is 6'2" and had 24 goals as a 21-year-old rookie last year, plus he is the other big left winger this team is looking for.

      He is on pace for 78 points and 40 goals in his second year. He skates well, is physical and plays with an edge. He is 22, and he makes half of what Gagner makes right now.

      Neal is an $800,000 cap hit while Gagner is a $1.6 million hit.

      Neal will get a raise next year and so will Gagner, but Neal brings size and he is getting better.

      Gagner hasn't taken a step forward since his first season. I'm not saying he won't but
      Neal has improved while Gagner is on pace to only match his rookie totals.

    • Jason Gregor

      Comparing Neal's junior numbers to Gagner's first pro season just re-affirms that rushing along a young player isn't the best idea. How long will it take for Gagner to catch up???