Oilers vs. Blue Jackets Postgame: Clutch Loss

Edmonton Oilers: 2

Columbus Blue Jackets: 4

On a night where the Carolina Hurricanes lost to Nashville, and facing an opponent nearly as inept as themselves, the Oilers needed to come up with a solid effort if they were going to lose this one. Fortunately, they did, as middling goaltending and a disastrous night for the Smid-Staios pairing earned them a hard-fought loss.

Three Stars

1. Fernando Pisani. I’ll admit there’s some bias in this particular choice, but there aren’t many things that make me grin ear to ear in an Oilers game any more (I think the last one was Colin McDonald’s goal), and Pisani’s goal tonight made me do that.  It was vintage Pisani – a great forecheck to strip the puck off the defenceman’s stick, and than a perfect shot to beat the goaltender.  A beautiful play, from a player who deserves a little success now and then.

2. Sheldon Souray.  Souray’s struggled at times this season, but played a very nice game tonight.  He drilled Rick Nash early in the second period, he made smart plays all night, and his shot may not have resulted in a goal but it was very evident. 

3. Andrew Cogliano.  Playing with a somewhat limited player in Zack Stortini and a liability in Ethan Moreau, Cogliano played aggresively, charging the net and generating chances off the forecheck.  He also used his speed to draw a penalty late in the third and was at times a real joy to watch.

Dive For Five Star

Steve Staios.  I’ll come right out and say it: without Staios’ efforts tonights, the Oilers might have got away with a win – they were the better team, all things considered.  But it was Staios who was undressed by Fedor Tyutin and then left R.J. Umberger untouched in front of the net on the Blue Jackets’ first goal, and it was Staios who lost a puck battle to Raffi Torres which resulted in a scoring chance and then a Staios penalty as he tried to recover – a penalty that led to a perfect shot by Kristian Huselius, a shot that stood up as the game winning goal.

Making this particularly difficult to say is the fact that Staios selflessly blocked hard shots at least twice that I saw, and looked in pain both times.  Like Jason Smith, Mike Grier and Ryan Smyth before him, Staios embodies the kind of self-sacrificing, do anything for the team mentality that is impossible not to admire.  Somewhere along the way though, he’s lost a step or two.

Random Thoughts

Staios was bad, but his defence partner Ladislav Smid had a rough outing too.  On the Blue Jackets’ second goal it was Smid who got crushed by Raffi Torres, which was half of the equation leading to the goal against (Patrick O’Sullivan failing to take Antoine Vermette was the other half).  The pairing was on for all three even-strength goals against.

Devan Dubnyk was okay.  He looked a little sketchy handling the puck behind his net, he looked shaky early, and he probably should have had the Huselius goal (although I’ll cut him some slack because of the situation) but between freak deflections and missed coverage, the goals against were hardly his fault alone.  That said, any night a ‘tender gives up four isn’t a night to remember.

On a semi-related note, I’d like to thank my fantasy goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, for yet another miserable outing (Yahoo! stats line: 11.06 GAA, 11 saves, .733 SV%, 0 wins).  As if his effort last week wasn’t enough.

Where was I?  Right, my fantasy team.  Nice goal by Gagner.

I thought the Oilers top line looked pretty good tonight.  All the players did that thing they do at times (Penner disappears, Nilsson gets too cute, Horcoff mishandles the puck) but despite that the line generated a bunch of quality chances and outplayed the Nash line for the majority of the evening. 

Tonight in improbable NHL’ers: Mathieu Roy.  It’s nice to see the brittle defender, who set a career-high in games played last season with (a whopping) 59, playing in the NHL.

Patrick O’Sullivan went out of character tonight with a brutal hit on Jan Hejda.  He also whined about the penalty he took after kicking out Raffi Torres’ feet; I’m still trying to figure out what his problem with it was.  Probably something along the lines of: ‘C’mon it was Raffi Torres. RAFFI TORRES!’

Ethan Moreau made a couple of boneheaded plays at evens but had a splendid night on the penalty-kill, and despite my annoyance at superfluous cross-checking (it didn’t get called but boy it could have) I have to give him credit: he played a few inspired shifts while the team was down a man.

With 30 seconds left in the game, and Pat Quinn and Tom Renney on the bench, I found it interesting to see Kelly Buchberger planning the attack.  Not that I have a particular critique, mind you; it was just interesting.

The Oilers are now on pace for a 69-point season, which should put them comfortably in the NHL’s bottom five.  It’s two points worse than their 2006-07 finish, and in the years since the lockout would have placed the Oilers anywhere between first and fourth in the draft order.

  • Chaz

    Winning Strategies for last place

    I would put DD in net PLAY players like Strudwick,Moreau,Staios,Stortini and Horcoff as much as i can.

    With my main guys picked, i would put cogs with to of them (Stortini,Moreau). With the D-lines i would make sure i don't put Staios,Strudwick together, so they came mess up 2of3 D-lines.

    But on the PP Staios and Strudwick make a great pair, also have Horcoff running around.

    Penner played good with Brule so keep them apart.

    Tell Stone and JFJ to play hockey and stop hitting.

    I'm a fan and it would be nice to play well and lose the game but common one or the other. So have some beer and hope to see highlight reel goals. Fall for Hall

    • Bucknuck

      I wonder what is going on with him? He was never this bad, and the year before he got his contract (and two years before that) he really did look like a first line centre.

      I hope he turns it around.

    • Shannon

      You had a few supporters at the game last night.

      It was as high on the annoying scale for me as the lone dude trying to start the Oilers chant for about 10 minutes (don't get me wrong – I love the chant, but at appropriate places. Not during commercial breaks, for instance).

      • Chaz

        You mean his cap hit is 5.5 Million. His salary is 7 Million this year, and then 6.5 for the next two years before dropping after that.

        I've seen a lot of people make the argument that the only thing people should worry about is his cap hit, but I disagree. It's his salary that makes him untradeable at this point in time. What owner, even one with a team that has 5.5 Million in cap space, would pay this guy 7 Mill, then 6.5 for the next two years? When owners pay that much for a player they're expecting a difference maker, someone who will fill empty seats in their arenas. Horcs is not that guy and therefore I think his salary does matter. We are stuck with him. Even if his salary was actually only 5.5 we would have trouble dealing him, but the fact it's 7/6.5/6.5, means we're stuck with him for at least three years.

        Hopefully he is just hurt or having an off year, but if he falls back any further, the criticism's are only going to get worse.

        I like Horcs, but I honestly think it may be the worst contract in the NHL.

          • Chaz

            I agree, that contract is definitely worse. I guess things could be worse in Oil country.

            But why limit ourselves to bad hockey contracts? Why don't we bemoan bad contracts in all walks of life as a way of easing our trepidation towards all things Oil?

            Stephen Harper and the rest of the lazy Poroguing MPs come to mind.

            So does the annoying guy from the A & W ads. Whatever they're paying him, Horcs contract is better.

            How about all of the Fat Cat CEOs who make more than I do in a year by Jan 4th according to Yahoo?

            What about easily distracted and lazy consultants who waste hours per week reading and commenting on Oilers Nati….never mind!

        • Lupul – 4.25 until 12-13 – 14 points
          Vanek – 7.14 until 13-14 – 23 points
          Drury – 7.05 until 11-12 – 14 points
          Gomez – 7.36 until 13-14 – 29 points

          or how about Kessel until 13-14 and his whopping 56 point pace?

          These are just the ones that come to me immediately without looking, and it doesn't even count all the guys making 6 million plus cap hits who are signed long term and are only on pace for 55-65 points.

          • Of course Kessel did miss a big chunk of the start of the year and all of training camp. I wouldn't put him into that category of player just yet.

            I was actually surprised that he is doing as well as he is seeing as he doesn't have Savard with him this year.

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          thats BS.

          that same owner, if they cared about actual money, can look at horcoffs deal and see how the last bit of it has less actual money but keeps the same cap hit.

          so, if you are an owner trying to hit the cap floor, and apparently the owners care so much about actual dollars, horcoffs deal actually has a decent trade-off.

          horcoff is horribly overpaid, dont get me wrong, but you honestly think the extra million dollars of "actual" salary is going to make an owner walk away from a deal? i would assume the cap hit will be the first thing to make them sh*t their pants…

  • unrelated:

    Niemi – 11/2/1 – undrafted, picked up by CHI in Finland.

    I do hope Stu shakes up our scouting…

    We used 2 first-rounders on young goalies, others pick them up for free.

    That's where organization shake-up is required if you want to hope for a sustainable performance…

  • GLoKz0r

    Well, I think this is as good a time as any to ask where all the people are who were calling for a Hemsky trade after our miraculous five game winning streak?

    I mean, there must have been a half dozen people all sitting there patting each other on the back for their clarity of vision! Hemsky was the problem all along! All we have to do is pawn him off on some other poor sap team for spare parts and some paper to draw our Parade Route on!

    Where are you now? THIS is the Edmonton Oilers without Ales Hemsky folks. Say what you will about his enigmatic ability to disappear for games at a time, the guy is a HUGE piece on this team. He Quarterbacks our Power Play, is a constant threat offensively, and you never know when he's going to have a game where he picks the team up and puts it on his back.

    Of course, I'm not saying we're a playoff team even with him. This is just a shout out to all the folks who were so quick to point out how awesome we were doing without him. Yeah… what's it, 1 win in the last 12 now?

    ….I miss you Hemmer 🙁

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      See, I don't know. Weren't these people looking for a Hemsky trade to improve the team (ie good return?). The fact that the Oilers are terrible without him doesn't mean that he shouldn't be traded.

      Bear in mind I don't think the Oil should trade Hemsky. Someone could potentially still argue that he should be traded, though.

      Edit: The line of reasoning goes like this:

      The team is worse-off without Steve Staios, as evidenced by their play without him. Should we hang onto Steve Staios at all costs?

      • GLoKz0r

        Yes, that was hyperbole on my part. They weren't actually saying to trade him for spare parts. HOWEVER, to a man they were all pointing out how good the team looked without him, and it served as their selling point for WHY he should be traded.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          That's fair. As Willis says, there shouldn't be any 'untrade-ables' on this team right now.

          The bit about how good this team is without him is a crock of sh!t, as is quite obvious. I do know, though, that I liked what I saw on the PP those couple games he was out with concussion. If they could have gotten Hemsky involved in the quick puck movement (ie no more circling at the half wall for the first 45 seconds of a power play), it would have been deadly.

          • GLoKz0r

            No, of course not. Every player is trade-able for the right price. And if Tambi gets a good offer, by all means pull the trigger. But on the flip side, he's definitely not one of the players I'd be shopping around for the purposes of a rebuild. He's one of the few positives on this team. (Hell, I'd go so far as saying that even sitting in the press box he's doing more for this team than our beloved Captain…)

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        I wouldn't oppose trading Hemmer either, but would certainly need a proven offensive guy coming back, either from that deal or a coresponding one.

        The team was actually scoring at a competitve clip with Hemsky in the line-up. It's all but died off now.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        now, now, here I am…

        see, I don't really have a problem with Hemmer: the 4/5 mil RW that can dangle, scores average for his salary, and coughs up the puck once in a while – 'cause he's an artist.

        but, pleeease, don't start with the chant again: 'let's build a team around the Hemmer'.

        am I so mistaken or others have tried that before?

        yes, Hemmer is missed, but Hemmer is not un-tradeable, he's not a franchise player.

        if we all put up with this stinky season just to draft Hall to play with Hemmer, God help this club…

        Hemmer, get well soon and come chip in your almost ppg. please leave your star status at home and help (not lead) build a better team.

        there…

  • TW at game last night, section 207 row 27 seat 7.
    Seems our captain is better at negoitating a bill rather than a pass
    Seems to TW the players should of had a pre game shooter to get everyone going.
    Seems to TW Oil can't win when they can't score.
    Seems to TW #5 is gutting it out night after night
    Seems to TW common sense would say to put #10 on waivers and put him in the minors. It will free up cap space for next year. Maybe #10 will get the message and either start to play or repair what is ever wrong with him
    Seems to TW Brule is gutting it out night after night
    Seems to TW #13 can't think at the NHL level. Lots of speed maybe Canadian Olympic speed skating team
    Seems to TW fans have had enough but does KLOWE really care
    Seems to TW that owner should stand up and make a statement
    Seems to TW #27 needs a break, he looks tired
    Seems to TW #89 should of stayed in junior, what is he doing out there
    Seems to TW if Oil can't reduce price of tickets as they are already paid for, they should give all fans a break on food and beverage. $4 Rexall water is a bit much
    Seems to TW #44 must still have a headache as he is half the player he used to be
    Seems to TW #24 is gutting it night in night out
    Seems to TW #37 and #77 drinking too much
    Seems to TW #34 is a nice return

  • Was happy to see Pisani have a good game yesterday. That was about the only highlight for me.. I was at the game. People behind me were heckling Pisani and Horcoff a lot and it was good to see Pisani score.

  • Let's not forget, anyone one this team is tradable, including Hemmer. Obviously, there are a few guys that should be dealt with first but I'll take any trade if it improves the team while focusing on the 'plan'… which I'm afraid the Oil haven't yet figured out. DFF or Drive for Nine?!

  • @ Jason Gregor:

    Thanks for the clarification. That makes a ton of sense.

    BTW, for the guy earlier who suggested Wayne Fleming was a bad choice, go back and look up how Wayne Fleming powerplays have performed in the past.

    He's an excellent powerplay coach.