Oilers vs. Sharks Postgame: Parity My Foot

San Jose Sharks: 4

Edmonton Oilers: 2

This one had trainwreck written all over it, and the Sharks didn’t disappoint, outclassing the Oilers early and jumping to a quick lead. They sat back in the third and the Oilers kept the score respectable, but these teams could have been in different leagues.

 

First Period

 

Thomas Greiss getting the start for San Jose, which isn’t surprising given the disparity in talent between these two teams. In net for Edmonton will be Devan Dubnyk, who looked fairly good against Pittsburgh. I should also note that Gene Principe is in stellar form in the early going, on a roll with coffee analogies. I kid you not – on some nights he’s absolutely the best part of Oilers broadcasts.

Brutal lineup tonight – Stone, Pisnai and Brule are all out, and Shawn Horcoff’s still iffy, meaning the Oilers have 11 forwards (including Strudwick). Ryan Potulny is centering Penner and Nilsson, while Horcoff is between Moreau and O’Sullivan. Jacques joins Cogliano and Gagner on the third line.

Tom Gilbert jumped in on the play to help out down low with Cogliano and Jacques, but rather than cut back and cover the point, Zack Stortini came piling in behind him. The result wasa three=on=one the other way, but it’s disappointing to see a relatively experienced guy like Stortini make such a simple mistake. When the defenceman jumps in, the high winger needs to cover and Stortini didn’t.

Patrick Marleau scores the first goal on a cross-crease pass that deflected in off Dubnyk’s stick (although Heatley seems to be getting the credit); there’s no way to look at this one as anything other than a bad play by Dubnyk.

Dustin Penner is getting double-shifted as the fourth line centre between Stortini and Strudwick. That has to be the first time in the post-MacTavish era that he’s been on the fourth line.

The Sportsnet feed is pretty sketchy today; nine minutes in and it has cut out five times.

This game has the potential to get really ugly. The Oilers have been dominated, and aside from some smart plays by Gagner haven’t even looked dangerous offensively. The sharks seem to be winning every shift.

Positive news – I was trying to think of forwards the Oilers could recall and it seems Marc Pouliot is having a very good conditioning stint in Springfield; he has three points and a plus-1 rating in two games. He’d be a top-nine forward if he was on the team today.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with this Sportsnet feed; maybe it’s only on Centre Ice, but it’s cut out twice more since I mentioned it four minutes ago.

The presence of Penner on the fourth line gives the Oilers one matchup battle they have a chance at winning; they just had a lovely shift against the Sharks dregs.

Denis Grebeshkov ties the game at one off some hard work and a sick pass from Sam Gagner. Gagner’s been easily the best Oiler on the ice so far in the game, and gets rewarded for his labours. Andrew Cogliano also helped out with the spade work behind the net, and collects an assist for his work.

Patrick O’Sullivan’s reputation for soft play seems entirely ludicrous, at least based on the last half-dozen games. He’s been throwing his body around and absolutely destroyed a Sharks defenceman off the faceoff.

First penalty – an accidental high stick – goes to Dustin Penner, who got caught out with Stortini and Strudwick against the Joe Thornton line. Matchups like that are what kill me about Quinn’s rolling the lines style. Setoguchi scores on a strong shot on the ensuing power play.

2-1 to end the first; the Gagner line has been the only real bright spot for the Oilers so far.

 

Second Period

 

I’m on a bit of a time crunch today (skating with my wife, playing hockey tonight) so I’m skipping my usual intermission segments.

Setoguchi scores to make it 3-1 just over 20 seconds in; Dubnyk made one good save but the Horcoff line was embarrassed by the Sharks’ second unit and the puck was going to go in eventually. It’s all Sharks after the goal too; the Penner line’s out but they’re getting buried.

Comical segment as Stortini makes a three foot pass directly into the skates of Jason Strudwick. Strudwick, not blessed with incredible puck reception to begin with, flubs it, and the two spend 15 seconds trying to find the puck as the Sharks converge. Stortini’s had an ugly game.

The shots are now 21-8, which reflects the score almost perfectly.

The Gagner line now matched up against Thornton, and Gagner calmly moves the puck out to Cogliano who dumps it into the offensive zone. Gagner’s worlds better now than he was as a rookie (including during the hot ‘Kid Line’ stretch) but for whatever reason it sometimes seems like he’s underappreciated by Oilers’ fans. He’s going to be a real difference maker in a few years.

Gagner sprung J-F Jacques for a beautiful chance all alone, but Thomas Greiss came way out net and knocked the puck away from him.

The Sharks are winning the faceoff battle 19-8 so far. That seems like something that could have been addressed over the off-season.

A great shift for the fourth line, as Zack Stortini ragged on the puck whenever he got it, but the really dangerous player (again) was Gagner, who set up the play and gritted it out down low.

Odd play. Patrick O’Sullivan went to pass the puck to Moreau as the Horcoff line broke out of their own zone, but Moreau wanted to change so he turned to the bench. Unfortunately, as a result the puck went the distance and the tired line had to come back out in their own end.

Dubnyk with a very nice save on Heatley from in close; the puck goes to the other end and Benn Ferriero chips it over the glass to give the Oilers a power play.

Sheldon Souray pinches in deep against the Thornton line, but the puck goes the other way. Thornton’s line goes 3-on-2 the other way, and Jacques gets badly outplayed as a defenceman, allowing Thornton to sneak in behind him and tip a goal in to give the Sharks a 4-1 lead.

Every so often, Ladislav Smid shows some offence; he made a beautiful play where he skated the puck out of danger in the offensive zone and got a nice shot away on net. It had looked like the Sharks would get an odd man rush the other way but Smid’s quick thinking turned it into an Oilers’ opportunity.

Steve Staios made a lovely play one-on-one with Patrick Marleau to thwart a scoring chance. The referees probably could have called him for tripping (he got the stick out and it didn’t contact the puck) but it was close enough that he got away with it.

 

Third Period

 

Sheldon Souray manhandles Pavelski in front of the San Jose net and gives the Sharks an early man advantage.

The Oilers did a nice job killing the penalty; Dubnyk in particular was sharp. O’Sullivan with another fairly big hit towards the end of the penalty.

The Oilers fourth line is now caught out against Thornton and Marleau, and once again they’re road kill. I generally like Quinn as a coach but this sort of thing drives me nuts.

Great shift for the Horcoff line; Patrick O’Sullivan had a great chance off an Ethan Moreau shot.

Puck comes free to Gagner sitting all by himself below the hash marks and Greiss had to make a tremendous save to stop him.

The Sharks are sitting back here in the third and it’s allowed the Oilers to even things up a bit; the Horcoff line is having another great shift that resulted in a few chances (notably a Tom Gilbert shot from the high slot). Shots are now 30-24, a total that flatters the Oilers immensely.

Sam Gagner takes a hooking penalty in the offensive zone to (presumably) kill the momentum the Oilers had.

The Sharks power play looked incredibly lethal early, but surrendered two chances – the first to Cogliano, and the second to O’sullivan on a two-on-one with Horcoff; O’Sullivan scores the Oilers’ first short-handed goal of the season to make it 4-2 San Jose. I know bashing O’Sullivan is a popular pastime right now, but he’s been very good the last little while.

Some numbers to back that up: O’Sullivan now has four goals and 10 points in his last 10 games.

Some great work by Shawn Horcoff in the corner is undone as Lubomir Visnovsky abandons his spot on the point; instead it turns into a 2-on-1 for San Jose and Devan Dubnyk makes a great save.

Denis Grebeshkov is now partnered with Visnovsky and has looked good. I may have spoken to soon; the Sharks outman Visnovsky and Grebeshkov and generate a very, very dangerous chance against the Oilers. Dubnyk somehow managed to keep the puck out.

With less than a minute to go the Oilers finally clear the zone, and Devan Dubnyk heads to the bench. Patrick O’Sullivan manages a nice shot from in close before the puck goes the other way. Lubomir Visnovsky manages to stop an empty net goal against, blocking a shot by Jed Ortmeyer.

 

Oilers Three Stars

 

1. Sam Gagner. Gagner was the one Oiler who was good on almost every shift and consistently generated offensive chances for the Oilers. In a game where the Sharks dominated territorially, Gagner was the sole Oiler to finish in the black by Corsi, and managed an assist on Grebeshkov’s goal.

2. Patrick O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan had a solid game and scored the Oilers first short-handed goal; he also threw his body around and landed some surprisingly effective hits. Very nice game for O’Sullivan.

3. Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk was struggling to make the big save early but that changed as the game wore on, and he made a number of highlight reel stops to keep the Oilers in close.

No dive for five star tonight; nobody was bad enough to really warrant one (Jacques, Stortini, Horcoff and Nilsson all struggled but none of them were especially bad) as this was a team effort. The final score and the shot clock flatter the Oilers.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    I think DD should sit out next game, he took the task of playing the net against the Sharks pretty good, they are just too good of a team. Stanley Cup finalist to play against the Pens.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Totally agree with you about Gagner being under appreciated by many Oiler fans although I have seen quite a few people on here say good things about Gagner to offset the complainers….IMO and I've stated this before here when people pop up wanting to trade Gagner, if the Oilers trade Gagner it will be a huge mistake…if you can't see the skill and hockey sense in his game you have to be blind…he is going to be one special offensive force in the very near future.

    So there are those of us that recognize his talent and do appreciate it.

    • For whatever reason a lot of people on here figure that anyone who's a top 10 draft pick should be putting up 100 points a season.
      They've been talking about how Gagner will "only be a 30 goal scorer". So, I mean, I guess it makes sense to trade him, considering this team is chalk full of guys like that.

      • I hear ya and not only that I keep hearing how it is he was rushed in to the league and that it has hurt his development…I don't see the proof of how his development has been hurt…I guess the only bad thing is that he will reach UFA age one or two years earlier than he could have but big deal…Gagner will be a fine player…sooner rather than later

  • Jonathan, I really like these summaries. However, I think that like most of us here you've forgotten how good an actual NHL goalie is. You said it yourself, "Dubnyk was struggling to make the big save early". An NHL goalie makes those early saves.

    To me its patently obvious that neither JDD nor DD is a NHL #1. I grudgingly accede the DFF, but it still makes me sick to my stomach that we don't go down fighting by acquiring an NHL goalie for the balance of the season and letting JDD and DD show us who's the better backup. I don't think it does any good to mentally break down the guys who we want to go forward with next year. How bad must our young guys feel having pretty much zero confidence in the goaltending. I guess you could call it "character building", but this is beyond ridiculous.

    • Eddie Shore

      How are they breaking them down? These goalies have no pressure on them. The team is bad and is expected to lose. All they have to do is go out and stop as many pucks as they can and let the chips fall where they may.

  • As nice as it is to know this team will get a top pick in the upcoming draft it would be nice if they'd, oh… I dunno… win the occasional f'n game and show some signs that they're learning and there's hope for the future! I've seen Pee Wee hockey teams more competitive than the Oilers this year. Christ…

  • Pajamah

    Patience people.

    You have a "B" team, who doesnt have all the talent of most NHL rosters, plus theyre young, and still battling with consistency.

    The point is to be good in 2-3 years, there are always speed bumps in any young players development, and if that means a better pick for 2 years, then great.

    The Oilers will suck, and badly, until we bring in players who are better than the ones we have now. If Eberle, MPS, and Hall/Seguin/Gormley/Fowler come in, and theyre the big guns, then all of a sudden, the 70-80 points Gagner and Hemsky put up will be enough.

    Like the TSN crew said, you cant win without a superstar, so don't expect any wins when 2 of their 4 best players are injured for the season.

  • Pajamah

    Nice to see Patty O coming around. He's playing some pretty sound hockey right now. Also agree that trading Gagner would be a big mistake. He has good hockey sense and is still way to young to give up on. What are we calling this season now. The FALL 4 HALLL or the New Begin with Seguin.

    • I used to get annoyed at the people who practically freaked out when Betts/Malholtra got signed, or when we passed on a near $2 million dollar Glencross

      And it didnt really need to be them per se, but I've come to the realization, like I said in my first post, that we're a "B" team. When Pronger took us to the cup (honorable mention to Roli, of course) our role players were fantastic.

      Pisani got 14 goals, Peca was brilliant, and Torres hit on Michalek literally turned the SJ series to our favor.

      Since then, our PK has been on the decline, injuries have reduced what the 3rd/4th line guys do, and we never replaced Pronger.

      Hopefully even with the management we have, theyve learnt the lesson that you dont let a superstar walk without getting one in return.
      As for the role players, its obvious we'll be looking at a newish bottom 6 next year

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Luckly we've got a really good chance of aquiring that superstar withought giving anything up on July 1 (well except for pride)

      That's obviously the hardest piece for Edmonton to aquire so…. hopefully Tambs can recognize that adding 3/4 solid two way players will get the team back in the mix.

    • Jason Gregor

      Curious which team you think has been successful this way? In the salary cap era it is impossible to build a team and then add a superstar as the final piece.

      You start with the that guy, develop him and then add pieces around him. A superstar has a way of making average players better.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Oddly enough, I'd say the Oilers coming out of the lock-out followed that model fairly closely. They had a pretty solid team and then added Pronger.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I guess my point was that they were decent the year before (89 points, in 9th place) and then added the superstar.

            You'll never find a team that is static for a true comparison, and superstars don't switch teams that often.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            At least if you build a team you aren't relying on that one superstar. If we had a solid team then maybe guys like Hossa or Heatley would come here.

            CBJ, ATL, FLO, CGY are teams off the top of my head that have tried the route of building around a superstar. Where have they gotten?

            At least if you have a good solid core you can at least stay so what competitive year after year.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Ya, obviously theirs way to many moving parts to state deffinitivly one way or another.

            That said, for the Oilers specifically (baring a miricle) the only way this team gets a superstar is through the draft…hopefully we have one coming this June.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            Thing is even that is not a sure thing. Team still needs to build a solid core, so that superstar can grow with the team. You can't just draft Hall and expect the current team to go places with him.

          • Jason Gregor

            I never said you don't need a nucleus, but the main part of the nucleus has to be a superstar in my mind.

            You can't build a great team without a superstar. I can't recall any team that has done that.

            Flames are a joke in that they have top-end, and no middle ground, and to me they have a two year window to win or they are screwed.

            CBJ and ATL have done nothing to build around their superstar and that is a problem as well. THey should have made strides, but haven't due to bad management.

            Of course Hall or Seguin won't guarantee the Oilers become a dominant team, but there chances are better if they have some good building blocks around him.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            My issue is this team wouldn't add those building blocks for the last 3 years, what makes the next 3 any different?

            Just looking at how this team has been built over the past how many years I don't see Tambo addressing the Nucleus. I have a good feeling that they try get that pick and then hope things fall into place.

            I hope I'm wrong, but until Tambo starts addressing the obvious weakness's of this team I won't hold my breath.

          • Flames are a joke in that they have top-end, and no middle ground, and to me they have a two year window to win or they are screwed.

            Depends what they can parlay Dion Phaneuf in to.

  • you know what sucks? Malholtra who was an affordable free agent signing for San Jose, you know 3rd line center stuff. was perfect in the faceoff circle at 12-0….

    JW you must scream at the computer when you see stats like that.

        • Yes, but who knows the $ value they were offering. If I'm not mistaken, he made around 2 before, and I wouldn't have had a problem paying that. He's a character veteran with lots of intangibles and in the right age group. In his draft year he was pegged as a future captain.

          However, if the $ amount truly had no bearing on his decision, then he likely wouldn't have came anyway. The reason he signed so cheap is because he thought the Sharks had a shot at the Cup.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I think he made peanuts before but was looking for 2+. I believe Atlanta offerd him $2 per for 4 years.

            As you indicated, I would have gladly paid him the $2 per (and still hope the team does this summer). I was simply refuting the "managment has no eye for talent" statement that used Malhotra as it's proof.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Absolutely no eye for talent ! Just look at the horcof contract. It's not like horc put up big numbers for multiple years. In my eyes if your going to shell out that kind of money you want someone who has a bit of a track record. Not a half season in horcs case or even 16 games in a playoff run in pisanni case. I mean the playoff run was nice but if management was really watching we were badly out played in all of the series except for maybe the Detroit series. The rest of them we were lucky to win. The ice was tilted and most of the games were played in our end. Losing our so called top goalie was the best thing that could have happened. Now goalies won't be winning us games. Our true talent will shine or not !

  • Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Gagner’s worlds better now than he was as a rookie (including during the hot ‘Kid Line’ stretch) but for whatever reason it sometimes seems like he’s underappreciated by Oilers’ fans.

    Not this Oiler fan. I'm a big fan of both Gagner and Cogliano and repeatedly remind people how young Gagner is, and where Cogliano usually plays most games. Both were playing big tonight, and it was great to see Cogliano muscle Kent Huskins off a puck, and then Cogliano and Gagner out-battle Clowe and Murray behind the net on another shift (Grebeshkov goal).

    Incidentally, Clowe is 6'2/225 , Huskins is 6'3/210 and Murray is 6'3/240. As for Gagner/Cogliano, they don't have to be big, they just have to play big.

  • Coaching changes obviously has not panned out as expected which certainly has not helped . Quinn and staff still struggling to find whom to play in last minutes of each period and games to hold onto lead .Quinn and staff still stuggling mightily to figure out what line combinations will work as well . MacT. with similiar players faired much better and had more in depth knowledge and expertise than current coaching staff . Once again , another upper management gaffe and misconception .Freaking out on players just adds more to their troubles as that approach has not worked in the past with present squad . Oilers not that far from being a good club if upper management was only able to contribute instead of making things worse most of the time . We just can't expect to win with such an emphasis on diminutive size and lack of talent on too many fringe bigger players like Jacques , Stone , etc. with hands of stone . Keep Gags, and maybe see how many of the players they can trade away(or package ) of the dimimiutive size for upgrades in size and grit. Afterall, we will probably have another small forward in Eberle worth keeping for next season , and maybe (even though i hope we don't have a third ) in O'Mark . Keep the veterans with size , as we are going to need them going into next season under better conditions sizewise and gritwise next season lets hope !! Face it- our teams lack of size and grit prevents us from being a team that can win defensive game battles over an elongated schedule ( it's certainly not out forte to begin with ) . Now thats evident just by where we are in the standings !! We lose most all physical and defensive games , and having mediocer goaltending just adds to our problems . Management can't fix problems if they can't even see or acknowledge them to begin with . Financial conundrum should have been dealt with before season started – maybe they kept it their to cover up their lack of doing a decent job ( an excuse in other words ) .

    • Too lazy to cite the peice in which this was already discussed, but you're about a month late to the party sir.

      Now off to youtube to search for "Canadian Heritage Moments" commercials

      • Harlie

        no way! Nice…not sure why I woke up with the Log Driver toon in my head this a.m…maybe I picked it up subliminally from here!? Just watched an episode of Professor Kitzel…haha!

  • HottScarrison

    Difference between Quinn and MacT is Roli. Bar none. Put Roli in net for us this year we would be doin better than prob at least the leafs. Also was it just me or was the 3rd period really entertaining to watch as a hockey fan not as an oilers fan? back and forth kinda sorta.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I don't care what Dave Hodge says I like that if your team sucks and you end up with a top 3 Draft. Things look really Grim but the oilers have some great talent coming up from Sweden. This summer I think they will get rid of a lot of the stanley cup run players. On the bright side of things at least nobody that is due for resigning will get very much..WOW we suck…GO Oilers Go…for a a Taylor Hall…..lol

  • The management was still intoxicated of the playoff-run, when they signed Horcoff and Pisani. They are allowed a mistake or two. Give them this trade deadline and off-season, before asking for their heads.

    Even with all the prospects coming up, Oilers a looking like a small team for years.

  • Jason Gregor

    Sheldon has not been the same since the hit. It may be important for him to look at some video how he played last year and then look at any of the last 10 games as to how he is playing this year. If he is interested in moving to a different team, he has to pick his game up.

    KLOWE has made a great move to have the Oil Kings play at 11:00am during the week and the Oil at 2:00pm on a Sat. You gotta give him credit for these game times. Best moves he has made since the Cup run

    • Man I hope you're kidding. I don't care about the Oil Kings, but a 2:00 NHL game on the weekends completely sucks. I imagine it must be pretty hard on the players too. There's a reason they call it Hockey NIGHT in Canada.

    • Heavyd

      Didn't realize that Klowe had any control over the nhl schedule.
      And is he in charge of the Oil kings Schedule.

      These start times has nothing to do with Klowe.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Just seen it for the first time. It was very dangerous, but I really expected something worse. Very stupid move and the results don't look good, but I was expected a flying elbow with someone not looking.

      Question becomes how long is that suspension? Rest of the year?

    • The Fish

      That was absolutely disgusting. How did that guy end up as captain for Canada at the WJ's? Usually the players that are chosen to wear the "C" have some measure of class and respect for other players. This idiot has a history of playing dirty. Ban him for the remainder of the year.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Not even sure what to say about the game on saturday. I guess I would've wished I knew that we had the flu before I picked a sports select tie for that game.

    Dubnyk seems to be very quick in the net, but like JDD he doesn't really care about kicking out the rebounds to the wrong spot.

  • Jason Gregor

    Coincidence or not ? Since that long cold snap came to Alberta the Oilers and Flames seem to have gone into hibernation- unable to get the energy levels up . Since Comrie got mono our record has been abyssmal. Maybe thats what our losing streak all boils down to without over analysing everything else (tongue in cheek )?

    • The Fish

      The Flames are one injury away from being a lottery pick team…nevermind would they have to lose both their top goaltender and top skater…they would just need to lose Kipper and they would be done. Never seen a more overhyped bunch than them.