Oilers Vs. Canucks Postgame: The Jeff Deslauriers Experience Continues

Edmonton Oilers: 3

Vancouver Canucks: 2

At times like this, it’s almost possible to forget how the Oilers’ goaltenders have struggled this year. Devan Dubnyk was out with illness after two strong efforts, and the timing forced the Oilers to turn to an unlikely backup – Nathan Deobald out of CIS. That left Jeff Deslauriers as the starter and he didn’t disappoint, putting in an at times spectacular effort and easily outplaying opponent Roberto Luongo on the other side.

In the end, the goaltending was the difference; the Canucks carried the play but the Oilers snuck away with a close win.

Oilers Three Stars

1. Jeff Deslauriers. Jeff Deslauriers was brilliant, making 31 saves and stymying the Canucks offence – in particular Kyle Wellwood, who he robbed several times, with his best save coming at the side of the net as he stacked his glove over his pad and knocked the puck away. He had a decent night puck-handling and is the biggest reason the Oilers won.

2. Tom Gilbert. A tentative start for Gilbert didn’t set the tone for his game; he scored the Oilers first goal, assisted on Cogliano’s game-winner and along with Ryan Whitney had a very solid night. This tandem has been the Oilers’ most pronounced strength since the trade deadline.

3. Andrew Cogliano. It wasn’t a great game for Cogliano, who was a key contributor to one goal against, but he was active offensively and scored the game winner. On a night where the forwards weren’t all that effective, he was a threat to score all night.

Other Stuff

Shawn Horcoff has struggled against the Canucks all season, at least in part because he’s been consistently matched against the Sedins. That happened again tonight, and while there were some good points I thought he had at best a lukewarm game. He also had a bad night on faceoffs, winning four of 12. He’s now at 46.8% on the season, either indicating that he’s completely lost his game or he’s been playing hurt most of the season.

The Oilers have three NHL defencemen at this point; the two named in the three stars and Aaron Johnson. Strudwick and Chorney put in their usual performance (of the Canucks’ 28 even-strength shots, 15 of them came with Strudwick on the ice) while Dean Arsene (up on an emergency recall basis) looked overwhelmed.

While I’m on defencemen, here’s how the ice-time broke down at even-strength:

  • Ryan Whitney – 19:07
  • Tom Gilbert – 17:21
  • Jason Strudwick – 17:20
  • Taylor Chorney – 17:15
  • Aaron Johnson – 15:31
  • Dean Arsene – 14:04

I’d be grumpier about Jason Strudwick’s ice-time if it mattered at this point.

There was a nice to pace to the game, start to finish; in fact, it was so good that I almost didn’t mind watching the Canucks feed.

What did everyone else think?

  • Best highlight was Rob Brown talking about how the younger players will be better after playing with Strudwick, and then the Canucks score right in front of Strudwick. Now that's timing!

  • 416oil

    What does opponent shots have to do with a D-man? How many were on the PP. Did they come from the point? If so, that is hardly a defenseman's responsibility.

    Chorney is horrendous, and there is no way he will be here next year. How many bad decisions did Strudwick make with the puck? How many times did he get beat. Did you watch the game or just pull off the shots against on ice for from the stats sheet.

    You don't like Strudwick. We get it. But maybe mention something that is relevant to the game. When the Canucks scored their first goal, Chorney missed puck behind the goal, how the hell does that have any bearing on Strudwick? It doesn't.

    Strudwick has played over 600 games in the NHL, and you say he isn't an NHL defenceman. Thanks for proving again you know stats but aren't an evaluator of talent.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Looking at a couple of games, shots against wont tell you much. But looking over a long period, if a guy constantly gets outshot, then theirs a decent chance he's not an effective player.

      Duuurrrr,numbers make my head hurt.

  • OilerPunch

    It was okay watching the Canucks feed as long as the sound was turned off. Actually it was nice watching the Television at all. It was a fun game to watch though especially since wins have been few and far between this season.

  • so what the hell are the oilers doing playing Gagner on the fourth line? i guess we now know why Cogliano has had such a bad season, playing with Stortini and the lowest dpairing, with no power play time does take away from your point totals and net scoring chances.

    If the Oilers draft Hall and Hemsky comes back, what are they going to do with both Gagner and Cogliano?? One plays in the top 6, the other plays on the fourth line??

    How about Eberle will he be the tough guy or the long lost penalty killer??

  • @ Peter:

    What does opponent shots have to do with a D-man?

    I've always thought that smart positioning and pressure helped limit shots against. I've also always thought that the ability to clear the zone and to acquire the puck helped limit shots against. I've also always thought that limiting shots against was part of, you know, defending. Am I wrong on any of those points?

    How many were on the PP.

    "of the Canucks’ 28 even-strength shots, 15 of them came with Strudwick on the ice"

    Did they come from the point? If so, that is hardly a defenseman's responsibility.

    Last game, Chorney and Strudwick blocked 10 shots combined, some of them from the point. It is part of a defenceman's responsibility.

    Chorney is horrendous, and there is no way he will be here next year.

    Yes to the first point, but I wonder about the second.

    How many bad decisions did Strudwick make with the puck? How many times did he get beat. Did you watch the game or just pull off the shots against on ice for from the stats sheet.

    I watched the game tonight, and I've seen enough of Strudwick to know what he is.

    You don't like Strudwick. We get it.

    I actually have no personal animosity towards Strudwick; seems like a fine person and nobody has a negative word to say about his personality or character. Unfortunately, I'm compelled to analyze him based on his on-ice performance rather than personality, and his on-ice performance is (as a rule) lacking.

    But maybe mention something that is relevant to the game.

    If you don't think that the Canucks getting more than half their shots against one player is relevant, I'm not sure what to say to you.

    When the Canucks scored their first goal, Chorney missed puck behind the goal, how the hell does that have any bearing on Strudwick? It doesn't.

    Where did I say it had something to do with Strudwick? I didn't.

    Strudwick has played over 600 games in the NHL, and you say he isn't an NHL defenceman. Thanks for proving again you know stats but aren't an evaluator of talent.

    Jason Strudwick isn't a regular NHL defenceman, and I think that's born out by the fact that he's never played as significant a role for any team over the course of his career as he has in Edmonton the last two seasons. Additionally, Strudwick turns 35 this summer, and that's an age when players begin to lose a step – a step that Strudwick, as a #7/8 defenceman, can't afford to lose.

    Are you related to Strudwick by any chance? Because this seems to have touched a nerve for you to attack me so directly.

    • Not related, in fact not a real fan of his. But to throw out how he was on for 15 shots seems pretty vague. Did he give the puck away routinely that led to those 15 shots?

      Did he have a chance to clear the puck and not do it? I don't recall yelling at the TV, WTF Strudwick at all tonight, so I didn't see the relevance in your comment.

      Am I not allowed to disagree with you. I didn't take a shot at your personality, similar to you saying you didn't towards Strudwick.

      Just my opinion.

    • The Goat - Team FIST

      Curious are you related to Pouliot? You have his pic in your avatar and have always defended him.

      I'm guessing you aren't so why would you suggest I am to Strudwick?

      And you say that Aaron Johnson is an NHL D-man, but when I said Strudwick was you pointed out he'd never been a regular. Has Johnson??? So why is he all of a sudden a proven NHLer.

    • GSC

      Preventing shots against is one thing, but preventing QUALITY shots against is quite another.

      Look at the '06 playoffs and the Detroit series. The Oilers were out shot in every game, but surrendered low percentage shots from the perimeter in doing so.

      It's not about quantity, it's about quality.

    • Jason Gregor

      Epic rebuttal, my eye.

      Willis can break down paragraphs and word things however he wants. He can qualify till he's blue in the face. He can offer a scouting report as to Strudwick's shortcomings. All asides.

      Willis implied Strudwick is not an NHL defenceman. However limited he is, and regardless of the obvious fact he's nearing the end of the line, Strudwick has played 622 games over parts of 13 seasons in this league. Saying he's not an NHL defenceman is hogwash.

  • @ Peter:

    I didn't take a shot at your personality, similar to you saying you didn't towards Strudwick.

    Maybe it's because it's late and I'm tired, but when I read stuff like this…

    Did you watch the game or just pull off the shots against on ice for from the stats sheet.

    But maybe mention something that is relevant to the game.

    Thanks for proving again you know stats but aren't an evaluator of talent.

    …I tend to take it personally. If you want to argue that it isn't relevant, that's your business and I've tried to respond to your points.

    After I watch the game I always check the stats sheets to see if there was anything I missed and to round out my view of what happened. I thought Strudwick had a 'meh' game, and was the best of the bottom three (i.e. him, Arsene and Chorney) but when I saw that more than half of the Canucks shots came against him I thought it was interesting, and ripping back through my PVR of the game after checking the stats I noticed a few different places where his footspeed issues led to shots against.

    When you imply that I didn't watch the game, tell me I'm spouting irrelevancies, and indicate that I'm talking out my arse and don't have a clue, yeah, I take it personally. I strive to remain civil, and for the most part I avoid making comments on the person I'm discussing things with – because the argument should stand or fall on it's own merits.

    When I say that "I don't know what to say to you," it's because I don't understand how someone can look at a defenceman who is constantly peppered with shots and call it irrelevant. Limiting shots is one of the key things a defenceman is called upon to do; it's incredibly relevant, and in this case it mirrors the scoring chance results.

  • @ Peter:

    No, I'm not related to Pouliot. I put this up as my avatar a while back after he had a great pre-season game and got jumped by Jim Vandermeer; it's also meant as a bit of commentary on the notion that he's soft, since despite his warts (and there are a few) his competitive streak has always been a strong point, going back to junior when he was the emotional leader of a brutal Rimouski team (a Rimouski team so brutal they'd earn the right to draft Sidney Crosby).

    As for my comment on you being related to Strudwick, you're right, that was a cheap shot meant to imply that you were overrating him. I probably shouldn't have taken it, as it's irreleavant to the discussion.

  • @ lenny:

    It's highly unlikely, given they still have a nine point lead on Toronto. Even bad teams go on winning streaks, as the Oilers showed with their five-game run earlier this year, but I highly doubt they can stretch it out long enough to regain 29th.

  • @ Peter:

    And you say that Aaron Johnson is an NHL D-man, but when I said Strudwick was you pointed out he'd never been a regular. Has Johnson??? So why is he all of a sudden a proven NHLer.

    Are you seriously advocating this position or just being contrary? We've all seen both Strudwick play (for two years now) and quite a bit of Johnson (here, in Calgary, and in Chicago last year).

    I ask you: which of the two is the better defenceman? I say Johnson. I think that's not only the consensus but the correct pick. Johnson is an NHL defenceman because he's playing like an NHL defenceman. Strudwick is not a regular NHL defenceman because he has never – at any point in his career – played like a guy who can hold down a top-six job, and that's holding true now.

    Strudwick has no offensive skill to speak of, is a below average skater by NHL standards, struggles to clear the puck out of the zone, and often appears to have difficulty processing the game at NHL speed (for example, see his hesitation on the Moen goal in the Montreal game the other night). I don't see how anyone watching him play can argue he deserves a regular NHL job after this season.

  • Milli

    Willis, I'd rather eat hot coals than listen to the Canucks feed. Ya, I get it, they think they are the best team ever, should win multiple cups…….Strudwick, agreed, re-signing him for this year was a huge mistake.

  • Mouse

    For "defensive" forwards, I thought Horcoff and Pisani had bad games. 3 times in their first couple of shifts they gave away the puck in their own zone, when they had complete control of the puck. Waiting along the boards at the hash for pressure to come then giving bad passes. It was quite bad. Horcoff better have a bounce back season next year, I hope he is more hurt than they have admitted.

  • Mouse

    And being at the game, I can tell you that Vancouver fans are the absolute worst. The two self proclaimed huge fans sitting behind me were calling for "cross court" passes, one didn't know who Mason Raymond was, and the other's favorite player was Kyle "Welly" Wellwood. Enough said.

    • Shannon

      Isn't that the truth? I was at the game as well and I know it's not fair to paint all fans with the same brush, but they were obnoxious. They might be more obnoxious than Flames fans (if that is possible).

  • VMR

    I dont understand what all the row about Strudwick is. He's a feasible 6-7 d-man who's had to move up the chart because of injuries. Ideally he's not getting near as much icetime but this season he is.

    No point in complaining about his play or pointing out that he's not good enough. Everyone knows he's not that good we're forced to use him. He's never going to develop into more than what he is so just accept it. Chorney is the one who should be talked about, he's the one that they're looking at using in the future. So far he doesnt look like he deserves a shot and most likely he should be back with the Falcons.

    • I completely agree.

      Strudwick is a very good # 6 or 7 d-man. That is what he is. If he was left at that we would be VERY happy to have him in that role. He is not only dependable, but also adds the toughness and physicality that this team dearly needs.

      It isn't his fault that he has had to slide up the depth chart to the level he is now at. Despite that he has not looked out of place on our roster at any time, in my opinion, while Chorney clearly does. That isn't the fault of Chorney's defence partner. Remember when Gilbert looked atrocious playing beside Grebeshkov earlier this season? Look at him now. I believe the Oilers are playing Chorney with Strudwick BECAUSE Strudwick is so solid back there.

      I am never going to argue with anyone that Strudwick is an upper echelon defenceman or that he is going to provide any offence to the team. That isn't what he does. He is a great depth defenceman. He doesn't have great mobility, but considering where he is supposed to play in the line-up I feel he is very good at it. He is solid defensively, plays physical, heads-up hockey and is a very dependable player. He will fight when called upon and always gives his all. I believe he is a great team player and is everything I would want in a depth defencman for the Oilers.

      Let's not forget he really shouldn't be playing more than a # 5 or 6 minutes when in the lineup. So let's not get down on him because he has had to play way more minutes than that due to injuries and trades. I think he has done a terrific job of what the Oilers have asked of him this year. When you think of it it is a monumental task, playing #3 minutes when you are supposed to be the #6 or 7 d-man. The fact that he doesn't look out of place while doing it I believe is a testament to how well he has played.*

      * not related to Jason Strudwick! 🙂

  • Are you seriously advocating this position or just being contrary? We've all seen both Strudwick play (for two years now) and quite a bit of Johnson (here, in Calgary, and in Chicago last year).

    I ask you: which of the two is the better defenceman? I say Johnson. I think that's not only the consensus but the correct pick. Johnson is an NHL defenceman because he's playing like an NHL defenceman. Strudwick is not a regular NHL defenceman because he has never – at any point in his career – played like a guy who can hold down a top-six job, and that's holding true now.

    This is Johnson's fifth team. He has only played 70 games the past two years. He has three goals in ten games, and considering he only had 11 in the previous 206 I think you'd agree the offence we are seeing is an anamoly. I've seen you do many charts about guys getting hot, only to go back to reality. He has never scored more than three goals in any season. So I don't expect him to be that offensive.

    I learned from many of your stories not to get excited over a short-term hot streak of a player. Which is what Johnson is doing.

    And sorry if I went over the line with the commments earlier I was out of line.

    We will disagree on Johnson and Strudwick. A hot ten game streak doesn't convince me that Johnson will be any better long term.

    • I'm trying to wrap my head around how you figure that a 34 year old defenseman with no foot-speed and a career total of 52 points in 622 games will be better long term than a 26 year old with much greater foot-speed and 44 points in 216 career games. Considering that neither has proven to be a legit 5-6 defenseman in their careers I'd be betting on the one that still has time on his side.

      Strudwick is consistently beaten to the outside. Watch the highlights of the Toronto game for example. Kessel walks by him 3 or 4 times like Strudwick was standing still. It happens every game.

      • See comment #33. I can't hold anything against Strudwick because he's being put in a position to fail and has been for the majority of the year.

        That we continue to use him in a regular role of somewhat significance, instead of his intended fill-in/emergency substitute role isn't his fault. Its the fault of the organization that puts him in that role. Of course, since the intention has been to focus on getting that ~coveted~ 30th place, it kinda makes sense.

        If we put a dog in net and get 30 scored against us, are we going to blame the dog or the idiot that put him in there?

        • I agree with what you're saying, I just cant see any reason to think that Strudwick would be above Johnson on the Depth Chart.

          If there werent so many injuries this year to defensemen I doubt he'd play in the last quarter of the season.

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

          I don't think anyone is arguing against that. I think the points are:

          Strudwick at very best is a 6th (should be more like a 7th/8th)

          Johnson is likely better today

          Johnson is highly likely to be better going forward

          Strudwick is arguably finished as an NHL'er (or just barely clinging on)

  • Eddie Shore

    Do you think Johnson with play 600+ games in the NHL? Whether you believe he is or isn't a capable NHL'er, Strudwick has played this long in the NHL for a reason. Of course he is getting lit up this year; he shouldn't be playing 15 mins a night nor should he be playing every game but that is the card this team was dealt with all the injuries and such.

        • RB is entitled to his opinion and is, in fact, paid because his opinion is so respected. That doesnt mean I have to agree with him.

          I dont think Strudwick is at the moment a particularly good NHL defenseman and I dont think next year he will be one at all. What he did when Strudwick was 27 or 28 doesnt really matter anymore to the discussion of whether he will still be a capable NHL defenseman for next season.

          I think he is limited by his declining footspeed and that is something that I dont think he can regain in the offseason.

          • Eddie Shore

            Strudwick would be a useful utility player if he played like 20 or so games in a season. To say he isn't useful, especially for a team lacking NHL experience and depth, is false in my opinion. Would you rather have Chorney, Peckham or Strudwick being the 7th defenseman filling in for injuries?

            My post was referring to the implications that Strudwick is not, nor has been, an NHL caliber defenseman.

      • Jason Gregor

        He is above him because of ten games. You consistently jump the gun on evaluating players. Sorry man.

        I've watched Johnson, and he has been okay at best.

        Of course, Strudwick's best days are behind him, but to suggest he isn't an NHL defenceman is misleading.

        You might not like him as a player, and that if fine, but he's played over 600 NHL games and that makes him an NHL D-man.

        But to suggest that Johnson is a lock to be better moving forward is a knee-jerk reaction at best.

        He works hards, and competes hard which is great. But he isn't strong on his skates and moving forward he will be a #6 at best. He might replace Strudwick, but I haven't seen enough to suggest he is a slam dunk to be better.

        He isn't tougher, and he isn't that much more offensive, despite his irregular goal-scoring spree with the Oilers.

        • Let's all slow down here.

          1) After re-reading all my posts on this subject, not once did I say that Strudwick isnt an NHL defenseman. I DID say I didnt think he'd be one next year.

          2) All I have been saying is that Strudwick is probably below Johnson on the depth chart. The fact is the kid is 8 or 9 years younger and hasnt appeared out of place.

          3) They are not really that close offensively. If you project Johnson's numbers over Strudwick's career 622 games you get 127 points. More than double the offensive output of Strudwick.

          4) Strudwick is a great person, he came to my son's school and talked to the kids. It was a highlight for all the students.

          5) I didnt say Johnson will be the next Chris Pronger, it doesnt take a lot to see that the kid will play more NHL games than Strudwick over the next 3 seasons. If I have jumped the gun evaluating other players I would gladly re-examine my position as soon as you give me the list of guys I messed up on. These are the guys I remember being "high on": Penner, Gilbert, Schremp. Penner i think has proven to be much better than he showed. Gilbert is a mess some nights, but the jury is still out on him. Schremp had an excellent rookie campaign in New York before ending it to injury. I will gladly debate others if someone brings them up.

          • Jason Gregor

            These are the guys I remember being "high on": Penner, Gilbert, Schremp. Penner i think has proven to be much better than he showed. Gilbert is a mess some nights, but the jury is still out on him. Schremp had an excellent rookie campaign in New York before ending it to injury. I will gladly debate others if someone brings them up.

            You loved Penner at the start of the year, what has he done since Dec 11th? He has nine goals and 19 points in last 41 games. What did he prove this year? That he can be dominant if he commits himself, but so far he has only been able to do that for a 30-game stretch.

            I think Gilbert is okay and has upside.

            I don't see the point in debating the other guy, since a 40 game stretch isn't long enough to evaluate anything. One goal five-on-five in goal (that wasn't an empty netter) in EV 500 minutes doesn't make me think he is on the verge of being an offensive stalwart.

            And arguing the offensive merits of Johnson v. Strudwick is like arguing who is better at being inconsistent Nilsson or O'Sullivan.

            Offence isn't the game that will keep Johnson in the league, just like it wasn't the reason Strudwick has played 13 years.

          • Penner will end the year as the Oilers' highest scoring forward, goals and points. He went through a terrible slide in the middle of the season, but I think he's done remarkably well this year in comparison to last year. MacT thinks so too. The guy might make team Canada at the Worlds this year.

            I dont know why Strudwick's 13 year history in the NHL is being used as evidence to prove he will be in the NHL next year. His history isnt going to make him any faster next season. It might make him more qualified to become a coach in the minor leagues though. I dont think it's disrespectful to Strudwick to say that I think he's at the end of his career, it happens to every player eventually.

            "And arguing the offensive merits of Johnson v. Strudwick is like arguing who is better at being inconsistent Nilsson or O'Sullivan." LOL. I like that one.

  • Jason Gregor

    I am not sure but when Wellwood went on his razzle dazzle dash to the net last night in the 3rd, he embarrassed someone just inside the Oiler blue line, think it was Johnson.

  • Gregor….what a nice job, assume now that you require zero preparation for your radio show after listening to you go back and forth on nicknames for most of the show yesterday. It was hilarious and really enjoy Brownlee's anecdotes. Thumbs up to both Muff and Buff, it was a hoot!

  • Arguing who is better at this point is like saying where you would like the guy to punch you. When the season is done we can tear this thing called a team up and throw it in the trash. It'll be done. Then we can pick the carcass clean and start over. Its been hard for all of us this season to watch this team. Alot of mistakes have been made that have come back to haunt the OIlers management this season. You reap what you sow.