Oilers vs. Avalanche Postgame: All’s Well That Ends Well?

Edmonton Oilers: 5

Colorado Avalanche: 4 (OT)

The Oilers’ final home game of the season ended on a positive note, with a 5-4 overtime victory over an Avalanche squad that was resting some of its veterans. It didn’t start that way; the Avs jumped out to a 3-0 lead early on, thanks to some guys watching the puck and some shaky play on the part of Jeff Deslauriers. The Oilers didn’t go away though; Tom Gilbert was the catalyst behind two first period goals and they battled back and actually held the edge in play until the third, when the Avalanche seemd to wake up a bit. It wasn’t enough, as Ryan Whitney hammered home a Dustin Penner pass to give the Oilers the overtime win.

 

Oilers Three Stars, According To Me

 

1. Dustin Penner. The Oilers’ best player was the Oilers’ best player. Penner will probably always be a bit of a whipping boy because he’s such a low energy player (by which I mean it often looks like he’s taking his time) but he is incredibly effective, especially tonight as he scored a breakaway goal and then drew the primary assist on Cogliano’s third period marker and Whitney’s overtime goal. He also drew the first penalty (which led to Horcoff’s goal) with some wizardry in the offensive zone.

2. Andrew Cogliano. It isn’t a secret that I haven’t been as thrilled with Cogliano as the Oilers’ broadcasters because of his occasionally sloppy defensive play, but he was good tonight and showed some chemistry with Penner (as seemingly everyone has). There’s always a bit of edge to his game, which I like, and he showed both finish with his third period goal and some smarts with his role in the Oilers’ overtime winner.

3. Tom Gilbert. There were lots of players who deserve some mention, but Gilbert gets the third star because of his great offensive night. He was great on the power play, pinching in for a glorious chance before giving Horcoff a nice feed for his goal, and then a few minutes later springing Penner’s breakaway with a perfect pass.

 

This & That

 

Neither goaltender was especially sharp; Deslauriers had a couple of highlight reel saves (he always seems to, doesn’t he?) but his rebound control was a big part of the reason the Oilers fell behind early, and he almost deserved an assist on O’Reilly’s goal. His puck handling was customarily rough and bad angle shots gave him trouble. At the other end, it was a similar story for Peter Budaj, who looked shaky for good portions of the night.

It’s out of fashion to say so, but I was very impressed with Patrick O’Sullivan at points in this game. He hit a post early on and then was the catalyst behind an incredible shift for him, Comrie and Stortini where the line had three incredible chances in close but couldn’t put the puck away. He had a smart game offensively that included setting up Mike Comrie’s goal.

After an abysmal season, Shawn Horcoff had a pretty good night on special teams, setting up a Gilbert chance and then cashing in when Gilbert returned the favour. Initially it also looked like he had deflected the Comrie goal into the net (in fact, the puck went off the Avalanche defender) but his screen was still a big part of the play.

I was very impressed to see Matt Duchene stand up to a big Zack Stortini hit; Stortini’s not the most fearsome fighter in the world but he can throw his weight around as well as anybody but Duchene had no trouble with it.

Finally, I wanted to note something about confidence. Louie DeBrusk mentioned that one of the Oilers’ strengths is the fact that they have the confidence to come back from deficits because they know they can score, and at various points in the season that’s looked very true. On the other hand, I’ve heard Ray Ferraro mention at several points that confidence is a big problem for the team (the word he used was “fragile”) and that they seem to collapse if they give up the lead, something which has looked true at other points in the season. My own personal take is that ‘confidence’ tends to be a catch-all for colour commentators and it likely isn’t nearly as simple as either point of view. I’m curious as to what everyone else thinks: are those viewpoints too simple, or is one right and the other wrong?

    • Let's Rebuild

      The reason I'm in the excited for next year boat is Penner. When he is on his game, he dominates. He seems to have chemistry with anyone he plays with. I wouldn't be excited except that he has been doing it for a good portion of the year which means he should be able to do it again next year.

    • I'm in the same boat. Isn't this the great thing about sports? Eternal hope!

      @JW

      I agree, sports commentators over use the word “confidence” and the definitely over-simply its meaning. I didn’t watch the game last night, but was it the Oilers “confidence” that brought them back from a 3-0 deficit? I doubt it, it was more likely the momentum shift in the game. Momentum is so important in sports, bball team hits a few shots in a row, hockey team has a few good shifts, football team completes a few passes in a row etc… and in my opinion plays a bigger part in how the team plays than “confidence” does. A few good shifts for a team in a row leads to players feeling good about themselves or “player high” and this elevates individual player performances which elevates team play.

      • Mike Krushelnyski

        Confidence? Momentum? I hate these ridiculous, unmeasurable, subjective qualities being espoused as the reasons for success.

        If you look at it objectively, this win was clearly due to heart and jam.

      • Bucknuck

        Everyone is saying they will suck for years, but people said that about the Avs too. People picked Calgary to win the division.

        It goes to show that sometimes it all comes together and sometimes it all comes apart. Then someone says "who saw that coming!!" and the answer is "no one".

        This team may surprise everyone next year. I am not betting on it, but isn't it OK to hope. Isn't it OK to dream. Isn't that my right as a fan?

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

          Ya, other then the top 2-3 teams it really is a crap shoot (and even then who seen the Coyotes/Sens/Sabres/Preds near the tops of their confrences?).

          I mean half the teams that made the PO in the west last year missed this year.

          I don't think it's probably, but it's certainly very possible the Oil could be back in the 7/8 mix next year.

    • Dyckster

      Agreed,

      By my recollection the first three goals were virtually identical.

      Low, bad angle shots to the far pad. Inducing massive rebounds into the slot area. I know players are taught to shoot there, but shouldn't an NHL goalie be able to manage those types of attacks better?

    • Victoria

      Why not? He obviously didn't keep giving up goals like he did in those first 9 minutes and we won the game.

      It's not like it really matters which goalie is in net, anyways.

        • Victoria

          Because all goalies play behind horrible teams that have no chance of making the playoffs or losing their #1 draft pick?

          It's like saying that we should bench Sully because of a bad game. There's just no value in it at this point.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            No, because if a player (Deslauriers) has more holes in his butterfly than a Swiss cheese sculpture of Michael Phelps, he should be pulled. The gravity of the game has no bearing on it. Don't give your goaltender the idea that it's okay to suck because he's behind a crappy team.

            While you're at it, draft up letters to Penner and Cogliano to let them know that they should stop shooting so their tape is still fresh come October.

  • On Deslauriers, I think he's the backup next season, so I dont mind it when the coach leaves him in to learn how to fight back.

    I think it showed some character and battle for him to bring his play back up to par. He could have mailed it in after the 3rd goal. I think we were all thinking it was going to be a lopsided game at that point, but Deslauriers battled back. I like that.

    EDIT: Count me in as excited for next year too.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    JW: Yeah, I do think that the 'confidence' thing is oversimplified, and is a simple reason or excuse for commentators used all too often.

    All of these players made it to the N.H.L. They all have confidence in their game or they wouldn't be up here.

    Regarding all the talk about who we pick in the draft on the TEAM 1260 this morning…chances are we don't get the choice at this point anyway.

  • Well the season is about to end and the rebuilding can start. The Oilers need to improve in a lot of areas and for my opinion, we need to get bigger, stronger and more skilled. Many of the so called skilled players on the roster are mildly skilled and weak defensively. Chorney, Peckham, Johnson, Arsene are 6th to 7th defencemen playing right now many times as top 4. Sorrry, there not good enough yet. Deslauriers was screwed around so much in his first two or three seasons and then was thrown to the wolves this year out of necessity. Just a backup is what he is. I could go on and on but we all know the problems so hopefully they are addressed. These are just my opinions and I am sure you have yours which is fair game.

      • Twiggs

        Is that all we need? Just those 3 things!? Why didn't we just fix those issues this season!? Sounds to me like it will be pretty easy for us to be in the playoffs next year.~

        *Joins overly optimistic club*

    • Dan the Man

      You realize that all of the players you mentioned were forced into roles that they wouldn't normally be in due to injury right?

      Chorney, Peckham and Arsene should be AHL defencemen right now and Deslaurier WAS the back-up to start the season.

      Anyways….I am excited as always for next year. Even if the team doesn't end up contending for a playoff spot they should be exciting to watch.

  • Mouse

    Count me in for the optimistic bandwagon. But am prepping myself already for a second rebuilding year.

    Whitney has looked like a complete stud since coming over and Gilbert must have a crush on him or something, because all of a sudden he is performing to what we thought he could.

  • That was a fun game to see once they spotted the Avs those three goals. This team can generate some offense for sure; if they ever get their defense sorted out they just may have a chance!

  • Oilers look too much like Alberta Spring: comes in early and gives you hope only to dump a bunch of snow later in April. Every year.

    I get excited for next year. Hell, I even look forward to see how a healthy Hemsky can play for PQuinn. 😉

    But then I hear things like keeping Moreau (and the C won't go away, obviously) Nilsson and Osully and start wondering.

    Is there a possibility management will pick Seguin, realize he will benefit from one more year of ripping all out in the juniors and make next year another DFF year?

    'Cause if that's the case, I should go back to watching soccer for a year…

  • Tracie

    I've been to about 10 games this year and this is the first one that I saw them win!!! It was very exciting!

    So yes, count me in as optimistic for next year! i agree we have some hole to fill, but with a healthy Hemmer, a brand new stud draft pick and a healthy goalie to go with a good backup, I think we will do just fine!

    If the injury bug comes back, I'll cry!

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    I was just thinking about Penner's first star…

    He was certainly the most productive player on the ice last night, but I think the colour guys hyped him up a little too much. His last assist was great, but he stood about 4 feet away from whichever Colorado player had the puck and had both feet planted. That's not exactly what I like to see in the last 10 minutes of a 4-4 tie.

    • Jamie B.

      I thought it was a bit of an acknowledgement for his good season overall, a chance for the fans to cheer him after ripping him so badly (at TIMES deservedly) last year.

  • Twiggs

    Winning breeds confidence , losing breeds doubts in individual , team and coaches,etc.. Having said that , i prefer Hall having being a proven winner throughout his junior career . Not like we do not need a winning attitude to add to our doubtfull lineup ?

  • Ducey

    Its funny but everyone always seems to focus on the forwards.

    I reality its the defence. With Hemmer and maybe a 1st pick, this team will score enough goals. The problem is the league's worst goals against.

    If Souray gets traded (which seems to be the plan) the Oil will have Gilbert, Whitney, Smid as top 3 with an assorted group of moops (Struds, Johnson, Arsene) and not yet ready prospects (Peckham, Chorney, Plante, Motin, Petry) to round out the group.

    Add in some questionable goaltending and this team isn't going anywhere at least not in the first half of next year.

    However, if you Charlie Brown optimists out there want to believe in next year, I am sure Mr Lowe will have no problem holding that football out there for you to try and kick.

    • I refuse to learn that the Oilers will suck next year. The minute I dont believe at all that they can fix their problems is the minute I stop being a fan, I think. You're right. If they get rid of X players and dont replace them with quality players the team will be hooped.

      Tambellini (Not Lowe) will likely get yet another chance to do nothing in the summer to make the team better though. He needs to fill out the bottom half of the lineup with good bottom half players. 3rd and 4th line players that kill penalties and take faceoffs, defensemen who are reliable in their own ends, and some kinda voodoo doctor to keep Bulin's back healthy.

      I still think he can do those things.

    • Why is it when people try and project what will happen next year they use some variation of current Oilers property?

      This is a last place team, if Tambellini goes into camp next September with essentially the same group of players to select a roster from then he should be fired on the spot.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Theirs lots of decent depth defense available as UFA's this summer, I'm hoping the team goes out and picks 1-2 guys that could be decent #4's on a good team.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Off topic, but just because it was one of my favorite debates from the last couple of years:

    Since the Smyth trade:

    Smyth: 62 goals 147 points 18.75 cap space dollars used

    Penner: 72 goals 147 points 12.75 cap space dollars used

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Ha-ha, I actually had Horc in there because I figured he would have come up but I pulled it.

        Horc 51 goals 139 points 12.7 cap space dollars used.

        Horc has actually been better bang for your buck then Smyth

        (Not to mention it's pretty unlikely they would have went after Penner if Smyth would have stayed)

  • Crystal gazing plan . Next years projected lineup : line 1- Penner, Jagr, Hemsky . Line 2- Horcoff , Jagr (Czech buddy ) , Pouliot/Brule . Line 3 – Gagner , Hall, Svensson . Line 4 – Cogs , Stortini,Jacques/Moreau . Defence pairings Souray and Plante , Whitney and Gilbert , Smid and Peckham/ Johnson / Strudwick . Goal -Khabby and Deslaurier . Any way you look at it ,does not appear playoff spot would be a shoein . Eberle has to buck trend (accepted stereotype )that smaller players need to have blazing speed to play in NHL . Even with Jagr and his buddy possibly joining club along with Hall/Sequin and Svensson , i don't see a lot of optimism as yet in rest of lineup .Lets see whom i have let go and/or back to AHL : O'Sullivan , Comrie , Potulny , Stone , Jones ,Nilsson,Pisani,Chorney,and other AHL callups . With what i have left go maybe some trades can be made for a couple of upgrades for next season . Anyone got a clue as to what Tams has in mind doing for next season to address all the problems he has taken on this season and last ? Not just the idle talk , but the actual plan if indeed there is one .

    • Souray and Plante? What are you smoking exactly? And I'm not even going to go into the Jagr(czech buddy)(I'm pretty sure most people with a brain know who Jagr is)

      Back to Plante, he has played a couple games in the NHL and you want to go ahead and through him on the first line. I'm just glad you have nothing to do with our organization.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    One thing everybody:

    GET OFF THE JAGR TRAIN!

    Why would you want a 38 year old (clearly he still can play) but he is 38! According to the likes of anyone with some common sense that is NOT how you go through a rebuild. Some of you need to get over the fact that it is hard to get a superstar and will take some time. Just forget about Jagr, please, do it for yourself.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Only get off Jagr talk when Oilers management quits not persuing the idea . Till then ,maybe you should look at the benefits he and others might bring to a rebuilding transitional team .

      • OH god don't point to that useless argument. Tell Me, at what point in his career was he a leader???? Lets take a look at Pittsburgh, oh wait MARIO LEMIEUX, RON FRANCIS. Okay so maybe in New York he held a minute leadership role. This man is not a leader and for 5 million a year do you really want to use up that space when we can be signing our future?

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

          You overassume far to much . For instance that i would have Souray for certain as first line pairing , or with Plante (just an example ). I am just projecting whose names might possibly be on next years club and ones i deem probably might not . Even all my line combo's could be realigned . By the way, just how do you think spending 5 million (name your acquisitions ) can improve us for the better rather than just disagreeing ? You leave the impression you know how to rebuild , then please present names and acquisitions for others to see your choices .

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

            The fact that you are suggesting that O'Sullivan/Pisani/Nilsson/Comrie all be let go just shows me the lack of thinking you have done. Sully still has a year left on his contract at 2.9 cap hit, who in the right mind will pick him up off waivers? and if no one does you really think the Oilers want to shell out that kind of money for him to play in the AHL. Same goes for Nilsson (2 mil cap). Pisani and Comrie I would love to say goodbye to.

            I'll give you credit for putting lines up looking through your crystal ball, its just unfortunate you went and bought one from the dollar store.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @Archaeology. Horcoff has 16 points in the last 20 games. That's a pace of about 65 points a season. He has not been playing with hemsky, and he has not been playing with penner. He's been playing with Moreau and Pisani. Granted he's also been given power play time, but I'm pretty sure he will still be getting some pp time next year. So I would think it's reasonable to expect he is still capable of 55 plus points over the course of his contract. Especially when you consider that his effort level is second to none and he will be playing on an improving team.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Without predjudice . I am of the belief the Oilers trashed this season when they couldn't land Heatley , and thats why obvious voids were never filled . I think they had given up on acquiring a top line scorer by UFA or trade route , and decided to go the draft route . Thus , i believe ,the abundance of AHL'ers on this years club was to get them some experience rather than actually get some NHL'ers . It also allowed some time to address cap and other issues before going into next season . I think the fans got "buffaloed " this season .