The Oilers lost a one-sided contest by a single goal, but much more importantly they lost Jordan Eberle midway through the contest to an ankle injury.
With any luck, Eberle won’t be out for long. I have twin reasons for hoping this; the first, most obvious reason, is that Eberle’s a big part of the future and it would be nice if he could avoid serious injuries in his rookie season, while the second is a selfish desire not to hear the G.M. whining about injuries for the second consecutive year, given that this was going to be a bad hockey team even if healthy. And yes, I realize the second hope is almost certainly in vain.
This was a ridiculously lopsided game. The shots were 19 to three after the first period in favour of the Flames and the final score flattered the Oilers. This wasn’t a close game, despite the lone goal separating the two teams. Nikolai Khabibulin played a solid game in net, but it wasn’t enough.
On the Oilers side, I was impressed with Ryan Jones. I did criticize him in an article a little further down the page, but tonight he scored a nice goal and really stood out for me on the penalty kill. I also thought Tom Gilbert and Dustin Penner were superb.
Jean-Francois Jacques, however, was not nearly so impressive. One shift of his in the first serves as a nice ‘career in a nutshell’ moment: Jacques threw a big hit on Adam Pardy, then moments later couldn’t handle the puck with plenty of time in his own end, and followed that up by messing up a three-foot pass to Zack Stortini in the neutral zone. Later in the game, he could have snagged the puck in a great shooting position, but instead opted to cream the guy who just lost it. It was a bad game for him.
I also wasn’t impressed with Shawn Belle, despite my fondness for the player. He had some moments but also made some bad decisions, including on Calgary’s first goal, where he followed Jason Strudwick into the corner, leaving Andrew Cogliano alone in front of the net. Of course, Cogliano compounded the error by fixating on the puck and failing to notice the Flames player sitting all alone directly behind him.
Lots of ugly penalty moments in the game, and I wouldn’t blame the referees for any of them. Nikolai Khabibulin got dinged for one of those ridiculous trapezoid penalties. Olli Jokinen gave the Oilers a last moment power play after he got nailed for one of those idiotic puck over the boards calls. And then the referees quite correctly penalized the Oilers to finish the game for icing the rarely seen 7-on-4 offence.
My favourite moment of the game? With the Oilers holding a 6-on-4 advantage (thanks to the Jokinen penalty and the empty net) my wife, taking a rare evening to watch the game with me, turned to me and said, “I don’t see how they don’t score here,” to which I replied that she didn’t watch many Oilers games. She said, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t they have two more men than the other team?” I have to admit I smirked a little bit after the ineffective power play and too many men penalty bore out my original point.