Coyotes vs. Oilers Postgame: Boa Constrictor

Well, I’ll never get those two and a half hours of my life back.

I’m partially kidding, but that was a fairly boring game. The Oilers, who despite their flaws have at least had some interesting players for most of the season, were almost entirely bereft of guys who are fun to watch all on their own. The Coyotes, like pretty much every team Dave Tippett has ever coached, are one of the least exciting teams in the league on a good night, and this wasn’t an especially good night.

Not that I’m criticizing the Coyotes here; their style may be boring, but it’s effective. In the family of NHL predators, they’re the boa constrictor: slowly, irrepressibly squeezing the life out of their opponent.

I don’t know if I can call it a positive, but the total and complete absence of players with even a shred of offensive talent sure makes it easy to focus in on Jordan Eberle. I’ve been praising his two-way game to high heaven all season, but it was his offensive game I appreciated tonight – he moved with confidence in all three zones, taking his time with the puck, and sparking the majority of the Oilers’ few flashes offensively.

Liam Reddox had a really good game; he took the body all night, had a few shots from danger areas, and looked comically undersized while mouthing off Adrian Aucoin behind the Phoenix net. Reddox has taken a lot of grief from fans of all stripes since he first started pushing his way up the Oilers’ system, but I’d argue he was the team’s second-best forward tonight.

The power play made me sad for most of the game. The ‘top’ line of Jordan Eberle, Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Jones didn’t do very much. The Barons’ power play, consisting of Kurtis Foster and a bunch of guys who have played in the AHL this season, looked okay early on albeit with some fumbles from Alex Giroux, but fumbled after that. That changed on the Oilers’ seventh attempt – Linus Omark provided the nice cross-ice pass, Teemu Hartikainen provided a screen, and Magnus Paajarvi made a perfect shot.

The AHL guys were the real reason I watched this game: I was curious to see what they looked like. They didn’t look bad, really – heck the fourth line with Hartikainen and Vande Velde even managed to make Steve MacIntyre look like a hockey player early on (side point – I’m always interested to see MacIntyre retreat into his own zone when the other team has the puck; he looks for all the world like a defenceman even when he’s playing the forward position. That’s not a criticism; all I’m saying is that the experience he has had on the blue line is obvious.). Hartikainen was probably the best, although admittedly I was also watching him closest and he got the most in terms of opportunity: he recorded an assist, drew a penalty, and did the kind of dirty work along the boards that will go a long ways towards ensuring an NHL career is in his future.

Despite my negativity, the Oilers did a decent job of keeping the play in the offensive zone, a better job than I would have expected given the current state of the line-up. Then again, on most nights, the power plays aren’t going to favour the Oilers so heavily. I suspect that the biggest reason the Oilers looked semi-competitive tonight was thanks to so many minutes on the man advantage. I further suspect this last stretch of this season is going to be awfully painful to watch.

    • Crust

      Fist* time this year Renney looked like a beaten man. The post-gamer stream was interrupted a bunch of times and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on purpose.

      *Fixed

        • Crackenbury

          I’m kind of on the fence with the FIST movement, provided it is worked into an intelligent post, I don’t mind it.

          Bryzgalov is like the Russian BizNasty. Except everything he says is defamatory (is that a real word) and usually directed towards Edmonton or the Oilers.

          • Kodiak

            Agree on the FIST comments. If it’s tied in to something relevant then I don’t mind it at all.

            As far as Bryzgalov, I had no idea. What’s his deal with hating Edmonton? His girlfriend a Calgarian or something? I actually really like his game and would love to see him an Oiler but it sounds like that would never happen.

          • Mantastic

            it sounds more like he was disgusted by his own teams preformance though. barely beat an ahl edmonton team, doesn’t sound like a dig at edmonton but more to his own.

  • Crash

    It’s all good…all I need is for the Oilers to beat the Flames twice and the end of this season will be a success..

    Oh and for the record, Hartikainen didn’t screen Bryzgalov, he was standing off to the side which is pretty much what everyone else has done all year. Paajarvi just beat him with the shot…no screen

  • The Farmer

    I thought it was hilarious when they showed the fans after the goal was allowed when to me it was fairly obvious that it was no goal, regardless of the call on the ice. They didn’t even care, it was like ho hum glad I dropped a couple hundred to watch fate hand us another lottery pick

  • Kodiak

    I agree on all points JW. Was pleased with how Hartikainen competed. I thought PRV was trying to do too much early on and was a turnover machine, although he seemed to settle down in the third. Khabi wasn’t anything special either. Overall, pretty much exactly what everyone expected to see I think.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    VV looked super nervous his first shift but second shift made a nice tick tack toe play to get out of the zone and start the attack. He looked better after every shift and he is alot bigger than I expected.

    O’marra played a very simple game and I hope the Oil resign him. I like what he brings and the size benefits him greatly.

    Reddox played a hell of a game but honestly dont see where he is going to fit in. He mixes it up but doesnt do any harm. He should take a page out of Frasers book when it comes to getting under the opposing teams skin, then he could be something more.

    Giroux was average, used his body well but wasnt getting any bounces. He has experience and it shows just hasnt made the next step.

    AND how could I forget about Harski. I think I might fall in love with the way he plays. The oil should be very pateint with this player and not force him into anything to quick cause its no surprise they have a solid banger that has offensive skill. Enjoyed his game alot tonight and hopefully he can be able to keep up at least half of it for the rest of his call up.

    Cogs proved why he isnt a top 6 forward tonight. NO FINISH! After watching him get his chance as being the number 1 center he just didnt do anything with it and frankly is a 3rd liner in my eyes. Played hard but had nothing to show from it with all the chances and oppertunities he got.

    • Kodiak

      I’ve always contended that Cogliano doesn’t bring anything that any number of AHL players could bring.

      Proof is in the pudding…

      With an AHL heavy roster – Cogliano wasn’t even one of the top 6 forwards.

      He COULD play as a 3rd liner going forward, but why? That role would be much better served by adding someone with size.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      About Cogs …agree with his lack of ability to finish. I (fortunately) wasnt in attendance and watched the game on TV. Just about killed myself laughing at Debrusk analyzing the chance Cogs had at the side of the net as he was “waiting out Bryzgalov”. Thats one way of putting the lipstick on the pig. To me Cogs was chopping the puck up into pieces trying to get a handle on it. Cogs and others are struggling so bad right now they just have to start shovelling stuff at the net a’la Ryan Jones.

  • I have been preaching for a while he has hands of stone and no finish. But I just said it now since he was given top 6 duties for a little bit now and tonight had top line center and it just proved with someone his size he doesnt have the skills to make it as a top 2 center and doesnt have the size to make it a bottom 2 center. I feel bad for him cause his face proves how hard he works, he just doesnt have the knack for the net.

      • Puritania

        Cogs is junk and that game proved it. Doesnt matter if we had a top line, he was playing wiht guys that have played in the show all year, and he was given top line minutes. Not to mention he had the most NHL games under is belt and he still managed to fumble around great passes, look retarded with a wide open net, botched the breakaway he had until he got slashed then managed to put a midget AAA shot on Bryz.

        Are you sticking up for Cogs cause tonight just proved how terrible he is offensively and if Storts got canned for not doing his job which is fighting then Cogs better get canned this summer. He is a forward who cant score or make any consistent offensive contribution when given the chance and is deemed as a solid 2-way PK guy. Our Pk is junk aswell so if the Oil are going to clean out spare parts cause they dont do there job (Stortini) then Cogs is next in line. He frustrates me more than Gilbert and thats saying alot.

        So ill give my head a shake when Cogs actually does something with whats given to him.

  • Kodiak

    I don’t think lack of size is the problem with Cogliano. It’s a lack of hockey sense.

    Todd Marchant has the same build and he was a great checking forward.

  • Oilers4ever

    Is it just me, or was that the worst officiating ever. 10 powerplays aside, how do you call a goal when every replay available never showed the puck over the line? Refs are allowed to guess that its under a pad and over the line without seeing it now? And last I checked, most people who dive superman on the ice, and stay down for a few seconds. They don’t get back up right away and keep the play alive. These refs need to be held accountable for their actions and in some cases plain just fired because they suck. It’s like they didn’t pass junior reffing because the level they provide is exactly that, junior style. How is when guys like Van Hellemond, Koharski, Fraser, Marouelli and all those awesome refs retire we get crap to replace them. The league needs to do something about this. These refs are starting to ruin the game we love to watch…

    • Mantastic

      i agree with the reply not being able to show that the puck was over/across the line but the ref on the ice ruled it a goal. if any video replay was inconclusive, ruling on the ice stands, sucks but it works both ways.

  • Crackenbury

    i think the most entertaining part of the game was the referee. I’m not convinced he saw that puck cross the line. I’m also still trying to figure out that call on Omark that lead to a PP goal for Phoenix.

    Liked Hartikainen. For every Kane and Toews, you need a Byfuglien.

  • Mantastic

    A few random thoughts about the game…

    – I actually thought the Oilers deserved better. Yeah, they got a ton of powerplays but I thought they played a reasonably good defensive game, all things considered. Save for those breakdowns that led to the goals, they kept shots to the outside and the Yotes didn’t seem to be able to generate much offence at all.

    – Linus Omark is going to go home to Sweden this summer and wonder what planet NHL referees go home to during the summer. He can’t draw a penalty and, last night, that ham-and-egg zebra actually busted him for diving, when every normal human being could see he was tripped.

    – Further to the above: Nothing … and I mean nothing … burns me more in this sport than when a team scores on a powerplay that came as the result of a botched call. And you could argue that the Phoenix goal that came after Omark’s non-dive diving penalty cost the Oilers the game … or a shot at making things more interesting than they were.

    – I’m not actually sure why that wicked-dangerous one-handed, lacrosse-style slash from Yandle on Cogs was ruled a penalty shot. It looked like a double-minor for high-sticking or slashing to me. If Yandles flail hits Cogs on skin, it cuts him open. It was wicked.

    – The more I see Ray Whitney play well and score for every team he’s played for since leaving Edmonton, the more I wonder how much general-managing Glen Sather was doing in the late-1990s. I realize it was a long, long time ago, but Whitney shouldn’t have been let go … and he should have been given every chance to come back for another tour of duty.

    – Giroux is the perfect example of the difference between a scorer in the NHL and a scorer in the AHL. That difference is speed. In the AHL, he has more time to do stuff because everyone’s a step or two slower. In the NHL, he’s just not fast enough – with his feet, his stick or his hands. Nothing wrong with that – he’s got a long career ahead of him but not in the NHL.

    – Did anyone else notice that little punch to the chest that Aucoin gave Eberle right at the final buzzer after Eberle lunged for a chance on net? It didn’t look like an angry punch – it looked more like a “nice-effort-kid” kinda punch.

    – Years of watching players bolt for sunny climes with teams in non-hockey markets makes me love the thought of a bunch of millionaires being forced to pack up their wives, kids, dogs, chaise-lounges and flip-flops and head to Winnipeg.

  • Crackenbury

    The dive on Omark could only be called by someone with a prejudice against Omark. That was way beyond a bad call. It was a call made someone with a bone to pick.

    This is the problem with the officiating and it comes from the top down. Every call is made within the context of what the officials think about the players involved. The officials think that Omark is a punk and so they go out of their way to teach him a lesson.

    If I was Renney I’d be calling out the officials for their integrity. That wasn’t a mistake it was bias. Nothing is ever going to change unless he stands up and calls things like they are.

    The best thing Burrows did was call out Auger. This was almost as bad. The Oilers need their Auger moment.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      During one of these nothing games Renney should make a statement by getting the heave hoe. Just after the national anthems and before the opening puck drop, clear out the whole stick rack, even chuck the backup goaltenders mask out there.. Grapes and MacLean may even have some thoughts on that. Who would have thought this year the only Oiler to be suspended would be the coach and not a player.

      I do agree that there’s some prejudice involved here, there has to have been atleast half a dozen good examples of it this year. Well said CO.

      Seen the poke Aucion gave Eberle at the end of the game as well, thought it looked more like one of those good game kid gestures.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Horcoff played terrible. As most nights he was almost invisible. Oh, sorry I guess he wasn’t playing. I just thought he was having a typical game 🙁

  • Crackenbury

    Can someone explain to me the fascination that a large number of people and writers have with Redddox? I don’t get it. He’s a poor man’s version of Toby Peterson, who was a poor man’s version of an actual NHL player. I peg him for a Giroux, an above average AHL player whose game doesn’t translate to the NHL.

    It will be nice when the Oilers can actually dress some bona fide NHL players on their bottom lines in a couple of years.

  • Kodiak

    With Bryzgalov it must be one of two things.
    1. He’s ticked he too can’t be part of ELPH. That’s got to be better then the pressure of performing to squeeze into the playoffs this year.

    2. He’s getting into the hearts of ‘Peggers by dissing E-town because he knows he’ll be in Winnipeg in a few short months…

  • Kodiak

    On another painful note, it was pretty tough shelling out $18k+ to renew my Baroiler seats today.

    The memories of 2006 are what keep me going. I sure hope it’s not another 5 years before we have some playoff excitement. Not sure I can endure that long.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I wouldn’t blame him for being bitter, after what the Oilers did to Bryzgalov in that 06 cup effort, who could blame him. Oilers owned his ass that year. Ilya folded on hockeys biggest stage and Kelly Hrudey told us all why on HNIC during that series. I’m sure he’ll carry that axe for the rest of his playing days.

    Welcome to Winnipeg Ilya, you may want to buy yourself a parka.