Everything was going pretty well for Jeff Petry. After a slow start his defensive game was rounding into form and he had found the offensive part of his game. He was playing about twenty minutes most nights, a solid twenty minutes. He was getting back into the groove that made Oiler fans hope he was one of the answers on Edmonton’s blueline.
Then this happened…
This is a rough play. Every defenceman that has ever played has put one in his own net. Some guys shoot it right in, others have the puck bounce off of them and some redirect the puck with their skate. When you are the last person to touch a puck that goes into your net, no matter the way it gets there, everyone points the finger at you.
I have had pucks go off me and into the net. Ask Dan Boyle if he remembers putting that puck in his own net in the playoffs a couple years ago. It makes you want to go and hide on the bench.
As if that wasn’t enough to test Petry, he then was faced with taking one of the NHL’s best players one vs. one in overtime. Pavel Datsyuk was flying up the ice, hadn’t scored for a long time and was having a great game. He was due for something special.
That just tops off a game for Petry. A game where, if you take out those two plays, he was solid. Nobody was talking about the rest of the game for him though, just those two plays.
After the game I am sure that one of the coaches grabbed him to have a talk. They probably said to forget about both plays. That he is a big part of this team and that the team needs him to be steady and solid. This is the advice I would have given him at least.
But it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks – what was Petry thinking?
After a game like Detroit for Petry I was always glad when we could play right away to get that sick feeling out of my stomach. Nothing was worse than waiting for two or more days for a chance to not only redeem myself but purge that game completely.
Petry had to only wait forty eight hours to get his chance, but how would he react? I watched him very closely for the whole Nashville game. How would he respond? Would he play small, almost trying to hide or would he overcompensate and try to do too much to make up for the bad luck he had the game before?
I was very impressed with his game on Sunday. He was solid. He led the team with almost twenty three minutes of ice time. He was under control. His game against Nashville says a lot about where is head is at. He is maturing as a player and has the confidence to shake off two rough plays from the game before. This is good news for the Oilers.
I believe Petry is a big part of this Oiler D corps moving forward. He can play in all situations. Although he is not a vocal individual he has a quiet confidence that will rub off and calm team mates down. My grandpa used to tell me adversity tests character. Petry passed the test.
Sergei Kostitsyn made a huge mistake which led to a very important Oiler goal Sunday.
Yes, that is ugly. His coaches and team mates are going crazy on the bench as he slowly changes after a long power play shift. He has no idea what is going on behind him.
He has been abused by everyone for this play, surprisingly I am not going to abuse him. His on ice awareness is brutal during this sequence but does this one isolated incident make him a bad team mate?
No, it doesn’t.
He made a mistake. Apparently he is going to be healthy scratched by his coach for this. By itself I don’t think this is worth a benching. It must be the last straw in a series of acts by Sergei to get to that point.
If Eberle had done this Sunday would Kruger have benched him? I doubt it.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want Sergei as a teammate but it has nothing to do with this mistake. There are a lot of reasons that are very obvious. Nashville should have thought about that before signing him again.
One day at a time
The Oilers have battled their way back into a better position. My advice to them is to not pay attention to other teams successes or failures in games. Just worry about yourselves.
It doesn’t matter what happens around them if they don’t get points every night. They just need to focus on their house.
It doesn’t matter if they go on a five game win streak. Each new game is a chance to get or lose two points, the last game is irrelevant. What matters is the game right in front of you.
The standings change quickly and a short memory is required. I hope Oiler fans get a playoff memory this year!
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