Edmonton - Calgary Post-Game: Even When We Win, We Lose

His stick was probably over the net. Let's be clear on that right now. The blade was about Rene Bourque's shoulder height. Rene Bourque is listed 6'2" and I'd estimate his stick at about 4'8" - 4'11" based on that. A goal is four feet high. Ergo, that goal, according to the letter of the law, should not have counted.

But I don't really care. Because when Bourque's stick hit the puck, the puck dropped like a stone, hit the ice almost immediately, and lost almost all its inertia. It slithered towards Nikolai Khabibulin, who in spite of the deflection was still square. In NHL terms, that puck was moving slowly enough that Khabibulin should have had time to go get a hot dog before dropping into the butterfly to stop it. Instead, that ridiculous puck slipped through his five hole as our resident Russian awkwardly tried to squeeze his pads together like a senior citizen fighting an involuntary bowel movement.

Quoting @elQuain on the InterTwitters: […Khabibulin]’s much more like an appeaser or the personification of the Maginot Line.

The Maginot Line? Expensive, sprawling, obsolete the instant it was acquired, and easily bypassed? Finally, Nikolai Khabibulin has a nickname.

And Raffi Torres and Dany Heatley have four goals between them in the San Jose - Columbus game tonight. Which is also lovely.

The Oilers weren't horrible. After three games of waiting, Ryan Stone showed something. He ran around the ice in a good way and dropped a couple of solid bodychecks while never getting burned by a talented team. Ales Hemsky finally put something up on a magnificent goal set up by the solid Shawn Horcoff and the surprisingly reliable Denis Grebeshkov. Dustin Penner didn't find the net but was a wrecking ball once again. The defensemen were great from one through six. Even Ladislav Smid had his moment of triumph, deliberately taking a Dion Phaneuf slapshot off the ankle while Oilers killed a 5-on-3, watching the puck carom off his ankle into the neutral zone, and skating much faster than I could back to the bench with a noticeable limp before dropping a massive F-bomb for the television camera.

Who knew Denis Grebeshkov could pinch properly, and who knew Shawn Horcoff could drop back to cover him without looking like a gormless buffoon? Most of us could have guessed it, but the difference between a Pat Quinn team and a Craig MacTavish team seems to be that a Pat Quinn team actually uses its skills. Grebeshkov pinches confidently to gather up the puck, knowing that Horcoff will cover him. Horcoff covers Grebeshkov, knowing that the man once known for his LSD-inspired play will get him the puck. Horcoff bombs a shot, Hemsky bangs it in, and all of it was made possible because if they didn't pull it off, the coach wouldn't bench them for getting too fancy. It was like watching a real hockey team.

But. Jean-Francois Jacques is somehow getting worse; he's playing like the offspring of a stop sign and a cinder block. Ethan Moreau redeemed his stupid penalty with a fine goal but was otherwise inoffensive at best and, but for Jarome Iginla's sportsmanship, would have been murdered in his ill-advised fight. There was too much running around, too many lazy plays. Andrew Cogliano made a very clever play in the second period where he generated a scoring chance with his speed and a little chip to Gilbert Brule but you could be otherwise forgiven for not knowing they were on the ice. Sam Gagner, who shot like an assassin in games one and two, couldn't finish when the Oilers needed him. Particularly in overtime, Gagner was flying up and down the ice but firing pucks into Kiprusoff, firing them wide, firing them into Robyn Regehr's ankles. The one five-bell chance he set up in the third period, he set up to Zach Stortini who puttered the puck wide like a fourth-line enforcer.

Sheldon Souray got his eggs scrambled. It was a careless play by Iginla in the first period, letting his stick get tangled up in Souray's skates and by the time Souray lost his balance it was too late for Iginla to stop. Iginla got exactly the penalty he deserved: a two-minute minor for losing control. It was our bad luck that Souray went in as hard as he did. Mike Comrie very nearly mirrored Iginla in the third going into the corner with a Flame whose name eludes me, but the Flame kept his balance a bit longer and harmlessly hit the boards with his shoulder. In such accidents can entire seasons lay, and the words "mild concussion" are frightening as hell when applied to your best defenseman. No suspension for Iginla, though, except out of spite. Damn this game.

And there was Khabibulin. Good god. He was the second star. He couldn't be the second star if he was a supernova.

Four more years, my friends. Four more years.

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