The search for men willing to imitate NHL forwards continues. Tonight, Pat Quinn only had three of them and they were all on one line. Dustin Penner, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky put on quite a show but couldn't find the back of the net. The three of them tallied a combined Corsi of 45. The only other forward in black was Zack Stortini's 2. The rest of the forward group? They couldn't be bothered to play in this one. Visnovsky was good, though not his usual excellent self and the newly formed pairing of Jason Strudwick and Tom Gilbert wasn't half bad. The other three couldn't muster anything worthwhile.
I'm being tutored in tracking scoring chances and by my eye - the Hemsky line had about 14 chances on a team that had 20. They gave up about 6 on a team that gave up 20. The rest of this team is in deep when they walk on the ice no matter who the opponent, no matter which line they face. It's getting tiresome. Tamiflu IV stat. Open the line and let it rip. Oh, and bring us some forwards that know this game. The defense wasn't that bad tonight. Chorney and Grebs had problems, but the other pairings were okay and Strudwick had his best game of the year. There are eight forwards not pulling their weight every night.
There was stiff competition for the bottom of the roster awards tonight, with no less than eight guys in the hunt. Three of them were clear of the pack though, and without further ado, the bottom three:
18th Star: The Maginot Line. Khabibulin was in a downswing all night long. Yet another puck misplay led to a chance for the Islanders, and yet another tip went through his not-yet-in-the-butterfly stance. The first goal wasn't his fault as the kid line + Jacques abandoned him, but the rest of the game was an adventure. His rebound control is what we've come to expect and his puck control is something most of us now watch through the cracks in our fingers.
19th Star: Lanterns. Yet another game where a supposedly reliable two-way player is just non-existent. Completely disinterested most of the game taken out early after losing some physical battles. Another case of the flu? Is this another guy that needs Penner or Horcoff to perform? Even when he's getting chances he's finding the goalie's chest or missing the net altogether. He dogged it a number of times in his own zone - much line the way he stood watching the Bruins flurry to end the second period on Saturday. Something is off.
20th Star: Gilbert Brule. He was outmatched all night long. Does he have the swine flu now? There was no physical element to his game, he couldn't keep the puck moving and couldn't get it out of his own zone. He was in chase mode all night long. Without knowing Dennis' totals yet, I can already tell you that he was likely the worst Oiler forward when rated by scoring chance differential. His hot start was on the back of Dustin Penner, if this isn't the flu, any veteran center should be able to shove Brule down to the 4th line without issue.