Hey, you play enough games and sooner or later you're going to run into a team that's even shittier than you. Thankfully, such a team arrived at Rexall Place tonight in the familiar blue-and-white garb of the Toronto Maple Leafs (sic). Thus endeth the losing streak.
All sorts of odd things happened in this one, the Oilers' first win since December 11 and first on home ice since November 23. Jeff Deslauriers had an outstanding game between the pipes, carrying a shutout into the late going and even contributing an assist to the cause. The Oiler powerplay was the difference - meant in a positive sense for a change - by converting both of its opportunities. More surprising than that was that both powerplay goals were credited to one Patrick O'Sullivan, whose powerplay "production" heading in tonight dawdled at a Tobyesque 1.12 points per 60. Shawn Horcoff was a plus player. So was J.-F. Jacques. JFJ even won a fight!
The Leafs outshot the Oilers by the relatively modest margin of 28-23, but seemingly had instructions to shoot from everywhere. They sent no fewer than 76 pucks in the general direction of JDD, although 26 of them missed the target and another 22 were blocked by Oilers defenders. At even strength the Leafs attempted 21 more shots than the Oil. This resulted in a very odd split of Corsi stats, in that the first two Oiler defence pairs actually had positive ratings while the third was absolutely overwhelmed. Indeed, Denis Grebeshkov posted the worst Corsi rating I have ever seen (in relatively limited samples) at -33; during his < 18 minutes on the ice at evens the Oilers attempted just 4 shots, the Leafs 37! His defence partner Steve Staios was barely better at -27 in 2.5 fewer minutes. This is not a pairing destined to last long or end well.
More stats after the jump:
Faceoffs (minimum 3):
Penner 3/4 = 75%
Stortini 2/3 = 67%
Brule 2/3 = 67%
Horcoff 11/18 = 61%
O'Sullivan 8/14 = 57% (!)
Gagner 4/7 = 57%
Cogliano 2/5 = 40%
Potulny 0/5 = 0%
Oilers 32/59 = 54%
6 guys in the black is a very positive sign.
Corsi by line (in order of EV TOI):
Gagner -5, Nilsson -8, Penner -9
Brule -10, Jacques -11, Horcoff -12
Stone +6, Potulny -4, O'Sullivan -5
Stortini +1, Moreau -2, Cogliano -4
Souray +5, Gilbert +5
Smid +6, Visnovsky +2
Staios -27, Grebeshkov -33
I still can't get over that distribution along the blue.
O'Sullivan: 2-0-2, 5 shots, 2 hits, 1 block, 8/14 = 57%, even
Jacques: 0-1-1, 5 PiM, 5 hits, +1
Stone: 1 shot, 4 hits, 3 takeaways, 1 block, even
Deslauriers: 27/28 = .964, 0-1-1, W
Stortini: 2 shots, 3 hits, 2/3 = 67%, even
Visnovsky: 0 shots, 5 attempted shots, 4 giveaways, 5 blocks, even
Gagner: 0 shots, 3 giveaways, even
A shocking 30 giveaways on the event summary, but Oilers won the battle of takeaways (14-10), hits (26-20), and blocked shots (22-16) as well as faceoffs, indicating they at least joined the puck battle with enthusiasm if not very protective of the disc once they got it. One thing I will not question from this outing is effort.
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Next up: at Calgary, Thursday December 31, 19:00 MST