Went to the game tonight with Woodguy. Enjoyed his company and hockey knowledge, enjoyed the skill of the Chicago Blackhawks even on a night they put 'er in cruise control fairly early, but can't say I overly enjoyed the game. Takes two to tango.
It would seem that the Hawks are twice as good as the Oilers, and I have the standings to prove it. After tonight's 4-2 doubling the second-overall Hawks have 76 points, the DFL Oilers a paltry 38. The shots were slightly closer at 37-24, although the Hawks actually held a 27-9 edge in that department before taking their foot off the gas with the score 4-0 late in the second. By another measure it was even worse than double; Dennis's count had the Hawks with a 29-11 edge in scoring chances, right in our building. The final score flattered the Oilers when it should have flattened them ...
A large part of the domination was the Kane-Toews-Brouwer line skating absolute rings around the Oilers' veteran "shutdown" line of Moreau-Horcoff-Pisani. That Oiler trio posted even strength Corsi numbers that looked like the daily temperatures in these parts: -19, -21, -16. All three were around -10 in the scoring chance metric as well.
It didn't help that Jeff Deslauriers seived in the first shot he faced, Jonathan Toews bad angle wrister from the bottom of the circle just 44 seconds in. JDD spent the whole rest of the first period looking like a deer in the headlights, fighting the puck even on routine shots, struggling to find rebounds, handling shoot-ins by clearing the puck away from his teammates (he was among 7 Oilers who shared the team lead with 2 giveaways). By night's end Deslauriers would have 33 saves to his credit, several of them good ones, but his early jitters played a role in sewering the club's chances. JDD has played 5 games so far in 2010, allowing 4, 5, 4, 6, and 4 goals for a 5.14 GAA, an .838 Sv%, and needless to say, Zero wins.
Somehow the Oil survived the rest of the first with just the 1-0 deficit, creating almost no opportunities and having very little possession of the puck for that matter. The Hawks weren't real sharp but were by far the better team.
In the second they turned it up a notch and things just got silly for quite ahwile. The Hawks had the puck on a string, outshooting the Oil 16-3 over the first 15 or so minutes, running the score to 4-0. At that point any score seemed possible. The Hawks looked like champs while the Oilers were having trouble doing simple things like hang on to their fucking sticks. Sheldon Souray dropped his for no apparent reason in the corner. Later Tom Gilbert lost his twig right in front of our net, and to make matters worse Moreau attempted a breakout pass right into the danger area which hit the fallen stick, causing a turnover and a chance. Later Fernando Pisani broke a stick which he dropped right in the middle of our zone, and sure enough Gilbert tripped over the darn thing creating yet another chance. It was keystone cops material.
In the latest instalment of our continuing instructional video series, How Not To Play Hockey (a.k.a. the game highlights, inserted below for your viewing enjoyment) if nothing else watch the 2-0 goal beginning around the 1:15 mark, featuring thecaptainethanmoreau in a starring role. Patrick Kane dipsydoodledangles around the Oiler zone with Shawn Horcoff in hot pursuit, eventually pushing Kane to the outside on Moreau's wing. Instead of picking up the chase, thecaptain does a convincing imitation of a lamppost as Kane saunters past. With the left defenceman (Souray) now occupied with Kane, a second guy, Troy Brouwer, walks into Moreau's territory, again with absolutely no resistance. Kane passes, Brouwer shoots, now it's 2-0 and turn out the lights.
The Hawks continued to bring it, playing ring around the rosie in the Oilers zone for minutes on end. After one extended sequence resulting in an icing, Pat Quinn didn't use his timeout, and on the subsequent sequence two guys (guess who, Souray and Moreau) were unable to make the long change before Dustin Byfuglien tipped in Duncan Keith's point shot for the eventual game winner. Then Kane put on another circus act in the O-zone for an extended period, eventually drawing a high-sticking penalty from the frustrated Horcoff. There was no chance, none at all, that the Hawks would fail to convert on what was effectively the night's only powerplay, and 43 seconds later it was 4-0 as Marian Hossa cashed. At that point the Hawks had had 17 consecutive scoring chances. It was a massacre.
From there the Hawks called off the dogs, while the Oiler dogs started to come on a little bit. They applied their first bit of pressure of the entire period in the last minute, and were rewarded with an entirely undeserved goal when Pisani managed to bash one home from the goal line after he and his linemates had gradually plumbed the puck in the right direction. The assist was Ethan Moreau's first point in 22 games.
In the third Ryan Potulny notched his 11th of the season on a pass from O'Sullivan after a strong forecheck by Zack Stortini helped to force a turnover. Oddly it was Stortini's only shift of the third period: his official third period stats were 0:27 TOI, 1 hit, +1. His reward? Have a seat, son, we want Andrew Cogliano to double shift on your wing next time around. You know, THAT Andrew Cogliano, the guy with 3 goals in the last 45 games. Drives me bonkers.
When Hawks stalwart Duncan Keith -- who played a fabulous game, skating miles -- drew a penalty there was a moment of hope that lasted all of 2 seconds before Patrick O'Sullivan committed a highsticking infraction right off the draw to negate the Oilers only PP of the night. 0-for-2-seconds, is that a record of the non-zero type? Whatever records the Oilers may have set tonight, they certainly involved futility.
When Quinn finally did use his precious timeout in the final minute, the game hopelessly lost, there were some boos from the fans at the announcement that would prolong our agony. Not everybody's, mind; close to half the crowd had filed out during the first couple of stoppages after the 50/50 draw. The crowd didn't seem very angry like after the Vancouver game, certainly not disappointed like we were against Dallas Friday, indeed there didn't seem to be any appreciable emotion at all. The attitude seemed one of resignation, that this was just another in a long string of defeats which shows absolutely no signs of abating. Discouraging times in Rexall Place.
Next up: St. Louis @ Edmonton, Thursday, January 28, 19:30