Oilers Lose To Coyotes In Shootout But It Feels Like A Win

The Oilers find themselves a real NHL goalie and they actually look competitive except on the penalty kill.  Devan Dubnyk is doing nothing but playing like a somewhat competent NHL goalie and he looks like Dominik SawRoy in comparison to Nikolai Khabibulin.  He's kind of like Jimmy Howard for the Wings last year - he wasn't a special player, but he was so much better than the starter, I picked him for the Hart Trophy.  To stay consistent I'm picking Devan Dubnyk for the Oilers team MVP.  If the Oilers' brass wouldn't have stubbornly sent Khabibulin out game after game, the fans and players wouldn't have been forced to deal with blowout after blowout. 

If Dubnyk keeps playing as he has been all season, behind the same defense as Khabibulin, management is going to have to abandon their "Nik is our MVP," silliness. 

 

The Good

 

Dubnyk.  He was outstanding for the entire game except for the penalty kill, but I don't know if he should take the blame on that, and the six on five.  He made the first saves, but because it was the diamond, there was only one defenseman there to clear the puck against two forwards.  Shots hit him and drop in front of him or are sent to the wall, rather than to a location that his crazy malfunctioning Russian radar can't locate.  The perfect slot rebounds we've all become used to aren't happening.  He's not diving and scrambling around and flopping like an injured seal and it's glorious.  That's all Oiler fans ask for - goaltending that isn't complete crap.  Keep it up, kid.

Tom Renney put the top six back together and they immediately produced.  It's plainly evident to nearly everyone - the Oilers have six forwards capable of playing and not drowning against other top six forwards.  Renney needs to learn to just put those six together in some form and take his chances.  Every time he's torn those two lines apart to create a third line, the first line goes to hell.  Write Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky and then Taylor Hall, Shawn Horcoff and Jordan Eberle in permanent marker on the greaseboard.  Leave these six alone and take your chances with the bottom six, Tom.

Shawn Belle looked like he knew what he's doing on the bottom pairing and wasn't forced into any bad decisions.  He's playing a much safer game than the he did in training camp and it's noticeable.  There's no doubt in my mind - I'd rather have Belle on the bottom pairing over Strudwick or Vandermeer when Smid comes back.  He's bigger, more mobile, stronger and a better passer than either of the two NHL veterans.  I don't care if he's Charles Manson in the room, the Oilers need players right now, not Patch Adams.

 

The Bad

The bottom five were look through your fingers bad.  Cogliano took two undisciplined penalties in the first and hit the showers early.  His fellow bottom six running mates were a mess for the rest of the game.  This team would benefit from Reddox at least, and probably one other three zone forward right now.

The ice at Rexall place must have been terrible.  Some really good skaters struggled to maintain an edge tonight - Jordan Eberle, Keith Yandle, Taylor Hall, and Radim Vrbata all hit the deck with no one near them and Yandle and Hall did it twice.  I understand the Oilers are holding out for a new building, but Katz has to come to an agreement with Northlands to get a new ice house in there.  The team is going to every length to make sure that the young guns (BUY A MINI PACK) play in the NHL and with ice like this, it's a risk that they're going to blow a knee every time they take a skate into the zone.


The Ugly

The officiating in overtime was horrendous  It was like Gregory Campbell was playing for the Coyotes.  Taylor Hall was tackled and then later tripped, both times no further than 15 feet from a referee, and there was no call.  The ref stared at the play as if Colin Campbell just sent him a message from his Blackberry.

Do you want me to talk about the Diamond penalty kill?  I don't know what's left to say.  It's horrible.  Make it stop.  Go away.  Play a trapezoid, a rhombus, a dodecahedron, or a sphere, I don't care.  Just get out of the damn diamond.  It doesn't work if it's not matched against an umbrella power play.  I'll say this again - the Oilers must kill off their next 24 penalties in a row to become the 29th-ranked penalty kill in the NHL.

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