When I was at work this afternoon I got an e-mail asking me to do the post-game thread for this game. The Edmonton Oilers were going to get their show run once again, after all, and surely my toxic blend of vitriol would be just the thing to send our despairing fans gently into that good night.
Well, goddamn it.
If I went onto the street and beat up another person like that they'd put me in jail for murder. That was a humiliation, an unabashed humbling of possibly the best team in the National Hockey League. The Chicago Blackhawks came out of the gates limply, failing to check the re-animated remains of Ales Hemsky en route to what would have been a highlight reel goal if not for the other eight, and just as I was laughing at their sloppy defense, their lack of coverage, their positively Oilers-ian neutral zone play, they got worse. Edmonton picked Chicago to pieces, then swept up the pieces and lit them on fire.
Corey Crawford, Ray Emery, it didn't matter, they all got ventilated. Duncan Keith? Sit down, son; you're getting your ass kicked by an 18-year-old who can't pick a last name. Niklas Hjalmarsson? Don't make me laugh. Taylor Chorney is out there and he's looking like the much better bet. The Edmonton defense was in such rough shape fans were actually saying "I miss Corey Potter" and the good guys still took Chicago behind the woodshed and handled them roughly. France didn't get run over that badly in 1940.
Do I sound happy? It's because I am. If I got to watch a hockey game like that every season I wouldn't be the bitter, egotistical misanthrope I am today. That game made me want to run outside, give money to a homeless person, and kiss a filthy orphan on the forehead. Famine in Somalia? The Edmonton Oilers demolished the Chicago Blackhawks; therefore all is right in the world.
The last time the Edmonton Oilers scored nine goals in a game was also they last time they scored ten: November 26, 1996 against the Calgary Flames. The Oilers beat Calgary 10-1 on goals from Kelly Buchberger, Mariusz Czerkawski, Andrei Kovalenko, Mats Lindgren, Todd Marchant, Bryan Marchment, Dean McAmmond, Dan McGillis, Miroslav Satan, and Doug Weight; not often you see a team score ten goals from ten different guys but that was the unstoppable firepower of Dan McGillis and the 1996-97 Edmonton Oilers for you. Future Oiler hero Dwayne Roloson allowed six for the Flames in that tilt. The only goal for Calgary was scored by a journeyman forward name of Dave Gagner, a fellow whose son went on to play a certain role in today's festivities.
The more interesting historical parallel was when the Oilers lost at home 9-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on December 16, 2008. Duncan Keith, who tonight was a human speedbag, scored a shorthanded goal and added an assist. Colin Fraser, better known as the Flokati rug in this past summer's Ryan Smyth trade, scored once and had two assists. Future Oilers pile-of-useless Ben Eager scored for Chicago. And Dwayne Roloson allowed four goals on 23 shots, proving he should just stay away from nine-goal games in Edmonton, while Nikolai Khabibulin made 31 saves to get Chicago the win.
Oh, the hockey gods do enjoy their little jokes.
Of course the Oilers were lucky to beat Chicago by this much; such results almost always have Lady Luck playing rover for one team. Dennis King has the Oilers out-chancing Chicago 27-23, which jives with my eye and is pretty good (particularly considering score effects) but hardly dominant. Anton Lander's chances at even strength where +1 -6, which in a 9-2 game seems completely impossible. Shawn Horcoff also struggled by this metric while the AHL defensive duo of Colten Teubert and Taylor Chorney apparently did themselves no favours.
But you know how you saw Ryan Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle run the Blackhawks off the goddamned rink? Yep. I hate that "brilliant young Oilers" meme as much as anybody; the proper term is "young Oilers who will hopefully someday be brilliant". Still, Nuge, Hall, and Eberle gave Hockey Night in Canada's narrative a good fluffing tonight: Nugent-Hopkins with his devil's array of wicked passes and superb assists, Hall with his hat trick and his literal Kingston Cannonball act in garbage time as he hunted like mad for the tenth goal, and Eberle with the prettiest single play of the game (saying something in a game which saw Hemsky's aforementioned ridiculousness get the Oilers on the board first).
We must thank Ray Emery and Corey Crawford for their laugh-a-minute goaltending, of course, but even that part of the game wasn't all that one-sided. Nikolai Khabibulin's two goals against were both laughers: some stupid rebound control on the penalty kill leading to Patrick Sharp putting one up in the first period and then his obvious no-explanation-needed seeing-eye turdburger to Dave Bolland. The only reason the Oilers didn't get their ten is because Emery made what were, bluntly, some spectacular saves in the third period to keep the kids from padding their stats. Khabibulin faced no opportunities of such difficulty.
It was the differences in the defenses which made this game. Of the Oilers blueliners only Colten Teubert really had a rough time: even Taylor Chorney did just fine by my eyeball. Meanwhile, no Blackhawks defender did well enough to be told they did well: if I were a Chicago writer my Reverse Three Stars would just be a mess of swearing and hate as I promised to hunt down Duncan Keith's entire extended family and put them to the sword in an orgy of blood and gore.
There was blood enough on the ice tonight for my taste. The Oilers handed Chicago a hiding they won't soon forget. It's so rare that this hockey team actually makes me happier.