Getting angry when the Edmonton Oilers blow a lead these days is almost besides the point. Heck, we should be pleased they just got in front playing in Denver the day after pantsing the Minnesota Wild; they gave us hope! That was glorious!
So why am I upset? Why are the cold, skeletal hands of rage gripping my heart and squeezing so hard even Taylor Hall would think it's worth skipping a shift? Oh, all the usual reasons. When the Oilers throw away a winnable game on the road against a division rival playing terrible hockey that gave away a probable lottery pick for that goalie who's making snow angels at Ladislav Smid, that's irritating.
When the Oilers dress Darcy Hordichuk, wasting 3:23 of ice time that could have gone to a hockey player and a lineup spot that could have gone to resting a tired team in the second half of back-to-back games, and still get their show run, that's more irritating. I'd say it makes me want to fight someone but that would just make me dislocate my shoulder and show up a year later writing killer articles on Defending Big D.
When Taylor Hall, one of our better players, gets drilled into the boards and skates off cradling his arm and is promptly put back out the same period only to get sent home by a nothing crosscheck that completely ruined his remaining shit, my irritation increases to a fever pitch.
At least the Oilers didn't take Hall's mauling lying down. In fact, Theo Peckham tried to throw down with Ryan Wilson so enthusiastically that the Avalanche skated past him and scored their first goal. Truculence! If you can't beat 'em in the alley, you're going to look like a dope standing around in an alley while they score goals in the actual hockey game.
Jeff Petry had to play through a case of the flu. Eric Belanger had to play through a case of the suck. The entire team forgot they had to play through the third period. All building irritations, all dry logs thrown upon the blazing bonfire of my rage.
The Oilers played forty boring but effective minutes, which was frustrating but at least hopeful. Then they threw it all away. There was neither sizzle nor steak.
There was a highlight reel goal, for a certain definition of "highlight reel", as Ladislav Smid flipped the puck past Semyon Varlamov, proving that all Laco needs to get his offense going is the goalie being rubbed out by Ryan Jones, scrambling more than a bad egg at Denny's, and facing the wrong way with his rear in the air like... well, I can't finish that simile since this is a family blog but use your imagination.
Ryan Jones also got his awkwardly-balanced keister on the board, which is thoroughly enjoyable. Banging in a Belanger rebound on a half-open net, ho hum, another day's work for the Tubthumper. That guy cleans up so much trash they'll be calling him for Occupy Edmonton. Jones is now sitting on six goals for the season, on pace to break fifteen: not bad for the poor man's Mikko Eloranta.
Looking at the big picture is pretty cheery. The Oilers come out of two sets of back-to-back road games with a 2-2 record; I'd buy that for a dollar. This Colorado game was the only really horrendous performance of the bunch and, even in this case, it was only the third period. If I weren't exaggerating my rage for comic effect I'd probably be quite cheery apart from those twenty minutes.
But those twenty minutes set the world a-quiver, all right. The proud battleship Oilers was sunk by three goofs on Jet-Skis: Shane O'Brien with his first of the year, Stefan Elliott with his first of the year, and Jan Hejda with his second. We're getting smoked by Jan Hejda now? Is this how low it's gotten? It's like the Avalanche scrubs saw Smid scoring and said "anything is possible!" Varlamov should have manned the point on a power play; he'd have had decent chances.
(Strange interlude: remember when we all had such confidence in Kevin Lowe's ability to find decent journeymen defensemen? "He'll just pick another fruit off the Hejda Tree" we said. Well, watch Theo Peckham somehow managing to get worse with every NHL season and despair.)
The Oilers didn't completely crumble in the third; heck, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a pretty good opportunity on the power play. It's just that Colorado spent most of the period in control of the play, running the Oilers' show in the only sense that actually wins hockey games, meaning that the team's little bursts at the beginning and end of the period didn't add up to jack. Devan Dubnyk didn't help his own cause, making me long for the drunk Russian senior citizen.
Even when the Oilers were winning it was decrepit crap hockey. A comically terrible anthem singer, a disappointingly quiet arena, a crappy team and a tired team playing half-heartedly for the heavyweight championship of nothing. The goofiness of Smid's goal fit the setting perfectly. As soon as the Avalanche put the game away it somehow got worse, which is hard to do.
Screw it. I'm going to bed. Whatever tomorrow brings, at least it won't bring this ugly hockey game.