It's a hopeless feeling when it's still bloody November and you're already resigned to your team being out of contention. But that's exactly how I feel right now. Frustrated.
Another night, another winnable game lost in regulation, another key player sidelined with injury. For at least the third time this year we saw an Oiler leave a game after being sent head first into the boards on a hit from behind. This time it was none other than Ales Hemsky, not only a key to Edmonton's offence but a key to making Oiler games fit to watch. This one certainly wasn't after Ales was helped off, a victim of Michal Handzus's cheap and dangerous crosscheck that catapulted him into the end boards. For which, predictably, Handzus was given a 2-minute slap on the wrist, returning to play a key role on the game-winning goal. Meanwhile, in Washington Alex Ovechkin was given 5 minutes for a much less dangerous hit on agitator Patrick Kaleta, who never missed a shift. But if it's an Oiler who is showing his numbers, it's open season out there. Frustrating.
It also hurt to see Matt Greene cap a splendid game by scoring the winning goal in the dying minutes. Greene became the third recent ex-Oiler to score a game-winner in Rexall in this calendar year, joining Raffi Torres and Marty Reasoner who also scored late tie-breaking goals to send the faithful grumbling into the night. If those bums had scored while they were here they might never have been traded in the first place. Greene was all over the scoresheet with 6 attempted shots, 4 hits, 5 blocked shots, +2, and of course that game winning goal. He was a much greater force in this game than Lubomir Visnovsky, the guy Oilers traded Greene AND Jarret Stoll to obtain. Frustrating.
Worse was that the winner came in regulation time in a game both teams seemed to be nursing to OT. But in a few seconds what was left of the first line lost their composure and their shape in Oilers' end, with all 5 guys being sucked over to Wayne Simmonds' side of the ice opening the door for Greene to walk in and blast the best shot of his Rexall Place career. So the Oilers came away with nothing, dropping a point to conference rivals Minnesota, Colorado, and St.Louis, all of whom were rewarded for managing to "lose" their games in extra time. Frustrating.
Oilers were once again dominated on the shot clock, allowing double digits in each period while never managing more than 8 shots themselves for a final margin of 35-23. It was another tough night for Liam Reddox, outshot 7-0 in his 7:18 at even strength with another atrocious Corsi of -10. In the last 3 games Reddox has been on the ice for just 7 attempted shots by the Oilers and a staggering 46 by the bad guys. After his recall Reddox showed just enough to make me care about him, but has not resembled an NHL player of late. Frustrating.
Jeff Deslauriers played moderately well, making many fine stops among his 33 saves but undoing his work by absolutely seiving in a long slider from Simmonds which tied the score in the second, then getting beat clean by Matt Greene of all people with the game on the line. Frustrating.
So now Oilers are 4/5 of the way through the home stand with an uninspiring 2-2-0 record, a tilt against the powerful Sharks looming. It's been five long weeks, 16 games and counting since the last time the squad won 2 in a row. Did I mention I'm getting frustrated?