I suppose I could put the same amount of effort into this game report as a couple of Oiler vets did tonight, but then I'd be done right here.
Had a fine seat courtesy a friend on Row 23, top of the faceoff circle in the Flames end, player's bench side. Oilers did OK to come out of the first period tied 2-2 despite an 0-5 deficit in powerplays. Rather than build on that, they then turned in a desultory second frame, getting outshot 12-6, outscored 2-0, and outclassed by a wider margin that that. The Oil threatened only briefly in the third, finally narrowing the gap to one with 7 minutes left only to allow the clinching goal on the next shift.
It seemed fitting that they fell behind for good on a shorthanded goal by good old #20, The One That Got Away (a.k.a. Curtis Glencross, pictured scoring at right). In admiring GlenX's first-star performance tonight I reflected on the thought that I have never once seen the guy play a bad game. Especially since the Oil let him walk down the Q.E. II.
Oiler vignettes after the jump:
#5 Ladislav Smid: Was absolutely brutal for the first half of the game, then started to get his legs (and his head) into it. I said to my seatmate at that point that if he wasn't ornery to start the game, he had reason to be by now. Didn't get clobbered by a hit for a change, but really was feeling it after a courageous blocked shot during yet another two-man disadvantage.
#10 Shawn Horcoff: Had no positive impact on the game at all outside of a bit of decent penalty killing. Just 6/17, 35% on the dot. No shots.
#12 Robert Nilsson: A decent performance in a subtle sort of way, but he needs to do something that screams "keep me!" Very nice play (in a subtle sort of way) to set the table for Penner's goal. No shots, no hits.
#13 Andrew Cogliano: 7/11, 64% on the dot. Saddled with Moreau and Brennan on the wings, with predictable outcome.
#18 Ethan Moreau: Barely noticed him, except when he wasn't backchecking on the last 2 Flames' goals.
#19 Patrick O'Sullivan: Had none of the jump he showed last Friday. Could be cuz his line rarely seemed to have the puck. 1/7, 14% in the circle was part of the reason.
#22 J.-F. Jacques: Scored a first period goal on a bad-angle shot prompting me to holler that "Mini Kipper woulda had that one!" Landed a couple big hits, including one questionable hit from behind which drew a challenge from none other than Robyn Regehr. JFJ seemed to win the subsequent fight pretty handily, although I think he missed with his biggest punch. In the third stood idly by while Regehr manhandled Hemsky heavily into the end boards, dissipating much of my goodwill. Nonehteless was BY FAR the best of his line with Horcoff and Hemsky, which isn't a formula for a happy ending.
#26 Kip Brennan: I don't think so. Threw a few hits, but took two dumb penalties in just 6:09, and recorded a -1 when his line was caught flatfooted on Jaffray's eventual game winner. Fought the ever-willing Brandon Prust, did well early, but Prust caught him with a couple of late shots to earn the draw. If he's not sent down to the A (or released), our forward depth is dangerously undeep.
#27 Dustin Penner: Best Oiler by far. Was creating havoc in the low slot all night, where his presence generated two goals. Scored the first on a rebound off the backboards which he swept into the open side, then drew all sorts of traffic before kicking the puck over to Comrie for the PP tap-in that briefly narrowed the margin to 4-3. 6 shots, but no hits. Did, however, dump Dion Phaneuf on his overhyped ass on a play in which Penner broke his stick, then simply shoved Phaneuf down and out.
#32 Ryan Stone: Tried hard to focus on him but couldn't hold it for long. Generic performance. Landed at least one nice hit, made the routine play, nothing special. His skating seemed OK in the straight ahead but a little suspect in the turns, stops and starts.
#35 Nikolai Khabibulin: Tough night at the office began when he completely whiffed Fleury's slow ring-around, allowing Glencross to walk out front for a freebie. After one nice pair of stops off Fleury, was beaten cleanly by fine shots from Iginla and GlenX (again), but looked off his form on the Jaffray's goal when he tried to stand up just as the centring pass came out from behind the goal line. Left after 40 minutes, reportedly with dehydration.
#37 Denis Grebeshkov: I'll say it again: can this guy ever skate. Didn't bring his thinking cap tonight.
#38: Jeff Deslauriers: Was fairly solid in the third, but was badly fooled when Sjostrom's shot deflected off Smid and caught him off balance. Had a puckhandling adventure or two.
#43 Jason Strudwick: Got an assist on the first goal when his shot bounced off the backboards right to Penner. Later got shrugged down by Iginla (some i nthe stands saw a crosscheck) which led directly to Sjostrom's clincher. As a pair he and Smid brought back some bad memories from 2008-09.
#44 Sheldon Souray: Most impressive thing about him was an extended highlight reel during one of those nonsensical TV timeouts. After watching him score a variety of goals on ripping shots (not all Studly Wonderbomb specials either), I said to my seatmate he's like one of those pitchers who can back up his 100 mph fastball with a 94 mph slider and an 86 mph changeup. Took three penalties on the night, one apparently for dwarf tossing.
#67 Gilbert Brule: Strange game. His line with Penner and Nilsson was Oilers' best. Brule himself caught my eye equally often for bad plays as for good, including a couple of times where he failed to finish a check. His failure to play the body on GlenX allowed the Flames winger a second crack at the open net for the 1-0 goal. "You've GOT to hit the guy there" I implored him on one failed forecheck later in the first... he's supposed to be a physical guy, and the Oilers reportedly got rid of Brodziak cuz he wasn't physical enough. 0 shots, 2 hits, 7/12, 58% on the dot.
#71 Lubomir Visnovsky: Showed his quality a few times with slick moves, but played most of the game tentatively at best. Just 18:13 TOI, with an ugly -3.
#77 Tom Gilbert: Silky smooth. Made lots of plays look easy. Made a fine emergency stickcheck which likely saved a goal in the second.
#83 Ales Hemsky: Out for a skate, and a slow one at that. Made a couple of slick passes as if by muscle memory, but created nothing of interest the entire game. His third period faceoff after Horcoff got tossed may have been the weakest "effort" I have ever seen in the circle. Quinn went lightly on him in public after the game, but the whip needs to crack soon.
#91 Mike Comrie: OK game, but his line didn't really have it. Scored the 4-3 goal by hiding off to the side of the crease on the PP and converting Penner's kick feed.
Coach Pat Quinn: Made an impressive speech on the big screen during the pregame hype about how his team would compete every night. I woulda called him a liar except the caveat at the end in which he said "starting October 3". For sure, they didn't start tonight. Way too many passengers, even in September.