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Oilers Lose To Red Wings But There Is A Bright Side

A rare save, a typical rebound.
A rare save, a typical rebound.

I think the one positive that has come out of these last two games is the fact that the Oilers are going to have a chance to put Nikolai Khabibulin on Long Term Injured Reserve in the very near future.  It's clear now that Khabibulin either has cataracts or Steve Blass Disease, and though cataracts would obviously qualify him for LTIR, they would likely need some sort of psychological diagnosis of the Steve Blass Disease before the team could put him on IR.  It would be an enormous blow to this year's team if their MVP is unable to continue, as finding goaltenders with an .890 save percentage in this market is near impossible, but long-term everyone is better off.  They might be able to coax Vesa Toskala out of Europe with a four year, $3,750,000 per year offer and get that .890 out of their goaltender again.

One thing that won't be difficult to replace will be Khabibulin's fantastic ability to cough up rebounds right in front.  The Oilers could probably use a shooter tooter in his place, but given the tutor's inability to guard the near-side post, they may as well just call up Jeff Deslauriers.

We're just trying to be positive around here, that's all.

Scoring Chances

The Good

It's Dustin Penner versus the world right now.  Though I didn't have chances for the last two games when I wrote this article, I don't think those games change those results.  Tonight was more of the same.  Against Carolina, the only positive Corsi came from the Penner - Cogliano - Eberle line, tonight the only positive Corsi came from the Penner - Gagner - Hemsky line.  Wherever Dustin Penner plays - that's the line that moves the puck in the right direction.  Bruce pointed out how good Penner was against Carolina, and tonight it held.  Against the Wings, Penner was on the ice for 15 shots attempted by the Oilers and 11 by the Wings and he was on the bench for 18 shots attempted by the Oilers and 36 attempted by the Wings.  Penner spent over half of the game being hard-matched by Pavel Datsyuk and still won the territorial battle, while his teammates were steamrolled.  The Oilers had 10 chances for at even strength and 18 against.  Penner was on the ice for 5 chances for and 1 against.  The rest of the team had 5 chances for and 17 against.  He's playing some outstanding hockey right now.  It's too bad the rest of the team isn't.

Theo Peckham's goal celebration.  It was the first goal of his NHL career and he celebrated like a guy playing on a last-place team being shellacked by a first place team.


The Bad

Everything else.

The Ugly

Tom Renney was out-coached again.  But this time he was out-coached from the time he decided to put Taylor Hall - Andrew Cogliano - Jordan Eberle together as his second line.  Against the Detroit Red Wings. From the onset of the game until the final horn, Renney allowed Babcock to have any matchup he wanted, and it bit him from the beginning.  The Cogliano line was on the ice for three goals against in the first period and their defensive zone coverage showed that they got full value out of those minuses.  Their scoring chance differential on the night?  Hall:  -10, Cogliano: -7, Eberle: -6

Nice work, Coach.

Steve Tambellini is soaking up three roster spots with J.F. Jacques, Steve MacIntyre and Jason Strudwick and given his unwillingness to waive even the most undesirable of players, he's hamstrung his coach.  The Oilers can't call anyone up because they have no roster spots and Tambellini has cast his lot with terrible veterans and hired knuckles.  He's built a starting lineup short on real NHL players and eliminated any semblance of depth.

If there's one person that should just give up on predictions, it's Robin Brownlee.  After the Jeff Deslauriers' rectum guarantee and then the whole deepest offensive team in NHL history silliness, Brownlee of course conjured his psychic abilities today:

I’ll be astounded if Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle don’t have their best performances of the season against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena tonight.

One would think Robin is sitting alone at his laptop with his jaw still agape.

The Edmonton mainstream media and specifically the Sportsnet Broadcast crew.  The media has been playing up the "Khabibulin as MVP" angle since last season when Steve Tambellini first uttered the words "Nik was our MVP" and they've kicked the spin into overdrive this season.  After giving up four goals on eight shots against Carolina, the Sportsnet crew awarded the play of the game to Khabibulin for an unspectacular save.  It was a complete farce and I would hope that even the must naive of fans could see through it.  If they didn't, the Sportsnet crew gave them a second chance tonight. Right after the Modano penalty shot, I joked in the game thread:  "Sportsnet will give Khabibulin the play of the night for that penalty shot save."

So, of course, after surrendering six more goals tonight, making it 10 goals against in three and one-third periods, the Sportsnet crew fulfilled my prophecy with this absolutely disgusting crawl through the slop:

"One of the bright spots of the first period for Edmonton was this great save by Nikolai Khabibulin on the breakaway by Mike Modano. He makes one save off of Whitney as he slides and then a second one off the body of Whitney and then on the ensuing penalty shot by Mike Modano he stones the 40 year old future Hall of Famer, so three saves for the price of one for Nikolai Khabibulin tonight."