The previous Stanley Cup champions versus the 30th place team, what images and thoughts does that conjure? The last two meetings Oilers fans were pleasantly surprised with the results of this meeting. Sadly however, the third time would not go so well. I want to blame the ex-Oiler curse, but Fernando didn't score a hat trick, that was Jonathan Toews. Maybe the tribute video that wasn't shown on TV, but was shown in Rexall was all it took to shake this Oilers team up.
I did say that I would be your dive for five stewardess and that I would do so with a smile and find the copper lining so to speak. Some positives going into this game; J.F. Jacques was deemed healthy and fit enough to play in the NHL. Whether you like him or hate him, I'm sure that you don't like to hear about young hockey players ending their careers at very young ages due to things like back injuries. With Ladislav Smid out due to a concussion, or concussion-like symptoms, Shawn Belle was given the call-up. This was another positive in my books as from the games I saw in the pre-season, Belle feels he has something to prove and looked physical. Physical play is definitely something that many Oilers fans would like to see some more of. Well that and more close-ups of several Movember mustaches. Some of them are really coming together!
The first period was not too bad; there were way too many rebounds off of Khabibulin's pads, but most of those didn't result in goals which is an excellent thing. Gilbert was a scoring juggernaut through the first period, sadly they were goals against his own team. Gilbert can be seen to have had a goal and an assist, or if you want to be all official-like, Toews had a definite goal and one lucky kicked in goal by Gilbert. Either way, the Hawks were up 2-0 on only 21 shots for the Oilers 4. I can't help but wonder if the goal would have stood if they went to video review for that second goal...
Second period, well it sure didn't take long for Toews to score his third of the game, his first natural hat-trick. I can be happy for Toews for something like that because I hope it won't be too long before our young stars are reaching similar accomplishments. There were moments where it seemed that some lines were gelling. Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle each had some chances while out there with Andrew Cogliano towards the end of the second period. They did have some success however, they drew a penalty. Sadly though, the power play worked out better for Patrick Sharp who managed to score a shorthanded breakaway. By the end of the second period, Khabibulin had faced 27 shots, and only allowed in 4 goals. It really really could have been much worse.
Third period and a changing of the guard. After the game, Renney inferred that this was a mercy pull, but no matter Khabi was out and Devan Dubnyk was in. Dubnyk needs the NHL ice time, and Oilers fans want the opportunity to see him play. This worked out for everyone as far as I can tell. Facing 16 shots in the period, Dubnyk only allowed 1 goal. The Oilers still have yet to allow 10 goals in a single game. Hooray!
Theo Peckham had a good game tonight, well I think at least. Plus, his mustache looks great! Taylor Hall and Dustin Penner seemed to have good chemistry tonight. Sam Gagner however didn't seem to be helping that line out too much. Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff were on the bench for most of the second and third period and I didn't hear or see why. I can only assume that it was to give the other guys more ice time? J.F. Jacques needed it more? Either way, I don't think that having either Hemsky or Horcoff on the ice more would have won us the game. Paajarvi could be credited with drawing two penalties tonight. In some ways Magnificent Magnus seems to be becoming more and more comfortable with NHL hockey. Hall is getting some chances in and you can tell that he is trying to work well with anyone he is paired with. Eberle, well we patiently await his next highlight reel goal. The longer he makes us wait, the more amazing it will be I'm sure.
So, another game, another loss. What are you going to do? I've been sticking to my positive talk lately. We're not the worst in the west, we're winning the race for the top pick. This is dive for five 2.0 and many of us are trying to come up with some good and catchy phrases to use. Sadly it's not going to be as easy as "Fall for Hall" or my favourite "Don't win for Seguin." I'm taking this game as evidence that coming up with a good slogan will be well worth the effort. Next up the Coyotes, we can't lose... can we?