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Oilers Blanked In Phoenix 5-0 - Grapefruit League Play Back Under Way

Two completely different paths to rebuild a franchise skate in stride
Two completely different paths to rebuild a franchise skate in stride

So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
Even cold November rain

--"November Rain", Guns-N-Roses

2W - 8L in November.  Nothing lasts forever, so it's got to get better according to noted sports psychologist Axl Rose.

Fifty seconds into the game and it was over.  After Ales Hemsky dazzled in the offensive end and Dustin Penner had his stick lifted, the Coyotes stormed into the Oilers' end of the ice and scored.  It was over. Sure, the Oilers were only down one at the end of the first, but the chances were sparse and pressure non-existent for the rest of the game.  The defense, after looking like an AAAA team in their last two, returned to their Grapefruit League form and were burned time and time again.  The Oilers gave up five goals and their goaltender was helpless on four of them.  Edmonton's defense was weak, slow, indecisive and helpless and that was just in the neutral zone.  They sure could use 44-37 somewhere on the ice.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, continue winning with silly spare parts like Ray Whitney, Vernon Fiddler, Eric Belanger, Radim Vrbata, Lee Stempniak and Wojtek Wolski.  Nary a whale among them!  And there is no recent crappy team rebuild model to follow in The Grand Canyon State.



The Good

Kurtis Foster and Shawn Belle weren't overwhelmed tonight.  For Belle, this wasn't surprising,  he's kept his game extremely simple and moved the puck when he's had a chance.  They weren't great, but compared to the rest of the team, they were amazing.  Both of them had a couple of sequences in which they were skittish and coughed the puck up, but they were able to recover.  Find a legitimate top pairing to play in front of Ryan Whitney and Tom Gilbert, play Ladislav Smid with Kurtis Foster and have Theo Peckham in reserve, and you've got something going here!


The Bad

Magnus Paajarvi shouldn't be in the NHL right now.  I know it's a rebuild and I know he's a "young gun", but if earning a spot on the NHL roster is about belonging in the NHL and hustle and want and desire, Liam Reddox deserves a chance to take Paajarvi's spot.  Allow Paajarvi the opportunity to drive the play by himself and adjust to the smaller rink while being the best player in the division. 

Time on ice speaks volumes in this one.  Ryan Jones, Gilbert Brule and Andrew Cogliano have been buried on the depth chart and against the Coyotes, received less than nine minutes of ice time.  Brule continues to give up two scoring chances for every one chance he generates, and his contract is beginning to look as bad or worse than Robert Nilsson's deal.  Cogliano was feisty and Jones was hustling, but these guys were brutal.  

The Oilers' penalty kill went 50% on the evening.  The sad part?  It's an improvement over the previous road trip.  What kind of pull do Oilers' fans need to initiate a provincial investigation into this penalty kill?


The Ugly

Team defense.  The forwards didn't seem to recognize that they were required in the defense end,  The defense didn't seem to recognize that they, in fact, played defense.  Jordan Eberle has struggled with coverage in front all year, but at least he took strides in the defensive end.  The other eleven guys pondered the existence of the puck and the ice before deciding to chase it.  The Oilers own-zone play looked like the team had never seem a full ice game before.

Phoenix has a fellow by the name of Todd Walsh performing interviews on the bench.  These aren't happening between periods or with assistant coaches, this guy is interviewing Phoenix players on the bench while the game is under way.  The next innovation in Phoenix?  Todd Walsh huddled behind Ilya Bryzgalov in the net asking him questions in the middle of the shootout.


The Copper & Blue Three Stars:

This team deserves Scarlet As, not stars.