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Edmonton - Ottawa post-game: Return to Situation Normal ...

Well that's more like it. Fresh off a pair of low-scoring wins, the Oilers rode a goal by Fernando Pisani and some more white hot goaltending by Jeff Deslauriers to a wholly undeserved 1-0 lead deep into the second period. Nearly 8 periods into a three-game homestand, Deslauriers had allowed but a single goal; the four his teammates mustered over that time were threatening to become a three-game winning streak. How would Punjabi Oil sleep?

Normalcy returned when Ottawa stopped trying to pick the corners and started shooting at the middle of the net. Goals followed in rapid succession, one through Deslauriers' nine-hole (off the back pad and in), another through the seven-hole (between catching glove and hip), then two more through the more traditional five-hole. Just like that the Sens were skating off with a well-deserved 4-1 win that was not really that close.

By the numbers, and by eye, Oilers were dominated at even strength and on both special teams. Oilers were in chase mode throughout and exacerbated their problems by taking way too many penalties. Ottawa brought in the league's 30th ranked road powerplay, but it just took one night with the Oilers to jump to 28th and raise their numbers by a full percentage point. In March. Given 9 opportunities the Sens were able to convert 2 of those, including Matt Cullen's game winner (pictured) with Marc Pouliot in the box for shooting the puck over the glass. It was that kind of night.

The Oilers accomplished exactly one part of their game plan in that their tough minutes combo of Penner-Horcoff-Pisani-Whitney-Gilbert matched up well against Michalek-Spezza-Alfredsson-Phillips-Volchenkov, with the trio of forwards actually winning their portion of the battle 1-0. It would seem that Cory Clouston and Pat Quinn were hard-matching, as those players were on the ice for a disproportionately small percentage of EV faceoffs, suggesting lots of changing on the fly. Unfortunately that resulted in the lower tiers of the roster facing (and causing for that matter) the huge majority of own-zone faceoffs, with predictable results.

I don't make a regular practice of studying such matters but the distribution of faceoffs in this game seemed truly extraordinary. Of 69 draws a staggering 40 pucks were dropped in the Oilers' defensive zone, against just 12 in Ottawa's end, with the other 17 occurring in the neutral zone. Probably not a record or anything, but it wouldn't surprise me if one could look at a random sample of 100 games and not find another one as extreme.

Some more pretty gory numbers in this one, after the break:


Shots on Goal 13-12-14 = 39 7-8-4 = 19
EV Shots  24 11
Corsi 25-24-24 = 73 12-12-7 = 31
EV Corsi 49 20
O-Zone faceoffs 40 12
EV O-Zone faceoffs 23 8
Takeaways 7 4
Giveaways 10 26
Penalties 5 11
PiM 13 33
Powerplay 2/9 0/4
Score 4 1

Any questions?

Just to pile on, the consistency of the Sens effort can be seen in shots for and Corsi for, whereas the flagging efforts of the Oil are revealed by a third period that was even worse than the two that preceded it. Or consider this one, Giveaways/Takeaways by period: 6/3, 9/1, 11/0. That is just butt freakin' ugly on a team wide scale, and there's no excuse for it.

On the individual level it was a tough night for Patrick O'Sullivan, who left midway through the first period with a reported hand injury. It was a tougher night for a few others. For example, Ryan Potulny, who for whatever reason received copious ice time from Quinn, a whopping 22:55 which was fully 6 minutes more than any other Oiler forward. Of that 15:31 (2 minutes more than anyone else) were at even strength. They weren't the toughest minutes either, as he played more than 5 minutes against the following Sens (most to least): Brian Lee, Matt Carkner, Peter Regin, Jerkko Ruutu, Andy Sutton, Jesse Winchester, Alex Kovalev, Matt Cullen, Chris Neil.  Now consider that in Potulny's ice time the Oilers attempted all of 1 shot on the Ottawa net while allowing 21 attempts against their own goal. Once you've finished chewing on that, explain to me in the comments why Potulny saw so much ice. Cuz I sure can't.

Potulny miraculously emerged from the night with an even +/-, thanks no doubt to some of JDD's early heroics not to mention that most duplicitous of lovers, Lady Luck. He was not so fortunate on the PK, as he was the guy sucked very badly out of position to allow Cullen's one-timer that broke the game open. As Potulny got sucked over to the RW boards the box completely collapsed, pretty much in keeping with the entire Oilers' team in the third.

Not that Potulny was the only culprit. Check out the EV Corsi of these guys:

Player EV TOI Corsi + Corsi - EV Corsi
Potulny 15:31 1 21 -20
Chorney 12:38 3 21 -18
Strudwick 13:25 4 21 -17
Brule 13:39 4 20 -16

Brutal. Brutal. Brutal. Brutal.

Robert Nilsson had slightly better shots data but didn't exactly have a glorious game. "Little Magic" showed very little magic indeed, with a stat line over 13:03 that was a clean sheet save 1 shot attempt that was blocked and 2 giveaways. Otherwise, in the immortal words of Sam Mitchell, "zero, zero, zero, zero, zero". Unfortunately the league doesn't keep track of the number of times a guy falls down in a game, because Row-bert surely led both teams in this category. On the bright side, on his on failed shot attempt he did have a spectacular broken stick in which his blade was launched halfway to the pressbox before crashing down at least fifty feet from where it broke. It gave me an idea of where to launch Nilsson himself, other than the unforgiving fact that the Oilers are once again down to the minimum number of available forwards even assuming the best for O'Sullivan's health.

Then there was Zack Stortini who tried to bring some energy to the game by challenging Matt Carkner after the Sens thumper decked Potulny from behind, only to be fingered as the instigator, then lose the fight. It was only Zorg's second career instigator penalty as he is normally very disciplined on such manners, but this indiscretion was typical of what was just a bad night virtually right across the team. A parade to the penalty box was one result, with many of the infractions of type "unnecessary".

As Pat Quinn summarized:

"Our forwards had as bad a night as you could imagine: they didn't check, they didn't help our defence, they ran around in the zone, they didn't recover any pucks, they didn't get open for passes, they basically took a night off."

So, a disappointing effort, especially in front of the home faithful. By the third period it was so quiet in there you could hear a puck drop. There were a few spirited performances from the likes of Theo Peckham, Aaron Johnson, Ryan Whitney, Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani, and Jeff Deslauriers, but nowhere near enough of them. Nowhere near enough NHL-calibre performances or performers, to put it more bluntly.