Someday the Oilers hope to be the Blackhawks. That's the point of the
intentional losing rebuild that the fans are currently enduring. But the day that the Oilers in any way resemble the Blackhawks is still a long way down the road. Right now the Blackhawks are the hottest team in the NHL having not yet lost in regulation and are miles better than the Oilers in every way imaginable. Matching up these two teams in Chicago and having the Oilers play without Taylor Hall and with Nikolai Khabibulin almost seemed unfair.
And for the most part it was. Chicago was clearly the better team and, as expected, controlled the game for most of the night. But the Oilers hung around and forced yet another game past the 60 minute mark - the eighth time they've done so this season. In the end the Oilers would lose in overtime but they still gained a point that I don't think many expected them to come away with. It certainly could have been worse.
Courtesy of Michael Parkatti the numbers from tonight's game are, in a word, ugly. This piece from his story sums up the night quite well:
The Hawks almost tripled the Oilers in shot attempts. Think about that. Not just a player got tripled, or a line. The entire team almost got tripled. The Hawks managed to get 58 shots off at even strength at the Oilers’ net, while the Oilers managed just 21 of their own at the Hawks net. I love that I read Cam Charron’s piece from earlier today about how bad teams get outshot, because this one just goes to prove that.
- The first penalty of the game proved to be a high event couple of minutes with each team scoring a goal. The Oilers, who were killing the penalty, struck first when Duncan Keith tripped over the blue line turning the puck over to Lennart Petrell who actually beat Ray Emery with a backhand but had the puck go off the post and back out where it was Jeff Petry who grabbed the rebound and scored the first shorthanded goal of his career. The Oilers were going to need a lot of breaks to beat the Blackhawks and they got a couple on this play.
- As I said though, the lead wouldn't last long with Patrick Kane tying the score 62 seconds later. Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy would get assists on the play but this goal was all Kane. He took the puck just above the circle in his own end and rushed through the neutral zone. After moving the puck to Kruger he followed the play and picked up the return pass before skating around Ladislav Smid and beating Khabibulin with a back hand. Really an impressive goal from the formed first overall pick.
- The second assist which was awarded to Leddy on the Kane goal is a great example of everything that's wrong with second assists. Kane skates what, for argument sake, amounts to the length of the ice, makes a pass, takes a return pass, and scored the goal. Leddy who last touched the puck seven seconds earlier before Kane, Kruger, and Kane again gets credited with an assist for I have no idea what. As is typically the case in play like this the on ice officials aren't to blame though because they didn't credit the assist, it came well after the fact from an off ice official.
- It's a well know fact that Daniel Carcillo is a piece of garbage. He took out Tom Gilbert last season. In the first period tonight he took a run at Petry well after the puck was gone and then did the same going after Nail Yakupov in the second period. In both cases the referees looked the other way and amazingly on the Blackhawks broadcast Ed Olczyk goes so far as to criticize Yakupov on the second play saying he should be penalized for ducking the hit and putting Carcillo in a dangerous position. Seriously.
- Yakupov has had his struggles this season at even strength especially in his own end of the rink. And that's fine, he's a rookie after all. But one aspect of his game which is already at an elite level is his shot, specifically his one timer. It was on display for all to see tonight with the Oilers on the power play late in the second. On the play Yakupov gets off a one timer on a cross ice pass from Sam Gagner that is so fast you need slow motion just to see the shot. He'll figure the rest of the game out, in the meantime I suggest that he just keep shooting because, if nothing else, it's a ton of fun to watch.
- The Hawks really established dominance in the second period and didn't skip a beat heading into the third tying the game at two on a goal from Victor Stalberg. The play was initially reviewed but the puck clearly crossed the line. I don't in any way agree with starting Khabibulin tonight but I won't blame him for the loss either. On this particular play though I would suspect Devan Dubnyk doesn't allow a goal. One of the many ways in which Dubnyk is a superior netminder to Khabibulin is how he sets his lower body on the goal line preventing exactly the kind of goal that Khabibulin allowed.
- Under the heading of strange coaching decisions the Oilers left Yakupov on the bench for the last eleven and a half minutes of regulation and all over the overtime period. By now this shouldn't be a shock, we've seen it a number of times and there is some logic behind trying to protect the Bettman point, but when Ryan Jones and Ben Eager are lining up against Marian Hossa in the third period of a tie game you've got to wonder if Yakupov shouldn't be given a chance too.
- These last two games should have made it crystal clear to any one who didn't already know that the Oilers need Hall in their lineup. The Ryan Smyth - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle line was not very good tonight. By Michael's numbers they were awful. I really like Smyth and I think he's been a much better player since returning to the wing but he was clearly not the guy to replace Hall. Why the coaches wouldn't try and win the game by giving Yakupov a shot with an offensive faceoff is beyond me. Instead they were happy to settle for overtime.
- Watch the game winner and tell me what Petry and Smid are doing. Petry, after getting beat one-on-one by Patrick Sharp makes the bizarre choice to go behind the net while Sharp cuts across the crease; this effectively takes him out of the play. With Petry out of the play Smid is left trying to defend both Sharp and Hossa and so he of course goes down on one knee - his new favourite play - to try and block the pass attempt (he also went down on one knee on the Kane goal in the first period) which is a fine play if he actually breaks up the pass but is deadly for the Oilers if he doesn't break it up which is exactly what happens. Now Gagner is left trying to come from the hash marks while Hossa bangs at rebounds in the crease. Not surprisingly Gagner didn't get there in time.