Thank God for the Devil(s)! The Oilers lose two, and win two in OT this week in Oil Country. We saw the return of TayTay, and a couple lacklustre performances by the team (and backup goalie) leading to some roster moves. Was it enough to make the Oil trend in the right direction, or is playing the Devils just that easy? Prepare to be schooled by In The Box like a Taylor Hall elbow to the face.
Oilers 2 Devils 1 (OT)
Craig Douglas: I only got myself in front of a television in time to view the last half of the third period and overtime. Before I finished work, and got settled in, I’d had the game paradoxically described to me by different people. On the one hand I was told that the saves that Schneider was making throughout made for an incredibly fun viewing and that the third period was some of the most exciting hockey of the year (against New Jersey?!), while on the other hand I also had this game described to me a complete bore that was sleep inducing until the Oil scored early in the third and not particularly interesting even after it was tied. Hmmmm, I suppose, as usual, that the truth lies somewhere in between. What I saw of the third seemed pretty exciting, although that’s easy for me to say since I didn’t endure the proceeding two plus periods of New Jersey hockey. What I did see was Letestu rifle the winning goal past Schneider with an insane blast of the puck and the bar I was at erupted in cheers. The Oil took a victory over TayTay and his boring new team, and everyone was damned happy about it.
Brent Oliver: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…. This game was all the Zs. Saturday night, Hockey Night In Canada (in America) and the Oilers showed up about as much as they normally do for the big TV crowd. The first two periods were dull as dishwater which is pretty fucking dull. Craig luckily tuned into the only exciting bit with the Oilers winning in OT. Instead of recapping, I have to ask the same question I do of the Minnesota Wild…. Are the Devils not capable of playing an exciting game? Do they still have the Jacques Lemaire stink on them? Wait – let me put it another way:
Somewhere, in an alternate universe, the two most exciting teams in hockey are the New Jersey Devils and the Minnesota Wild. Tough to fathom, right? These two teams seem content year after year to not rebuild, and stay treading water in the NHL playing low scoring, boring, trappy hockey that no one wants to watch. Even the trap heavy 80s and 90s Montreal Canadiens broke out of this slump by signing skill or speed over size and system. Until the Wild and Devils wise up, the franchise will continue to be so boring to watch – it may even lose fans (read – Devils home attendance).
I’m not sure I can watch another dreary game like this. Happy the Oilers won, but that’s a lot of time I could have been parenting, cleaning my house or furiously masturbating.
Senators 5 Oilers 3
CD: Uh-oh, it’s the return of the curse of the creature’s ghost. Or rather, it was the just time for an appearance by The Monster, our forgotten but abhorred backup goalie. A player once nicknamed for his imposing size, he is still known as The Monster, but it was for different and even scarier reasons these days. Yes, with another round of back-to-back games, it was finally time to give Talbot some long overdue rest. Ottawa is a rather inept and ultimately pointless franchise, and with our stalwart goalie playing the most minutes of any goalie in the NHL (by a wide margin), this seemed like a great opportunity to allow him a few days rest. This start for The Monster was likely being used as a final chance for him to prove he was still capable of playing in the bigs as a backup, and while the whole team was obviously tired from playing their third game in four nights, he did nothing to bolster his chances of sticking around. And stick around he did not – Gustavsson was waived the following day.
I don’t want to pin all the blame on poor Jonas, as the team was tired and didn’t do much to help him, however when you outshoot a team 38-18 and still lose you have to look to the crease as the first source of your problems. The bottom line is that the team gave him a chance to redeem himself when they stormed back to take the lead and he let Ottawa back into the game. Gustavsson has now cleared waivers and will still be serving as the backup goalie as of this writing. There’s no point bemoaning this loss too much, let’s just say congratulations to Mighty Maroon for being named the 2nd star of the week and never speak of this game again.
BO: Garbage. Huge pile of garbage. The Oilers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yet again. Maybe they were tired, maybe it was “My Name Is” Jonas, or maybe it was back to back nights on the road. Whatever it happens to be, it’s your last game on the road, and don’t half show up before heading home for six. Gustavsson was awful, yes – but this does beg the point of the Oilers being one Talbot injury away from being a very, very bad team. Hopefully we pick up Reimer or some other backup shithead to play 5 games before the end of the season and give Talbot’s nimble groin a break. The man’s got children!
Sharks 5 Oilers 3
CD: I didn’t end up going to this game, although I was supposed to. -30C? Fuck that. I did however watch it on television, and I did not like what I saw. The Oilers did not look like a team that was fighting to take over the top spot in the Pacific Division – at least not for the entirety of the game. There were flashes here and there – mostly from the McDavid line – but everyone else was merely ‘okay’. For example, Pouliot had an okay game except for when he gave the puck away on that clearing attempt (or whatever that was) that led to the score being 3-1. Benning had a pretty good game except for when he whiffed trying to hit Couture which led to a goal, and Talbot had an okay game except for when he let in some of those goals. The Sharks did their thing for a full sixty minutes and won the game, whereas the Oilers went back to last year’s habit of allowing a goal in the first two minutes (I thought they’d left that shit behind!), and then proceeded to only hustle intermittently throughout the remainder of the game. Sigh! Another two points squandered, and we are all left pondering what exactly this team is all about.
BO: Agreed with Craig. Good teams play well for 60 minutes. Not-as-good teams play well for 40. The Sharks, and more specifically, Mikkel Boedker, played well enough to win, and the Oilers didn’t. Simple as that.
Speaking of the Sharks forward, Boedker got his second hat trick against the Oil this season. Jesus – put a fucking man on him! That’s his only 6 goals of the year!
Oilers 3 Devils 2 (OT)
BO: I was wondering if the Oilers fans would cheer or boo TayTay in his return. Turns we got both… A nice return to Edmonton with some loud cheers, but a gutless play in the third, elbowing Kassian for a double minor. Stay classy, asshole (allegedly).
We should talk about the emergence of the top line this last week as they continue to produce after only 5 games together. Maroon has eclipsed his career total in goals, McDavid has found the strong presence in front of the net Lucic was NOT providing, and Drax the Detroyer is well – destroying. They’re so much fun to watch together, it looks like Maroon is solidifying himself as a top power forward in the league. I won’t give him all the credit – playing with McDavid helps, but if this line is this good after 5 games, imagine them in April.
The game itself was more exciting than the last Devils game earlier in the week, but compared to that – golf is more exciting. Add a lovely OT goal by the Leon King after Maroon tied it in the third and the Oil let everyone go home happy, so I guess we’ll do the same.
CD: An exciting game featuring the New Jersey Devils? Will wonders never cease? Some of that excitement obviously came from Taylor Hall’s ‘baby bird’ antics and Zack Kassian’s ‘Kindly excuse me but I don’t take shit from no baby bird’ antics. As usual the majority of the excitement came from the McDavid-Leon King-Mighty Maroon line which I’ll go ahead and call the best line in hockey right now. Am I being hyperbolic and/or biased? Probably… but who cares? Bring on the stupid Calgary Flames!
Four more games this week all at IronFoot Place against the Flames, Coyotes, Florida Idiots and Nashville Subbans. Can the Oilers keep the momentum going in the right direction and maintain their playoff position, or will lose points abound as the Oil get beaten in completely winnable games?
We “Predictsh” the latter.
Old Habits die hard.
See you next week, In The Box.