Islanders at Oilers, G44/07-08

This is Denis Potvin with his brother Jean. Jean was a puck mover who once had a plus minus of -40 or some such many years ago.

Some of the greatest games ever played were between the Islanders and Oilers, at least the greatest ones I’ve seen. Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy and a strong support group of players like John Tonelli, Bob Nystrom and Stefan Persson were top drawer for a decade.

The game tonight sees two teams in transition, one farther along and both making moves that can be seen as “unusual” over the last 12 months.

Both teams could use either Potvin.

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59 Responses to "Islanders at Oilers, G44/07-08"

  1. Andy Grabia says:

    I really wish the Oilers/NHL would put out dvds of games/series. I’d totally buy a DVD of each of the Cup runs. Put on an hour long documentary about the regular season, and then just put on all the playoff games from a particular season. How great would that be? I’d pay some good money for that.

    Lots of great stuff in the dailies today. Comrie denying he slept with Salo’s wife in both papers, a story about Bergeron in the Sun, stuff on Garon taking over the #1 spot in both papers, Barnes going after the EIG. The Terry Jones storyon Garon is my personal favorite, just because of these three sentences:

    With a team which ranks 30th in scoring and 29th on the power play, that means they’re going to have to have a hot goalie. Now! Coach Craig MacTavish had run out of time before finally facing the obvious.

    Now! That just kills me. Now! Who writes like that? Now! Seriously. Now! Who? Now! Also, the last sentence makes absolutely no sense. Now!

  2. Bruce says:

    Hey Andy, for some reason I don’t get the Sun, but if Jones managed to put three sentences in the same paragraph he’s finally learning.

  3. Devin says:

    This “Roloson is done” talk seems silly to me. Sure he’s looked weak for stretches of the season, sure he’s let in a few softies. But nonetheless the guy has a .901 SV%, which is better than Kipper, Kolzig, Budaj, Hasek, Emery, etc.

    The past couple seasons he’s been around .908 on better teams. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes in between .900 and .910 again this year. What were people expecting?

  4. Bruce says:

    Some of the greatest games ever played were between the Islanders and Oilers, at least the greatest ones I’ve seen.

    Right on, LT. Three memorable playoff series, including what is still the last time the same two teams met in consecutive Stanley Cup Finals. That was quite the mountain the Oilers finally scaled in 1984, and they needed the whole team to do it — both goalies winning a pair of a games, Kevin McClelland scoring a huge goal, Jaroslav Pouzar crushing Billy Smith, Pat Conacher filling in for an injured Dave Hunter and shutting down Mike Bossy, Dave Lumley clinching the Cup with an empty-netter. The Big Five also contributed a thing or two along the way …

    These two teams also played the best live regular season game I’ve ever seen, on December 13, 1981, when Wayne Gretzky set up the first three goals before scoring the winner on a nifty move around Billy Smith with 1:02 left in the game (no OT in those days) as the Oilers shaded the Islanders 4-3. With Smith subsequently on the bench and the Islanders storming for the equalizer, Kevin Lowe saved the day with a dramatic goal-line save in the dying seconds.

    Gretzky’s GWG was his 33rd goal in 32 games as the 20-year-old wunderkind kept pace to beat the 50-in-50 mark established by the Rocket and equalled by Mike Bossy (who of course also played that game). Still to come was the incredible five-game home stand later that month when the Great One scored 15 goals (and 10 assists!) and absolutely shattered the hallowed record. What a time that was to be an Oiler fan!

  5. MDOilFan says:

    Torres out for the season.

  6. Bruce says:

    That’s a tough injury. Raffi has been frustratingly inconsistent, but on his good nights he brings a lot to the table, and most of the time he’s a reasonably responsible defensive player, give or take the occasional unnecessary penalty.

    The Oilers are still hurting for experience on the wing, and Raffi will be missed. He can’t really be used as trade bait either, as an asset he’s now a zero for the rest of the season. As a liability, he’s got half of $2.4 MM still to come; will his injury status change the Oilers’ payroll hit, or do they have to wait a requisite number of games (30?) for a long-term injury to be divested from the payroll? Surely there’s a capologist or twenty-two on this forum who can answer this simple question.

  7. Dennis says:

    Torres being done for the season is bad news for people who actually watch the games and don’t go all Pierre Macguire about the kids.

    He was -2 in terms of Desjardins numbers while playing tough min so we could’ve used him down the stretch.

  8. Dennis says:

    I think the team starts to get relief as soon as you miss 30 consec games. But I’ve always wondered, is that retroactive? If it is, then Lowe has no Monetary excuse not to pick up a vet that’s passed through waivers by some team that doesn’t care if that guy’s useful, they just want more time for their kids.

    We’ve given the kids enough time where next-to-sufficent lessons have been learned. Now it’s time to seperate the wheat from the chaff.

    I googled “Pouliot and Mactavish” last night and came up with an old article from last year where MacT was talking about how you don’t want to put the kids out in the third period and have you cost the team points.

    I just figured I’d throw that one out here now with news that Torres won’t be back.

  9. Dennis says:

    Just one last thought on this.

    Now that 34-18 ARE back and we know that 14 WON’T be back, there’s no much looking toward the training room and talking about how much better we’ll be when everyone returns becuase it’s clear that everyone’s not returning.

    So, look at the 12 forwards we iced on Sat night and who we’re playing tonight and it’s clear they aren’t good enough. You’re pushed to find three lines to play, let alone four, and there’s only so much you can play three lines before guys start wearing out.

    If Lowe EVER had any intention of turfing or slowing down youth for a vet or two, now he’ll spring into action and make a small trade for a vet or make a waiver claim if the situation arrives.

    The news on Torres means we have the definite picture on what we have to work with. Everyone knows it’s not good enough so now we’ll see if the brass are content to lean towards development over results.

    I think we know the awnser given the way they’ve handled Tarnstrom and the defense, but, still, I figured I’d pitch this idea just to torment Lain:)

  10. Oilman says:

    well – Tarnstrom sits tonight dennis – so there’s part of your answer – but that’s more on MacT’s shoulders than Lowes I guess….here’s one vetern option that Lowe has provided and MacTavish refuses to use him regularly.

  11. Steve says:

    I’ve heard tell that Lowe takes a pretty proactive role in deciding who dresses from game to game as well – more than one would expect of a GM. Anybody know how much truth there is to this?

  12. Paulus says:

    Well, Steve, I’ve heard mentioned in various places internet that MacTavish has some say in the GMing Lowe does. Are they gradually becoming the same gruesome entity? I just watched The Thing, so I’ve got an awesome image in my head right now.

  13. Bruce says:

    here’s one vetern option that Lowe has provided and MacTavish refuses to use him regularly.

    That’s for sure. The pairing of 5 and 37 has been baptism-by-goal(s)-against, with Smid posting -6 in his last 7 GP (~105 minutes TOI) and Grebs going -5 in his last 4 GP (~53 minutes). Surely either of these kids can learn more from Tarnstrom than they can from each other.

    For sure it’s not their offence that’s keeping them in the line-up:

    Smid 33 GP, 0-2-2, -12
    Grebs 36 GP, 0-4-4, -10

    Ouch.

    I’m not sure Grebeshkov was ever touted to be a “powerplay quarterback” a la Smid — and yes Dennis, I’m still laughing about that one — but his career stats show a very steady progession in the offensive zone. Check it out:

    2003-04 – 4 GP, 0-1-1, -4
    2005-06 – 8 GP, 0-2-2, -4
    2006-07 – 21 GP, 0-3-3, -8
    2007-08 – 36 GP, 0-4-4, -10

    At this steady rate of improvement Grebs will be a 50-point scorer by the 2053-54 season. Unfortunately, he will also be minus a hundred.

  14. Dennis says:

    Steve: I’ve always thought the phrase “heard tell” was a Newfoundlandcentric one. Interesting to hear it from someone and somewhere else.

    Oilman: Yeah, that’s a good point and it bleeds into Steve’s musing that Lowe has a say into who’s scratched. We know there are some teams where the coach and GM aren’t on the same page but I don’t think that’s the case in Edm. Then again. we know what kind of players are MacT players and the signing of Souray longterm doesn’t seem like something he’d support. Nor the playing him as a top four EV guy, either.

    I’d love to get to the bottom of this but I doubt we could.

  15. Dennis says:

    Bruce, regarding the “Smid as PP QB” comments, I’ve moved past laughing and into vomiting;)

  16. PunjabiOil says:

    Grebeshkov’s poor numbers lately suggest to me that it’s due to playing with Smid.

    I mean, Smid drags down every teammate he plays with.

  17. Oilman says:

    dennis, I’d be more inclined to believe that Tarnstrom sitting so many times was partly Lowes doing if it wasn’t for the amount of times he’s been singled out as a problem in post game scrums by MacT….yet my wife, who couldn’t give a shit about hockey most days of the year, actually wondered out loud while half reading a magazine why Grebeshkov turned his back to the play to try to keep the puck in at the blueline….she also said, and I kid you not….”that Horcoff would be pretty cute if it wan’t for his big ears, that bump on his nose, and the lazy eye”…..so she’s pretty astute – even if only half paying attention.

  18. Dennis says:

    Yeah, Oilman, at least Horc doesn’t have a whole lot of things to work on:D

    Like you said, MacT is fond of ripping on Tarnstrom in the scrums so he’s obviously not a big fan.

    I don’t think I read this anywhere else, and I’m not sure if it’s true, but I’ll throw it out there anyway. I called into the Just A Game postgame show last week and I was talking to this Will fellow. Not sure what his last name was and in talking to him, he didn’t seem to have much of a clue, ie he said he’d play Matt Greene over Hejda, thought Hejda was making 600K in CBJ, etc etc.

    Anyway, this Will guy said that the Tarnstrom deal was pretty much agreed to in principle halfway through LAST season and he thought it’s something Lowe would like to have back.

    The Oilers didn’t need all of Pitkanen, Tarnstrom and Souray to move or score the puck on the backend considering they might be so young up front and this does nothing to explain why Lowe splashed all over and all about Souray.

    Maybe it’s the thing why Hejda was let go; the Oilers had decided to bring Tarnstrom back and felt they needed more puck moving and less defending and then Lowe just went foolish altogether and added Souray after having added Pitkanen on July 1st.

    If you want to talk about mixing up defenders and puckmovers, then I can agree with that but I think it was safer to go with the bird in the hand in Hejda than to keep wishing on a star with Greene.

    Once upon a time when the B’s and Habs were in bidding wars over guys like Marty Lapointe, it was hard to find affordable two way guys and perhaps you would just like the kids take their lumps at the same time. Now it’s easier to find vets and the Oil have more money to boot, but Lowe’s still hoping and praying with guys like Smid, Grebs, and in about three weeks, Greene.

    And that’s just the defense;)

  19. David says:

    This “Roloson is done” talk seems silly to me. Sure he’s looked weak for stretches of the season, sure he’s let in a few softies. But nonetheless the guy has a .901 SV%, which is better than Kipper, Kolzig, Budaj, Hasek, Emery, etc.

    Roloson’s problem has never been his stats – it is the fact that he lets in soft goals at inopportune times (my observation).

  20. Bruce says:

    Scored a last-minute ticket and am going to the game! Just for fun, since they were traded for each other, I’ll (try to) focus on Bergeron and Grebeshkov and compare their games.

    Given we coughed the extra draft pick, Grebs should be the better of the two, no?

  21. uni says:

    I’ve not been able to watch or follow a game for weeks now because of a very heavy work load. From the looks of it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Egads, and now Torres done for the season.

  22. dwillms says:

    A beauty chip pass by Penner to set up that second goal. I knew Hemmer would pass up that shot, luckily DiPietro whiffed on Horc’s soft shot.

  23. Dennis says:

    Peter Loubardias and your mother: the only people that use your full name when they talk about you.

  24. pboy says:

    Good god. There has to be some reason why Smid and Grebs are still being paired together but I can’t figure it out. It’s funny how Staios and Souray are playing better now that they are no longer playing with Smid and Grebs respectively…………..

  25. PunjabiOil says:

    Horcoff is a good player.

    He’s even better when Hemsky is playing alongside him.

    Hemsky has improved significantly this season. What’s encouraging is that he’s getting a bulk of his points this year on EV. The PP numbers will eventually come around.

  26. Black Dog says:

    So when Greene gets back they will send Smid down, sit Grebs down and play Tarnstrom with Greene, right? A pretty solid third pair and one through six, well, I’ll take it.

    What’s that? They’ll play Grebs and Smid over Tarnstrom. That would be insane.

    Right …

    LA looks like they’ve got to throw in the towel soon. Do they have anyone? How long is Nagy’s contract for? If he’s a UFA after this season why not?

  27. Lowetide says:

    There was a play in that second period where the Islanders just forechecked in waves, trying to get Smid or Grebeshkov to cough it up.

    Which they did, but Satan brought the puck over the line too soon for offside.

    The Oilers are going to play a ton of 1 goal games down the stretch (if they’re lucky) unless they can find a second scoring line.

    So, why on planet earth does MacT insist on playing Grebeshkov and Smid together?

    This has been a pretty encouraging two periods. If Jan Hejda and Radek Dvorak were added to the current roster could this team go on a run?

    Could they?

  28. PDO says:

    Peter Loubardious and Flames Fans:

    The only people who consistently make one syllable words two syllables in an attempt to sound cool.

    Riberio just signed for 25/5… nuts. Anyone have his S%/SV% numbers? I haven’t seen him much… but I can’t see how he’s worth that.

    Similarly, Horcoff’s price had to just go up past the 25/5 pact I was personally hoping to be announced in the near future.

  29. Black Dog says:

    The PP numbers will come around, um, when he gets moved to a team that has a PP :)

    You’re right though, pjoil. He’s just below a ppg pace now, a pile of that coming at ES and in my eye he has been consistently dangerous.

    He’s taken another step, hopefully he can take another.

    And stay healthy.

  30. Black Dog says:

    pdo – apparently Ribiero has his shit together – can’t remember who wrote it but I read last week from a fairly credible source (Duhatschek?) that he is actually playing a pretty good two way game. He’s come a long way since they dealt him for the shell of Janne Niinimma

  31. Devin says:

    I don’t believe we can re-up Horc until July 1. He’s well worth 5.5 or 6/yr given the comparables. He’ll get it, too, but I fear not from the Oilers.

    Roloson’s problem has never been his stats – it is the fact that he lets in soft goals at inopportune times (my observation).

    If he’s saving 9.5 out of 10.5 shots then who cares how the one goes in? If what you say is correct then he’d have to be making saves that other goalies would miss to balance things out. Who cares about what it “looks” like, let’s focus on actual results here.

  32. Black Dog says:

    LT – presently there are two teams that look to be done for sure – LA and Tampa

    Why not Nagy? LW. UFA this summer so LA will look to unload him. He’s a plus, I’m sure v. soft minutes but a plus all the same on the Kings.

    To me he’s the fit.

  33. mc79hockey says:

    Greeting all. Anyone know Ribeiro’s shooting percentage? It just so happens that I do: it’s 37%. Holmstrom is second in the league at 22%. Highest last year was 22%. The year before 23%. The year before that 23%. The year before that 21%. The year before that 22%. The year before that 21%. Far be it for me to criticize the Hat but Ribeiro picked a hell of a time for a hot streak. Couldn’t happen to a nicer team.

  34. PunjabiOil says:

    Seems like we’ve really found a number one goalie. We’re getting league-average goaltending from Garon, and that’s good enough to win you hockey games.

    Garon was quoted in today’s Sun:

    Garon, who turns 30 Wednesday, now gets to be the guy.

    “It’s all I can ask for. When you know the coach has confidence in you, you want to win for him,” says Garon.

    “The coaches and the GM are so professional. They know what they’re talking about and treat me really well. And I love it in Edmonton. I’m really enjoying it. I’ve only been here for four or five months but me, my wife and my family – everybody – really enjoys it here. It just seems like the right time and place for me.”

    Should the Oilers initiate contract discussions in July or should they wait it out?

  35. Black Dog says:

    ah, Ty don’t throw that statistical mumbo jumbo at me :)

    the focus of the article was actually Ribiero’s improved play without the puck but that’s some shooting %

    he missed a PS tonight

  36. PunjabiOil says:

    That was a nice pass from Horcoff.

    And the team will win it’s first game in regulation in over a month.

  37. Lowetide says:

    BD: Always liked Nagy.

  38. Lowetide says:

    Just a thought: Do you think they’re showcasing Stoll by batting him cleanup on the PP?

  39. PunjabiOil says:

    Penner with 2 assists today, giving him

    44-12-14-26

    He started the season with 5 points in his first 13 games.

    He’s been a minus player only 5 times since October 28

    He’s coming around.

  40. doritogrande says:

    A regulation win. Feels good.

    Love the Hilary Duff music when Comrie went to the penalty box, well done by the Rexall staff.

    Garon looked like starting material tonight. He’s got MacT’s confidance, time to take this team on a run.

  41. Dennis says:

    LT, not really. I just think that the club believes in Stoll and he’s gonna get his icetime no matter what. That’s a two game goal scoring streak for 16 and I thought it was coming a little earlier but hopefully it’s here now. I had a post about over on HF about Stoll, comparing his 07 and 08 seasons to Horc’s ’06 and ’07′s and what it meant mean for Stoll in ’08, and basically I came to the conclusion that I’d bet that Stoll bounces back.

    I wouldn’t bet a whole lot, mind you:) but I would bet that he’ll bounce back. That’s not to say I’d spend a lot on him in his next contract, though. That’s for whole other time.

    BTW, a lot of what Comrie said about the Oilers brass turned out to be right, but the guy’s still a douche, so it was funny when the PA guy serenaded him with his GF’s Go-Go’s remake, “Our Lips are Sealed” when he took a penalty in the dying moments.

    Hemksy: it’s a shame the guy only had two points tonight. He could’ve had five easy. Just saw him do an interview with Principe and 83 looks all grown up. He seemed very relaxed doing the spot, his english is much better and when gene asked him if he noticed a difference in the club when he’s in the lineup, Hemsky said that’s why he gets paid the money. When he walked away, he was the personification of confidence. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does for the next few games. Of course, Horc knows how to play with this kid and 27 can keep up and we’ve got a real first line.

    Garon: nice to see him making MacT look good on the first night post coronation.

  42. Aaron says:

    I really wish the Oilers/NHL would put out dvds of games/series. I’d totally buy a DVD of each of the Cup runs. Put on an hour long documentary about the regular season, and then just put on all the playoff games from a particular season. How great would that be? I’d pay some good money for that.

    Season ticket holders got a nice DVD of the 05-06 playoff run. Brings a man-tear to my eye each time I watch it. :)

    ALSO, whats up with the Rogers sign covering the Stanley Cups billboard on Gretzky Ave!! I took a different road to the game tonite and seen that disgraceful banner covering the cups!! Sacreligious!!

  43. Ribs says:

    Fiinally, a team that sucks more than the Oilers! Hoorah!

    …The Duff music was golden.

  44. Steve says:

    This has been a pretty encouraging two periods. If Jan Hejda and Radek Dvorak were added to the current roster could this team go on a run?

    Could they?

    Which of those guys is going to make up our second line?

    Garon looked like starting material tonight.

    He made thirty-five saves for the shutout. That`s pretty faint praise with which you`re damning him.

  45. Mr DeBakey says:

    On the post-game
    MacT said Tarnstrom is hurt
    His back
    Sciatica

  46. kinger says:

    Bruce said…

    I’m not sure Grebeshkov was ever touted to be a “powerplay quarterback” a la Smid — and yes Dennis, I’m still laughing about that one — but his career stats show a very steady progession in the offensive zone. Check it out:

    2003-04 – 4 GP, 0-1-1, -4
    2005-06 – 8 GP, 0-2-2, -4
    2006-07 – 21 GP, 0-3-3, -8
    2007-08 – 36 GP, 0-4-4, -10

    At this steady rate of improvement Grebs will be a 50-point scorer by the 2053-54 season. Unfortunately, he will also be minus a hundred.

    Well played. I can remember Grebs being sold as a “top 2 defender” during the off season.

  47. Devin says:

    Grebs had 49 assists in the “Super AHL”, so I don’t think it was crazy to imagine he could bring more offense at the next level. His decision making is just questionable. I almost wonder if he’s fighting instincts at this point, or whether he just, uhh, sucks. But his 04-05 stats make me wonder… that and his awesome tinted visor.

  48. David says:

    Devin – my point about Roloson is that you can pretty much count on him to let in a soft goal when the game is tight or when the Oilers are starting to mount a comeback from a goal deficit, which is exactly when you don’t need a soft goal, as giving up those goals translate directly to losses. Maybe not every game, but at least every second game.

    Save % is just a statistic. Are you suggesting you would rather have Roloson in the net than Kipper or Hasek? I wouldn’t. No way.

  49. Steve says:

    Save % is just a statistic. Are you suggesting you would rather have Roloson in the net than Kipper or Hasek? I wouldn’t. No way.

    Based solely on performance this year? I would. But I’d rather have Garon than any of ‘em.

    I think some of the stuff that Matt Fenwick has written at BoA is on point here. Basically, he crunched some numbers and determined that, for all colour commentators and their ilk like to go on about how it’s not just the number of goals but when they’re scored, there are in fact very few “good” times to have a goal scored on you.

    You don’t want to let in a goal when you’re tied, of course. You don’t want to let in a goal when you were one away from tying it. You don’t want the other team to score a tying goal. You don’t want the other team to score a goal after you score one, because that kills your momentum, but you don’t want them to score a goal after they got one, because it kills your morale completely.

    The “good” goals are the fourth goals in 4-0 games. How many of those are there in a year?

  50. Devin says:

    David, I just don’t agree. I just don’t think you’re right. We can agree to disagree if you’d like. I just think this talk of letting in goals at “the wrong time” is pure hockeymajik. His SV% assumes that if he in fact does tend to allow a late goal, then he’s robbed the opponent of a scoring chance early. As we all know the scoreboard is the final measure of success, not momentum.

    Has Roloson been better than Kipper and Hasek this year? Yes, actually he has. I’m willing to say that because I believe both those goalies have faced lower quality shots than Roloson, and have lower SV% anyway. Here’s some “evidence” for what it’s worth:
    http://hockeystats.no-ip.org:81/goalies.php?id=2&shots=250

    That is NOT to say that I’d rather have him in nets than them. History tells us Kipper should bounce back. As for Hasek, well, actually, I’m not convinced he’s a better goalie right now than Dwayne. Not convinced he was better last year either (*gasp! how dare I?). Look at Osgood’s numbers in that link to get a general idea of the type of SV% bump you get when Lidstrom is on patrol every night.

  51. Bruce says:

    Well waddya know, I went to a game and the Oilers actually won it, and in convincing fashion no less. A few random impressions dredged from memory’s muddy bank:

    – Right from the first minute Garon looks sharp. He stops a well-placed blast from MAB through a screen with a fine pad save and is on his way. A little trouble handling the puck at times, something he’s usually pretty good at. But he’s rock solid in net, stops everything he sees, and the ones he doesn’t miss the net. Gotta be lucky to be good.

    – As for MAB, his weaknesses are pretty well documented, and shooting the puck is not listed among them. Averages over 15 goals/82 GP, surely near the top of the heap for blueliners.

    – Tom Gilbert really uses that long stick to good effect. It seems like he’s second guy to the puck and that stick snakes out like a frog’s tongue snagging a fly, and it’s out of danger. The kid is very cool under fire, makes soft, safe passes in his own end.

    – Grebeshkov and Smid meanwhile, continue to perfect their breakout system known as the Chinese Fire Drill. Even 10-27-83 get hemmed in their own end when the youngsters can’t make a decent first pass. But for once there are no back door passes for easy tap-ins. Surprisingly, 5 and 37 wind up the night at +1.

    – Steve Staios reads a slow breakout pass correctly, steps up and really belts Sean Bergenheim with the only hit of the first period. Reflect on the good old days when Jason Smith used to have one of those a period all on his lonesome. I miss Gator, and so do the Oilers.

    – Thanks to the blogs I’ve really started to watch the match-ups. Most interesting are after icings, where one coach has his choice. No home ice advantage here, it depends who iced the puck. 49 seconds into the second the Isles ice it, and their opening line is stuck out there (with a long change), while MacT brings on 10-27-83. The puck gets worked into the neutral zone and the Isles change forwards but the defence can’t make it to the bench. Now Hemsky is bearing down on a tired Brendan Witt, shows him the puck, uses Witt as a screen, shoots, scores. Witt, at the end of a 71-second shift, can do little about it.

    – Joni Pitkanen is an old-fashioned rover. On one amazing shift in the second, play goes end-to-end about three times. Going west, Joni’s a forward; coming back east, he’s a defenceman.

    – Dustin Penner has an outstanding night, playing an all-ice game with speed (!) and smarts. On one shift in the second he covers the right point as the defenceman pinches up into the play, then gets involved in an extended possession and cycle on the end boards, then winds up covering the left point. Once the defenceman returns to his post and the puck is safely behind the net, Penner doesn’t jump back into the play but makes a safe change that the cameras will never catch.

    – Shawn Horcoff, long a personal favourite, nets his 100th NHL goal. Seven years ago I saw Horc’s first NHL game (and first point) against Nashville, also a 4-0 win as I recall. Nice to see the milestone.

    – Ales is really dangling tonight. A couple of fumbles but lots of positive plays, a nice goal, a nifty pass to Horc, a couple of good shots, here a dangle, there a dangle, everywhere a dangledangle.

    – This Rick diPietro character is one hell of a puckhandler. Very aggressive on the soft dumps, comes hard into the corner to stop the puck before the goal line, followed by a long bomb pass to the far blueline trying to catch Oilers on a change. Did it three or four different times, with authority.

    – Andrew Cogliano has really brought his skating legs tonight. A couple of unnecessary offsides, but some nice rushes, a couple good defensive plays, and absolutely zero sweat on a solid line with Pisani and Moreau. This is a perfect situation for this kid.

    – Oilers get a 5-on-3 and load the gun for Souray. There is a buzz in the building as fans want to see him unload. Souray doesn’t disappoint, unleashing a bomb that rattles the iron.

    – Third period, another icing, another match-up. This time Oil are caught in the middle of a change, with Stortini having just replaced Pisani alongside Cogliano and Moreau. Grebs and Smid back. Uh-oh. As the TV timeout winds down the Oilers have a football-style huddle in their own zone, with Moreau doing all the talking and the four youngsters all ears. That’s what I like to see. No matter, Cogs loses the draw, the puck comes to the point, the shot flies through the screen and crashes off the end boards before Garon even moves. A narrow escape.

    – Jarret Stoll has a strong game. He makes a nice pass to Reasoner for the 3-0 goal, but misses a couple of gilt-edged chances of his own. I get the sense Oil are trying to set him up, and on a meaningless late powerplay he connects. Just his sixth of the season, and just the second that wasn’t an out-and-out fluke. Boy could we use Jarret’s A game in the second half.

    – Nice gesture by Ted Nolan to put out all of his ex-Oilers for a game-ending powerplay. Comrie, Guerin, Satan and Bergeron buzz around in Oilers zone but can’t connect. Guerin, now Islanders’ captain, is having one of those nights where he can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

    – Near game’s end, Mike Comrie, who has been Isles’ best player to my eye, takes a completely meaningless penalty in the dying seconds. The crowd, which has been jeering and serenading him all night, roars. I have not made a sound all night in Comrie’s direction, but it’s hard not to smile at the cruelty of fate, esp. when the PA system blares out a Hilary Duff tune. Not too often one sees a hockey game with a punch line.

    Not a bad game all told. The Islanders put in a decent effort, but get no bounces, and in the third play out the string like a team on a long road trip conserving its energy. The home town heroes bring their skating legs, build a lead, and keep right on skating. Not enough hitting for my liking, but a solid all-around effort in which at least half a dozen guys are legitimate three-star candidates. Hemsky, Garon and Gilbert — a forward, a goalie, and a defenceman — are chosen, reflecting a good team-wide performance.

    Oilers 4, Islanders 0

  52. Black Dog says:

    Thanks for that Bruce. Good stuff.

  53. kanadienkyle says:

    So, with this regulation win, who gets that 3rd point?

  54. Dennis says:

    Nice recap, Bruce. Good to hear some kind words for 27. There’s not a lot that Lowe and I have agreed on over the years, ie the Guerin-Carter plus a first being an exception, along with the Garon signing, but right off the bat, I didn’t mind the Penner offersheet. I think he’s gonna cover that bet. That being said, it’s a tall order.

    And Loubardais practically soils himself. And so far it’s been pretty much all for naught.

    This is the first time we’ve seen 13 as the playmaking centre with two guys that have both experience and a clue and I’m really not feeling it just yet but I think it’s more that when you ask Cogs to take that role, the old “head and hands catching up with feet” thing comes into play.

    I think Gilbert’s blipping again but it’s not catching up to him. Of course he’s playing some decent min too so all in all it’s working out for us.

    It’s funny the way people react to Souray. It’s sort of sad, really. When Morley does the PPv games, he prefaces every Souray shot with an adolescent cry, “44 Rocket.”

  55. Doogie says:

    So, with this regulation win, who gets that 3rd point?

    The fans, for putting up with the other 56 games.

  56. danny says:

    Bruce: that Penner play was actually a pretty heads up play by Souray. Penner was caught out there a bit longer than 83/10 and doing a good job of cycling and supporting the puck. After he sent it to the weakside, Souray pinched down behind the net and mucked it in the corner long enough for Penner to rotate to his side and get in a quick change.

    When it happened I almost heard half of the Oil fans screaming ‘wtf is souray doing’ all the way donw here in Newfoundland I swear.

  57. Bruce says:

    I didn’t mind the Penner offersheet. I think he’s gonna cover that bet. That being said, it’s a tall order.

    Yes it is, but so do I think he covers (his part of) the bet. I know people have worries about that draft pick — and having seen Stamkos, Doughty, Schenn et al recently, I have worries myself — but if this team, even with Penner, is bad enough to finish in one of the bingo balls spots then that’s on Lowe long before it’s on Penner.

    Good to hear some kind words for 27.

    Well here’s a few more: He may have had a slow start, but Dustin also had what has become known as the Stanley Cup Hangover. Given the long season that leads to the Finals, and perhaps more importantly the short summer that follows it, it is hard on any team to keep things rolling. See: Anaheim this season, Carolina last. Hell, see: Edmonton last season, as guys like Hemsky, Horcoff and J.Smith struggled right out of the gate in games that clearly didn’t mean as much as June the 19th.

    The same thing surely applies to individual players as it does teams, and one such individual stands out more on a team such as the Oilers who have had a long summer and spent a good chunk of it “resting up” at Chad Moreau’s boot camp. And if he’s 6’4, 245 and comes with two hefty price tags (picks and cap hit), he’s really going to stand out.

    Looking more closely at the roster, isn’t Penner the only current Oiler who played even one playoff game last spring? Souray didn’t, Pitkanen and Sanderson didn’t, Garon didn’t, and for damn sure anybody who was with the Oilers last March didn’t. So I say, give the guy a break already.

    The good news is this: Penner seems to have gotten over it. More importantly, he has the Stanley Cup-winning experience that goes with the hangover. So he’s not just a young player, he’s a young champion. A slow start his first year here is a small price to pay for that.

    Any dressing room in the league needs at least a small dose of that winning experience. Seems to me the earliest Oilers always had a guy like Rick Chartraw or Mark Napier around, not to mention Dave Lumley and Pat Hughes who had been around Montreal (and/or Halifax) in the late 70s, when winning was simply the way things were done in that organization. Glen Sather himself spent a year in Montreal, of course, in 1974-75 just before they won those four in a row.

    Penner may be 25 but he’s a young 25. This guy has a development curve like no other — he was cut from his hometown Tier Two team in Winkler, MB at an age when many future NHLers are starring in the Memorial Cup or the World Juniors. He was essentially red-shirted for TWO seasons, one each in junior varsity and NCAA, and when he did play in his second year in each school he won awards like “most improved” or “most determined”. He played two seasons in the AHL, scoring 28 and then 84 points, in just 57 games the second year before getting the call to the Ducks after the All-Star break. He was a regular, and a major pain, in the Conference Finals ultimately won by the Oilers that year. The next year, still technically a rookie, he scored 29 goals and won the Stanley Cup. So you tell me, where does that curve wind up?

  58. Bruce says:

    When it happened I almost heard half of the Oil fans screaming ‘wtf is souray doing’ all the way donw here in Newfoundland I swear.

    Interesting take, O Danny Boy, great to see another Newfoundlander on the list (I’m a born and bred Newfoundlander myself, and proud of it.)

    But I have to say I was, if not actively screaming, actively wondering wtf Souray was doing. Let’s just say Sheldon’s thought processes and mine are not parallel. And that’s not to say that he’s wrong in his decisions, or that he’s going to lose all of his gambles, but yes there are times I do wonder wtf?

    e.g. the play in question:

    that Penner play was actually a pretty heads up play by Souray. … After he sent it to the weakside, Souray pinched down behind the net and mucked it in the corner long enough for Penner to rotate to his side and get in a quick change.

    Solet me get this straight: you’re suggesting Souray is thinking, “hmmm, Penner’s tired, I think I’ll go on the end boards and fight his battles for him, he can slide back to cover for me (assuming he’s paying attention), and then can easily make a change from the far point directly opposite the bench which in this period is further from our net than usual. If I lose his battle, well, we have a tired out-of-shape forward covering for me on the 2-on-2. No problem”

    Well I’m sorry, I can’t quite wrap my head around that as being a good stratagem. To his credit Souray won the battle long enough for Penner to make his exit — all the way across the blueline — but it wasn’t your standard situation.

    I think it’s safe to say Sheldon is a chaos defenceman, which isn’t all bad because he often has the element of surprise in his favour. Opponents are susceptible to critical moments of wtf? Unfortunately, so are teammates.

  59. Dennis says:

    It’s an early thought but Souray could actually be a lot better dman if he stopped trying to handle the puck. He’s strong, has the stomach for the battle and does a good use of using his stick. This is me loving Hejda again but if 44 saw the way Jan plays the game, he’d be smart to copy it. I’d like to put Souray with a Gilbert or Pitkanen and let him stop plays and the boys start them. That doesn’t look to be an option though as somewhere along the way Souray thinks that because he racks up points on the PP, he can do it at EV as well and that leads to him overhandling the puck IMO.

    Back to Penner for a second, I’ve liked the guy since I saw how hard he was to handle in the ’06 Conf Finals and when I read about how many times he beat the odds, it made him even more likeable. Plus, not to sound like Lowe here, but we absolutely needed someone that big and skilled because it’s a dimension we’ve ever had. Anyway, I’m liking Penner even more today after his Nintendo Ice Hockey comments from the Journal.

    Penner’s seven years my junior and I was playing that game when I was 12 so I’m surprised he even knew about it but when he mentioned the game’s proper line construction, all the while knowing what that meant for him, I got a great laugh out of it.

    The other thing from that piece was how last summer was the first offseason Hemsky decided to work out. That’s not a surprise because he still hasn’t made the leap but we’ve long talked that the last element to his game was physical strenght. Now the same can be said for Gagner so let’s hope he follows suit.

    Interesting to read how many guys don’t work out a lot and/or will show up to camp in less than stellar shape. I know I read that it happened post lockout to Brew, Pronger and Peca and now we know it happened to Lupul and Penner as well. I guess I took it for granted that these guys would be busting their asses in the gym. It seemed only logical to me given how many of their peers already do so and how much money there is to make by being one of the best, or even by being one of the top 18 skaters, for that matter.

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