Monday, December 31, 2007

LiveBlogging: Oil @ Jackets.



With Matt out of town with the family, I'll be watching this one on sopcast. You can download the player here and find out what games are showing here. Tonights game is on channel 36000.

First period.


- I didn't expect to see Roli in net, you'd think MacT would have gone with Garon after the 5 goal Wild game.

- Pies is in the game despite the injured foot, that's good to see.

- Souray leads a rush and puts a weak shot on net. Honestly, I wish the guy would just stick to his strengths and avoid his weaknesses (carrying the puck up ice).

- Columbus announcers talking about how Hejda is logging a lot of minutes and leading the team in plus/minus. I'm lookin' at you Kevin Lowe.

- Penner gains position on Foote on a dump in but nobody comes in support. I'm not convinced Gagner is a great fit for this line, he's probably the weakest player on the team on the boards.

- 1-0 Jackets. A fairly innocent looking rush leads to a rebound goal. Can't really put that play on anyone, although the offensive cycle ended with Gagner being in poor position to receive a Penner pass.

- Judging by the early results, I'd say our chances to win this game are extremely poor. We have not managed to generate any offense (rush or cycle) and Columbus has looked dangerous on the rush.

- I'm really puzzled by the Roli start, I don't think the team feels as comfortable with him back there as they do with Garon. It's not that Roli is playing particularly poorly, rather, I think it's more that Garon has stolen some games, and the team knows they need their goalie to be exceptional to win games.

- Westcott takes a poor holding penalty on Nilsson, Hitch won't be happy.

- Souray sucks when he gets pressured on the PP. He needs time and space to either make a pass or take a shot. I think the guy at the opposing point really has to be comfortable handling the puck. Maybe Toronto would be willing to give up Kaberle for 'five assets'. I mean if five assets can get you Pronger why not Kaberle?

- Nash and Zherdev hem our top line in it's own zone for an excess of two minutes. It's not pretty.

- Souray takes a couple bombs at ES. The only problem was Leclaire saw them both and made what looked like two fairly easy saves.

- 18-28-46 is a very weird line. Still, they just put together the best offensive cycle I've seen so far in this game.

END OF THE FIRST

After we had watched Smid's game a few times last year, I remember a conversation between Matt and I about his upside. We didn't think he had the offense to be a guy like Kaberle, and agreed that Ohlund represented a fairly solid high point. I mentioned this comparison a month or so ago on HF, and some guy shot me down saying that Smid doesn't have the same physical edge. I beg to differ, the only positive thing I can see out of the young kids game this year is that he's playing a lot more physical. He just gave Rick Nash a couple shots to the back of the head during a puck battle behind the net. I think a lot of people forget that he's still just a 21 year old kid. I can remember that at 21 my body was still growing in terms of strength. Smid possesses a big frame and there is no reason he can't play with and Ohlund-like edge. I'm really interested to see how he plays with Gilbert. It seems to me that every guy that has played with 77 (Pitkanen, Tarnstrom, Grebeshkov) played their best hockey while paired with him. Perhaps I'm giving Gilbert too much credit, but I've certainly seen a pattern.

Second period.

- Grebeshkov with a stupid giveaway that leads to a Jackets rush and a Pisani penalty. He does at least one momentously stupid thing a game. I think the BoA glossary needs a new term.

- Columbus powerplay looks really good. Roloson bails out his team with a great save on a Chimera one-timer.

- 46 and 28 with another great cycle down low. I don't understand why ANYONE rags on 28's game. He always brings the effort and energy that you need out of your cheap 4th liners. Also, he's surprisingly strong on the cycle and brings a bit of offense.

- 1-1. Chopper bounces on a rebound in the slot. Great job by Staios to keep the puck in and by Souray to recognize that it was time to put the weak wrister on net.

- Chimera takes a hooking penalty on big Penner. Oilers powerplay.

- Columbus kills the first 40 seconds with up ice pressure. Souray with a bomb and Penner takes the puck to the front of the net.

- 2-1 Jackets. SHG. A harmless rush up ice turns into Souray committing at his own blue line leading to a Nilsson vs Nash mismatch on a rebound down low. Nilsson drops to block the shot and Nash goes top corner. Certainly a more experienced forward would have been all over Nash but Robert's effort was still there. He hustled back into the play and took away the bottom of the net with his attempted block.

2-2. Leclaire is handcuffed by a weak Staios shot. Merry Christmas Stevie.

- Jackets with some sustained pressure. Oilers get bailed out by a Delay of game call. Oilers PP.

- I think MacT has decided to leave Souray out for nearly the whole powerplay. I support his decision, it certainly isn't going to make the powerplay any worse.

- Horc gets stripped by Nash leading to a golden chance at the conclusion of the period. We really can't have our veterans making these kinds of mistakes.

END OF SECOND

A better period for the Oil. Some early pressure leads to some chances and a powerplay. Unfortunately, we gave up a shorthanded goal on one of those powerplays. Jackets recover and carry the last 8 minutes of the period. We need to come out fast and strong in the third. A regulation loss here would be heartbreaking.

Third period.

- Nash gets his stick up high on Horcoff. Oilers pick up a short 5-3. Hopefully we can see Souray at his best on this PP.

- I can NEVER understand why a team would dump and chase on a 5-3. The Oilers get lucky and manage to retrieve the puck.

- Stoll takes a slapshot that gets blocked and cleared down the ice. Bye bye 5 on 3.

- That was a pathetic powerplay.

- Columbus with more sustained offensive zone pressure. Horcoff with a RIDICULOUS give away to Nash in the high slot. Smid bails him out with a diving play to knock the puck away. Columbus broadcasters talking up Smid's performance.

- Gagner takes a lazy penalty and Columbus goes to the PP with a lot of momentum. We dodged some bullets in the first kill let's see if we can do it again.

- Columbus gets some sick pressure late in the powerplay. Lucky for us they couldn't seem to hit the net.

- Tarnstrom looks lazy out there. I wonder if it's a conditioning thing from sitting out, or if he's just not motivated to actually try out there. Perhaps both?

- I loved that down low angle of Stortini fighting off the Jackets defenseman on the cycle. You can pinpoint the exact moment the play broke down: right when he decided to chip it over to Gagner.

- Souray looking pilon-esque as he gets beat for a Jackets SC.

- Gilbert shows a lot of poise carrying the puck out of his zone. Matt and I were just talking on the phone and we discussed Gilbert's ability to take pressure off of his partner. I think his ability to win one on one battles and safely carry the puck out of dangerous areas really takes the panic out of his defensive game. There is a certain calm when he is on the ice

- Great cycle game by 18-13-34. Unfortunately, the momentum ends with Chopper taking a stupid penalty.

- Good start to the PK, Columbus gets setup with a 1:20 left. We manage to keep it to the outside and clear the zone. Columbus gets possession in the O-zone with 30 seconds left.

- 3-2 Jackets. Another Rolibound leads to an easy Nash goal. The real shame was that our PK looked far more effective than on the previous two kills. Just goes to show sometimes you do things right and your goaltender lets you down.

4-2 Jackets. Nash pots one into the empty net from just over the blue line. Nothing like a game versus the Oilers to cure a goal scoring slump.

- Some excitement in the last minute of the game, capped by what must be Souray's 10th missed shot of the game. The puck went all the way around the boards and out of the zone. I know he has a big shot, but it's painfully obvious that he needs time and space to make anything happen offensively. It's no surprise that he brings very little in terms of ES scoring, so why have the guy out there 6-5? Seems to me that most goals scored in 6-5 situations are bang bang plays down low. With 11 guys in the offensive zone, there really isn't much space to get stuff through.

END OF THE THIRD PERIOD

Smid had a pretty good game. Just under 20 minutes, most of it as ES, even on the game. I didn't see any real holes in his game and he made a couple solid plays. In the last 7 games, the Oilers have been utterly terrible in the third period. I'm not sure anything can be done to help this problem, it looks to me like it's a product of too many kids and not enough vets. It's painfully obvious that we can't have guys like Hemsky and Pitkanen out and still expect to compete.