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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reddox Scores but Oilers Lose in Shootout

I've been saying it since training camp: Liam Reddox is MacT's favorite kind of player. He plays hard, kills penalties, and gives it blood and vinegar on every shift. Most importantly, he scored his 1st NHL goal in his 2nd NHL game and in his first appearence this season. A real keeper this Reddox is.

Darcy Tucker, put the game away in the shootout. Which makes me wonder: why didn't Pisani or Cogliano shoot, two guys who are good at shootouts? Did MacTavish miss the WJC Final Gold Metal Game where Cogliano and Toews exchanged key shootout goals for Canada?

I made some post-game hockey grades for David Staples from Cult of Hockey; if you haven't read his blog check out the class act here.

Shout out to Marion Flores: your YouTube link on Conan O'Brien is gaining attention.

Here is the blog post I wrote and the subsequent grades:

Simply put, the Oilers need more out of their big name players who are not playing up to par in meaningful games, especially those within the division. Shawn Horcoff, Erik Cole, and Lubomir Visnovsky let us down tonight. Though Shawn Horcoff played an important role in the first PP goal by Nilsson, his repeated inability in the second half of the game to deliver on key defensive plays was the not what you expect from an assisant captain.

Both Erik Cole and Ethan Moreau were a step behind tonight though they made up for it with their gutsy play along the boards and in the corner and it rubbed off on the youngster Liam Reddox, who played outstanding for his 2nd NHL game. Could get more looks from MacTavish with this kind of effort.

The lack of scoring in terms of security insurance goals is almost as disappointing as our inability to play a complete defensive team game in locking down a near-to-guaranteed win. I don't understand why Boulerice drew in for Brodziak, whose prowess in the faceoff circle would've been important in taking the pressure off of other centerman. He seemed to click with Stortini though and it would be interesting to see how they perform with more ice time.

Hemsky was still flying but there were no results. If Cogliano or Brodziak were given a chance with Hemsky things could get more interesting.

Anyways, I feel bad for Roloson who played solid enough to win but the team definitely let him down tonight, which was a lesson we should have learned after hanging Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers out to dry against Toronto.

Oilers should either stick with Roloson or give Garon a week's worth of games from now on forwards because our goaltenders are not getting the support to win games and perhaps it would make more sense to let one of the struggling goalies play themselves out of the funk. Roloson looks ready to play so its up to DesLauriers to prove his early 3-0 start was not a fluke, and its up to Garon to prove he deserves a contract extension.

The scoring system is as follows: 10, perfect game; 9, extraordinary game; 8, great game; 7, good game; 6, above average game; 5, average game; 4, below average game; 3, bad game; 2, terrible game; 1, trade this player or send him to the minors.

Ales Hemsky 6

Looked smooth and decisive out on the ice. Made Moreau and Gagner look a lot better than they actually played. Despite not lighting it up on the scoreboard, was surprisingly sound witht respect to Moreau and Gagner.

Andrew Cogliano 6

Was not particularly noticable in the first but as the game wore on the opposite was the case as he showed how relentless he can be at flushing out opposition D on the PK and how useful he can be at setting guys up on the PP, as he did on Reddox's first NHL goal. Was involved in a few odd-man rushes and looked dangerous for the last two thirds of the game.

Erik Cole 4

Played as he always does, with no holds barred and with no regrets. Laid the hurt on opposition defensemen whenever he had a chance and was a good influence on the young Liam Reddox. Looked a step behind for most of the night but played hard anyway. Needs to show more and take the shots he has the chances to take.

Ethan Moreau 4

Was a good complement to Hemsky as a net crasher but was a step behind all night. Was surprised by his inability to get the puck out of danger in some defensive zone situations. As hard nosed hockey is his bread and butter he looked a step behind tonight but was luckily he played well enough to not turn it into an offensive chance for the Avs.

Fernando Pisani 5

Was playing like a man on fire all night. Went to the net hard and utilized his linemates effecitvely. Wasn't afraid to sniff for rebounds. Almost scored late in the first period but hit a crossbar. Was reliable on the PK, as always, but should've shot in the SO instead of MAP.

Jesse Boulerice 5

Looked good on a line with Pouliot and Stortini and impressed me with passing skills I didn't know he had as he almost set up Stortini for a one-timer that was blocked by a defenseman. Needs to be careful about trying to lay big hits: he almost took out Stortini on a particular play in the second period. Didn't see a lot of ice time which limited his impact.

Liam Reddox 7

Played with blood and vinegar and lots of energy. Not a bad outing in his 2nd NHL game. Wasn't scared to sniff for pucks in front of the net or along the boards and fit in well with Erik Cole's crash and bang style. Quick foot speed and forces turnovers. Useful on the PK and didn't waste any time leaving his impression as a MacT style of player, as evidenced by covering a badly-timed Staois pinch at one point in the second period. His 1st NHL goal may mean that Dustin Penner might be sitting in the PB a little longer.

Marc-Antoine Pouliot 5

Starting to get rid of the hesitation that is associated with being a younger player. Not particularly effective offensively, but didn't hurt the team defensively. Was the defensively reliable part of a goon line that feature Stortini and Boulerice. Looked lost on the PP. It wasn't Pouliot's fault that MacT put him out on the shootout when there were a lot of better options available... like Pisani...

Robert Nilsson 6

Great goal on the PP by Bobby Nilsson. He's decided to do a bit of sniffing around in the area in front of the net, which obviously paid dividends. Very elusive when retreaving pucks along the boards and looks like a mini Smyth at times. Good backchecking again. Needs to work on his shootout moves.

Sam Gagner 4

His forced passes don't convince me that he's the "calm and composed" mature player that everyone is convinced that he is. Could easily dump the puck in on some plays and have Hemsky or Moreau retrieve but chooses to use a lot of dangerous little passes near the opposition blue line that have resulted in bad turnovers. MacT needs to hammer home the message that he needs to make smarter plays: be creative when you need to be creative, but on the powerplay, shoot it when you get the chance. Glad to see him converting in the SO.

Shawn Horcoff 4

Good quick pass to Gilbert that set up the Nilsson goal. Horcoff was on his game tonight for the first half and it showed as he was drawing penalties and forcing guys to chase him. However, his continuing inability to win key faceoffs (such as on the Avs tying goal late in the third where he lost the draw to Hejduk of all people) come at markedly bad times for the Oilers. His strong play on the PK allowed the Oilers to make up for that allowing the tying goal in OT, but did not make up for his inability to secure an insurance goal on the empty net which is something that needs to go in to end the Avs chances of coming back in the shootout. Could easily say he cost us the game and needs to start playing a full 60 minutes. The Horcoff from the first half was not the same Horcoff from the second half and is consistency is key from an assistant captain who is supposed to show leadership.

Zack Stortini 5

Played hard and didn't take no for an answer as he crashed the net sniffing for rebounds. Deserves a look on a line with some skilled players to see what he could do as a complement to a Nilsson or Horcoff. Limited ice time limits his ability to make an impact.

Sheldon Souray 5

Souray needs to move the puck a bit faster. He has been playing relatively solid but if he could utilize Visnovsky a bit mroe it would make outletting the puck a lot easier for the D core top unit. Needs to stop overcommitting as he got exposed by Marek Svatos.

Lubomir Visnovsky 3

Mr. Lube was pretty shake tonight and was involved with a few questionable outlet passes. It was good to see that, like other times during this season so far, he was willing to take hits to make the play, but it perhaps there's a bit of lag from the road trip. Anyways he is afflicted by the same problem as Souray: it would be nice to see him utilize Souray a bit more during outletting the puck. Bad choices in terms of shots and passes tonight. Could use a bit of patience in his play.

Tom Gilbert 7

Surprising that Gilbert doesn't get more looks on the PP. His ability to stay relatively open on the point and his reluctance to pinch at bad times is what allowed this PP to click early on this night. Good defensive awareness tonight, and I wish he would've played more minutes.

Denis Grebeshkov 5

Good quick passes to his defensive partner (Gilbert) and generally when leaving the zone. Wasn't a powerhouse offensively or defensively but did all the smart things well. Lucky for him, Gilbert covered some of his defensive gaffes tonight.

Jason Strudwick 6

Good positioning and generally reliable overall tonight. Was relaible on the PK.

Steve Staios 5

Staios was truly steady tonight. Looked good with Strudwick.

Dwayne Roloson 5

He worked hard communicating with his D core and with his forwards. Looked unsure playing the puck tonight but was generally pretty good on rebound control. Almost got exposed by some great passing by the Colorado squad. The Oilers played well for him but the squad was unable to get some security goals when they needed it and that cost Roloson his strong play tonight.

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