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Thursday, December 11, 2008

No Intensity, No Goals

Don't let the shots on goal fool you. This is one time when advanced stats may tell a lie. There were two equally horrible teams on the ice and the Oilers just happened to take more shots. It's quality, not quantity, they say. The San Jose Sharks learned that lesson last week and the Oilers, who benefited from this, learned their lesson tonight.

The broadcasters kept talking about how great Anderson was at holding onto rebounds. He doesn't deserve that praise. Of those 41 shots, how many did you count that the Oilers shot straight at his Panther logo? And when there were rebounds, with the exception of Brodziak missing the freebie late in the game, there was no traffic there to cash in on the chance.

Sure, the Oilers outshot them 41-16. But it's a farce to conclude that the Oilers ever controlled this game. All the shots were from the periphery and the Oilers never really did get many chances in prime scoring areas. There was the Hemsky breakaway, the Horcoff jam-it-in attempt, and Brodziak's missed opportunity. The best Oilers (offensively) on the ice were Hemsky, Cole, Reddox, and Visnovsky. Everyone else was a step behind, coughing up pucks, making bad outlet passes and trying to be too fancy at the opposition blue line. The penalty kill continues to be atrocious.

Where was the intensity?

Anyone who watched the Oilers 41 shot performance and the Sharks 43 shot performance can tell the main differences:

a) puck control
b) choice of shots
c) defensive zone coverage

The Oilers may have took a whackload of shots, but how many of those were ill-advised? How many of them would produce rebounds or a scrum? How many times did Florida Panthers players beat Edmonton Oilers players to the puck? It by this criteria that the Oilers, by their lack of puck control, bad choice of shots, and inexcusably bad defensive zone coverage (with the exception of Visnovsky, Smid and Staios) lost a game where they dominated the shot column.

And for a team that was supposed dominant, at least statistically, there was a dire lack of intensity shown by players who had a long layoff since their last game.

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