Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Game 45: Anaheim 3 Edmonton 0
With the losses continuing to pile up, this season could not end soon enough for the Edmonton Oilers. After delivering another half-hearted performance on home ice, Edmonton proceeded to drop their second in as many nights to the visiting Anaheim Ducks. The 3-0 victory clinched the Pacific Division crown for the Ducks and leaves the Oilers with a horrendous 1-8 record since the NHL Trade Deadline.
Netminder Nikolai Khabibulin was the lone bright spot on the night, as the veteran puckstopper was the only player with any interest in competing for a full sixty minutes. Despite watching his teammates repeatedly cough up the puck and continually miss assignments in their own, Khabibulin somehow kept them within streaking distance through forty minutes of play.
After literally standing around and watching the Ducks do whatever they wanted with the puck, Ryan Getzlaf finally opened the scoring at the 6:13 mark, flipping home a rebound, in the midst of a sea of blue jerseys. It was a soft penalty kill, which went perfectly with what was just an awful opening six minutes. It was a six minutes stretch which featured two penalties to captain Shawn Horcoff, seven consecutive shots from the Ducks and countless mistakes from Ralph Krueger's crew within their own zone.
Edmonton would finally manage a couple of shots on net after falling behind but proceeded to sit and watch Radek Dvorak slide home his fourth of the season, third in two weeks against the Oilers, late in the period. The entire sequence, was about as bad a bit of defending you could possibly find from a group of five professional hockey players. Frankly, it was almost laughable.
Twenty minutes in and this one was all but over. Making post-game comments from Horcoff and Sam Gagner that they got off to a "much better start" rather perplexing. As usual, Taylor Hall was by far and away the Oilers best skater but #4 was a turnover machine for much of the night. While his linemates Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner continued to take a number of unnecessary and obscenely long shifts throughout the evening.
In there defence, the trio were the only line to create chances on the night but like the rest of their teammates, were simply not good enough and refused to play a smarter game. The typical third period effort resurfaced, after the outcome had already been determined, but it was not enough to get puck behind stater Viktor Fasth. While the Ducks netminder was solid, outside of a couple in tight chances, he had a rather uneventful evening in earning his fourth shutout on the season.
In the end, it was the same old excuses. Poor puck management. Inconsistent effort. Undisciplined play. Guys not following the system. At what point do the excuses stop? For the players to continue to use it as a crutch, is simply unacceptable. They clearly just want this season to come to an end, as do the many supporters of this club.
That being said, is it so much to ask for an honest sixty minute effort from all eighteen skaters that pull on that sweater? Apparently...it is.