Wednesday, January 07, 2015
A Fitting Result
While on the surface last night’s 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings can certainly be viewed as a rather difficult pill for the Edmonton Oilers to have swallowed, in actuality, it was a game in which the home side had absolutely no business even being in.
In the end, Benoit Pouilot’s ill-timed mental meltdown late in the final frame cost this team a shot at earning something on a night they were outshot 41-23 and badly outplayed for a good chunk of the evening. As nice as pushing this one into extra time would have been, it was a result that Todd Nelson’s crew thoroughly deserved.
Outside of a couple of timely snipes off the stick of Jordan Eberle, Detroit frankly did whatever they wanted over the final forty minutes of play. In all honesty, if not for a stellar performance from netminder Viktor Fasth and some surprisingly poor finish from the team wearing Red and White, this had all the makings of a complete and utter blow out.
While Edmonton looked real good against the high-flying New York Islanders on Sunday evening, it was men against boys over at Rexall Place on Tuesday evening. Despite delivering nothing more than a so-so opening twenty minutes, Mike Babcock’s squad had no trouble dealing with an Oilers team who had earned six of a possible eight points from their last four outings and playing some of their best hockey of the season.
No matter what combination of players he decided to throw over the boards, Babcock could seemingly do no wrong. Pavel Datsyuk was his usual dominating self against the team wearing Orange and Blue, registering two points on the night and scoring the eventual game-winner, thanks to a little help from Matt Hendricks, with all of thirty-four second left on the clock.
Funny thing is, after Eberle knotted things up at two with his tenth of the season at the 15:55 mark of period three, it looked as though Edmonton would be heading home with at least one point in their pocket for a fifth consecutive outing. Unfortunately for them, that all changed the moment Pouliot decided to spear Red Wings blueliner Jonathan Ericsson with roughly two and half minutes left on the clock.
To his credit, the former fourth overall pick of the Minnesota Wild did not hide from the media after what could be viewed as nothing other than a rather stupid and selfish play on the part of the twenty-eight year old veteran winger. As if the infraction on its own wasn’t already bad enough, the fact Pouliot decided to take “a poke” at the hulking Swedish rearguard behind the visitor’s net, essentially 200 feet away from his own net in a 2-2 tie, made it even worse.
While taking the odd dumb penalty in the offensive zone is nothing new for the three-time fifteen goal man, this one seemed to have a profound effect on the native of Alfred, Ontario. “It’s pretty stupid. I just feel bad for the guys because we played hard and battled back…and then I go and do something so ******* stupid like that. It’s unacceptable. 2-2 game, Detroit in town and I go and do that…with three minutes left. It’s….just….stupid.” After being asked what happened, Pouliot responded with the following:
“I just lost it…and retaliated in a way I shouldn’t have. Like I said, it’s just frustrating and I feel ashamed coming in here after seeing the guys go all out and then I go out and do something so ridiculous at the end…but I can’t take it back now. I just have to move on from it and learn that it was so stupid to do.”
Not exactly a guy shying away from his blunder but in the end, it is a mistake a team like the Oilers are simply not good enough to overcome. However, as we have all seen on numerous occasions in the past, undisciplined penalties generally find a way to bite teams on their collective backsides and last night was certainly no exception.
As difficult as the result was to stomach, the fact it came on the heels of what was essentially Fasth’s finest outing of the season, stopping thirty-seven of the forty pucks fired his way, was arguably the biggest disappointment of all. As we all know, the Edmonton Oilers 2014-15 campaign has been a lost cause for some time now but having both goaltenders in a good frame of mind and coming off wins would have surely been a nice problem to have heading into the second half of the season.
With that said, from a competitive balance standpoint, it looks as though this team has righted the ship and considering how things have played out over the first half of their schedule…no one should be expecting anything other than that out of this group for the remainder of the season.