Sunday, December 11, 2011

Game 30: Calgary 3 Edmonton 0

After another no-show against the Calgary Flames, one has to wonder if this edition of the Edmonton Oilers has what it takes to beat their provincial rivals. Edmonton seemed disinterested for most of the night and showed zero intensity. Combine that with the much improved play of the Flames and last nights 3-0 outcome, should surprise no one. Jarome Iginla led the way for the suddenly surging Flames, with a pair of goals while Mikka Kiprusoff made 21 saves to earn his second shutout of the season.

Edmonton played a decent road period in the opening frame but for some reason, seemed unwilling to engage physically. Typically, Calgary man handles the Oilers so the visitors decided to dress a much heavier line up for Saturday's tilt.When Ryan Smyth ends up leading you team in hits, that tells you all that you need to know.

After a scoreless first period, Edmonton had a great opportunity to open the scoring but their power play let them down. Olli Jokinen received a high-sticking double minor, for ripping open Ladislav Smid's mouth with a careless high stick, but the Oilers did squat with it. The Flames used the same formula that worked to perfection last Saturday against the Edmonton power play...pressuring Ryan Nugent-Hopkins into quickly moving the puck. Nugent-Hopkins managed to move the puck along to his teammates just fine but all they could do with it was turn it over. To make matter worse, Sam Gagner took a slashing penalty, at centre ice, midway through the Jokinen penalty..

While the Oilers could not get the job done on the man advantage, Calgary struck on their opportunity to open the scoring. Matt Stajan beat  Anton Lander clean off the faceoff and moments later, the Flames had the lead. Stajan won the draw back to Derek Smith who's point shot was stopped by Devan Dubnyk but an untouched  Tom Kostopoulos knocked the rebound past the Oilers netminder. Kostopoulos had defencman Jeff Petry standing right next to him but the Oilers defenceman decided to just watch him jump on the rebound instead of doing something about it.

Before the period was out, Calgary stretched their lead thanks to a strong cycle down low. The Flames hemmed Edmonton in their own end and made them pay for it. Jarome Iginla managed to free himself up long enough to rip an absolute bullet past Dubnyk, with all of sixteen seconds to play in the second. After two periods, the shot clock read 27-12 Calgary and this one seemed to be in the bag.

Edmonton managed to out shoot the Flames in the third period but it did them little good. Iginla put this one to bed with his second on the night, into an empty net. Calgary is now 3-0 against Edmonton this season and winners of fifteen of the last sixteen meetings between the clubs. That includes ten straight wins on home ice. The last time the Oilers won in Calgary was October 17th, 2008.

The Good

  • Devan Dubnyk was the surprise starter for Edmonton and he was solid. He wasn't spectacular but he did all he could to keep his team in the game. If your team doesn't score you any goals, it is rather difficult to put up a W at the end of the night.

The Bad

  • The lack of intensity shown by the club, was alarming. In what was a big game statement game for this team, they fell flat on their face. Sure, Calgary has had the advantage of playing the Oilers all three times on the back end of back-to-back games for Edmonton and Taylor Hall has missed all three games against the Flames. Those things have definitely played a big part in their lack of success against the team down south but outside of last weekends loss, the Oilers have been flat when the have played them and that is simply unacceptable.
  • Darcy Hordichuk didn't accomplish much but in his defence, he never saw the ice. If the coaching staff decides to dress a player like Hordichuk he needs to get out there on occasion. He had all of two shifts in the first and two more in the second, one which was four seconds long. The only time he saw the ice in the third, was when he came out of the box after serving the teams too many men on the ice penalty. Hordichuk has to do something every time he hits the ice against such teams but he has to be given the opportunity first.
  • While the Edmonton had little to no jump, I have no clue what the point of the "line blender" during the first half of the third was. As poor as they had played, the score was only 2-0 and with the clubs current stable of skilled players, they were not out of the game. Sending out lines such as Hemsky-Belanger-Eager does nothing but send the wrong message to your players. It is one thing to do it for a shift to grab their attention, it's something completely different to do it for half  of a period, when you are one shot away from being back in it.
  • Much of the Oilers struggles revolves around a defence that is routinely over matched in their own end while being unable to consistently move the puck up to their forwards. They have too many guys playing in roles they are not comfortable in or ready for. I know it sounds like a broken record but until they do something to upgrade their back end, their inconsistent play will continue. The longer they go without making a move, the more you have to question the message from the club that the playoffs are their goal. If the plan is another year of development fine but make that clear because the masses are becoming restless. 

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