The Oilers are coming off a monster 6-1 win over Nashville on Monday in which JDD and Stortini were the story. JDD stopped 40 of 41 shots, while Stortini had 2 goals, and a fight. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, came back from 5-0 against the Flamers on Monday to win 6-5 in OT (DropIt, you’re going to need to explain how the hell that happens). At about the midway point of the 1st period, the Flames were up 5-0. Huet was chased from the net after allowing 3 goals on 5 shots. Neimi allowed the next two, but from the 2nd period on, the Blackhawks seemed to wake up.
Look for a better performance from the Blackhawks who will want to redeem themselves for a sloppy first period that drew ire from the United Center fans. “‘Holy smokes. How we going to fix this?’” was the question Brent Seabrook asked himself midway through the first period. “We were embarrassed. Our fans weren’t very happy and they let us know about it. We want to have good starts and we want to help our goaltender out. That was unacceptable.”
For the Oilers, the key is going to be stepping on the gas early on in the game and not letting off. I’m not a fan of goaltenders playing their old teams, but hopefully Khabibulin will show some inspired play against his former team. In my eyes he’s gotten better with each game.
Tonight’s game starts at 6:30 and is televised on TSN.
Edmonton Oilers Projected Line-Up
Chicago Blackhawks Projected Line-Up
Steve Staios is a game time decision for tonight. Chorney filled in quite well for him on Monday, logging 14:29 TOI, and finishing +1 with 1 assist (on Stortini’s PP goal).
1ST PERIOD SUMMARY
0:51 – CHI – Sharp from Toews, Ladd
Oilers get hemmed in their zone, Jacques can’t quite get his stick on Patrick Sharp who fires a shot from within the slot.
2:30 – EDM – Cogliano from Moreau
Moreau and Cogliano get a two on one. Moreau fires the pass over to Cogliano who shelfs it under the bar.
13:15 – CHI – Skille from Hjalmarsson, Fraser
Hjalmarsson is left completely open at the blue line. He fires it on net and Khabi gives up a rebound to the slot where Skille is there to bang it in.
- Skille hits Chorney after a whistle (and pops the glass out) for icing drawing attention from Smid. Nothing happens however. Just a bit of shoving.
- JFJ laid a nice solid hit on Keith as the two went into the Hawks zone for a dump in
- Dustin Penner in obvious pain after blocking a shot. They panned to him on the bench a few minutes later and he was still wincing.
- Byfuglien hits Hemsky from behind on the boards. As he skates off the ice, Stortini is yelling at him. McGuire mentioned that Byfuglien replied with “Who are you kidding? You’re not going to fight me.. you’re a goal scorer now”. I guess he watches the highlights.
- Brower undresses everyone on the ice for Oil except for the Wall.
- Looks like JFJ is trying to scrap with Byfuglien, but he isn’t biting.
- Horcoff blocks a shot from Seabrook and that one looks to have hurt bad. However, looks like he didn’t miss a shift. Ditto for Penner.
- Insanely bad bounce off the glass in the Oilers zone comes right out in front of the Oilers net with Khabi looking the other way still… the Oilers got lucky there, as no Blackhawks were around at the time.
- Visnovsky does is best Joni Pitkanen impersonation as he blows through the entire hawks team (minus one defender) going end-to-end but finishes it up with an easily saved shot.
- Not a good period for the Oilers at all. Outshot 16-6
2ND PERIOD SUMMARY
9:12 – CHI – Versteeg from Campbell, Sharp
The Hawks barrell into the Oiler zone with speed. Campbell carries it below the Hawks zone and passes it off Visnovsky’s stick to the slot where Versteeg jams it through Khabibulin’s five hole.
- Cogliano catches the Hawks on a bad change, gets nearly in all alone on Niemi. He fires a shot from the faceoff circle that rings off the post.
- Somehow the puck winds up trapped between Hjalmarsson’s legs from a wild shot from the corner in the Blackhawk’s zone. Penner notices this and skates over to him and bowls him over (insert joke about him thinking it was a twinkie here).
- Stortini gets some love from Gord and Piere mentioning how hard of a worker he is and pointing out his great game against Nashville.
- Oh wow, I actually just saw Tom Gilbert hit someone hard in the Oilers zone behind the net.. nice hit as he threw his whole weight into it.
- I can’t possibly say enough just how good Visnovsky is when he gets the puck on his stick in his own zone. Very calming presence.
- Khabibulin makes a coulple of great back-to-back saves after a hard point shot and rebound.
- Patrick Sharp blows past Strudwick with speed, forcing Strudwick wrap him up, drawing the penalty shot.
- Sharp elects to shoot, but Khabibulin makes the nice blocker save.
- Cue the line blender
- Stortini nails Hjalmarsson as he’s trying to keep a puck in the Oilers’ zone, sending Hjalmarsson sliding from the blueline to about 3 feet in front of the center ice red line.
- Chorney looks invisible tonight, and I mean that as a compliment. Kevin Lowe once said that you know you’re doing a good job on defense when people don’t notice you out there. Sure, we’d like to see him do something offensive, but he seems to be playing a solid brand of defense.
- This period started good, but the Oilers fell flat yet again. The end of the period is notably horrible.
3RD PERIOD SUMMARY
10:43- EDM – Penner from Brule
Penner swings behind the net and throws it out front and it banks in off of Hjalmarsson’s leg and in.
17:18 – CHI (PP) – Barker from Toews, Versteeg
Barker gets it at the point, Sharp is in front of Khabibulin completely screening him. Barker absolutely wires it, clean past Khabibulin. Doubtful he even saw it.
19:13- EDM (PP) – Grebeshkov from Penner, Horcoff
- Comrie blocks a shot leading to a 3 on 2 with O’Sullivan and Comrie playing give and go and generating a shot on goal.
- Byfuglien passes it over to Kane at the right dot making Khabibulin go west-east to make a big kick save.
- On the PP, Grebeshkov gets beat at the blueline. Versteeg gets in all alone on Khabibulin on the breakaway and is stoned by Khabibulin.
- Grebeshkov gets caught flat footed as Toews blows around him but Khabibulin throws up his force field.
- Horpensky reuinited again. Hemsky gets behind the net and passes it out front to Horcoff who is absolutely robbed by Niemi.
- Comrie again blocks another shot and this time he’s hobbling. At least some guys are playing like this game means something.
- Khabibulin has been pretty solid. The Oilers defense is nearly non-existant tonight save for him back there. Makes left and right, such as Grebeshkov going for the big highlight hit at the blueline leading to a near solo chance for Toews.
- Nice rally at the end with Khabibulin pulled, but too little too late. They get one goal with the 5-on-3 (with Khabi pulled). But can’t get the game tying goal afterwards.
CHI PP1 (Ryan Stone, 2 mins for Roughing) – NO GOAL
1st Unit – Penner/Horcoff with Grebs/Gilbert.
2nd unit – Moreau/Cogliano with Strudwick/Gilbert. Lots of space for the Blackhawks to move it around and they get some good shots on net. Eventually it gets tied up against the boards for the whistle.
3rd Unit – Horcoff/Penner with Chorney/Smid – Nothing too effective from the Hawks. They get traffic in front of the net, but no dangerous shots on net.
EDM PP1 (Bowland 2 mins for Tripping) – NO GOAL
1st Unit with Penner, O’Sullivan, Comrie with Gilbert/Grebs. Grebeshkov steals a near clearing attempt and gets it to Comrie who gets a nice shot on net.
2nd Unit Gagner, Horcoff, Hemsky with Visnovsky/Chorney. Hawks keep the shots to the outside and the Oil don’t get any shots on goal. Just 2 seconds before this penalty ends, Madden gets called for the hook.
EDM PP2 (Madden 2 mins for Hooking) – NO GOAL
1st Unit Penner, O’Sullivan, Comrie with Grebeshkov/Gilbert – Grebeshkov gets beat at the blueline. Versteeg gets in all alone on Khabibulin on the breakaway and is stoned by Khabibulin.
Eventually the Stortini line gets out there. Really this was a pretty ineffective powerplay.
CHI PP2 (Grebeshkov 2 mins for tripping) – GOAL
1st Unit Horcoff,Penner with Smid/Gilbert. Horcoff wins the draw and the Oil battle and get it out.
Penner gets into the Hawks’ zone and gets a shot on net, shorthanded.
2nd Unit Cogliano, Moreau with Chorney/Strudwick. Cogs wins the draw but it bounces past Chorney. The Oil dump it out… hawks bring it back in.. Oil dump it back out.
1st Unit back out. Lots of space for the Hawks point men again. Cam Barker wires a howitzer from the point past everyone including Khabibulin.
EDM PP3 (Bowland 2 mins for tripping) – GOAL
1st Unit Penner Horcoff Hemsky with Grebeshkov/Visnovsky. Empty net, as it was a 4-on-4 previously. Lots of passing around, the play gets shot on goal, lots of banging at it by Penner. Grebeshkov digs it out and puts it upstairs.
POST-GAME RANTBrutal game played by the Oilers. The defense was nearly non-existant during most points of the game. Really left Khabibulin hanging out to dry. But, to Khabi’s credit, he handled it pretty well all things considered. Khabibulin saved 34 of 38 shots. He played a pretty solid game, especially as the game wore on. In the beginning though, I wasn’t sure if he was really in it.
So as I mentioned before the game, this game was the measuring stick for the Oilers. Did they have what it takes to play with a team that plays their own style of hockey? The answer was no. I am confident they can play against other styles of hockey (i.e. teams that play a more defensive brand of hockey), but they just can’t compete with the Blackhawks because they play a similar game, but with better components (thanks to years of failure and some good draft picks). Luckily though, I think that games like this are going to be the minority for the Oilers. Not worried, but I had hoped that the Oil would win it so I could really feel that they’ve got the compete level to take on the best of them.
Next game, Minnesota on Friday on PPV.
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