The Penguins head into Edmonton tonight to face the slumping Oilers. The Oilers are a horrendous 1-11-1 in their last 13 games since going on a 5-game winning streak on the road. The Penguins have had their own share of struggles lately, having gone 5-8-0 in the same stretch.
Both the brain and heart tell me this is going to be an ugly game, whether Pittsburgh has been hot or not (unless Dubnyk plays unreal). So that said, here are my predictions for the game:
Brain: Penguins 7, Oilers 4
Heart: Penguins 5, Oilers 2
One last thing… Tambellini addressed the media Wednesday about Khabibulin and some other issues. One topic of discussion was in regards to thecaptainethanmoreau’s in which this exchange took place:
Random Reporter (my new hero): “You think he (Moreau) has propensity for taking dumb penalties? Last night wasn’t the first one that he’s taken at a crucial time in a game.”
Steve Tambellini: “Well that’s your assessment of the situation – whether it’s a good penalty or not. No one goes out there trying to make a play that is going to hurt a hockey club. He’s an intense, strong-willed type of player that has worked hard for this organization.”
I’m not sure if that was just a line he was feeding the reporter because it’s not something he wants to discuss, but I don’t believe that’s the case given the way he answers other questions. If this is how he feels, well quite frankly it’s no wonder we’re at the bottom. I’m of course not saying that Moreau is the reason this team is losing, however, perhaps if he’s missing issues like this, the mistakes of other players who can do no wrong are being overlooked as well.
Edmonton Oilers Projected Line-Up (subject to change)
Pittsburgh Penguins Projected Line-Up (subject to change)
- The lines have been re-juggled for the Oilers during Wednesday’s practice.
- Not much talk on it here, but Pouliot is down in Springfield now for his conditioning stint. He assisted on a goal by Taylor Chorney last night.
- Brule will likely miss tonight again, due to the flu.
- Unrelated to tonights game, but there have been rumors that Georges Laraque is going to be bought out soon by the Canadiens and suspicions are that the Oilers could be interested. I say “no thank you”. Doesn’t address our needs other than size, but there isn’t a guy I’d take out of the line up (aside from maybe Moreau now) in favor of Big Georges. Great for the city though, so wouldn’t mind him back here… just can’t see how he fits in the line-up anymore.
|1ST PERIOD SCORING|
|2ND PERIOD SCORING|
|– 1:34 – Cogliano (PP) from O’Sullivan, Visnovsky|
|On the 5-on-3, O’Sullivan passes it cross-seam to Cogliano. Cogliano get two cracks at it, then puts it top shelf.|
|– 11:53 – VIsnovsky (PP) from O’Sullivan|
|O’Sullvian drives to the net and wrists it. Fleury gets a piece and it rings off the bar. O’Sullivan picks it up behind the goal and swings behind the net and up the boards… he seem-passes it to Visnovsky who blasts it in the net|
|3RD PERIOD SCORING|
|– 3:18 – Kennedy from Staal|
|Kennedy shoots one from the face off dot. It hits Dubnyk in the body but squirts past his arm somehow and beats him short side. Not a good goal.|
|– 6:48 – Cooke from Letang, Staal|
|Letang makes a nice play at center ice to dangle around a check and passes it up to Staal. He carries the puck into the zone and shoots it from 40 feet out. Dubnyk kicks it out to Cooke, who just barely beats a sprawling Dubnyk.|
|– 10:30 – Dupuis from Staal, Cooke|
|Staal beats Visnovsky behind the goal line and throws it out front. It banks off Dupuis’ knee and in.|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
1ST PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS
- Horcoff a last minute scratch. He took the warm-up, but something was wrong and he didn’t finish the skate. Oilers staff says its an illness.
- Malkin sets up Fedotenko who swoops in on net, but Dubnyk shuts the door on him.
- Godard starts the rough stuff with Stortini early on at the end of a shift. No gloves dropped, but we’ll see if that sets up something for later.
- Strudwick playing with Grebeshkov on at least one shift, and Nilsson seen with Moreau/Stortini (as well as the top line), so not sure what’s happening with the lines.
- Cogliano actually getting some PP time, thanks to Horcoff’s absence.
- Nilsson makes some wild behind the back pass reception.. not sure how he reeled that one in.
- Stortini nearly gets one on a wrap around, but it doesn’t quite have enough wrap.
- The Oilers are playing a pretty tight defensive game, not allowing the Penguins to open up just yet. As such, they haven’t been able to generate much at the other end.
- Nilsson gets some love from Ferraro for outbattling Rupp in the Oilers zone below the goal line to clear the puck “using his superior skating skill and body positioning”.
- Penner nails Lovejoy, drawing some applause from the fans.
- Ferraro assesses that Cogliano and Nilsson have been the most notable Oilers so far tonight. Both are showing some blue collar work ethic.
- Both Malkin and Adams get penalties on Potulny. Adams does the can opener on Potulny and Malkin jumps up at Potulny. 5-on-3 with 12 seconds left in the period.
2ND PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS
- Souray gets Malkin in the train tracks on the boards and prevents him from going anywhere and knocks him to the ice.
- Potulny blasts one into Fleury’s glove, giving Fleury a boo-boo. It draws a bit of blood on his finger, and he goes for repairs after the whistle.
- Stone finds himself in all alone on Fleury, but can’t manage to score his first career goal.
- Gonchar drifts Gagner from behind… no call (already an Oilers PP). Gagner folded like a paper Pterodactyl.
- Guerin gets a partial breakaway on Dubnyk. He tries to slide it five hole, but Dubnyk closes up the bay doors.
- Nilsson makes a great play going in on Fleury, freezing him with the fake slap and tries a nice deke move. In the process, he falls on top of Fleury as the puck rolls wide. Fleury snaps and jumps on top of him in the net and a small tussle ensues.
3RD PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS
- The period starts 4-on-4 from the Fleury/Nilsson broo-ha-ha
- Penner gets a breakaway. Thankfully the puck actually stays on his stick the whole way.. until Fleury dives out and poke checks it away.
- Pisani and Penner get a 2-on-1. Pisani elects to shoot, and Fleury makes a simple save.
- Staios makes a nice 1-on-1 play preventing Malkin from getting around him and in on net.
- Penner outbattles lovejoy behind the goal line. He uses great body positioning to come out front, spin and get a shot on Fleury. What a difference we’ve seen this year with him.
- Crosby just misses the freight train as he enters the zone. Souray came flying at him, but just barely clipped him, slowing him down a bit but he only stumbles slightly.
- Gagner sets up Penner in the slot. Penner gets a quick shot off, but can’t get enough of it and toes it high and wide.
- Gonchar throws a high hit on O’Sullivan which knocks him down. He chases him down for a sec, but Gonchar skates off on a line change.
- Penner passes a puck through a Penguin player’s legs to a streaking Gagner. Gagner gets in on Fleury and goes five hole, but Fleury makes the save.
- Malkin makes a nice saucer across the front of the net to Talbot who just punches it wide.
- Gagner gets a nice one-timer chance, but fires it wide.
Well, what can I say about this one. Normally, with the way the last 13 games have gone, I would be giving you the “the Oilers came out flat, played the middle period flat, and finished flat” speech, but such was not the case tonight. Heartbreaker. They played a pretty damn good game tonight. They shut the Penguins down for most of the game. The wheels kind of fell off the bus midway through the third, but I’d say this was a pretty flawless game played by the Oilers for the majority of the night. Lots of positives in this one. As a guy who is all about “Tanking for Taylor”, it was nice to see the Dive For Five kept alive, but a very exciting game played by both teams.
Doobie, since you’re all wondering (if you didn’t watch the game), played pretty well tonight. One of the goals scored on him was a softie. He did make the save, but it somehow squeaked past him. But other than that, he looked really good tonight. Other players who stood out – Cogliano, who scored a powerplay goal and was flying all night; Penner and Gagner who looked like magic together tonight (sorry, but Horcoff who?); Nilsson who was pretty physical and battled nicely tonight and even had one beauty deke on Fleury but couldn’t bring it back around; O’Sullivan who had 2 assists tonight and was all over the place, playing a very uplifted game.
Next game is Saturday at 2:00PM vs. the San Jose Sharks in San Jose.