Oilers Playoffs 2006: 5 wins down, 11 to go

Boy, it took long enough. Tonight the Oilers squeaked by the San Jose Sharks 3-2 in Triple-OT to capture their first win since May 1st.

Wow, what a game. Ulcer city, one might say. The Oil hammered San Jose for the first period, and still went into intermission with only one goal to show for it. They (as usual) sat out of the 2nd period, and the Sharks nabbed a 2-1 lead. As the City of Edmonton braced for the pain of perhaps getting swept in a series with the identical 2-1 score in each game, it took Raffi Torres to tie it up 2-2 and give Vesa Toskala 2 goals-against in a game for only the third time in the playoffs, and the first since Game 4 against Nashville on April 28th. Raffi Torres? We gave him a stick? Who knew?

First overtime was fairly easy going, no heavy risks as the Oil tried to wind the Sharks down. When that didn't work, the 2nd/3rd OT was where we returned to first period style: hard hitting crash banging shoot 50,000 pucks as Toskala and hope one of them went in. Eventually, painfully, one did: Horcoff and Smyth double-teamed in the low slot and Horcoff batted in the winner.

Um, that's a scary game. Scary mainly because for 5/6 periods the Oilers outplayed San Jose, and outplayed them hard. Everything (including the kitchen sink and Ryan Smyth's teeth) went into that game, and we still barely won it. San Jose, while being dominated all game, still could hang on to almost beat us. If every game in this series went like Game 3, it would be Edmonton-Dallas circa 2001 all over again -- just with Edmonton in the role of the Stars. The whole game I had Dallas flashbacks, remembering their long and brutal assault against our hot north European goaltender which Tommy deftly held his own against, while we had only occasional forays into the opposing zone. Yet in those games more often than not the onslaught eventually got through, and I kept waiting for one of those Cheechoo breakaways to capitalize whilst we got nothing for our continual efforts. As it was, I was wrong...for now.

A few notes though:

  • Georges Laraque's boarding major was in all senses of the word a bullshit call. A boarding minor, perhaps. But when 76 inches and 245 pounds of Laraque check 72 inches and 185 pounds of Cheechoo, don't be surprised when the latter's head lines up fairly close to the former's shoulders. How many major penalties have been called in the entire NHL all year? How many of those were for boarding? Sure no goals resulted (partially due to the Sharks getting assessed a minor during the 5 minutes), but its a totally unfair call. On the bright side, it got Laraque out of the game and out of Mac-T's temptation file.
  • Cheechoo is scary. Screw Thornton, who stunk it up when he had a yellow "B" on the front of his sweater a mere 6 months ago, this is the guy you've gotta watch for. Fortunately, watch for him Roloson did. The playoff scoring leader got robbed a couple of times, which was extremely good news for the Oilers.
  • My protests from Game 2 have been answered. Hemsky shot the puck more. Spacek shot the puck less. Now its time for me to come up with a new request list for the team, and I hope that MacTavish can handle it (and/or be aware of it, even subconsciously): stop passing back to the blue line whenever we get into trouble in the corners! I think we've all figured out now that Toskala is some sort of robot super-goalie when you're shooting the puck at him from the blue line. It's just not gonna work, Game 1's first goal notwithstanding...er...or Game 3's first goal notwithstanding. See that play we ended the game with? Use it. Keep the traffic high in front of the net. Get players moving laterally in the slot, especially close in. Park Ryan Smyth behind the net, or in front of the net, or any of the trouble-making places near the net he's paid so much money for. Get shots going from up close. Try wraparounds from behind the net. Squeeze plays in the high slot, or in the lower circle. Scramble. Create chaos. Score goals. Too many times I saw Moreau or Horcoff or Pisani get into trouble in the corner, and then pass it back to Pronger or Bergeron or Smith to set up a fresh play. Problem is, those quick San Jose skaters can get into position as quickly as we can, and Toskala doesn't give up rebounds -- see my next point. Don't set up a new play, adapt the play as you go and get out of that corner and into the crease.
  • I'm only going to say this once, San Jose is not Detroit. It's time the Oilers adapted to San Jose's goalie and San Jose's game -- and its not the same as our game. Try that trap for a while, just to confound them.
  • The Whyte Ave honk parade was starting within 5 minutes of the game's conclusion, even though it was 12:37am when it all wound up. This city has some crazy fans.
  • Our big ticket buying plan fell through, and will spend Friday on Whyte Ave instead. Since there are 3 birthdays to celebrate this weekend, this is probably a good thing.
  • I've already told Kelly Hrudey to stop trying to talk physics, but today both he and Ron MacLean have to learn to stop talking about biology as if they're some sort of science professors. Particularly when each of them are bringing up totally opposite arguments, and then (this is the kicker) acknowledging and agreeing with the other argument and then restating their own. How can they both do that in a single segment? It really boggled the mind.
  • Still no new content on BlueMile.ca. You know, FlamesGirls.com never waited this long for new pictures. That's a shame, really. Of course, Calgary didn't find itself 2-0 for a lot of their home games. Speaking of which, FlamesGirls.com redirects to a p0rn site now, though the old page is still up at this link. All you Calgary girls who were showing off your assets in 2004 must be proud to know that you're now on a full honest-to-God porno site. Instead of showing support to your team with a local guy's little site that could, you're now supporting some anonymous porn king in Washington State...isn't that special?