Grading the players: 2008-11-19 at Columbus

Last night was a weird game. The Oilers had no business winning it on the shot clock, Leclaire didn’t play exceptionally poorly, they gave up a ton of power plays, and yet somehow the score wound up 7-2 for the good guys. The difference was Edmonton’s PP was 2/3, and Columbus’ was 1/7. The BJ’s didn’t help themselves by negating two of their power plays soon after they began, but still, on paper the Jackets should have had the 7 goals. And despite the shot totals, I didn’t see that any of the Oilers played very poorly defensively.
For future reference, the lines looked something like this, and they didn’t change much all game for a change: 10-18-83, 13-85-26, 89-27-12, 78-51-28 up front, and 44-77, 24-43, 37-31. Roloson started, Garon backed him up. I’m not sure those are what you would call classic 1/2/checking/energy lines with well-defined 1/2/3 defense pairings – you’d have to look to see who was playing against who. I’m not familiar enough with the Columbus lineup to guess what they would call their top lines, outside of Brassard-Nash-Huselius. Anyway, here go the grades.
Horcoff, 8: 1 goal, 2 assists; the goal and one assist were at evens, the other assist was on Gilbert’s PPG. He played 23:21, including a sterling 5:01 of penalty kill time. His line looked a bit hesitant at first and got hemmed in a lot in the first period (so did everybody else), but he looked great overall, and even had a couple of 2 minute shifts. One of them ended with him scoring a goal, the other ended with him taking a penalty. He was on the ice for two ES and two PPG for, and one ES goal against. Temptation was to mark him to a 9, since the PK was so good and he figured into both PPG, temptation was to mark him (and everybody else) down a notch for being so badly outshot. Still, it’s the results that count. Also went 10 of 19 on the faceoffs.
Nilsson, 5: 5 of his shifts ended with penalties, one of which was his own. He didn’t play great most of the game, although he was on the ice for Visnovsky’s goal – I don’t recall that he had much to do with it though. He only had one shot and one hit, no special teams time. He got juggled around a fair bit as the game progressed. His penalty was a bad one, boarding in the offensive zone; he just got a little overzealous, but those are terrible penalties to take. He did have some good cycles with Penner.
Cogliano: 6: funny grade to give to a guy with a goal and an assist, but he didn’t grab me, for some reason. His line got hemmed in a lot and I didn’t think they got a lot going offensively, despite the points. His goal came on his only shot. He had some good PK time though. 4 of 12 in the faceoff circle – brutal.
Moreau, 6: one of those games where the offence wasn’t there, but the defense was decent. -1 on the night, although he played 4:38 of fairly mistake-free PK and had 19:06 on the ice in total. He also had 3 hits and 3 blocked shots.
Staios, 7: -1, 20 minutes of ice – a whopping 6:10 of PK time. I’d have given him a 6, but he was a rock on the kill. Nash’s goal came with him on the ice and he somehow managed not to be on the ice for the 5 even-strength goals – probably gassed from being on the wrong side of all that 5 on 4 action. Maybe could have been a 6, considering how porous the team was defensively.
Cole, 6: similar to his centre, Cogliano. 13:18 of icetime, no special teams time. He had some good rushes, including the one Cogs scored on. 3 hits. Still, wasn’t as effective defensively as he needs to be.
Penner, 7: his statline didn’t reflect his contributions. His goal obviously caught Leclaire by surprise, but it came off a wicked wrister that was probably earlier than the goalie was expecting. His ass was in Leclaire’s face every time the Oilers controlled on the power play, and he might as well have had third assists on both PPGs. He was good enough defensively, although he looked slow a couple of times. (He also managed to keep up with Hemsky on a 2 on 1 break, so he can turn on the jets.) If he’d been faster, maybe an 8. 3 hits matched Captain Ethan’s total, and one of them was a doozie. Coach rewarded him with over 17 minutes of icetime, including 2:39 on the PP and 1:44 PK. OK, I admit it, I like him, despite his floating earlier this year, and my wife loves him. He also had every right to look at the bench and smirk after his goal, but he didn’t.
Boulerice, 4: Hard to do much in 2:27 of icetime, although MacIntyre always managed to. No hits isn’t good for somebody supposed to disturb the poops. He did go sniffing when there was action while he was around, but no takers. He only had one shift in the second period and none in the third, with Penner gobbling up a chunk of his time and Reddox some more.
Roloson, 8: Neither BJ goal was his fault, and he had some 5 alarm saves in his 37 total. Solid night for the vet. He’s stolen the starting spot back from Garon for sure, with JD breathing heavily down their necks.
Grebeshkov, 7: a very solid 7 at that. He didn’t make any glaring mistakes, was very calm and smooth with the puck, and was a +2. He was on the ice for Nash’s goal and I don’t remember the play, but I don’t think he made any mistakes. 16:51 of icetime, although only a minute on the PK. Only one hit, but he did make a few beauty defensive plays with his stick and body positioning.
Strudwick, 6: he had an assist but was -1. Probably overplayed a bit, with a boatload of PK time. He was solid, but not spectacular.
Souray, 7: he was smart all night and gobbled up nearly 24 minutes of icetime. He won’t make us forget Chris Pronger, but he was full value for his contract last night too. His goal was an absolute bullet, he jumped up smartly every chance he got, and was rarely out of position. He would be an 8, but with that much icetime and as badly as the Oilers were outshot… well, somebody’s got to eat it. Great pass on Cogliano’s goal too.
Brodziak, 5: Mr. Invisible again. A missed shot, no hits… he’s going to be back in the pressbox again if he plays many more like that. MacT didn’t like his game either, half his icetime was on the PK and he only had 8 minutes total. Could argue for a 6 based on 4 minutes of decent kills, but his ES play needed to be better. He only had 3 shifts in the third period, and two of those were late, once the Oil had choked the life out of the Jackets.
Visnovsky, 6: +2, few mistakes, not on the ice for any GA and was on for 3GF. Scored 1-1-2 and had 16:48 of mostly evens play. 1 hit, 3 shot blocks, and a few “nice stick” plays. Very solid 6. Would have been a 7, if the team hadn’t spent so much time hemmed in with him on the ice.
Gilbert, 7: got a goal and an assist himself, although his goal was a beauty backdoor on the power play, just like he used to get. It was probably the game-breaker, making it 4-1 at the time. 22:55 of icetime, including almost 5 minutes on the PK.
Pouliot, 6: scored a goal and wasn’t terrible defensively. He had 3 minutes of PK time, and got 3 shotblocks in, one was really nice. He needs to use his size more.
Hemsky, 7: Strong 7 with 3 helpers and a ton of beauty passes, although he was only evens on the night thanks to being on the ice for Huselius’s goal. I don’t think he made any mistakes on that one, but he had a few others. Still, good-to-great was the definition of his play. He’s gotten smarter on the PP, he shoots enough now that he can make the killers guess. He only managed one shot, although 2 more got blocked.
Reddox, 6: couldn’t really tell he was only playing his third game, although he’s just too small to be really effective physically – he had 3 hits, but nothing really hard. He’s a bit of a waterbug, zipping around. He’s not as fast as a lot of small guys seem to be, but he is very agile. His penalty was a poor one too. Still, he’s making the coach have to think about sending him back down again.
Gagner, 6: two assists and +2 in 11:16 of icetime, could have been a 7. He didn’t get a sniff of special teams time, big #27 took a lot of it away. Speaking of 27, Gagner made a great play on the boards to feed him for his goal. His defensive game was good enough, but I would have liked to have seen more. He was 4 of 7 on the dot.