Grading the Players: 2009-03-07 vs TOR

One of those games that makes you wonder how MacTavish has any hair left at all, never mind gray hair. Smid hurt in the first 10 minutes and gone for the game, Hemsky turning the puck over as often as not, Gilbert braincramping, and Roloson eventually having 40 shots on him in his record-breaking 21st game in a row. MacT rolled the same lineup that started against Ottawa the other night, subbing in Reddox for Jacques. I should say that for chances, I’m relying on Dennis King’s ratings. Once again, the top 6 forwards weren’t really such, and the bottom 6 did as much or more to get the win. I want to like O’Sullivan and Kotalik, I really do, but I can’t help but wish that Cole was still around.
Smid, no rating: bad-luck game for #5, first he got smoked in the face with an errant elbow, then the ref fell on him, and then he got to lie there while the play went into his own zone. Hughson said Souray must have been asking why the whistle wasn’t blown after that; I’m wondering if Souray was asking why no penalty, although the elbow wasn’t on purpose. Hope he’s back next game.
Horcoff, 6: Two assists and some special teams time, 20:05 icetime – so it’s down a bit, but not much. Pretty good on faceoffs, and his giveaway wasn’t bad (unlike some others I will mention). Maybe a 7; he was +6/-6 for ES chances on a night the Oilers got schooled everywhere but the scoreboard and fight card.
Cogliano, 7: 12:37 icetime, most of it in the second period. He played very well the first couple of periods but faded a bit, which partially explains the reduced time in the third. One assist, +1, 3 shots, and he was frequently on the good side of dangerous plays. He bailed Roli out on a leaker in the first, making a nice second effort to clear the puck before Blake pounced on it in the crease with Roli out. +5/-5 on ES chances. I won’t mention the “f” word though.
O’Sullivan, 4: how he got 16:38 icetime is beyond me. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes, but he didn’t have a lot going offensively either. PP got nothing done with him on it more time than any forward not named Hemsky or Horcoff. He had his feet moving and delivered a couple of hits, but he needs to help out more in the offensive zone.
Kotalik, 4: the best hit he laid all night was on Gagner, and he nearly took out Hemsky too. He did have a couple of near-chances off feeds from Hemsky, although it’s not his fault he couldn’t convert – I thought 83 was trying to feed his countryman a bit too much. Still, 3 hits on guys in blue to go with his pair of own-hits, and no giveaways or horrifically bad plays. I docked a point for a play he made for the Leafs in the third period; Hemsky was rushing up the middle on the power play and Kotalik was just standing at the Leafs blue line, his back to the play. Hemsky nearly ran him down, the puck turned over, and the Leafs had a good rush the other way. That was likely just unfamiliarity with the team, since he’s had more games than practises, but still, at least watch the guy with the puck.
Staios, 5: stepped up once Smid went down. Was even on the night but still played nearly half the game. PK was perfect, and he made a great block at the end of the second period. With +4/-10 chances though, his mark may be reflected as much by Roloson’s play as anything else. +1 for icetime, -1 for chances against.
Penner, 5: Big Dustin Penner(tm) wasn’t given many chances tonight; no Oilers forward played less than he did, and the only Leafs who played less were hurt or named May and Mayers. 23 seconds in the third, 8:16 total. He did play his usual corner game, getting the puck out front once or twice, and early in the game managed to keep up with Cogliano on a rush. He was even a +1. Either he’s hurt, or his benching in the third was a result of the turnover he made at his own blueline. Or MacTavish is only playing him because he likes Nilsson even less. Who knows any more? ES chances were +4/-2 (only Oilers forward in the black); he was on the ice for Pisani’s goal and helped a bit by rushing the net, although I doubt Staples will be giving him any unofficial assists on the play.
Pisani, 6: nice goal in the second period. Played a fairly solid defensive game with Cogs and Penner / O’Sullivan. One shot, two more blocked, one more missed, +6/-7 chances-wise. Just the way I like my #34, although a few less shots on Roli with him on the ice would have been nice.
Grebeshkov, 7: +4, an assist, no blatant mistakes, 24:54 icetime; only way he could have been better would have been if the PP scored. Outchanced the Leafs at evens. Top-pairing quality on the night, this player gets it.
Strudwick, 5: +1, chances at evens were even, he stepped up a bit with Smid out, laid a heavy hit and stood up and schooled his challenger, even though he didn’t want to. Third pairing D wasn’t the problem tonight. That being said, I docked him a mark for letting Ponikarovski charge in on net for his goal.
Souray, 5: he was bruising all night despite 0 credited hits, but +3/-13 at evens chances, and 22:41 of icetime – not one of #44’s best games as an Oiler. The Leafs knew how to play him on the power play and it showed as he got no shots on net, with one missed and one blocked. He made a few nice defensive plays though, so “not good, not bad.”
Stortini, 5: when he was able to set up the cycle he was good. When he and Reddox and Brodziak got trapped in their own end, they were trapped. Nevertheless, he gets some marks for his physical play; 3 hits and a fight.
Brodziak, 6: once again centred one of the better Oilers lines, he doesn’t seem to miss Glencross as much now as he used to. Pretty solid 10:42 of even strength and 1:44PK, although he was on for the PPG against. Scored a real goal and had the empty netter on some strong work exiting the defensive zone. Faceoffs were pretty good, 5/9 for 56%.
Gilbert, 5: it pains me to say it, but despite his +3 rating, an assist, and some nice plays, I don’t think 77 played very well. Definitely a high-event game for him, he seemed to be struggling a bit early on and settled down a bit later. 3 shots on net, 2 hits, +8/-8, but there’s that terrible penalty he took at the end of the first and he had a few brutal giveaways.
Pouliot, 4: not much happening tonight, he had a good chance in tight on Gerber, but took a bad penalty and had a brutal time clearing the defensive zone in the second. +2/-5 at ES chances. He rescued himself from a possible 3 with some physical play and by showing some competence in the faceoff circle. He needs to do more to stay on the second line; I suspect he’s only there because of the coach’s antipathy towards Penner and Nilsson.
Hemsky, 5: that was a beauty goal, and he added a helper and was +2 with 2 shots. At one point, he was on with Stortini, who was handling the puck below the goal line; Hemsky stepped in and delivered a solid hit to give Storts some clearance. But man oh man, I don’t remember him giving the puck up this much since he was a second year player. I thought he spent too much time trying to set up Kotalik, and those bad passes at the blue lines make me shriek. (It’s true, ask my wife.) Could be a 6, but he absolutely cannot give that puck away when the team’s nursing a 3-1 lead. Those giveaways probably accounted for most of his -6 chances at evens (to go with his +4).
Reddox, 5: he was skating a mile a minute, but wasn’t as physical as he has been. Bouncing around a bit in the lineup probably didn’t help him much. He did manage a +1 rating though, and got a shot on goal.
Gagner, 4: he soaked up a pretty hard hit from Kotalik, although it didn’t seem to make a difference in his game. His line didn’t have much going tonight. +1/-7 chances, they got hemmed in a fair bit and just couldn’t clear the zone. Nothing at all going on the power play either.
Roloson, 9: set an Oilers record, even Fuhr never started that many games in a row when he played 75 of 80. Chew on that for a minute: in a year that Grant Fuhr played in all but 5 games for the Oilers, he started no more than 20 in a row. (Other goalies in 87-88 were Bill Ranford, Daryl Reaugh, and Warren Skorodenski, he of the 6.89 GAA and .720SP.) Roloson made 39 saves on 40 shots, and while a lot of them were fairly routine, a .975SP is a .975. He got some help from his friends, especially Souray and Cogliano, but what does a guy have to do? Make 39 saves, apparently. And look forward to probably starting #22 on Wednesday. I did think he was fighting the puck a bit in the first, and he probably could have played the one GA better – but he’s allowed one mistake, right?