Grading the Players: 2009-12-31 vs CAL

My wife is still hoping for and expecting Oilers wins. I won’t go into my own hopes, but I generally expect the Oil to wind up on the wrong side of the score, but at least the games are generally entertaining, just so long as you don’t like good hockey from your team. That said, the Oilers played a decent half-game last night, but seemed to lose the plot in the second period as the Flames asserted themselves. It was obvious both teams were tired, and in the third, it seemed obvious that the Oilers were exhausted. The compressed schedule is taking its toll, and as far as I’m concerned, NHL players have no place at the Olympics. I’ll cut that rant off there though, as this is supposed to be about the last Battle of Alberta for the 2000s. So, on with the scores! As a reminder, my rubric is here. And a reminder that grades don’t take
Smid, 6: Ladi was pointless, but that’s not what he’s out there for. Only one hit, but that was 10% of his team’s output so hey. He made a few sterling defensive plays, including a goal-line save, and played like the shutdown dman he’s becoming, bending but not breaking (to steal a phrase from Quinn) against the onslaught later in the game. 23:10 of fairly good hockey is a good game.
Horcoff, 6: His line looked decent for the first half of the game, and Horc himself was fairly strong defensively, and his goal nearly sparked a comeback and was a result of good forechecking sense on his part. But his power play time was non-productive and his faceoffs weren’t his usual +50%.
Nilsson, 5: The top line was buzzing as much as any Oilers unit could be said to have been buzzing, and Nilsson was a contributor, not an anchor. His strong play led to the Oilers goal, and he kept the offensive zone giveaways to a minimum. But ultimately he needs to be more productive, and when you lead the team in PP time on an 0-fer special teams, you lose a point.
Cogliano, 4: He wound up with 16:06 of ice, and wasn’t on the ice for a GA, and he was as physical as anybody with 2 credited hits and some snarly play, but. His line didn’t produce much bang offensively, Denis King hasn’t posted any scoring chances yet but I don’t recall his line doing a lot. They were bottled up for extended periods even early in the game, and that’s just not on. He had a 2 on 1 with Moreau about midway through the second period and he just plain fumbled the pass and didn’t get a shot away.
Potulny, 4: Bottled up nearly every time they were on the ice, on the ice for the GA, not the ex-collegian’s best game as an Oiler. At least he got a shot away.
Moreau, 5: TheCaptain didn’t take any penalties, but he also had no hits. 3 shots, although I don’t think any of them scared anybody, and 2 blocked. On the ice for the PPG against, but I don’t think he made any mistakes on the sequence. Overall, a non-eventful game for a player who needs to make things happen to be effective. I’d give him a 4, but 3 shots was at least more than any other Oilers forward had. There was one play in the second behind the Calgary net that I didn’t like at all; he had the puck on his stick and gave it right to the Calgary defender trying to return a pass.
O’Sullivan, 4: 1/3 of the least-effective line, he looked to be using Jarret Stoll’s old supply of sticks up last night, he broke a stick on two one-timers in a row. At least he’s not always on point on the power play any more, but his PP time was still not very effective, thanks in part to at least one of those broken sticks. Hard luck game for a hard luck forward.
Jacques, 3: I like his game when he’s hitting. He wasn’t doing a lot of that last night, he was credited with two hits but wasn’t terribly physical otherwise. Whiffed cleanly on a nice pass from Moreau, he was a boat anchor after starting the night on Horcoff’s line. He looked more like the player from 2007-08 than from October 2009.
Staios, 5: Physical play from #24 is what’s needed, he saw some PP time too as Quinn tried to find the magic formula. Somehow he didn’t limp off the ice all game, maybe his puck magnet broke. He played decently enough.
Penner, 5: Big guy was held pointless, but he was a catalyst on the forecheck and a factor on the backcheck. His presence helped to set up the goal. Still, he needs to produce on the power play, and one shot himself isn’t enough for a guy with 18:13 of icetime.
Stone, 3: I didn’t like his game at all last night. Neither did Quinn, apparently, since even Visnovsky played more than he did. He did have a shot and another blocked, blocked a shot himself, but physically he was pretty much a non-factor. He wasn’t what was wrong with the team last night, but he did reflect the team’s problem. I’m not sure if it was him or Potulny that should have had the Flames players forechecking on the sequence that led to the goal in the second period, but I think it was Stone. They weren’t helped by Souray’s bad play, but if Stone and Potulny had had their poop together earlier, maybe the puck doesn’t go into the corner in the first place.
Grebeshkov, 5: An up and down game for the young Russian. He had some strong play coupled with issues clearing the zone. There was one sequence in the third where he gifted Glencross with the puck, but then made a great play to take the shot away. A major part of the ineffective power play, 3:11 of PP time put him near the team lead. (Souray had 3 more seconds.) Gobbled up 18:20 of even strength time though, and looked ok doing it.
Souray, 4: Sorry Shelley, 6 shots doesn’t make up for the bad play that led to the 1-0 goal. He played not-badly for the most part, but poor PP and that bad play bumped him down. He also wore the goat horns for taking the type of penalty Moreau’s usually excoriated for, and that goal was the game-winner.
Stortini, 4: Part of the generally ineffective Cogliano line at first, he spent a lot of time in his own end. His icetime was cut later in the game too, with the Oilers pressing for the tying goal and his line’s inability to get any forecheck going. Stortini himself wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t a contributor either.
Brule, 5: The most notable part of his game was his faceoff percentage matched his number. He and Horcoff had some good things going early in the game, but he seemed to peter out a bit near the end. He was probably one of the most energetic of the Oilers players though, and for that he gets a 5.
Visnovsky, no grade: He played almost half the first period, but left the ice and came back for a single shift in the second period. Post-game he said he twisted his ankle. One of his shifts was nearly 3 minutes long. Incredible. I liked his game up until he was hurt though, he can really move the puck.
Gilbert, 4: Another ES icetime-gobbler, he took over for Visnovsky. It’s nice to see his defensive game progressing, but he did give the puck away to Nystrom to help kill the comeback late in the third. He’d have a 5 if it wasn’t for 0 shots and 2:41 of PP time.
Gagner, 6: He was helping to make things happen all night, and his setup of Horcoff for the goal was a beauty, even if they were playing 6 on 5. 2 shots and his line was making things happen all night. He even didn’t get taken to school as much in the faceoff circle as he usually did, going 4-5. Maybe a 7 except, you guessed it, power play.
Deslauriers, 8: It’s hard to say which was his best period, the first where he made 15 saves, the second where he made 13 and was beaten due to no help at all from his teammates, or the third where he made 11 but kept the team in there. Neither goal was really his fault, although I wanted to break out the bungee cord a couple of times. He didn’t deserve the L, but what can you do? Really good game by #38, he was far and away the best player on the ice not wearing red and black.