Unedited stream of conciousness thoughts during the game. Game 2, Detroit.
Is it just me, or is Andreas Lilja the new favourite for dirtiest Red Wing? Game 1 he stuck out his knee to try to get Hemsky’s; Game 2 already he’s stuck out his leg to try to get Smyth’s knee, while Chelios hasn’t done much besides draw a couple of penalties with semi-dives. (OK, just now he interfered with Ryan Smyth right in front of Legace – first period – and got away with it. But that’s not really his fault, he’s just taking advantage of the apparent visual deficiency of referees where he’s concerned.) Period 2, Chelios just made a bit of a liar out of me – he crosschecked Smyth in the small of the back, definite old-school play that would have earned any Oiler a penalty.
I didn’t see a lot of Oilers games this year – no Centre Ice – but watching Chris Pronger makes me extremely pleased the Oilers picked him up. At first it looked like Lowe was mortgaging the future for a bit of the current in that trade, but now it looks even better. Pronger brings a presence to the Oilers blueline that hasn’t been seen since the dynasty teams. Lowetide thinks Pronger is the best Oiler defenceman ever, I’m not sure but he may be right. He certainly doesn’t skate or pass like Paul Coffey did – but who does? – and he’s much more physical and better defensively than Coffey was. I’m not certain he brings the sheer tenacity and will to win that Kevin Lowe himself did, but his two-way play is better. Pronger’s first pass out of the zone is matched by few, and probably the only better blast from the blue line that I’ve seen is Pronger’s old partner Al MacInnis.
I think Kevin Lowe’s going to be pretty angry about the calls again: Hemsky’s taken a very questionable penalty, while Chelios has gotten away with the old lumberjack act and Schneider just (second period) tried to put Todd Harvey’s face through the glass from behind.
Playing Hemsky and Samsonov together doesn’t seem to be generating as much dynamics offensively as one might think, at least ES, and they’re too soft in the offensive zone, especially since the Oilers don’t have a big physical centreman to play with them. I can see why MacT would prefer to avoid putting Hemsky on the top line since he’d see too much of Lidstrom, Chelios, and he’d likely get eaten alive by Detroit’s top checking line, but that line just can’t seem to cycle very well. Stoll’s good to go between either one of those guys, maybe switch Winchester and Hemsky… of course, as I was typing that, Winchester scored the 3-2 goal.
Bergeron and Tarnstrom is one of the weakest D pairings on the ice right now. It’s shades of Janne Niinimaa out on the ice with Bergeron. Bergeron fed Samsonov a nice little suey in the third and Chelios just about took his head off – ouch. Bergeron’s making some extremely poor choices with his passing; he’s panicking a bit, I think. Samsonov’s a bit lucky Chelios didn’t take his knee out too – not a dirty hit by Chelios, just awkward. Maybe MacT wants to think about pairing Bergeron and Pronger again, just for a few shifts?
Mike Peca and Radek Dvorak just can’t buy a goal, and the Wings had better give their collective heads a shake after the late second / early third period, although obviously I’d prefer them to smarten up as a result of a series loss. At least Peca’s saving goals (third period) even if he’s not scoring.
As maligned as Dan Cleary was as an Oiler, he’s not a terrible hockey player; certainly a useful fourth liner. That being said, the Oilers have a surfeit of those, so I’m hardly wishing for him back.
Is Jarret Stoll a warrior or what? Two shot blocks – one on purpose off a Wings stick and the other accidentally off an Oiler stick – and a goal. He deserved that empty net.