Game 4 vs the Sharks, 12 May 2006, 2000h Eastern.
Not much to say before the game begins. The Oilers played last game (save the second period) perfectly - more of the same, they out-Sharksed the Sharks. The Sharks need to get back to their game from G1 and 2.
Michalek and McCauley scratched - sucks for the Sharks. Kind of surprising, especially McCauley. CBC: weird, why are Hrudey and MacLean now standing in front of a big TV? They used that instead of the telestrator last game, is this a new thing? (If so, why the weird stainless steel borders around it?)
Winchester is back with Smyth and Horcoff, at least for the first shift - looks like MacT might be going for power on power, since Joe Thornton's line started out the game. Disappointing to not see the Oilers stomping the guts out of the Sharks right away.
Matt Greene's line comes out with Stoll's, and the puck goes down for icing. Samsonov bodied a Shark defender at the Oilers blueline to get the puck, and threw it ahead for Hemsky - no shot came out, but wasn't through lack of try. Next shift, Ethan Moreau drove the net and knocked Toskala's feet out, didn't look to be on purpose.
Sounds like Cheechoo might be nursing something too. He must be feeling at least a bit ok, he made a shot block off Spacek up high and the Sharks went away to make the score 1-0, Thornton's second goal. After the blocked shot, Spacek kind of dogged it on checking Ekman too. That's why, I think, he won't be the 3 million dollar man some think he will be - and if he can get that, all the power to him. As others have said, he doesn't seem the type to be a leader dman in the mold of Pronger, or an all around defensive dman like Smith, he's a very good complementary defenceman. I'd put him as the #3 defenceman on the depth chart for the Oilers - still a good guy to have, but not worth breaking the bank over.
Early thoughts, the Oilers aren't hitting like they were last game, and that's the difference so far. Lousy play off the faceoff, rare loss by Peca to Marleau and it went right to Ekman and in, after another rare mistake by Moreau. Hughson said the play moved too quickly for anybody - funny, there were two Sharks moving!
Staios tried to get something going, made a nice hit to stir the pot a bit. MacT came out with Peca's line, and Torres had a couple of good shots and Spacek made a nice pinch to keep things going too - at least they haven't sat back after the 2-0 goal. Murray's line couldn't keep the pressure up though.
Moreau's showing his stuff too - inside-out into the corner, Murray got a good shot on goal, and then Hannan drove Laraque onto Toskala - who does that?! Faceoff win by Horcoff... Hemsky's back with Smyth and Horc... and Smith's shot got tipped by Horcoff and could have been tipped by Smyth too, just in case, and in.
Good job by Patrick Marleau to nullify the Sharks PP on a Horcoff-like hooking penalty.
Huh. If Laraque took 5 and a game for what he did to Cheechoo, MacLaren sure as hell deserves the same for what he did to Horcoff - *no* excuse for the officials to miss that play, since the puck was right at Horcoff's feet. Yeah, Maasenhoven was looking right at it, no penalty on the play. Nice, I guess that's what happens when you're a 56 goal scorer instead of Shawn Horcoff. Laraque came out on the next shift, if Wilson's a smart coach he'll keep MacLaren off the ice for a few shifts, but still. Hughson says maybe Horcoff turned into the hit (but maybe he didn't) - even so, that's a dirty play and every bit as dangerous as Laraque's hit on Cheechoo or Pronger's on whoever it was. Hannan's a big man too, went after Smith after the horn and then skated away.
MacLean: the 5 and a game was automatic because Cheechoo got cut, but it still should have been 2 for boarding. I guess if the cut made it 5 and a game, then this one doesn't necessarily deserve the same (Cheechoo took 10 stitches) but still. I don't see how nothing is justified, even if Horcoff turned into it (and I don't think he did, he was trying to play the puck - what's he supposed to do, just let it go?) Horc could have done more to protect himself, and I don't think MacLaren was headhunting, but still.
Watching the replay of Spacek's attempted shot that turned into the 2-0 goal... man. Yeah, I think Spacek's been good, but that's why he deserves Staios money and not Pronger money. He makes mistakes - everybody does - but some of them are major gaffes that turn into the second goal of a two goal deficit when the team's down 2-1 in a playoff series.
Second period, Hemsky's out with Horcoff and Smyth again. Torres took a delay of game for clearing the puck over the glass, and Edmonton killed the first minute easily; San Jose had a nice chance just after the halftime of the penalty, but the rest of the PP passed basically without incident. Edmonton's special teams these playoffs have been stellar, at least working from memory - especially their penalty kill.
Joe Thornton's line was out, and MacT apparently countered with Smith and... Bergeron? Interesting combination. Next faceoff saw Greene and Bergeron, so maybe that was just a partial change. Looks like Winchester's found a new home in Hemsky's spot with Samsonov and Stoll.
Thornton's line was out, Pronger tried to get the puck out and it went to Thornton instead, Pronger made a nice pokecheck to get it away from him, but Thornton recovered and put it right on Cheechoo's stick as he cruised to the net and Roloson didn't have a chance.
Shift after, Edmonton had some good pressure in the offensive zone, then Cheechoo picked Hemsky up and threw him into the boards. He thought Laraque's hit on him was dirty? The only reason Hemsky's not broke in half now is Cheechoo is Cheechoo's size, not Laraque's. Ah well, he's a tough little bugger himself, although I can't believe he was wondering what the call was for.
What was I saying about Edmonton's special teams? Edmonton's PP on that penalty was execrable, best chance came when Joe Thornton put the near-4-1 goal off the post.
Michael Peca finally gets rewarded for the chances he's been getting, as he tucked the puck into the free side on a charge by him and Moreau. Matt Greene pinched in on a nice pass from Hemsky next sequence, and almost scored his own first Oilers playoff goal, but then the puck came back into Edmonton's end and Samsonov took a hooking penalty - he tried to pass it to Stoll instead of chipping it out.
Sharks power play looks pretty good, although Moreau buried Mark Smith in the corner and Smith went off hurt; Jason Smith roughed Cheechoo up pretty good too. Nice pass block by Smith, some scrambling, then Samsonov came out of the penalty box as the puck went back into the Sharks end... Toskala came out to try to play it, fumbled, and Samsonov backhanded it in - what a terrible play by Toskala. Heh, CBC showed the replay and ... man, what a series of coincidences. Samsonov earned his keep on that play, that's for sure.
I don't think Hemsky's too impressed with Cheechoo either - Cheechoo went after Smyth, and Hemsky hit him. Typical, Oilers had a great chance at one end, then Joe Thornton brought it back the other way and Roloson made a great glove save. Good action at both ends.
Jason Smith tipped the puck and Roloson had to be fast to nab it - after the whistle they were both laughing.
Heh, second period intermission, Paul Maurice made Ron MacLean gape when Ron asked who he favoured for the Cup and Maurice said the Hurricanes.
Third period... Torres and Peca were flying, Peca just missed a chance on a feed into the middle from Torres. Peca's showing some offensive flair this game. Wow, it looked like Torres tried to grab Scott Thornton by the throat in a scrum near Roloson.
Next sequence, Laraque to Samsonov to Smith in the backdoor play and Toskala over-committed as Joe Thornton let Smith walk right in. Interesting combination, Laraque with Samsonov - who was centering, I missed it. Now the Oilers are just flying everywhere - they've sure found their legs in the third.
Huh, the replays - Cheechoo better watch out next time Pronger goes into the corner with him, that was *really* dirty. Maybe that Laraque hit was bad after all, I guess Cheechoo knows all about dirty hits - how does he hit Pronger in the mouth without leaping into the air like a ballerina? Looks like Pronger caught an elbow pad in the throat. Matt Carle roughed up Ryan Smyth after a shot from the point - if you can't outscore 'em, outgoon 'em? Hopefully Pronger makes the Sharks pay with a PP goal... nope, too bad, although seeing Hannan look like Grant Ledyard in 1997 out there almost made up for it. Then that beauty cross-crease pass from Smyth to Hemsky that people have been looking for, and it's 5-3.
Nimenen took an incredibly stupid penalty, hitting Horcoff late, and put his team down by two, and Stoll made them pay. That's why Ville's on what, his third team in three seasons? Turned from a rout of the Oilers into a rout of the Sharks, and they're showing their frustration.
Not much else to say for the rest of the game - the Oilers just outwaited them and that was that.
I've been waiting all playoffs for this, a rout by the Oilers. There's not a team in the league they can't beat, they proved that against Detroit, but they've not been able to win a single game by any margin. No homer glasses here, I expect the rest of the series to be very hard-fought - although all the rookies the Sharks have and Greg Millen keeps drooling over are a wildcard: how will they respond? Anyway, it's definitely the series I wanted.