What a weird game. You knew the night wasn't likely to end well when the Oilers went 0-3 on the power play in the first period, and sure enough, the end result reflected the futility. That's not to say it wasn't an entertaining game, although one of the few reasons I didn't shut the TV off to study for my test this morning was because I'd said I would grade. I'm glad I didn't miss Souray's first and last SH breakaway though, and especially the expression on his face after he scored: "Yeah, I do this expletive deleted all the time in practise, drives Matty and Dwayne bonkers."
Horcoff, 6: 6 shots, some of them dangerous, 4 minutes on the PK and 5 on the PP, even +/-. The penalty kill was good, which salvaged the game, but the power play was bad, which sunk the game. 10's a leader, he needs to be better, although that's an editorial comment, not a grading one. Considering he saw a lot of Crosby though, he actually did fairly well, but no points means a strong 6.
Nilsson, 4: when he was a factor, it meant a Pittsburgh chance. He played only 58 seconds in the second period and 5:03 total, so either MacTavish agreed with me or he got hurt. He was on the ice for two goals against so I suspect the former - the first goal was while he was on the power play and the second right off the faceoff, although Sykora lines up across the ice from Nilsson so I don't see how that could have been his fault. Regardless, he didn't do much in the time he did get. Sorry Bobby, some nights are just going to be like this.
Cogliano, 5: On the ice for the same two goals against as Nilsson. No points, but some decent defensive plays salvaged what would otherwise have been a 4. He had plenty of try but didn't make things happen.
Moreau, 6: an assist and some righteous cycles with Cole and Pisani, but 3 GA while he was on the ice never helps. A pretty eventful 16 minutes of icetime overall.
Staios, 6: Steady Steve had a fairly serviceable 18 minutes, he did well to step in between MacIntyre and Godard when the latter wanted a second go after MacIntyre crushed Letang. 2 hits and 4 blocked shots is pretty much what to expect.
Cole, 6: looks good on the third line, he gives the opponents fits on the rush, cycle, and backcheck, and this game was no exception. He'd have likely had a 7, except he doesn't get much done on the power play and last night was no exception.
Penner, 6: 19:32 of icetime is more than usual for the big guy, he was the recipient of a lot of Nilsson's lost minutes. He only had one assist but figured into Hemsky's goal as well. Same as Cole though, would have had a 7 if he'd done more with his 4:20 of PP time. Big guy got credited with two hits and showed he's not a sap in front of the net, roughing up Letang, but got penalized as a result.
Garon, 5: not really as bad as all that, he was plain victimized on a few of the goals - nobody could have stopped Satan's - but as MacT said after the game, he wasn't bad but he needs to make those stops when the team needs them most.
MacIntyre, 6: normally 30 seconds of icetime would get you no score, but he devastated Letang on a clean hit and had a decent fight against the vet Godard. I'm not sure I agree with the need for a so-called nuclear deterrent taking up a roster spot, but as long as he plays like he did last night, he'll keep getting dressed.
Pisani, 6: scored and was good defensively, normally a 7, but he's (theoretically) a centre and couldn't win a faceoff to save the team's life. He also didn't get much PK time, surprisingly enough - Horcoff had 4:17, Pisani only 2:42. A very strong 6 nonetheless.
Deslauriers, 8: from the looks of it, should have had the start. 0GA in 26 minutes played, he made some killer stops on Crosby, Satan, and Malkin to stem the bleeding. Maybe he couldn't have done any better than Garon if he'd had the full game, but he didn't and he stopped every shot.
Strudwick, 6: pretty good defensively, nothing happening offensively, about what to expect. Very strong 6. 5:32 of PK time.
Souray, 7: he had some brutal defensive gaffes and giveaways, but he also made some very good defensive plays. 27:21 of icetime, and that shortie off the breakaway was a thing of beauty.
Bert the turtlePeckham, 6: normally a -2 and letting Satan go to score a goal (no matter how much he had to pull his underwear out of his ass to do it) would be a 4 or a 5. But the kid showed moxie in his first NHL game this year, and mercilessly pounded Cooke. Against somebody less-practised at ducking and covering (see image to the right), he likely would have really hurt them. So he gets a sympathy point or two. He did comport himself fairly well against Crosby, which is more than a lot of vets can say, never mind rooks in their second ever NHL game.
Brodziak, 6: a helper and some quality PK time, but he got dominated in the faceoff circle and wasn't much of a factor either way.
Visnovsky, 6: no points, but +1. Some fine defensive plays - he knows exactly how to stop a player on a breakaway without drawing a penalty, last night was the second or third time I've seen him do it - but he had some brutal passes too. A whopping 7 minutes on the power play needs to come up with at least a second assist, and with his shot he needs to score.
Gilbert, 6: he comported himself much better than he has been, and his goal was classic 77. Visnovsky's appearance has hurt his icetime though, and his defensive play was good but nothing to jump out.
Pouliot, 5: if there was ever any question who drove the line in Rimouski with a certain #87, I don't think there is any more. Very much a non-factor.
Hemsky, 6: his goal was a thing of beauty, and he had 5 shots; two of the four that didn't go in were dangerous. Almost 6 minutes of power play time and nothing to show for it means he doesn't get a 7 or even a weak 8 because of the clinics on possession he put on.
Gagner, 6: the only Oilers C who showed any proficiency on faceoffs, funny considering he tended to get dominated last year. Only one shot though, and plays he set up went nowhere.
Overall, a very average game for most of the guys, and the results showed it: they got smoked by a very good team.