While it wasn't the most complete game I've seen this season (the 3-0 against the Canucks was better) they played pretty well last night. It had the makings of a bad game, with Tootoo hammering Hemsky early on, but the game pretty much settled down after that. The first half of the second period wasn't the best, but the last half of the game it was pretty clear which team was going to win. The team's best players were, by and large, the best players on the ice, and that's what's most needed.
Smid, 6: A pretty strong 6. I didn't have any minuses against his name, but no pluses either. The stats sheet shows 3 giveaways and 0 points, but he did have 18 minutes of icetime. He was on the ice for Erat's goal, and the team just couldn't clear the zone for a full minute preceding that, and so some of that goal is on him.
Horcoff, 6: Another strong 6. His icetime at 19 minutes was actually down a bit from recent games, but there wasn't much special teams play. I'm not sure how his goal snuck through, I think Ellis should have had it, but they all count the same at the end of the year.
Nilsson, 5: Definitely the weak link on his line with Gagner and Cole. He showed some speed, but wasn't as good as he could be. You could say he supported his linemates well, or you could say he was pretty much a spectator. Still, no glaring giveaways or dumb passes up the middle.
Cogliano, 6: I'd have ranked him a 7, except his goal was a bit of a fluke (but see Horcoff). Also his line got bottled up a fair bit in the first half of the game, particularly when out against Arnott's line. Broken record, but his faceoffs sucked - what's the point of having a checking line that can't take own-zone faceoffs?
Moreau, 6: Charged the net with authority a couple of times, one of those led directly to Cogliano's fluker. Kudos for trying to give Tootoo the business, although his falling down abbreviated things somewhat. Debrusk said it showed Tootoo he can't get away with running Hemsky - I'm not sure it showed Tootoo anything at all, considering The Little Train kept playing his game afterwards.
Staios, 6: A pretty strong, but eventful game - I had a couple of pluses and one minus against his number, usually he's not so visible. He showed good defensive awareness on a couple of Nashville rushes and got a nice assist on Cogliano's goal, but he's also the fellow who iced the puck just before Erat scored when the same lineup couldn't clear the zone.
Cole, 8: A goal and two assists, as well as a save when Roloson got caught outside the crease. This is the kind of game everybody was expecting from #26 when he first donned the Oilers silks. Finally everything came together for him and it was good to see. Should have been a 9, but see comments regarding Cogliano's line. Early on in the second period he coughed up the puck at Nashville's blue line trying to hold onto it too long. I'm not sure what else he could have done, but chipping it in was an option at one point that he should have taken.
Penner, 7: Forechecked like a demon, played the body, had 4 shots (including one really nice one late in the third) and was Dustin Penner on the power play. Not much else to say - good game.
Grebeshkov, 6: 17 minutes of ice, took a hooking penalty to break up a rush, 2 shots on target and two more blocked. No points but was +2 on the night, so he was doing something right. But he had over a minute of PP time and didn't do a whole lot with it. Strong 6.
Strudwick, 6: He played exactly like he needs to. Kept things simple, and was a force down low in Nashville's end. 8:41 of good physical play. But it was his line on the ice when Weber scored, so he had a well-deserved -1.
Souray, 7: Power play goal was exactly what the doctor ordered and he was physical. Gave up Weber's break that led to the goal though. Still, he created more chances than he gave up, lots of special-teams time.
Stortini: 6 Just like Strudwick, except he was on his poo-disturbing game, sucking Belak into a fight. I'm not sure I agree with Louie Debrusk's assessment of Stortini as a heavyweight though; #46 is more like Debrusk himself was than, say, Dave Semenko or Georges Laraque.
Brodziak, 6: Only guy besides Horcoff who can be trusted to take own-zone faceoffs. He had 3 shots on net and 2 takeaways, but also 2 giveaways and his line was on for the Weber goal. Still, a competent fourth-line game, he seems to be back on track.
Visnovsky, 7: Two helpers, he's definitely underrated compared to his power play partner. 21:19 of ice, some competent stick checking, 3 shots and +2, but also 4 giveaways. Solid game though, like 44 he created much more than he gave up.
Gilbert, 6: Pretty quiet night for the young man from Minnesota. I didn't run any numbers to see how many shots on goal there were against him, but he didn't stand out for any gaffes or great plays. Not what you want from somebody making his coin, but better than the alternative.
Pouliot, 6: Part of the can't-clear-our-zone brigade in the first half of the game, he nevertheless wound up +1. He had a few sniffs, but didn't create much on his own. Competent, and he can't score every game.
Hemsky, 7: Pointless, but not through lack of trying. He soaked up a hard hit from Tootoo even though he knew it was coming, just to make the play. Showed some puck wizardry skills and forechecked like mad. 4 shots and a block. Normally I wouldn't give a pointless fellow much more than a 6, but his line produced and he was part of the reason it did.
Gagner, 7: He and Cole mesh well; I don't think it's a coincidence that they both had great games at the same time while playing together. There was a lot of fight in the kid last night, and he was well-rewarded for it. He maybe could have had an 8.
Roloson, 7: Not much else to say besides a very solid game by #35. He made the saves when the game was in question and didn't give the Preds a sniff afterwards. Got caught out of position quite badly once, but Cole saved his bacon.