Sometime after the first of the year, the Oilers are reportedly going to introduce a throwback jersey reminiscent of what they wore in the 80s. That would have been a perfect uniform to wear for this game, as that high-flying era was in full effect tonight with the Avs drubbing the first-place Oilers 7-3.
If you're a fan of defense and goaltending, you could have skipped this one. 9 of the 10 goals scored were done at even strength, and most of them were the result of a defensive breakdown or bad goaltending (or both). Dwayne Roloson in particular looked terrible in net, and perhaps this game might have been a bit tighter if Craig MacTavish had a little faster hook; by the time Jussi Markkanen came on in relief, Colorado had a 6-2 lead. I'm certainly not going to complain about winning big against Edmonton, but I should point out that the score was probably more a reflection of the Oilers bad play than anything else; in other words, let's not get cocky.
This one was notable for adding fuel to a couple of simmering controversies. First up is the running "Who Is Going To Sit When Leopold Comes Back" saga. This one is a three way race between Ossi Vaananen, Ken Klee and Patrice Brisebois. Klee was the preseason favorite, but Ossi took the early lead with some uninspiringly lousy play early on. Then he picked up his game (as did Brisebois) while Klee's slipped a bit and it became a tight race again. Lately, Brisebois has emerged as a dark horse candidate, with some flat-out bad play in the last two games. I don't think Brisebois' hefty salary will allow him to be benched for any length of time, but he seems to be the slight frontrunner at this point.
The other controversy? In the last game, John-Michael Liles took Ryan Smyth out with a knee on knee hit as time was expiring. Smyth was ok after being helped off the ice, but it was pretty clear tonight the Oilers still had that hit in their minds, as they outhit Colorado 34-5 (and had a number of incidents of "chippiness" to boot). Finally, with just over a minute in the game, Ryan Smyth flat out ran over Brad Richardson. Richardson did not have the puck, and didn't see the Flying Mullet Train until the last second before getting smooshed. It might not have been the dirtiest hit ever, but it certainly was no accident as Oiler's analyst Ray Ferraro would have you believe. Come on, Ray, let's not sugarcoat stuff: Liles' hit was dirty (for the record, I called it "ugly") and so was this one. And this thing developing between these teams is going to keep on growing as the season goes on.
(bold denotes change from last game)
- Sakic, Brunette, Svatos. 7 shots, 13:41 TOI, +1
- Arnason, McLean, Hejduk. 10 shots, 15:08 TOI, +2
- Stastny, Wolski, Rycroft. 6 shots, 13:18 TOI, Even
- Richardson, Laaksonen, Laperriere. 2 shots, 11:38 TOI, Even
probably my favorite line combination so far.
- In the 3 matchups between the Oilers and Avs this year, there have been 5 2-goal scorers (Smyth twice, Sykora, Arnason and Svatos). No hat tricks yet.
- The normal 2nd PK forward unit of Stastny and Rycroft have allowed 4 goals, while the first unit of Laaksonen and Richardson have allowed 29. Obviously, the first unit spends more time and faces the better PP unit...but would it hurt to maybe switch things up a bit? Especially Rycroft, who doesn't have the other ice time that Stastny has.