When Mike York put the puck on the tape of Smyth’s stick as Ryan blew by Shean Donovan and chipped the disc off the crossbar and in, more was accomplished then just a thrilling overtime win. With this slick overtime assist Yorkie’s became numero uno in team scoring. Smytty’s redirection of the puck past goalie Jamie McLennan for his sixth goal of the season also gave our flagging team leader a much-needed boost. But most importantly, a goalie for the Copper & Blue was finally able to steal one for himself, his teammates, and the hometown crowd. Finding a way to win the close games does more to develop a positive team self-image, a winning attitude and a desire to excel within a young team, than does any other single factor.
Going 5-3-2-0 in their last ten games the ‘Oil’ is again perched in 6th place in the Western Conference Standings. Now one game over .500 the E-Towners sport a record of 8-7-2-0 in 17 games played so far in the 2003/4 campaign. The Oilers are but one goal back of having more winners for (GF=50) than goals (GA=51) against. And lately, team defense has been tightening up and solidifying nicely with the defensive core becoming more aggressive and standing up at the blueline. Although a minus one, Brewer logged more than 26 and a half tough minute on the live ice to lead all players in that category in round #3 of the Battle of Alberta.
However, the current edition of the Boys on the Bus were only able to get half the job done on the specialty teams. Although the hometown penalty kill did retard the Flames, Edmonton’s powerless play was even less effective than was Calgary’s PP. ‘Pathetic’ will continue to replace the word ‘power’ until all skaters for the Oilers pull the trigger whenever a shot comes available with the man advantage. Why, mysteriously, the PP squad passes up on good scoring chances and fritters away chances to burry the buscuit, in order to get prettier shots on net is madding. If every player manning the advantage knew, for sure, that the 1st available shot occurring would always be taken, the other attackers could then safely drive to crease and deposit the garbage.
Raffi Torres, on one odd manned situation, stood tall in front of Calgary’s net absorbing punishment for a full minute and still no shoot was taken. The payoff for putting up with the pain never came. Finally he was forced to move giving his back some relief from a myriad brutal little jabs and stiff crosschecks. Boys ... it’s the same equation for hockey real estate: when you have a player occupying location, location, location, dammit, just shoot, shoot, SHOOT the puck!!!
Let us all hope and pray, on this Good Grey Cup Sunday, that at least one of the next five goals that give the Oilers more goals for than goals against is a power-play-marker so that the Complicated Solution can follow a Simple Goal.