Well, I'd like to start off by saying that as far as I'm concerned, I like watching the PPV games. I've seen people comment in the past that they're not worth paying for. But, I enjoy watching them, if for no other reason than I don't have to watch the same commercial 300 times. The extra programming isn't amazing, but its fun to watch and its better to hear interviews than listen to in-studio comments during intermissions. Tonight, for example, they had interviews with Mathieu Roy, Patrick Laforge and all of the Oiler prospects from Stockton between periods plus they went into the dressing room after the game and talked to Smith and Stoll. I could do without some Gene Principe cheesiness and Rob Brown's a bit of a goof as commentator, but then again he was a goof as a player too. Overall, I'd recommend it. Anyways, onto the game.
This must have been the best game I've seen the team play defensively the whole year. To be honest, I thought San Jose was going to run over the team with Smith as the only veteran D. To say the least, I was pretty impressed with the effort tonight. Everyone seemed to have put in an effort and amazingly there was a complete lack of panic and running around in the defensive zone like we've seen lately. The team started out very strong and their strong play the rest of the night sealed the win. I'm starting to wonder what will happen if some of these rookie D keep playing well.
Our rookies on defence really did a good job tonight. Hejda was good again. Right now he's our best defenceman. He's been playing a lot more steady than Smith and Staios. Tonight he played on both the powerplay and logged lots of time on the penalty kill in fact, he logged almost 27 minutes total. Also matched up with Smith against the Thorton line all night. My only concern is that he not get worn out by suddenly playing so many minutes. Tjarnqvist started out the season playing equally well, let's remember.
Tom Gilbert looked really good out there. After Smith, Hejda and Bergeron, he logged the most minutes (13:23). Just a bit more than Roy or Green. He moved the puck well, didn't make any mistakes and looked great on the poweplay. In my opinion, he moves the puck from the point better than Staios and Tjarqvist. If he can stay on the team, I think he could help a lot in that department. But since its his first game, I'll wait and see how he continues to play.
Mathieu Roy seems to have gotten over the gaffe he made in his first game and played a solid game. Let a rocket of a shot go from the point to beat Nabakov and get his first NHL goal. Seems to be able to move the puck pretty well too.
I should point out that both Smith and Bergeron had pretty solid games. Specially considering that Bergeron played about 25 minutes, but a lot of that was on the powerplay. Greene seems to have picked up the intensity and played well. Had a fight in the first period against Clowe after a heavy hit on Smyth, which was more of a wrestling match, but I think that as of right now he's more effective when he's playing under 15 minutes a night. And that's not a shot against him. I think both him and Smid have been playing more than they should be at this stage of their careers.
Stoll was great again tonight. Matched up against Thornton most of the night and did a good job of shutting him down.
Roloson, obviously had a great night. He's been playing great again of late. Made some key saves in the third period.
Petr Nedved. Call me crazy, but I've liked what I've seen from him so far. His skating still needs to pick up a bit and he needs to work on his faceoffs, but so far he actually seems to be the lone player bringing some defensive poise and grit to the Czech-mates line. Yup, even after re-reading that last sentence, I'm still going to have to stand by it. He hasn't been a defensive liability, in fact I've seen him a few times going back to make sure his man is covered and tonight he actually was throwing the body a bit. Hope he keeps it up.
The powerplay. Yes, the team scored two good powerplay goals from point shots in the first period. Unfortunately, the power play units seemed to have decided to take the rest of the night off after going up 3-0. It was pretty frustrating to watch them skate around with absolutely no sense of urgency, specially on a 4 minute powerplay that was completely wasted. The team really needs to learn how to bear down and put some killer instinct to use rather than sit back when they feel like the game's going their way. Its the only way I can explain how they looked so good for the first 2 powerplays, and then fail to get any shots on goal or even set up afterwards. It also didn't help that after letting in those 3 point shots, the Sharks began to pressure the point men pretty aggressively. And since the point shot seems to be the only strategy our coaching can devise, the powerplay could not adjust to it.
The refs. The officiating was fine for most of the game, but I absolutely hate the fact that the refs always have to try and even penalties up merely to "make things look fair" and for no otherwise real reason. The Sharks were playing an undisciplined game all night and probably got away with several calls that should have been penalties. After the fans started booing, the refs ruined the rest of the game by calling really weak penalties against the Oilers. Both the penalties against Green and Smith were laughable. In all honesty, San Jose shouldn't have even been in this game. Their first goal was a fluke bounce and the second was a gift from the refs.
Lupul and Sykora. Someone tell these guys to please step it up. I know they're both snipers. But they should both realize that if they're not scoring (which neither have been lately) they should at least try to contribute in other ways. Both soft, both weak on the puck. Not to be overly harsh, but you probably could have replaced both these guys with cardboard cutouts, and no one would have noticed the difference.
Anyways, sorry for the long post, but hope it helps to those that weren't able to watch.