Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Perfect Game

Last night we played in our summer league and lost 4-2 (empty netter was the fourth) to the first place team.

The first half of the game we spent chasing them and fell behind 2-0.

Then we began to come on and scored one. We had a breakaway. They scored another on the PP but from then on we took it to them, swarming the net in the last minute and hitting the post with 15 seconds left before they clinched it.

Over pints at the Dora afterwards we argued about the outcome. My buddy felt that we had played poorly in the first part of the game and that when we started playing better we took over. I felt that we played pretty well at first, as well as we could considering their skill level and that when they eased off a little we ramped it up a bit and they were unable to get their legs back.

In game 1 the Oilers were the better team for almost the entire first two periods and also outshot the Canes in the third. They felt however that they played poorly for part of the third and that was their downfall. The first and second goals were on odd man rushes and Roli played them poorly. Bergeron did not back Staios up on the fourth goal. We will not mention the goal that shall not be mentioned.

The Canes (players and fans) felt that the first two periods were their worst of the playoffs but that they played like they were capable in the third. In other words their play determined the results, not the Oilers errors.

Which came first? Chicken? Egg?

The truth, in both the men's league and the Stanley Cup, lies in between. The Oilers have said time and again that they have not yet had "the game" in these playoffs. The truth is I don't think it is possible to have "that game" - the competition is too good. To expect them to run the Hurricanes out of the rink - not going to happen. Likely the same the other way. Momentum shifts. A team relaxes. The other team gets desperate. A hit. A save. Suddenly the hunter is the hunted.

The Oil don't have to win tonight but they had better. They came back from being down 2-0 to the Sharks. The Canes came back from being down 2-0 to the Habs.

I don't think you want to be down 2-0 here. To do it once is one thing. To do it again too many things have to go your way.

Gary Roberts was on the local sports radio yesterday and I hear a replay of it. He played the Canes 8 times this year. Of course he was a former Cane. Interesting points he made - the Oilers will outhit the Canes but it may not do them any good. While the Canes are a finesse team they tend to take the punishment and move on. Roberts felt if the series was a long one it might work in the Oilers' favour because of their physical play but we'll see. First the series has to go 6 or 7.

All year he said the Canes were a third period team (proven again Monday) - you'd have them on the ropes and then there'd be two or three goals on you.

When he played with the Canes (a while back no?) he figured Brindamour was done. He was slow and beaten up. Roberts is a fitness fanatic and he figured Brindamour, a fanatic himself, has changed his regimen because he is far quicker then he ever was and he is also more durable. he's one guy who the lockout really benefitted.

Angst over the Oilers' situation is well documented. Tonight Jussi will be sent into the net, for the first time in over two months, I believe. A tough position for him.

He has to provide solid goaltending. If he does, the Oil have a chance.

The Oilers have to play tight defensively - not the crap that led to the Canes first, second, fourth and fifth goals.

They have to play as much as they can in the Canes' end. More pucks on Ward. The kid was a game saver in G1 - they have to try and keep at him.

They have to be disciplined.

Who knows what will happen? The Canes showed a frightful lack of killer instinct against the Sabres. If that arises again maybe the Oilers take G2 and its a series again. If the Canes seize the opportunity they could put the Oil in a world of trouble.

Obviously I'm hoping for an Oilers' win. A perfect game would be nice but I don't expect it. But a win would prolong the series (benefit to them I think) and mean that they can win with Jussi.

G1 was a terrific game. Whether you are an Oilers' fan, Canes' fan or a fan of someone else you have to have enjoyed the hockey. Compare it to the dreck of the last finals.

Anyhow, we'll see how it goes - if Jussi is solid I say the Oilers take it - if not, well, they'll have to go to option # 4. JDD?

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