Sunday, March 30, 2008

Its Alright Mama

A terrific night Friday. Not the result, of course, but the company.

What was interesting was the mood. Even with the last second goal by Sakic everyone was in pretty good spirits. Maybe the low expectations we all had for this team? Sure.

But also because there is a lot to like about this team. A lot. There have been a lot of complaints over the past eighteen months about how this team lost its identity and this was true enough. In my opinion this changed when Phaneuf bumped Cogliano in the first game after Horcoff went down and Moreau went after him. Of course this goes against the grain, to point to a single moment as a turning point in a season, but this event certainly showed that the Oilers were not going to fold like they did last season. Lets just say that Moreau's action was a sign of what was coming. We all recognize Moreau's gregarious leadership qualities but saying that he single handedly turned the team's fortunes by slapping Ugly around is elevating him into the pantheon of the mythical great leaders like Yzerman. ;)Follow that big win with a handful of others and a surly attitude that manifested itself even when they lost (such as the Vancouver game) and suddenly it has become clear that this team is going to play with an elan that has been missing a while.

This past week is a perfect case in point as to why fans might be forgiven for walking around with pretty big smiles on their faces. First they play a home and home against Wild on Jacques Lemaire, a team that has choked the life out of the Oilers the past number of years. Every game against them always ended with questions about Oilers' heart and brains because the Wild just made them look terrible each time they played them.Monday they rolled right over them. Wednesday they went to Minnesota and lost but five goalposts had a part in that. Friday they fell behind the Avs early and came back hard. The Sakic goal was a killer. So what does this team do? They go into Calgary the next night and walk out of there with a win.

The negative - they came out of a possible eight points with only five.

The positive - a few breaks Wednesday and six seconds less on the clock Friday and they go four for four. Eight points out of eight against divisional foes, three of those on the road, against teams that have pretty well handed the Oilers their asses in recent history.

This team is coming along.

A final note on last night's game - paying special attention to Greene and Grebeshkov, who along with Staios and Gilbert had nice games. Both of these kids have come a long way. Greene will never be pretty with the puck but he used his size effectively and the fact that he was out at the end of the game shows MacT's confidence in him. He has come a ways. And there is a lot to like about Denis Denis. Closes on his opponent quickly, uses his body well to eliminate guys along the boards and he is starting to show a lot of confidence with the puck.

A BIG goal doesn't hurt either.

Two games left to go and things still remain unlikely but I could really not give a damn. This is a sweet team and their attitude and play this week, an O fer last season, makes me thing that we will have a lot to cheer for these next few years. Even the growing pains are easier to take when your team plays like this.


Scarlett said...

They'll need some breaks to get into the playoffs but you're right, at this point it doesn't matter if they make it. This team has made so many strides the past couple months, damn I'm proud of them!!

Anonymous said...

I assumin that your stance on Stortini has done a 180 by this point. I saw his possibilities at the very beginnin, and it made me scratch my head when readin all the hate towards him.
As for your Oil, I cant see them makin the playoffs either, although after Vancouvers disheartening losses of late, its becomin increasingly hard seeing my nucks there either :(
Anyways, your Oil have come a long way, i'm not entirely sold on Gagner being top-line material and Cogliano will never be it, but it is an impressive group in the whole, and next year might be a changing of the guard.
Anyways, cheers

Black Dog said...

Anon - yeah I don't think they'll make it though they've made it interesting; surprised about the Canucks though - they certainly seem to be falling apart. Of course a couple wins will fix that pretty quick

The kids have been impressive and its hard to say what the future will bring for them. I don't think anyone projects Cogliano as a first line guy but Gagner - 50 + points (I presume he will hit 50 - he's at 49 now) as an 18 year old? Kid's got something going on.

As for Stortini, I think there was plenty of disdain for sure. I always admired the guy's try but I didn't think he had the chops to play in the NHL truthfully.

I was wrong but I'm fine with that. He's a guy who has earned his job and turned himself into an NHL hockey player. That's admirable.

Anonymous said...

Watching Grebeshkov's poise on that goal Saturday night would've made a casual observer believe he was a 50 goal scorer.

I had him pegged as a PP specialist at the beginning of the year, but he's really made leaps and bounds. I'm thinking the Oilers might have come out on top with that Bergeron trade.


namflashback said...

therealdeal --

Two added points of value on the Grebeshkov goal --

1. Grebeshkov did exactly what we saw Milan Hejduk do a night prior -- a little side-shift to change the angle of attack
2. He had so much space because "perennial Hart candidate" Jarmoe Iginla was already jailbreaking out of the zone and left his mark (which was Grebeshkov).

grease trap said...

This is why I read your blog: elan

Oilman said...

I once owned an "Elan"...eager little machine:o)

Matt said...

My favourite part of the Grebeshkov goal is that as Simpson was saying something like, "As he's done a million times before", the video cut from the goal replay to the graphic showing it was his 3rd of the season.


Mr DeBakey said...

Did you hear the love that the Gilbert-Grebeshkov pairing was getting from MacT after Saturday's game?

Something to think about when pencilling in your D-pairings for next season.

Black Dog said...

therealdeal - time will tell but based on the opposition he is facing and how well he is doing at it I would think that's right on the money

mr d. - he tried that pair against big time opp. early this year with a little less success but they certainly have been holding their own lately - nice 3/4 in my eyes, I mean real nice

Black Dog said...

matt - maybe they play table hockey together?? A million times, heh, that's a lot of goals.

g.t. - all along I thought you came here for the porn

grease trap said...

Who said anything about gay porn?

IwoCPO said...

As if it needs to be said (and it really doesn't): I want no part of this team in Round 1. None. My hopes for your failure this week should be viewed as a compliment.

Black Dog said...

Did somebody say gay porn? Coming right up! (After all the off season is almost upon us. Have to write about something).

chief - read your post the other day - I definitely take it as such; wouldn't worry too much though - maybe next year and further along then the first round

sorry, now I'm getting carried away - can't help myself though