Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Oilers 4 - Avalanche 3

The stars have aligned themselves in Alberta and for a brief moment the world is fair and just. The Edmonton Oilers pick up 2 points and a huge win over perenial favourites the Avs. Just to make the win a bit sweeter Calgary gets pummeled 6-3 by that offensive powerhouse the Minnesota Wild.

This is the first full game of the new season I've seen, and I'm completely sold on the new rules and the CBA. The pace of the game is so much quicker, and hasn't lost the hard hitting that gets the blood pumping. It still seems unusal to me to see the scores rolled through as 3-1, 5-3, 5-3, 5-3 but I'm sure I'll get used to it. Although the one rule change I'm rather dubious of is awarding a penalty when you put the puck up over the glass in the defensive end. It seems such a trivial thing to award a penalty of, when most of the time its simply a matter of inches along the glass.

For those who didn't catch the game there have been questions raised as to whether Shawn Horcoff is ready to carry the load as a first line center. In the past he hasn't broken 20 goals a year, but the media has noted he was huge in the Swedish elite league last year. Admittedly I'm never sure what to make of a report that someone played well in Europe, after all we always hear that David Hasslehoff is big in Germany. However, with two goals and an assist Horcoff seems to be stepping up to the plate and simply took it too the Avalanche whom aren't on my list of patsies. Is he a first line center? So far so good.

Ales Hemsky didn't manage to find the back of the net, but man alive does he ever have jets! He streaked down the wing and found open ice that made a couple defensemen look silly. Hemsky seems to have the speed of an uninjured Bure or Seleane but whether he'll develop the midas touch around the net those two were noted for is a question mark.

Special teams has been a worry for Oiler fans as honestly last seaon and in the preseason they were absolutely terrible. The power play looked shakey at the begining of the game, and if it was a football game I'm pretty sure they should have just declined the penalty or taken an offsetting minor. However, their third crack at it seemed to have Pronger taking charge and organizing the effort and the fourth power play resulted in a Stoll bullet from the point. As for the penalty kill they didn't give up a goal on the penalty kill and it looked fairly solid. As drudge would say "developing...."

Ty Conklin will continue to torment Oiler fans for the next couple games with anxiety attacks any time the opponents put the rubber on the net. Letting in 3 goals with less than 20 shots isn't going to win alot of games. Fortunately the Oiler defense were absolutely rock solid and minimized the scoring chances on Conklin but whether the Alaskan can get the job done remains to be seen. A couple of the goals he didn't have a chance on, one was deflected off the defenseman's shin pad, and another was snuck across the crease on a defensive break down to be banged home. However, the stats don't look good, but its a w and you take what you can get.

I didn't hear "Cory Cross gets beaten on the far side" tonight which is strangely reassuring. In fact I didn't hear his name all that much, which is pretty much want I want from a defensiveman low on the depth chart. You know generally if you hear his name he just bungled something up, so his invisibility is a bonus.


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