Saturday, October 3, 2009

Oilers looked good, despite a dud from the Wall

Talk about being disappointed by a hot date on prom night.

You know what I mean. You get the courage to ask her out for that special night. And once that big, successful night happens, everything goes well until you catch her making out with your best friend near the end of the dance.

Sounds somewhat familiar.

After a strong and solid 60-minute effort by the Oilers, their coveted goalie — someone who they lured through free agency — duffs one in the last minute of the game and essentially gift-wraps two points for Calgary. Maybe Nikolai Khabibulin was feeling generous.

Everything was going well for the Oilers. Sam Gagner was close to scoring a Gordie Howe hat trick tonight after Coach Pat Quinn demoted him to the fourth line. Yes, Gagner dropped the gloves last night and a he scored a goal.

Dustin Penner, who was in everyone’s doghouse last season, made a big impact in the game with a goal and an assist and so did Quinn’s new “gritty” additions to each line like J.F. Jacques, Gilbert Brule and Ryan Stone who knocked Flames defenseman Mark Giordano into the Oilers bench in the third.

Everything was clicking. The Oilers were forechecking, outshooting, outhitting, and they were even digging and clawing their way in the corners, even when they were down 3-1. This is definitely something that didn’t happen during most of last season.

Quinn’s system looked like it was making a solid difference in every player. Every check was finished and the effort was solid.

And after Gagner scored his goal to tie it up in the third, Khabibulin duffs a clearing attempt on a bouncing puck with 49 seconds left in the game. Flames forward David Moss took advantage of the poor clearing attempt by Khabibulin.

“It doesn’t feel very good right now,” said Khabibulin after the game.

“It feels like I basically lost a point, but I can’t get it back now. I got to take some positives out of the game and look forward.”

It could have been worse. It could have been Game 1 in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. Cough, Ty Conklin, cough.

Besides being kicked in the groan on prom night, there is a lot of things that looked very well for the Oilers and if every player buys into Quinn’s system, the copper and blue will be in the playoffs quite easily. Tonight’s game is proof for all the Oiler haters out there.

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