Illegal Curve was fortunate enough to have a small presence at last night’s exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Edmonton Oilers. Tampa prevailed 4-3, in overtime, on the strength of a couple of power play goals. The Oilers, who did tally a powerplay marker, had several opportunities to salt the game away, but failed in large part to their atrocious man advantage program. Here are my thoughts on the train wreck.
It is no secret that the Edmonton side has been hampered by an anemic power play for the last several seasons. In fact, one could argue that this ineptitude cost them a Stanley Cup in 2006. This sad sack unit seems to rely on Sheldon Souray’s shot and a whole lot of prayer, because they haven’t had any fresh ideas for some time.
The display the Oilers special team (like, very special) put on last night was nothing short of atrocious. Despite the absense of the hard-shooting Souray, the Oilers still tried the extremely bland “pass it to the point and hope” play, leaving a variety of different shooters to attempt a high and wide blast on net. I tell you, there was so much perimeter play out there I thought they were buidling a road around Winnipeg.
On the 4-3 powerplay in overtime, Gagner and Cogliano were standing so far in the corner when Visnovsky was shooting I swore Pat Quinn had sent them there for misbehaviour. There is absolutely no way they were in any position to get a rebound, and even if they did, their shooting angle was so slim it would take two tubes of KY to squeak a shot into the net.
I realize that they didn’t have the complete lineup out there, but I am sure they could have come up with a few slightly better configurations. I mean, there was more passing out there than you would see on a Showcase Showdown. Pass, Pass, Pass, Turnover. Even the 4-year old sitting behind me knew better, constantly asking his daddy why they wouldn’t shoot.
Fully willing to admit that I am arm-chair coaching here, I know its much harder to get a good shot on net than it looks. That being said, I have played enough hockey to know that directing something (anything) towards the net isn’t all that hard. And this is coming from a guy who offensive skills are so limited I have trouble scoring with Winnipeg girls.
If this poor power play is allowed to continue, I guarantee it will cost the Oilers at least 6 to 8 points in the standings, and thats huge come April, when very few points typically separate 8th from 10th in the Western Conference. Lets just hope this problem works itself out before October, when these losses will really mean something.