• Holding Serve

    by  • May 13, 2006 • Uncategorized • 6 Comments

    Chris! poses a good question at Covered In Oil:

    I’ve often wondered what the casual observer with no emotional ties thinks about the Edmonton Oilers as a hockey team.

    Now I’m hardly a casual observer and I may have emotional ties to the team but I’d like to take a stab at answering this. My guess is that when the average observer thinks about the Oilers, they see a team that can beat them on any given night but not a guaranteed asskicking or anything. It’s a game that will be fun to watch though-I don’t clear time on my schedule to watch the Wild play the Oilers but if there was some version of the Oilers out there (maybe the Sabres, who look more and more like the team that the Oilers thought that they had in the late 90′s) I’d clear time for them. If I was picking a comp for the Oilers, I might look to Carolina. Edmonton, although they’re not terrifying, are a fun opponent to have I’d guess.

    A word of advice to Chris!, who also managed to miss half the game while in transit to some bar that provided the game without sound: if it’s not on the subway line, you don’t need to go there. This philosophy has served me well in Toronto and it can do the same for you. Personally, I pride myself on staying within an area roughly the size of West Edmonton Mall between Sherbourne, Bloor, Avenue and Front. There’s no need to leave an area of that size and doing so ups the risk of missing a great Oiler Moment, like last night.

    Also, to Mike W, who wrote “Clearly, this Oilers team has overachieved, and anything beyond this is bonus territory.” Why not just fly out to Edmonton and throw a black cat on the ice? That’s an incredibly Calgary-esque comment. I’m adamant that when two close teams meet up, as has happened here, the luckiest team will win but the Oilers are good enough that the breaks are the difference.

    On to last night’s game. I’m out visiting friends at a cottage and had to watch the game in a group. I think I’ve officially crossed the line in terms of being a hockey obsessive-I now find it difficult to watch the game with a group of people because I find that I miss things and can’t look for the things that I’ve become accustomed to looking for-who’s playing with who, what are the coaches doing, etc. It’s kind of sad.

    With the win, this officially becomes the Oilers most successful playoff run since 1991-92, when the Oilers lost in the Conference finals. I’ve agreed with Lowetide all year that this was the best Oilers team since the 1990 Cup champions-they still need to win two more games to give the result necessary to back that up but things look good right now. It’s kind of neat to look back at that 1991-92 team; the Oilers made the conference final that year for the 8th time in 11 years. They weren’t a particularly great team in 1991-92; they had a -2 goal differential but the Smythe division was in a bit of an upheaval and the Oil snuck through yet again. It’s a different team today-this team is good.

    Did the game seem oddly comfortable? It was just the fourth Oilers playoff win by 3 or more goals since 1991-92.

    The road team wins series tied 2-2 after 4 38% of the time. Believers in momentum should note that the road team wins series where both sides have held serve 33% of the time. My odds give the Oilers a 42% shot at winning based on the entire season’s numbers and a 52% shot at winning if you account for the Roloson factor. Mirtle is getting pretty good at eyeballing this stuff-it’s closer than Mr. Jason Mandell thinks and I take issue with the suggestion that “…it’s farly obvious that the Sharks have the better, deeper team overall.” For the record, I’ve got the Senators at around a 25% shot to win the series. I have an odd feeling that they might do it though.

    I wrote before this series that I figured that the teams were close to even at even strength but that I figured that the Oilers had an edge in goaltending and on special teams. Through four games, Edmonton has 3 special teams goals to San Jose’s 1 despite San Jose probably enjoying an edge in time spent on the PP. At evens, it’s 8-8. Toskala was shaky tonight and Roloson has been solid so far. There’s a knife edge between victory and defeat right now. Hopefully the Oilers can keep coming with the effort they’ve brought the past two games.

    Poetic justice that Ville was the guy in the box when the Oilers finished things off. He took a run at Pronger after the whistle in G1 and it was obvious that there’d been a whistle. No penalty to Ville then; this is a guy who deserves every last one that he gets.

    Ray Ratto is writing about this series and his G4 story is here. He bags on Toskala for trying to backhand the puck out of the zone. With respect to Ratto, I think that Toskala’s mistake was trying for the puck in the first place. Once it became evident that it was going to be close, Toskala was damned no matter what. If he took a longer line to the puck to arrive on his forehand, Samsonov beats him there. If he tried to switch it to his forehand, Samsonov likely knocks it away. With Samsonov being a righthanded shot, Toskala probably made the smart play-he just had the bad luck to hit him with the puck. The bad decision was going for the puck in the first place.


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