Maple Leafs 4, Oilers 1 – I’d Rather You Didn’t

This was a game that I was sure the Oilers were going to come out flying in.

This is also a game that I would’ve lost my marble collection had I wagered on it.

I turned the game off after it was over, certainly unhappy with the results.  Tonight, I was going to either drink it off, or write about it.

Let’s just say, it was as close to being an alcohol fuelled entry without becoming one.

Tasty and effective, aye. Celebratory, not tonight.

Fans of this team – we’re used to losing.  That’s a far cry from twenty years ago, but today’s Oilers aren’t yet ready to strike fear into the hearts of opposing teams.  I believe that this team is on that way, but we’re n9ot there yet.

This game versus the Leafs could’ve been a statement game.  I think that I wouldn’t get too many arguments that if Vancouver were to play the Oilers ten times that Vancouver would win at least 9 of them right now.  I get that.  The Canucks are poised to make some serious noise if all their cards fall in the right spots in April, and if Luongo can string together a series of playoff victories, there’s no telling where they could end up.

I expect Vancouver to give Edmonton trouble every time they play each other this year.  I think most Oiler fans would agree.  So, let’s say that Edmonton loses handily to Vancouver (they did), now it’s time for a statement game against Toronto.  This team  – albeit with injuries to Horcoff and Hemsky – it’s time to start being taken seriously in this league again.  Toronto is not going to come to our rink and dictate what happens on our ice.  We will not allow their legion of fans to out man us in our home rink. We are a proud franchise, and we will bounce back in the face of adversity to begin our winning streak once again.

Yeah, about most of that last paragraph…

THE PENALTY KILL FESTERS ON

I was just getting all chirpy about how the Oilers Penalty Kill success rate finally climbed over the 70% mark for the first time in I don’t know how long this season. That’ll teach me. Here’s a few screen shots from a Mikhail Grabovski PP goal that played in my head over and over last night. Ready? See if you can catch the gaffe.  In case you have trouble, we’ve got some high tech graphics to help you along.

Leafs PP, Phaneuf has the puck at the point.  No big deal, right?  Alright.

Phaneuf gets it to Grabovski, circled.

Grabovski is going to hurl it over to Clarke MacArthur, who looks ready to shoot.  While that’s going on, Grabovski is going to take the subway headed to the net. Alright, here’s where trouble really comes in buckets.  We didn’t have a guy on MacArthur a minute ago, now we’ve got a trio of Oilers circled and nobody’s near Grabovski.  Can  you guess what happens next?  Turn to page 75.

Bingo.

Here’s the replay.

I know that we don’t have any Paul Coffeys patrolling out in front of our net, but what in God’s name is going on out here? Grabovski was able to waltz in front of the net and pick a pepper out of Khabibulin’s window box on this goal.

I can’t blame Khabibulin for that goal right there.  Jordan Eberle was able to notch the only Oiler goal.  Add another goal for Toronto on the powerplay, and we’ve got a recipe for a gut bomb.

Am I really surprised?  Not by the loss, no.   I know that injuries have crept back into the front line and that the defence isn’t the biggest box of raisins in the field this year, but this one stung because Toronto was as dominating in this game as Edmonton was in Toronto a few weeks ago.

The Oilers get another chance at a statement on Thursday night (and a chance to end their six game homestand going 4-2) against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Let’s start again at one.

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