Last night’s match against the Calgary Flames wasn’t going to be the prettiest of games, and the story line for the Oilers wasn’t all that nice either.
At least, the Oilers could help put a dampen on Calgary’s playoff chances, however small.
From the opening puck drop, Calgary wasn’t going to have any of it. Lee Stempniak had a hat trick for Calgary, and the wheels fell off for Edmonton early on in the game.
As memorable of a performance that Nikolai Khabibulin had against the Blues, so too was his performance against Calgary albeit for the wrong reasons.
After the jump, we’ll discuss Khabibulin’s goaltending performance, and how Calgary was able to leap out to a four goal lead. Bring the distilled spirits, you’re going to need them.
He’s had a few games he’d like to forget along the way, but Nikolai Khabibulin has played well beyond my expectations this season. His save percentage is still admirable at .918, and his GAA isn’t a mess at 2.45.
This game didn’t help to contribute to those numbers.
Khabibulin got the yank after two periods of play. He finished the night with twelve saves on sixteen shots, including this guy off the stick of Lee Stempniak. Devan Dubnyk began the third, turning aside six of seven. Dubnyk could’ve morphed into a puck repelling helicopter, it wouldn’t have mattered much as the Oilers failed to score in the first two frames.
Is Khabibulin the only problem? No. There are plenty of other issues that we could address (and have, a thousand or more times already) Khabibulin’s play has been much better this season, and I’m not trying to throw the guy to the wolves based on this one game.
It’s not like this team is playing for a playoff spot anyway.
Credit goes to the Edmonton Journal’s John McKinnon for thinking what I think a lot of people are thinking about this little incident that took place last night.
When I saw this happen, I turned away from the action. I didn’t catch the colourful vocabulary that Taylor Hall spewed from his mouth afterwards.
After Stempniak scores his hat trick goal, Hall bends his stick on the ice, gets up and says about five or six words. I’m not an expert in reading lips, but I’m 99% sure that the penultimate word in the sentence was seven letters long, started with “F” and ended with “-ing”. Oh, and the last word was “goalie”. Not too sure what the first four words were, but put the last two words together and BLAM, you’ve got “F#$@ing goalie”. I’m going to put two and two together and say that Taylor Hall either…
- is not a goalie, or
- wonders why his goalie was off the ice when the Oilers were down 5-2 with thirty seconds remaining in the game.
Look, no one wants to lose. Let me rephrase that: none of the players want to lose. I’m pretty sure that this guy really doesn’t want to lose. I haven’t asked him if he wants to lose or not, but I’m pretty sure he’d like to win. How can I be sure? Oh, he’s blocking pucks in front of an empty net of a game that’s 5-2, with thirty seconds remaining in regulation time on a team that’s nowhere…nowhere remotely close to sniffing distance of the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.
Can I be any more sure that Taylor Hall wants to win? Yes, I can. THE GUY GOT HIS FACE STOMPED ON BY A SKATE FOUR DAYS EARLIER. TAYLOR HALL IS BLOCKING SHOTS IN FRONT OF AN EMPTY NET IN A GAME THAT MEANS NOTHING IN THE STANDINGS FOR THE OILERS, FOUR DAYS AFTER HIS FACE WAS STOMPED ON.
Yes, I’m shouting.
Everybody talks about ‘grit’ in a player. If these two pictures aren’t gritty enough for you, you’re not looking hard enough. Taylor Hall wants to play, he wants to win, and this is what he’s rewarded with.
If you’re an Oilers fan and this doesn’t make you angry, nothing will.
The time has come. Mr. Tambellini, your chickens are coming home to roost. The effectiveness of evaluation, development, watching, waiting, six year plans and the like have run their courses. In his first game back from an injury that potentially could’ve killed the guy, your number one pick from 2010 is blocking shots in front of an empty net down three goals on a team that’s nine games under .500.
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