Saturday, September 19, 2009

Now to Not Beat the Canucks

There is generally considered to be a way to beat Roberto Luongo and a way to not beat Roberto Luongo.

The former is shots. Lots of them. Quality shots.

The latter is the course the Oilers followed tonight, and the results largely speak for themselves.

The Oilers managed only 24 shots on Roberto Luongo tonight, with only one of them -- a wrist shot by Sheldon Souray -- making it into the net. There was no shortage of shot attempts, but far too many of them were fired wide.

In particular, if Jordan Eberle wants to be a full-time Edmonton Oiler this year he'd better start cashing in on more of his opportunities. Like in his last game against the Islanders, Eberle missed the net on two glorious opportunities. Pre-season jitters or no pre-season jitters, players who pass up their scoring opportunities don't get many to play.

It's as simple as that.

As for other players quickly playing themselves out of a roster spot, Robert Nilsson took an early penalty on the Canucks blueline which resulted in a goal by Alexander Edler.

With the Oilers top six looking awfully crowded, Nilsson may have effectively played himself out of a job by now. There appears to be significant chemistry between Mike Comrie and Patrick O'Sullivan and with Shawn Horcoff looking as if he may return to offensive form, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and Dustin Penner just might squeeze Nilsson out off the top lines.

Once one considers playing Nilsson on the third or fourth line they can safely rule it out -- Nilsson's defensive play doesn't justify playing him ahead of Fernando Pisani or even Zach Stortini.

Even if Eberle makes the team at this point it will likely be as a spare forward. This simply leaves Nilsson without any role on this team -- and perhaps, very quickly, a spot on the trading block.

Jeff-Drouin Deslauriers' full 60 minutes of play (minus whatever time the Oilers played with an empty net) may indicate that he's edged out Devan Dubnyk to be the Oilers backup goaltender.

The Oilers power play tonight was as bad as its ever been. The old habit of being handed an extended power play only to waste it chasing the puck around in their own end seems to have reemerged -- the tuteledge of Pat Quinn seems to have done little to end this particular habit.

At the very least one can hope that when the two rosters are merged and the wheat separated from the chaff that a full complement of offensive players will make for a better power play.

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