Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Oilers lose, England ties...

Early in the first period of Game 7, Mark Recchi was flying all around the ice before he met Raffi Torres near the boards in the neutral zone. The two collided, and for possibly the first time in the series, Torres got the worst of it. When that happened, the whole Carolina team got energized by it, and Edmonton seemed deflated. In the last game of a long season, the Oilers lost the edge in the one part of play they had dominated the opposition all playoffs long: the physical side of things. Throughout the first 2 periods, Caolina took the body, and Edmonton never seemed to be able to respond. And when they did get their heads back in the game, it was too little too late.

On saturday night, I wrote that if the Oilers wanted to win game 7, they would have to come back with another strong effort on the power play, one similar to the one they got in game 6. Instead, they got a repeat of games 2, 3 and 4. When they got a 5 on 3 for what looked like it was going to be 1 minute 55 seconds, they couldn't get any opportunities nor any pucks on the net, and when it looked like Carolina was going to clear the puck, Ryan Smyth took a hooking call. In the end, the power play failed to produce the one goal Edmonton ended up needing at the end of the game.

Still, I'm proud of my Oilers. Often in these playoffs did I lose faith in their ability to come back and win, but they proved me wrong time and time again. Fernando Pisani revealed himself as perhaps the next Todd Marchant, a gritty defensive foward who can score big goals when you need them the most. Chris Pronger outplayed every defenseman in these playoffs and once again looked like one of the top 3 or 4 defensemen in the league. Shawn Horcoff revealed himself as a true #1 center, sound defensively and very capable offensively, a poor man's Brad Richards if you will. Raffi Torres went a long way in these playoffs in showing he can be a really good power foward, very effective even when he doesn't score. The Oilers showed a lot of depth defensively, alternating between Marc-Andre Bergeron, Matt Greene and Dick Tanrstrom all playoffs long, as well as offensively, with Todd Harvey, Georges Laraque, Toby Peterson and Brad Winchester all seeing ice time and each contributing with 1 goal. But more importantly, the Oilers proved to have an excellent coaching staff, able to adapt and devise whatever strategy needed to beat the opposition. I don't expect the Oilers to dominate the league next year and fight for the top spot in the conference, but the future does indeed look bright.

As for England, well, today was yet another disappointing performance. Still, this was their best game to date. They played a very good first half, I thought, controlling the field for most of it. I thought Joe Cole was once again the best player on England's side today. Unfortunately, the level of play took a tumble in the second half. Both of Sweden's goals were directly linked to breakdowns in the defense. And there is no excuse, not with 4 minutes left to play, for such a breakdown in your own zone. One thing is for sure: if England is going to go far in this tournament, they need to start playing 90 minutes, not 45 minutes like today, and certainly not 10 minutes like they did against T &T. Yet, all of this talk seems somewhat useless chatter when considering the fact that their best goal scorer, Michael Owen, seems like he will be out with a twisted knee. We won't jump to conclusions before we get the results from the scans tomorrow, but it doesn't look good. Being that Rooney is not quite in game shape yet, and that Owen is out, England's attack, their strongest suit, seems in jeopardy. Others will have to start to pick up the slack, namely Frank Lampard and David Beckham. Beckham was invisible today, and Lampard again missed on golden chances. Lampard needs to take a cue from Gerrard and start hitting the net. As for Beckham, well, he just needs to make himself a player again, and prove why he is the captain of the squad. Yet, through all this, there is still a lot of hope. They will face off against a weaker Ecuador club on Saturday, and if they win it, anything can happen.

Check back with me later this week (most probably Thursday night), as I'll discuss the Montreal Canadiens' upcoming offseason and rumors of the formation of a new Led Zeppelin, lead by Jimmy Page himself and my personal favorite, Jeff Martin, ex-lead singer and guitarist of The Tea Party.

Dwarf Out


At 11:27 AM, Blogger Veillotron said...

Hey, where's everybody gone to?
No more blog participants?

I guess everybody is still depressed about the Oilers losing. Guys, I feel your pain.

This sucks, and it sucks even more because you all know that all these cinderella stories of over-acheiving team never repeat themselves. In the long run, you need more than heart, you need talent. I'm not saying that the oilers do not have talent, but they have been at times lucky in the playoffs and everybody overachieved...
People like to say when its all over to comfort themselves that the future is bright. I say this is bull. To support my theory:
The Duck in 03 - took them a while to get back into shape
The Sabres in 99...
The Carolina Panthers, the San Diego Chargers, etc...

So, the only consolation is to think that the Oilz did better than the rest of them, bar the Canes. You feel bad for all these warriors who gave everything and in the end, came up empty. The other way to cheer yourself up is to think that these guys didn't win the Cup, but they still make a shitload more money than all fo us combined, and that they only have to work a few hours per week, etc...

At 9:30 PM, Blogger Veillotron said...

I would like to add that Beckham has played very well in this tournament so far- he is a true leader.

Cole has been very fun to watch - he's a bit like the kid who never wants to pass the ball and starts dribbling and running all over the field (and in football, this is good!). he is by far indeed the best player of In-ger-land


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