Sunday, April 30, 2006


Orbs of Power Luminous

There are a couple of terrific stories to the Edmonton-Detroit matchup.

Orbs of Power - Mac-T and Babcock have been having a battle of words regarding who has been the Oilers' MVP in the series so far. Babcock says Rollie, Mac-T says Pronger. A case can definitely be made for both, but the Orbs have been absolutely huge. Before the series started, Wings fans were pretty much banking on "The Inevitable" (i.e., Pronger (Sasquatch) having a meltdown). Not only has he not melted down, he has a grand total of zero penalty minutes through 5 games. This would be remarkable for any top-2 d-man through any 5 game stretch, nevermind for a guy who has averaged over 34 minutes per game against Detroit's top line in a playoff series where the officials have called it absurdly tight, and where there has been almost an extra game worth of overtime. It is almost as if Pronger read the comments on the Wings message boards decided to intentionally stick it to them by going through this series unpenalized. On top of that, he has 2 goals and 5 assists to lead the team in playoff points.

Horcoff - that goofey-eyed son of a gun has arrived. Hrudey showed it perfectly during the Game 4 'Behind the Mask' segment. Everytime Horc gives up the puck he is moving and banging his stick asking for it back. He is second on the team in playoff scoring, and has the most shifts/game on the team outside of Orbs. Hrudey nailed it again after last night's game noting that Mac-T selected him to take the final face-off, which Horc capped off by diving face first in front of a Lidstrom slapper to take a frozen puck to the head. That play ensured that Horc will be worshiped by Oilers fans for life.

Roloson - When Rollie was traded here the mantra was "one more save". That's all that was needed. Even his biggest supporters, admitted the trade "came down to which old guy you liked" best and were hedging their bets by acknowledging that even average goaltending would vastly improve the team. I'm not sure too many people thought that 5 games into playoffs he would post a .931 SV% -- good for second best in the league despite facing almost twice as many shots as the top dog. Although I put up that photo of a guy standing on his head, it was mostly because I liked the image so damn much, not because Rollie has been playing crazy out of his tree good. Sure he has made a few spectacular diving saves, but for the most part he is just in solid position and is anticipating the play well.

Legace - I really don't think Legace has played all that bad, but he thinks he has played that bad, and that's all that matters. After the previous loss, Legace had this to say:
"It's the same replay from the last couple of years," goaltender Manny Legace said Wednesday."It's just the same old reel."
After last night's loss, he had this to say:
"I don't feel too good, to be honest with you," said Legace, who has allowed 14 goals in the series. "I feel like I'm sick. But that's the way the playoffs are . . . I'm not playing to the level of where I have to be to win games and win series for our team right now," said Legace, who is in his first full season as a No. 1 goaltender and has seemed more comfortable as a backup. "I'm just playing average. And average isn't good enough in the playoffs."
That's the way playoffs are? Sounds like this guy just isn't built for pressure situations. If the Oilers shooters didn't have confidence before, they sure will now. Alas, Osgood is hurt and I can't see Babcock putting in a minor-leaguer for a Game 6 on the road.

Lack of effort from the Wings - after Game 4 I was suprised at the lack of effort put in by the Wings in what was essentially a must win, and I said "if this was the best we can expect from the Wings, then the Oil are not out of this thing yet." Last night's game was even more surprising. After a good first period, the Wings just packed it in after the Oil scored the first goal. I wonder if Rollie is in their heads along with nightmares of Kipper and Giggy. So much for all that vaunted leadership and experience. I also wonder if the scheduling had anything to do with it. Who were the eggheads who gave the teams with the worst travel schedule two afternoon games? I'm not sure how it is in person, but on TV the crowds at those afternoon games in Detroit have sounded dead.

As noted yesterday, the Oil are 15-1 all time in playoff series when they have won Game 5. But they are clearly not out of the woods, yet. If this series has reminded me of anything, it would be just how difficult it is to win a 7 game series without home ice advantage. Lose the game on Monday and the Oil go back to Detroit for the deciding game. Based on the way the series has gone, home ice doesn't appear to be that big a deal, but I sure wouldn't want to be in Detroit for a do or die game.


At this point, it's impossible to predict what kind of effort the Wings will bring Monday night. By the way, I'll be missing the first period of that game so that I can once again attempt to rid myself of the mental stumbling block that has become the throw from short to first. I think I've Legace'd myself.

Just a few thoughts..

- Everytime I see that picture it makes me think that Smith's a pretty small guy to be so bloody tough and strong.

- Even Horc would have to appreciate that pic;)

- No there really haven't been too many crazy good saves from Rolo. He's just always in the right position and when he does let out some big bounds then the Oilers D or forwards collapse and either tie up the Wings or clear the puck.

- I wish the Oilers were playing Game six at a neutral site. The Oilers have played super hockey in the last two games in Det but those aren't the types of games that excite the Rexall faithful. The Oilers aren't as young as they used to be but I still think they get caught up in the crowd and end up being too aggressive. Hell even Smith was pinching a lot during G3.

Rolo has played great but he hasn't had to steal a game - he has just played really well.

sacamano - not sure where I read this quote, may have been Dennis' comments on the game on LT's site - when Horcoff talked about blocking the shot at the end of the game he said he just turned his head - then they asked well, would you have stopped the shot with your face if you had to say - says Horcoff "of course"

Perhaps the Orbs are spreading?

Yeah I C and P'ed that from the game summary on Yahoo. I would imagine that was an AP report.

The interesting quote from MacT today was about how Pronger's apparently been keeping everyone's focus in check with in-game comments on the bench.

I'd say some of those comments are: "One more win boys and we'll probably play the Flames. Yes Phaneuf is better than Scott Neidermayer but their forward corps has more junk than a shut-in's hall closet."

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