Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gm 77 - Oilers 5, Wild 3

This is one of these "Aw mom, do I have to?" blogs. Why?

Well, first off, I said I would. And, there was a Wild game on the road last night (that I attended in person at Edmonton's Rexall Place). The Oilers destroyed the Wild 5-3, as the Oilers kept pace in the Western Conference playoff race, staying 3 points behind Colorado for the 8th and final playoff spot.

The way the Wild played last night, it was even more painful to watch in person than it was on TV across North America. (At least you could turn off the TV and go to sleep, except in Edmonton, where you really can't get too far away from the Oilers, even if you try.)

The Wild came out flatter than Norwegian flat bread (wasabrod), and got worse from there, if that's possible. A new high, in low. It was so bad, Jacques Lemaire changed goaltenders during the game. Twice. And no goalie was injured -- at least, physically -- either time.

Martin Skoula -- whose brain-fart miscues have plagued the Wild throughout this four-game Western road swing -- outdid himself when he gave up the puck with an errant clearing pass to Edmonton's Tom Gilbert, then slowly skated off to the Wild bench -- as the Oilers were on an offensive rush -- allowing Andrew Cogliano to race in along the left wing and score unimpeded on starting (and finishing) Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom. Because Skoula was on the bench when Cogliano's shot crossed the goal line, however, 'Bad Marty' did not receive a minus in the plus/minus ratings. He should have!

Two other defensemen -- Keith Carney and Sean Hill -- could not keep up with the younger, speedier Oilers, as they raced around in the first 5 minutes of the contest like bullies on the playground teasing the new kid. By the time Wild coach Jacques Lemaire mercifully replaced Backstrom with Josh Harding, the Oilers were up 3-0 and all was right, once again, in Oil Country. Nick Schultz slapped a deflected puck past Dwayne Roloson to make 3-1 after 1.

In the second period, Harding's feeble attempt to clear the puck from in front of his net gave Kyle Brodziak a golden oppotunity, which he buried after drawing Harding across the net at 3:54. The unassisted tally would prove to be the backbreaker, as the Wild would score twice in the past two periods, but this game was never close.

This was a bad game, folks. If you missed it, you should consider yourselves lucky.

The assembled multitude says:

Chicken Little: I could rule that roost! Where was that vaunted 'Wild trap defense'?

Pollyanna: Hey, we're still in first place. Don't knock it.

Bottom Line: Wild ran into a desperate opponent at the end of a long road trip. Throw 'Bad Marty' Skoula into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster. It could have been worse, as Edmonton took their collective foot off the gas in the 3rd.

Stud: None in this group.

Dud: So many duds, so little time. You'd think one was at an Army Ordnance plant. Out of a bunch of bad mushrooms, one real toadstool stood out. Congratulations to Martin Skoula for really sinking to a new depth with his first period bail-out last night. Frankly, the way Marty is regressing, he is almost becoming the poster child for how NOT to play defense.

Next game: vs. Oilers, Wednesday 7:00 PM CDT (FSN North, Oilers PPV).

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