This is the 'Bulin Wall celebrating his 300th win last night, a sloppy, chippy affair that was a back and forth battle between two teams not expected to be very good. In truth, the Oilers didn't look all that great, but they did show something I don't think I saw in any game last year; heart. Quite frankly, that was present in both the Calgary loss and the win last night. This is a good sign. At one point, the Oilers were outhitting Dallas 9-0 and ended up with a 24-14 advantage. They scored twice on the power play, and came back three times to tie it up, rallying to the win behind some reasonable (I didn't say great) goaltending and the play of the second, third and fourth lines. Now both Khabibulin and Quinn have that first win monkey off of both their backs and can get down to the business of winning games in a less skittish fashion. Furthermore, the team won about 60% of the draws last night as well, a welcome improvement to be sure.
It must be said that the players who needed to step up have done so in spades so far. The much maligned flying fridge has two goals, as does the hockey hobbit, Samwise Gagner. Comrie has two points, Grebs looks awesome, Patty O has been getting all kinds of opportunities and soon enough he'll bury a bunch of them and Brule is hitting and generating chances, scoring a goal-scorer's goal saturday night, coincidentally from the same spot that Gags scored yesterday. The offense looks fine.
What looks better is the sense of urgency that the team is showing, as a team. There is no quit in these guys right now, they hit, they score, they chase after the puck and get in the dirty areas, and they are saying the right things in interviews, about going to the tough areas, playing aggressive and having a desire instilled to make RX1 a hard building to come into. This was the M.O of the Lowtide era, the early MacTeams and most recently, the 06 near glory boys. I'm not suggesting we start planning on burning every car on Jasper Ave tomorrow (though I wouldn't be opposed to such things either), I am beginning, ever so slightly, to consider having a taste of the Kool-Aid, just a sip and maybe have some hope for this season after all.
Let it also be said that this gritty effort yesterday was without Fernando (who would have helped a slightly discombobulated PK) and thecaptainethanmoreau, as well as a lack of anything offensive from the 1st line. Horc did win draws, but JFJ looks like he's having growing pains, and Hemsky did nothing aside from giving the puck away or hang on to it for too long...until the third when he blocked a shot and set up Greb's beauty of a goal. But let's be honest, it was not his strongest outing. That the Globe and Mail claimed Hemsky carried this team to victory is a serious misnomer, considering aside from the plays I just mentioned, he bordered on invisible for most of the game. Ok, he scored the shoot-out winner, but he even went on record to call it dumb luck and admitted that he wiffed on the shot.
But I don't want to get greedy. It's early, I'll take the good with the bad, and so far there has been less bad then expected. This is a team that won't let itself get pushed around, making me relish the chance to watch them take on the flames again thursday night. My hope is that Stone or the Crazy Train take out Rehger at the knees, that Stortini eats Phaneuf (literally...that would be sweet) and the scoring and grit keep coming like they have been. So far so, well, better... I am not ready to say good just yet.
In the meantime, just some food for thought. The play-by-play guy for the Stars made a comparison of Zorg to Animal from the Muppets last night. I know that ideas from the enemy are normally bad, but in this case an exception can be made. I vote that Zorg be removed in favor of this new moniker and plan to use it from now on. The proof is in the pictures below. Yeah, I thought you'd like that...
1 hour ago