Tonight the Toronto Maple Leafs handed the Edmonton Oilers a harsh reminder that for all of the impressive young players they have up front they might want to consider hiring some NHLers to play defence before they completely waste all of the kids’ entry level contracts. Chief among the educators was Mikhail Grabovski who would have exemplified "a man among boys" if the Oilers’ defence wasn’t made up of guys around my age.
The other thing holding back the Oilers? The coaching staff. The writers at Copper And Blue can give you a clear rundown of their shortcomings but even with Tom Renney out they still managed to mess up the matchups. Or at least I assume so because when the Grabovski-Kulemin-MacArthur line is on the ice you generally do not want the stiffs that they sent out facing them.
After the jump, a breakdown with pictures
Here’s Grabovski picking up the puck near the Leafs’ goal line. All five Leafs are in almost textbook defensive position which allows them to attack as a unit. Note Ryan Smyth behind the net. You won’t see him again because he’s lollygagging back to the bench. This becomes important later.
Anton Lander has been left firmly in the dust and now it’s up to Lennart Petrell to try to stop White Russian Lightning.
Well, that’s done but now Cam "Top 4 Defenceman" Barker is in line. Note the flames bursting from Grabovski’s back as he prepares to blow past Barker like his feet were encased in cement. Note: They may actually be encased in cement.
The Oilers are actually in pretty good shape here. MacArthur and Kulemin and tied up, Cam Barker is far enough from the puck that he can’t hurt them with a giveaway, and Tom Gilbert is sealing off the path to the net.
The Oilers still are in good shape. There are four Oilers covering two Leafs and controlling Grabovski at least as much as anyone can ever be said to have him under control. But where are the Leafs’ defencemen? And what happened to Ryan Smyth?
Oh hey! There’s one of the Leafs’ defencemen. Grabovski’s patience (that sounds familiar) opened up some time for Jake Gardiner to jump into the rush and find the open space that Edmonton’s panic opened up. And who’s that guy in the corner of the picture? Ben Eager finally just getting into the play thanks to Captain Lazy’s languid trip to the bench. What happens next?