Saturday, October 25, 2014

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 8: Fresh Meat

The Oilers took a bite out of the floundering Hurricanes
The shell-shocked Raleigh team rolled into town Friday night, sporting a lengthy scoreless streak and an ambulance trailing behind, packed with injured players. They had scored only 2 goals in the last three games, and had been obliterated by the lowly Calgary Flames the previous night.

To put it bluntly, the opponent was a perfect storm of suck, the kind of softball lob that Pancakes Penner is used to cranking out of the park at his local beer league game. Thankfully to those bleeding viscous oil, the Edmonton team's skill was the edge needed versus Carolina's raw desperation. While they didn't hit it out of the park, they more or less won an evenly matched game by demonstrating a commitment to an unchanging game plan. They also had the benefit of one of the worst missed calls I can remember, a Benoit Pouliot lumberjack-job to the wrist of Brian "Who's That" Bellmore. It was the kind of axe-stroke that leaves two pieces of wood afterwards, and how the striped overseers missed it was only explainable by the cosmic karma that missed the Canucks hand-pass-for-a-goal earlier in the season. Regardless, Eberle did the right thing: kept playing, and his quick snipe was integral in the end result.

The victory was capped off by the Deutschland dangler, Leon potting the rebound from a AAA Alberta beef offensive chance. Leon's reaction was wonderful; you could see the chains of expectation evaporate as he smilingly whale-flopped on top of captain Ference. He needed that boost I think, and so did the Oilers management. Earlier TSN's Bobby Mac had laid out an interesting scenario where the Oilers play him past the 9 game mark but send him down before the 40 game mark. The second deadline is the one that burns off a UFA year for the player. Waiting 40 games before deciding accomplishes two obvious things: gives Draisaitl plenty of time to destroy doubt or drive his demotion, and gives MacT time to find the appropriate 2C on the marketplace. Regardless, it was a feel good moment for the kid and for Oil fans in general looking for some positive energy at the start of the up-and-down season.

The corsi chart from the game shows an inexorable trend towards more offensive zone time for the Oilers and after the scoring started, it seemed like the see-saw steadily tilted more towards the Hurricanes end of the ice. There was still the fumes of desperation powering the Oilers game as well (as there should be), and combined with the fact that the Oilers have a more mobile D and skilled O, was enough for a 6-3 victory.

Plus and minuses doled out after the hop.


  • Hopkins continues his scoring streak - who would have thought he'd have 4 goals and 0 apples to start the season?
  • Eberle got off the snide - he desperately needed to be rewarded for his work, and his three point night finally paces him to last seasons offence. He's always been streaky, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that we might see a nice little powerplay fueled goal streak from the gap-toothed assassin.
  • Draisaitl potted his first big league bullet, and one can hope that this boost of confidence will serve him well in generating more and playing a more complete, less babysitting-the-center type of game.
  • The Hounds are showing no let up, as Gordon, Jonesuu, and Hendricks continue to push the puck in the right direction deep in their own D zone, and it's nice for them to be rewarded with two goals for the line.
  • Scrivens wandering out of his own net has been a running problem with the netminder, especially considering he's a poor puck mover and is getting himself mixed up with Mike Smith. Stay in the damn net!
  • Yakupov played a decent game overall, but needs to find ways to get more shots on net: he was credited with ZERO in 14 and change minutes, including 3+ on the PP. You don't score on 100% of the shots you never take. He needs to get pig-slop greasy out there. Bank something in, put something off a skate. Without more shots the god of greasy goals will not materialize.
  • Fayne & Marincin probably had one of their toughest nights overall, finishing a combined -5, and each having a couple giveaways they'd like back. Both players have been playing a more stalwart game, so a blip here and there is expected.
  • Ference should not be playing over 20 minutes a game like he did last night. He played more than both of the defenders listed above, and while he overall had an OK game, he's not the guy to play your #1 minutes. Ultimately it's probably a side effect of Carolina not really having more than one line of solid offensive guys. Let's hope it isn't a trend.

The Oilers did what they had to do, and their game geared up the further the game went along. They now have 3 consecutive wins for the first time since the previous season's January schedule and are a lot closer to giving the people of Edmonton the belief that we will see more than jerseys being tossed into center ice.

Next up: a shot at the mystical, unknowable Five Hundred Hockey. Is it possible? Can it be done?


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