Oilers crush Panthers in lopsided, not-close-at-all, 4-3 overtime win

Jonathan Willis
November 05 2013 08:22PM

 

Taylor Fedun scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game a little earlier tonight. Another rookie, Mark Arcobello, scored the first two goals of his NHL career - including the game-winner. Philip Larsen scored his first goal as an Oiler.

The offence came from unexpected places, but it sure came in handy against Florida.

In Brief

As I saw it, the Oilers were clearly the better team after about the five minute mark of the first period, and dominated the first two frames. With some exceptions (more on those later), the call-ups played quite well and the team as a whole dominated both the possession and territorial battles. The 3-1 lead got a bit of help from Jacob Markstrom, who wasn't good, but on balance the Oilers firmly deserved to be ahead.

Then the team started sitting back. Maybe it was a change in strategy, maybe it was complacency; whatever the case, Edmonton allowed a decidedly mediocre Panthers team to crawl back into the game. First it was 3-2, then 3-3, and yet another loss seemed inevitable. Instead, the Oilers got an overtime powerplay and Ales Hemsky teamed up with Mark Arcobello to put the game away.

The Goals

The Panthers scored first on a shift where Ryan Smyth in particular took his sweet time moving and Sam Gagner was awfully passive. Marcel Goc had all the time in the world with Smyth, Petry and Ference standing still on the Oilers' goal line.

There's a lot to like about this goal. Whether it's Ladislav Smid and Boyd Gordon making smart plays along the boards in the defensive zone, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rushing over to spring the rush or Philip Larsen reading the play perfectly, this was a great example of a team taking advantage of an opponent trapped way back at the far end of the ice. We've seen this goal a lot this year, but generally off the sticks of the opposition.

This one isn't complicated. Mark Arcobello made a nice shot from nowhere dangerous and Jacob Markstrom misplayed it badly.

Normally I wouldn't mention the stuff that happened right before the video started, but here it's significant. Ales Hemsky went down to block a hard point shot, found the puck in his feet and knocked it to Nugent-Hopkins, who started the rush that's in process as our video starts. That sent the Oilers away, and as they generally do Jordan Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins played the rush perfectly, culminating in Taylor Fedun's first career goal.

This play starts with a grenade of an Eberle pass right up the middle in the defensive zone. Hemsky makes the simple 'bank the puck off the boards and out' play to neutralize it, but Scottie Upshall makes a great sliding block to keep it in the zone. At this point it's a 3-on-3 and the Oilers should still be fine but Nugent-Hopkins gets puck-watching and that's all she wrote.

Devan Dubnyk, feeling that it's unfair for the Oilers to get a freebie goal and not give one up, mercifully allows the Panthers a guaranteed point for getting it to overtime.

What I like about this goal is its simplicity. The Panthers collapse to defend the 4-on-3. Hemsky and Arcobello swap places so that Arcobello can take the one-timer from the faceoff circle. Then they take the shot. If the Oilers could do this all the time, we wouldn't spend so much time fretting over their power play percentage.

Lastly...

  • It's always nice to see hockey succeeding so well in non-traditional markets. Also, hats off to the Panthers' public relations people for handing out matching red shirts to create the illusion of an empty arena - that's the kind of tongue-in-cheek humour everyone loves!
  • I'm pretty happy calling the first game of the 'Ales Hemsky at left wing' experiment a qualified success. The first line dominated scoring chances (+6/-2 at even-strength by my count) and looked a lot better than it has lately. I'd be comfortable leaving Hemsky there until Hall or Perron is back.
  • That second line is a mess, though. More than half of Florida's chances came against them. I don't know if it's a function of Ryan Smyth being less than 100 percent, or Sam Gagner being less than 100 percent, or whatever's going on with Nail Yakupov this season, but the whole line looked bad against a pretty weak opponent.
  • I go through stages of annoyance with the fourth line; tonight I was struggling to see anything positive out of them. It felt like they'd go out, quickly lose possession, and then skate around the defensive zone for 40 seconds until someone mercifully chipped the puck out of the zone and real hockey players could come back on the ice.
  • Regular readers know that I hold Jeff Petry in high regard; I think he's the best defenceman on the team. He was a trainwreck tonight, though.
  • Philip Larsen looked pretty good on Ladislav Smid's side, and once people get healthy I suspect he'd look even better in a third-pairing role where he's asked to do less. What I really like is his ability to make short, safe passes that minimize the number of mistakes on routine defensive-zone puck-handling. Smid needs a partner with good puck skills; so to does Nick Schultz.
  • I can't imagine there's anybody unhappy to see Taylor Fedun make his NHL debut. The goal was icing on the cake but I liked his tenacity in the defensive zone; he seemed to engage well and win his share of puck battles despite being undersized.
  • I watched the Panthers' feed tonight (I thought somebody, somewhere probably should) and the commentators ripped on Andrew Ference pretty hard for turning a first period power play into a four-on-four with some gratuitous cross-checking. Generally, I'm a fan of disciplined hockey but I have to admit that as a rule I'm okay with making it clear to an opponent that charging the crease has repercussions. That can mean a scrum, a fight, or in Ference's case stickwork. 
  • Finally: did someone put a bounty on Nugent-Hopkins' knees or something? 
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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 hemi
November 06 2013, 03:49AM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

I watched only the highlights and it’s plain and simple, no more dissection needed.

DEVAN DUBNYK DOES NOT CUT IT. The first and last goal were absolutely inexcusable, never mind the rest of team defence. A team cannot be expected to score 4 goals a night to win a game.

Management needs to get serious, they’ve taken more than their sweet time to make the decision, buck up and make a move for a goalie.

Not saying it will be the end all solution, but we all have more than enough evidence to safely start there and reassess from there.

I am in absolute agreement! DD has proven he is an adequate to average goalie. Sure, the D is suspect in front of him and I do believe he has been given credit for the so-so Defence in front of him. But as you have stated, "does not cut it" is a pretty darn good description of Devan,

Just one more hole in the overall picture that the everyday fan can see when they look at the Mighty Oil. You can bet your bottom dollar that MacT sees this as well but until he has a dance partner, it is what it is.

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#52 DrunkGuyTy
November 06 2013, 05:51AM
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Are flip passes the new own-zone exit strategy? They work great until a d-man decides to step up an d tee off on our forward.

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#53 MMAX
November 06 2013, 06:00AM
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BingBong wrote:

Considering how brutal the last 3-4 games have been, I thought we played pretty well. We looked dominant in the 2nd when we were riding the confidence high.

I definitely think Willis is being harsh; I thought Petry played much better than the last few games; I also thought the 4th line had some good stretches out there.

Dubnyk looked bad on that last one but to be fair it was quite the knuckler. Save still needs to be made though. I also thought senior Schultz played pretty well and has for the last week or something. Really the first time I've ever seen him good.

No being fair here and I don't care if it was a knuckler or not. No screen, no tip, clear sight line and it almost cost the game. For f**k sake Dubnyk, put your body in front of it.

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#54 Chainsawz
November 06 2013, 06:16AM
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The score flattered the Panthers. They were totally crushed. Will the Oilers lose another game this year? I think not.

I wonder if the cup parade will could come by Capilano? That way I won't need to find a designated driver.

Arcobello for Calder. Fedun for Norris. I'd like to say Dubnyk for Vezina but I'm trying to be realistic here.

Okay, I'm peaked out. Ready to crash into another valley.

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#55 Bryan in SK
November 06 2013, 06:18AM
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Well, I'm not a goalie, and never was, so maybe this isn't fair comment. However, I think that if Dubnyk would just learn to resist the urge to drop to his knees so often, and just stay standing like the 6'6" goalie he is, that would solve half the problem. We shouldn't be seeing so many goals going in over his shoulder.

If Chabot will work on that with Dubnyk, I think our goaltending would go from "average at best" to "better than average."

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#56 godot10
November 06 2013, 07:08AM
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Justin Schultz is better with Belov than with Ference.** Jeff Petry is better with Smid than with Ference.

**small sample size

Perhaps Ference talks a better game than he delivers.

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#57 OilDieHard
November 06 2013, 07:26AM
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the Oilers still can't hold a lead, but i am glad they finally won, albeit against the lowly Panthers.

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#58 The Towel Boy
November 06 2013, 08:03AM
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LOL

"Devan Dubnyk, feeling that it's unfair for the Oilers to get a freebie goal and not give one up, mercifully allows the Panthers a guaranteed point for getting it to overtime."

...sigh.

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#59 olesvenson
November 06 2013, 08:06AM
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Maybe I haven't had enough coffee, but realistically the Oilers were lucky to get the win. 20 other teams would have taken advantage of them in the first 10 minutes. They were passive and showed very little confidence in themselves. The best part of this game was that it was the Panthers, it did allow the team as a whole to get some confidence and I would agree that they played better as the game went on. Not good enough to beat most teams in this league, but good enough to gain some confidence and hopefully generate some momentum going into the next two games.

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#60 WheresYourTowel
November 06 2013, 08:09AM
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Wake me when the team is over .500

They will steal no more evenings or money from me until the product is improved.

Do I still care about the Oilers? Sure do.

Will I continue to enable Lowe et al? Sure won't.

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#61 DougWeightProblem
November 06 2013, 08:43AM
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Not sure Hemsky is getting enough credit for that block he made on the second goal. A nice example of his underrated defensive awareness and willingness to compete.

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#62 Lochenzo
November 06 2013, 09:09AM
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DougWeightProblem wrote:

Not sure Hemsky is getting enough credit for that block he made on the second goal. A nice example of his underrated defensive awareness and willingness to compete.

That's ol' Skool Hemsky. He used to do some of that under MacT as coach. He's done that a few times this year.

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#63 season not played
November 06 2013, 09:21AM
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@godot10

That contract for that player is bad news.

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#64 FerenceSucks
November 06 2013, 10:59AM
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godot10 wrote:

Justin Schultz is better with Belov than with Ference.** Jeff Petry is better with Smid than with Ference.

**small sample size

Perhaps Ference talks a better game than he delivers.

Ference is overrated and undersized. 3 more years of this guy as captain? No thanks.

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#65 Rama Lama
November 06 2013, 11:49AM
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Well we won in spite of " drop and flop Dubnyk"!

RNH andd Gordon looked very good again. When Hall and Perron get back we should look like a NHL team again.

Philip Larsen looked very good and poised.........amazing he was delevering papers last year and this year he is in the NHL.

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