Last night’s Oilers game was an enjoyable one. Although the town team lost, most shifts gave fans an indication about things to come. Speed, skill, passes and dekes that showed the true beauty of the game. Buckle up, this is going to be a fast ride.
This is us. A fun team to watch, run and gun–maybe a little shy on finishing the play–and high event at both ends of the ice. Hemsky stirs the drink, and the kids offer a hint about the future. If you measure this season in wins and losses bring out the Glenlivet now. Small steps, folks. And there were plenty last night.
Taylor Hall didn’t have any finish last night but (as his coach said after the game) the kid had his best NHL game. Mark Spector wrote a nice piece here and I think we can feel pretty good about this team’s future despite the loss on home ice. Hall was the most obvious youngster last night, but the other two rookie forwards had their strong moments too. Magnus Pääjärvi must certainly lead the league in penalties drawn after the Minny game, and Jordan Eberle continues to amaze with his anticipation and execution in all three zones. Big brain.
At this point we should hope the Oilers finally start Dubnyk and begin the final march toward making a decision on the backup goalie, and there’s probably a slight hint of an opportunity for a switch-out along the blue (Strudwick in, likely Vandermeer out). I don’t think there’s any help coming via trade, at this point in the season teams will be asking the moon ("a battle ship for a rowboat"- a Punch Imlach line) for puck movers along the blue. I’d guess Petry or Belle would be the first option to upgrade the passing from the defense.
The 4th line is a mess, but I don’t know that there’s much they can do about it. Fraser needs to play until he’s comfortable (Kurtis Foster settled in nicely last night, at least compared to previous performances) and Jones had played well until last night. I wonder a little about Zack Stortini, he seems to be getting less love from this coach than he did from his other two NHL coaches (HS opening night, no hesitation to staple his ass to the bench last night).
A wild guess has Dubnyk playing Saturday and Strudwick also drawing in. If there’s a pool on this stuff, I’ll bet they call up Shawn Belle when a goalie is finally sent packing.