From a physical standpoint, the Oilers didn’t look bad tonight: they showed they could hold their own against the big, bad Bruins. There were three fights and while Theo Peckham lost a spirited bout with Nathan Horton, James Vandermeer grinned his way through a marathon fight with Milan Lucic while Andrew Cogliano and Brad Marchand also engaged.
It was the actual on-ice puck-shooting and goal-scoring contest where the Oilers couldn’t compete. Boston fired 40 shots on Devan Dubnyk, while the Oilers could only respond with 17 on Tuukka Rask.
The Kid Line got their show run tonight. Every goal the Bruins scored against the Oilers came against the trio of Hall, Cogliano and Eberle, and as a unit the group was out-chanced by a three to one margin. That’s the game in a nutshell; sure there was some physical stuff, the Oilers scored couple and Dubnyk stopped a bunch of pucks, but the bottom line is that the team was out-shot and out-chanced and it was mostly on the young guns this evening.
The Fine Print
I watched this particular game on the Bruins feed, and I learned a lot of valuable things from the experience. I learned that every call – from penalty to offside to icing – that went the other way was at best questionable, at worst flat-out wrong. I learned the Bruins combine heart, talent, intelligence, and Charlie hustle. I learned that every player on the team combines the soul of a poet with a warrior ethic. I’m not saying that the NESN broadcasters were homers, but it felt like the coverage was a little bit partial.
Last night, I questioned whether Dubnyk was a long-term solution for the Oilers. I’m not sold on him yet, but he was very good against Boston tonight and he has been putting in this kind of performance ever since he turned pro. The nice thing about starting a professional career with the Springfield Falcons the last couple of years is that it prepares a goalie for facing 40 shots per night.
Gilbert Brule had an okay night given that he was stuck on the fourth line with Steve MacIntyre, and that goal was a carbon copy of most of the ones he scored last year. I really don’t know if firing from right against the boards is the best spot for a high-end goal-scorer, but the shot sure was pretty.
Lucic finished plus-one and recorded an assist, but had some rough patches against Edmonton. In the first period alone he lost one-on-one puck battles against Penner, Gilbert, Hemsky and Horcoff, and a little later on Sam Gagner didn’t seem to have much trouble getting past him. Jim Vandermeer seemed to enjoy fighting him, and right before that Penner laid him out. There are a lot of things to like about the player but it felt like he was having an off-night.
Did anyone else see that play in the first where Linus Omark pinned the puck under his skate and slid it up the boards, pushing himself with his other leg? He’s a fun player to watch, no matter the score. Actually, the Gagner line had a pretty good night, and Gagner and Linus Omark combined for seven of the Oilers 17 shots. Counting missed and blocked shots, those two players put the puck on net 13 times.
Theo Peckham was held out of the game after taking a heavy punch from Nathan Horton, and that led to heavy minutes for the remaining defenders – people like Jim Vandermeer and Jason Strudwick topped 20 minutes each, Kurtis Foster and Ladislav Smid were over 23 minutes, and Tom Gilbert played almost 26. Speaking of Peckham, a lot of Oilers had hits tonight but young Teddy led the way with five in just 3:29 of ice-time. Tom Gilbert’s nine blocked shots were more than twice as many as anyone else on the team.
Shot quality was pretty much a non-factor tonight, as is often the case. The Bruins outshot the Oilers 40 to 17, out-chanced them 19 to 11, and fired 10 shots from the slot to the Oilers four. Of those four slot shots for the Oilers, three of them happened in the first period.