Much of the talk after last night’s 3-1 loss to Minnesota focused on Taylor Hall’s kneeing major on Cal Clutterbuck. I suspect Hall will get a short suspension from the hit, but I don’t think it was malicious. Hall never took any extra strides to hit him, and he did lean in and down to avoid head contact, however, the initial point of contact looked to be a combination of Hall’s knee/thigh/hip on Clutterbuck’s lower thigh and he likely gets a Shanaban.
But that play shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Oilers continue to struggle in many facets of their overall game.
The Oilers didn’t come out of the gate with much energy or urgency. Tonight was the Wild’s first regulation road win in 20 games. They were 4-15 in their previous 19 and all the wins came in the shootout. They were not a confident road team, yet the Oilers allowed the Wild to lull them to sleep.
The Oilers refusal to shoot the puck from good shooting areas is killing them. They had guys in the slot who elected to pass to a teammate who was in a worse shooting area on the wing. The Oilers continue to be too pretty, and Ralph Krueger has no choice but to mix up his top-six.
He needs to put Ryan Smyth, Ben Eager or Ryan Jones amongst his skilled guys. Simplify the game in the offensive zone, and get somebody who is willing to go to the net and get some greasy goals.
- I understand the Oilers are a young team and are still developing, but they need to realize they can’t just win games by playing pretty. It is a hard lesson, but one they need to learn quickly.
- I thought Theo Peckham played well for his first NHL game in almost a year. He looked much more comfortable handling the puck than he did at any point last season. I’d play him again on Saturday.
- Ran into Ryan Jones after the game and he will have one more meeting with the doctor, but he sounded confident that he’d be ready to play Saturday. The Oilers could use his simple, go to the net style of play.
- I haven’t noticed Magnus Paajarvi in the last two games. With that type of speed he should be able to generate at least one good scoring chance a game. He and Hartikainen need to get their fire back.
- Ben Eager did his job. He skated well, had five hits and as a bonus chipped in with an assist. In a game with zero emotion early, I’d love to see him ignite the crowd and his team with an energy shift or a solid hit, but overall his game was good.
- Ryan Smyth scored a typical greasy Smyth goal. A nice birthday present, but it won’t mean as much to him in a loss.
- Watched the replay of the Wild’s third goal, and the Oilers didn’t have a horrible breakdown. Nick Schultz steps up nicley onCal Clutterbuck and the puck doesn’t go anywhere until Clutterbuck ,from his knees and with one hand on his stick, pokes it ahead to Cullen. Not a bad decision, but a painful play to give up in a 2-1 game. Sometimes the other team makes a good play.
- It was a great second effort by Clutterbuck, which is something the Oilers just aren’t getting enough of. They need to start paying the price more often and doing the ugly things that help you win games in the NHL.
- I liked that Hall was willing to lay a big hit on an opposing player. Of course, you don’t want to see that result, but if he can add a bit of a physical presence to his game it would be good. I don’t need him laying guys out regularly, but having a bit of an edge to his game as he matures and gains a few more pounds is exactly what this team needs from someone on their top two lines.
- Hall will have a phone hearing today at 12:30 p.m. Edmonton time. This is Hall’s second major penalty of his NHL career. His first came in a fight v. Derek Dorsett.
- Here is the hit again if you didn’t see it. Thoughts?