If the Edmonton Oilers needed extra motivation to bring it in the final stop of a six-game road swing against the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday, they got some bulletin board material when Montreal’s Lars Eller said the visitors to the Bell Centre "play a little bit like a junior team."
"It’s hard to say. It can be anything, you know? They play a little bit like a junior team, I think, sometimes," he said when asked what the Canadiens could expect from the Oilers.
"They take a lot risks, a lot of chances. They’re a little all over the place. There’s not a lot of structure always in their game. It can really be anything. You don’t know. I prefer a little more structured game. Then again, I don’t mind high-scoring games, too. Obviously, we’re going to try with their skilled players to limit their chances."
Eller was right about one thing – the Oilers were "a little all over the place in this one. The visitors were, in fact, a lot all over the place as they went from looking like they’d get embarrassed in the first period to scoring four straight goals en route to a 4-3 decision in a game they absolutely had to win.
CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE
Beaten by the Habs 4-1 at Rexall Place Oct. 10, the Oilers looked like they’d be in for an encore in the opening 20 minutes. Outshot and dominated on the dot, they fashioned an about-face in the final 40 minutes to win their second straight on the swing (they won 3-1 in Ottawa) and pack for home with five points from the trip. Gutsy stuff and, yes, all over the place.
Not a great half-dozen, but the Oilers come home in considerably better shape at 3-6-1 than they looked heading into Ottawa with one point from the first four stops. With Taylor Hall (knee) and Ryan Smyth (groin) back in Edmonton, they got it done with goals from Ales Hemsky, Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry and Ryan Jones in front of 29 saves from Devan Dubnyk.
Jones, who coughed up the puck on Brendan Gallagher’s goal to make it 2-0 in the first period – I called it a "send-me-to-the-minors-right-now turnover" on Twitter – got the winner when he banged in a loose puck in the crease behind Carey Price. Again, as Eller said, Jones was all over the place.
Hemsky was absolutely terrific, save for failing to end any drama when he hit the post with Montreal’s net empty. Mark Arcobello picked up two assists and now has 10 points. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle each had two assists and played maybe their best games of the road trip when coach Dallas Eakins needed them most.
With Hall out for as long as a month, having to play six of their next 10 games on the road and lots of twists and turns to come as fans try to figure out exactly what this team is about, it’s probably best not to draw too many conclusions after this win, as big as it was.
All over the place, indeed. Eller was right.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.