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.


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.

  • crobar

    The final two periods of the game provide a template of exactly how the Oilers need to play to be successful. No more high risk passes in their own zone, maintain a very high compete level, keep it simple, get it deep and forecheck hard. It is harder work and requires more discipline but winning is a lot more fun than losing.

    It is going to take time for Eakins to get them to play that way consistently, and they still have some holes to fill, especially on D, but maybe they learned tonight that if they play this way they are hard to beat when they get the solid goaltending Dubnyk is now providing. In short they are learning what it means to be professionals. They are definitely not over the hump yet. There will be many more nights when we grind our teeth in frustration, but we can see what direction they need to go, and how good they can be when they do.

    Now if we can just get one of the Capitals to take a cheap shot at them before Thursday’s game …. Eller is a good kid and a wonderful young player and he will learn from this.

    • Mike Krushelnyski

      Hey Pouzar99, I think you’re right, but I’m not sure if they’ve suddenly got it. Eakins has a team where the 5 young stars have all been able to do what they want their whole lives because they were talented enough to get away with it. So, is this a skillset or DNA? I see a difference between say, Arcobello and Pitlick having to fight and claw their way into the show against the young stars gliding around and doing dangles. Tambellini/Lowe built a team of “talented” players, but who won’t pay the price and go to the hard areas they need to in order to score. A good team can have a couple players like that, but 5? I don’t know if they can learn or not… I hope so…but can a player change who he is? Will they?

      • I don’t think the kids feel entitled. There are very few kids these days who get picked in the top 20-30 who are true prima donnas. The junior/ development systems just don’t allow for it anymore. Our kids have had 3-4 coaches depending on how long they have been with us. They haven’t had any consistent mentorship from our veterans. The end result is they haven’t developed as quickly in some respects as they would have in Detroit or Chicago. That said, they have probably honed other aspects of their game more quickly. A good comparable may be Seguin – he plays a more structured game than Hall but hasn’t broken out offensively given the system/ veteran team he played for. Which is better? Depends on the team. I’d rather have a complete player and I think Eakins has the potential to get our kids to that point.

  • Rdubb

    Pitlick brought it tonight and that was great to see. Might his performance inspire some of the ‘slow-to-get-it’ Barons? He handed some great checks on the Habs D pairings. When a player sets the physical tone from the 3rd/4th line that represents real progress and dare I say it…a little hope?

  • oilabroad

    Robin, I have to admit nothing Eller said is really wrong per se (other than he shouldnt have said it), this team is a bit of mess… shouldnt this be an indictment of the system Eakins is trying to implement??

    Secondly, I have become a fan of Arco, what would you do when Gagner comes back? I dont think I could take Arco off that line, he is superior in both faceoffs and in his own zone. Is it time to move Gagner to the wing?

  • Admiral Ackbar

    A few things I noticed:

    The Oil looked great protecting their lead. They were composed & even kept the foot on the gass for a while. I don’t know about y’all but I have a great feeling of security when I see Perron with the puck. He just doesn’t make any bad plays.

    Yak looked bloody horrible last night. He just looks lost. Is this because Eakins is forcing them to play a more North American game & Yak can’t adjust? Is it moving him to the other wing? Why the hell does he look so directionless? He’s soft on the puck, out of position & a giveaway machine!

    I’m more impressed with Belov every game. He’s providing solid, cheap 3-4D minutes. Sign him, he’ll only get better. Plus it gives Yak someone to talk to.

    You know who still looks weak although he played a lot better last night? Justin Schultz. I agree that a night in the press box would do this kid good.

    Thanks for the win Oilers, though that depleted Mtl lineup should’ve been destroyed. Keep em coming.

    • Yak looked bad, but if my memory serves me, Hall looked awful quite often his first season. Yak is only 50 some odd games into his career. He looks bad rather often because he is young, immature, and inexperienced.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Belov looks like that defenceman we have been looking for, it is taking time for him to get use to the NHL ice size, but he gets better every game. Even Dallas said he did not know much about this guy but every game he uses him more and more. his abilty to get the puck on the net and keep it low is amazing when the forwards get use to it they will start cashing in on more of his rebounds!

  • On a positive note, Belov and Petry look great. One of my basic understandings of the swarm is that the d man always pins his guy when he has the puck… Something I’ve only noticed Belov and Petry do consistently. Ference and Smid do it fairly often, but Jultz seems to do it less than half the time.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    This team is getting dangerously close to being good 5v5. If the powerplay can actually start functioning the way it should be, that would go a long ways towards righting the ship.

    Here’s hoping for 6-3-1 in the next 10.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    ‘Thanks for the win Oilers, though that depleted Mtl lineup should’ve been destroyed.’

    Didn’t we have a depleted lineup as well? Depth baby, depth.

  • DAM YOU ARCOBELLO!!! Could have traded Gagner for help in other areas had we’d known about this performance! LOL

    Good problem to have – if Eakins is true to his word about demonstrating compete in order to stay in the lineup THERE IS NO WAY Arcobello should be returned to OKC once healthy bodies come back.

    • 2004Z06

      MacT stated that he wanted Arco to play last year when we needed a centerman (you know, that brief stretch of 20-30 games when we only had one NHLer in the middle?!). Tambo strikes again. How does he keep doing it?

  • Rambelaya

    Duby made some key stops at critical times of the game, not just the first period. People are quick to jump on him when he lets a bad 3rd-period goal in, but everyone’s strangely silent when he locks things down. Good for him, that’s what the Oil need. Not elite, just solid. Well done.

  • 2004Z06

    I’m not sure what Eakins was thinking but if he feels we need guys like Eller as motivation to win……….we are in trouble.

    If I were Eakins I would have accepted the gift and kept my mouth shut! Eller is saying what every player in the NHL is thinking…….good individual players playing for a coach that has no systems.

  • 2004Z06

    Biggest credit needs to go to Dubnyk. He made big saves throughout the game but especially during the first period when the majority of his team looked like garbage. If he didn’t play the way he did in the first, it would’ve been at least 4-0 for Montreal and there would’ve been no way the Oilers could come back from that.

    I’ve said it before, if your team scores 4 goals, it’s the goalies responsibility to make sure that’s enough. Dubnyk did that.

  • smiliegirl15

    Yak shouldn’t be having any problem with the “North American game”. He’s only been playing over here for how long now? He played two years with the Sting and this is his second year with the Oilers. I think he’s just having a little sophmore slump.

    Here’s your chance kid! Do something with it!!!

  • Cowbell_Feva

    To me, the key to this victory was having 2 good checking lines rolling ALL game. Even late in the 3rd period there were bottom 6 Oilers pressuring MTL’s defensemen and banging the body.

    It didn’t take long for the MTL Dmen to fire the puck off glass and brace for impact. Amazing what an actual fore-check can accomplish.

    This kept the top 6 more fresh and it got us a victory in a tough barn. If the Oilers can keep those bottom 6 guys rolling like they did through 60 minutes I think the rest of the team will benefit and gain confidence.

    Its a start.

  • bhlazo

    Thanks for helping me illustrate that changing the spelling of something does not change the intent of the message. No harm intended except to one ignoramus who is not YFC