We start a new weekly item today called, Tuesday Tidbits. After last night’s stunning come-from-behind Oiler victory, our timing couldn’t be better.
After two periods of the Oilers/Devils game Oilersnation was on the verge of a mental breakdown. The season was going to be over. The Oilers were destined for another top-ten pick, and I even received my first outlandish trade request of the season.
I was asked about a Nail Yakupov for Ryan Miller trade. Trading a 19-year-old first overall pick for a soon-to-be UFA, 33 year-old goalie, is the definition of panic. Or delusion. Calm down, three games does not make a season, but I don’t believe you can downplay last night’s third period.
Through 40 minutes the Oilers looked disinterested, excluding one excellent rush by Ales Hemsky, that actually started with a lucky bounce after a bad clearing pass.
It took the Oilers almost ten and a half minutes to register a shot on goal, and after 40 minutes they had more turnovers than shots on goal, eleven.
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Oilerville 20 this night…
But then they got a break.
Bryce Salvador shot the puck over the glass at 5:19 of the third frame, and that minor miscue injected some much needed energy into a listless Oilers squad.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored 24 seconds later on powerplay and suddenly the Oilers had a pulse.
- Three minutes and 45 seconds later Andrew Ference scored on a shot from the point, and Rexall Place erupted. Prior to that the biggest applause was for Joey Moss’ 50th birthday celebration.
- Two minutes and 19 seconds later David Perron ripped one over Brodeur’s shoulder and the game was tied. Prior to that shot, Perron, like most of his teammates, was fighting the puck, but once he scored you could literally see his body replenishing with confidence.
- One minute and 43 seconds later Taylor Hall found himself all alone in front of Martin Brodeur, after a nifty tap/push pass from Ales Hemsky. Hall made a quick move to avoid the pokecheck and slid it home for a 4-3 lead. Prior to that goal, Hall had been visibly frustrated. He couldn’t make a pass, and he’d been fighting the puck during the previous 153 minutes of play. His goal celebration and reaction seemed like more relieve than joy, but like Perron, suddenly Hall had confidence with the puck.
- To add to the drama the Devils got a lucky goal in the final minute to send the game to overtime, before Jordan Eberle and Perron displayed their version of shootout "Horse." Eberle went first, had a few quick stick handles/dangles, before roofing a backhander upstairs. Perron mirrored Eberle’s attempt, and then Jason LaBarbera stopped Ryan Clowe for the victory.
- The Oilers clearly needed the win, but I think the psyche of the fanbase might have needed it more.
By the sounds of it, some of you turned the game off after 40 minutes and missed the epic comeback, but for those who stuck through the painfully agonizing first two periods, for once you were rewarded for your undying loyalty.
- It was a great comeback, but it doesn’t overshadow the fact the Oilers are still turning the puck over far too frequently, and most of the turnovers are coming from their skilled forwards. Dallas Eakins will have lots of examples to show during their video session. If the turnovers don’t stop, I’m curious to see when or who he will use to make an example of. It is a bad habit that needs to stop, if the Oilers are serious about becoming a contender in the next few seasons.
- Ryan Hamilton didn’t come out for the third period, and for the final 22 minutes (17 regulation and 5 in OT) Eakins only used eight forwards.
Nugent-Hopkins played a career-high 28:12. Does anyone still think they rushed him back?
Hall played 25:44.
Perron played 25:15
Eberle played 22:34
Eakins isn’t afraid to use his skilled guys. I don’t believe he can use them that often all season, but they are young and in certain situations it makes sense.
- Anton Belov was bumped ahead of Ladislav Smid. Belov played with Petry and logged 21:33 of icetime. He looks more comfortable every game.
- Currently the Oilers have four of the top-14 forwards in TOI. Nugent-Hopkins is first, albeit in one game, while Hall is 2nd at 23:05, Perron is 11th at 21:39 and Eberle is 14th at 21:23.
- Last season, Carolina, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and the Rangers each had two forwards in the top-14 of TOI for forwards. I suspect you’ll see Nugent-Hopkins and Hall up there this year.
- So far Boyd Gordon has more shots, 8, than Yakupov, 6. That is great for Gordon, but Yakupov needs to use his potent shot more.
- 15 Oilers have points in the first three games. Only Yakupov, Belov, Nick Schultz, Mike Brown and Ryan Hamilton haven’t registered a point. That is very balanced scoring.
- Marc Arcobello is 3rd on the Oilers in hits with eight. He isn’t running over guys, but Arcobello has shown a willingness to finish his checks and get in the way. He’s done a lot of the small things well thus far.
- The Oilers have given up 15 goals in three games. That is horrendous. Neither goalie has been stellar, but they aren’t the only ones to blame. While the 3rd period was a treat to watch, the Oilers have to clean up their defensive zone before making stops in Toronto, Washington, Pittsburgh, New York (NYI), Ottawa and Montreal.
- Twelve of their next 16 games are on the road, which makes Thursday’s home game against the Habs a really-really-need-to-win game.
- It is early, but once again the Oilers are near the top in minor penalties. The Oilers have been shorthanded 13 times thus far. In the last three years, the Oilers were shorthanded the 5th, 5th and 3rd most times. They need to cut down on their penalties. It is a disturbing trend.
- Most teams have only played two or three game, yet we only have six undefeated teams remaining. Toronto is the only 3-0 team, while Pittsburgh, Boston, Colorado, St.Louis and San Jose are 2-0. I’ll pick the Penguins to have the longest undefeated streak, not including SO losses.
- Tough break for Fantasy Football owners of Julio Jones. He is done for the season. Ouch.
- I have no issue with the new Hockey Canada Jerseys. I think the white ones will look sharp.
- Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed won’t be back after the season, and I doubt many of the position coaches will be either. Rumours came out of Winnipeg last week that Stampeders D coordinator, Rick Campbell, is a leading candidate to replace Reed. That won’t happen. Campbell is a good coach, much better than some think, but Ed Hervey will hire someone with no previous connection to the Eskimos. He doesn’t seem like a revisionist history type of guy.