Oilers crush Panthers in lopsided, not-close-at-all, 4-3 overtime win

 

Taylor Fedun scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game a little earlier tonight. Another rookie, Mark Arcobello, scored the first two goals of his NHL career – including the game-winner. Philip Larsen scored his first goal as an Oiler.

The offence came from unexpected places, but it sure came in handy against Florida.

In Brief

As I saw it, the Oilers were clearly the better team after about the five minute mark of the first period, and dominated the first two frames. With some exceptions (more on those later), the call-ups played quite well and the team as a whole dominated both the possession and territorial battles. The 3-1 lead got a bit of help from Jacob Markstrom, who wasn’t good, but on balance the Oilers firmly deserved to be ahead.

Then the team started sitting back. Maybe it was a change in strategy, maybe it was complacency; whatever the case, Edmonton allowed a decidedly mediocre Panthers team to crawl back into the game. First it was 3-2, then 3-3, and yet another loss seemed inevitable. Instead, the Oilers got an overtime powerplay and Ales Hemsky teamed up with Mark Arcobello to put the game away.

The Goals

The Panthers scored first on a shift where Ryan Smyth in particular took his sweet time moving and Sam Gagner was awfully passive. Marcel Goc had all the time in the world with Smyth, Petry and Ference standing still on the Oilers’ goal line.

There’s a lot to like about this goal. Whether it’s Ladislav Smid and Boyd Gordon making smart plays along the boards in the defensive zone, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rushing over to spring the rush or Philip Larsen reading the play perfectly, this was a great example of a team taking advantage of an opponent trapped way back at the far end of the ice. We’ve seen this goal a lot this year, but generally off the sticks of the opposition.

This one isn’t complicated. Mark Arcobello made a nice shot from nowhere dangerous and Jacob Markstrom misplayed it badly.

Normally I wouldn’t mention the stuff that happened right before the video started, but here it’s significant. Ales Hemsky went down to block a hard point shot, found the puck in his feet and knocked it to Nugent-Hopkins, who started the rush that’s in process as our video starts. That sent the Oilers away, and as they generally do Jordan Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins played the rush perfectly, culminating in Taylor Fedun’s first career goal.

This play starts with a grenade of an Eberle pass right up the middle in the defensive zone. Hemsky makes the simple ‘bank the puck off the boards and out’ play to neutralize it, but Scottie Upshall makes a great sliding block to keep it in the zone. At this point it’s a 3-on-3 and the Oilers should still be fine but Nugent-Hopkins gets puck-watching and that’s all she wrote.

Devan Dubnyk, feeling that it’s unfair for the Oilers to get a freebie goal and not give one up, mercifully allows the Panthers a guaranteed point for getting it to overtime.

What I like about this goal is its simplicity. The Panthers collapse to defend the 4-on-3. Hemsky and Arcobello swap places so that Arcobello can take the one-timer from the faceoff circle. Then they take the shot. If the Oilers could do this all the time, we wouldn’t spend so much time fretting over their power play percentage.

Lastly…

  • It’s always nice to see hockey succeeding so well in non-traditional markets. Also, hats off to the Panthers’ public relations people for handing out matching red shirts to create the illusion of an empty arena – that’s the kind of tongue-in-cheek humour everyone loves!
  • I’m pretty happy calling the first game of the ‘Ales Hemsky at left wing’ experiment a qualified success. The first line dominated scoring chances (+6/-2 at even-strength by my count) and looked a lot better than it has lately. I’d be comfortable leaving Hemsky there until Hall or Perron is back.
  • That second line is a mess, though. More than half of Florida’s chances came against them. I don’t know if it’s a function of Ryan Smyth being less than 100 percent, or Sam Gagner being less than 100 percent, or whatever’s going on with Nail Yakupov this season, but the whole line looked bad against a pretty weak opponent.
  • I go through stages of annoyance with the fourth line; tonight I was struggling to see anything positive out of them. It felt like they’d go out, quickly lose possession, and then skate around the defensive zone for 40 seconds until someone mercifully chipped the puck out of the zone and real hockey players could come back on the ice.
  • Regular readers know that I hold Jeff Petry in high regard; I think he’s the best defenceman on the team. He was a trainwreck tonight, though.
  • Philip Larsen looked pretty good on Ladislav Smid’s side, and once people get healthy I suspect he’d look even better in a third-pairing role where he’s asked to do less. What I really like is his ability to make short, safe passes that minimize the number of mistakes on routine defensive-zone puck-handling. Smid needs a partner with good puck skills; so to does Nick Schultz.
  • I can’t imagine there’s anybody unhappy to see Taylor Fedun make his NHL debut. The goal was icing on the cake but I liked his tenacity in the defensive zone; he seemed to engage well and win his share of puck battles despite being undersized.
  • I watched the Panthers’ feed tonight (I thought somebody, somewhere probably should) and the commentators ripped on Andrew Ference pretty hard for turning a first period power play into a four-on-four with some gratuitous cross-checking. Generally, I’m a fan of disciplined hockey but I have to admit that as a rule I’m okay with making it clear to an opponent that charging the crease has repercussions. That can mean a scrum, a fight, or in Ference’s case stickwork. 
  • Finally: did someone put a bounty on Nugent-Hopkins’ knees or something? 
  • **

    Considering how brutal the last 3-4 games have been, I thought we played pretty well.
    We looked dominant in the 2nd when we were riding the confidence high.

    I definitely think Willis is being harsh; I thought Petry played much better than the last few games; I also thought the 4th line had some good stretches out there.

    Dubnyk looked bad on that last one but to be fair it was quite the knuckler. Save still needs to be made though.
    I also thought senior Schultz played pretty well and has for the last week or something. Really the first time I’ve ever seen him good.

    • **

      No being fair here and I don’t care if it was a knuckler or not. No screen, no tip, clear sight line and it almost cost the game. For f**k sake Dubnyk, put your body in front of it.

  • Muji

    Well here’s hoping it’s not one and done . How would the Oilers fair it was 4 on 4 hockey the whole game ? I think rather well overall , and the entertainment value would sky rocket . We’ll call it the Oiler Rule .

    • Admiral Ackbar

      Imagine any Oil duo against Dats/Zetterberg or Toews/Kane or Hossa/Sharp or Crosby/Dupuis or Malkin/Neal or Lucic/Kreiji or Getzlaf/Perry or Thorton/Marleau or Pavelski/Couture or Brown/Kopitar or Richards/Carter or Backstrom/Ovechkin or Stamkos/St. Louis

      Wake up. The only reason we think the Oil are great is because it’s the only team we’re truly watching. They’d get eaten alive if the players noted above had more room.

      This team simply isn’t as good as we thought they were. Integrity, heart & resolve should all be in question when looking at this Oilers roster.

  • Still have problem with Dallas’s decision making
    1) goes with 8 forwards the last 15 minutes of game trying to hold on to the lead. Demonstrates the futility of the 4th line particularly Acton. Understand why you don’t put yakapov,eager and Gadzic out there but Acton is supposed to be a defensive specialist who can play wing–at least if he played those 15 minutes we would be rolling 3 lines. Why does Dallas not play him in this situation—simply put he is not good enough. Why isn’t he sent down- bad judgment to have the son of your Associate coach playing on a professional team. Anton Lander should be the 4th line centre on this team or let Arcobello play center and move Gordon to the 4th line. You can give Gordon extra minutes on the pk and power play
    2) why dress the 4th line against teams that do not have intimidating enforcers. For instance why were these guys playing against Detroit?it just meant that Detroit was able to roll with 4 lines against 3 oiler lines. Evens the playing field for Detroit who had to have some fatigue playing back to back.
    3) has anybody taught Yakapov what a shooting lane is?none of the coaching staff were goal scorers perhaps they don’t know this. He has to learn to move in the offensive zone to free passing lanes from teammates who have control of the puck in the corners. Most of the time he is standing still with an opponent between him and the puck. I would bet Rob Brown could fix this obvious deficiency in the kids game with a couple of on ice sessions with him. This is one of the major reasons he is not getting shots on goal.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Florida Goal #1 is everything that’s wrong with this team from Day 1 of the season – from a crap backcheck, to a lazy stick check, to poor coverage and a goalie with a .840 save percentage – if I were Eakins I would show that clip every day to these guys.

    I would follow with Fedun’s goal. . .. enough said. That effort is what we need. Huge smile to see him score that – I hope he celebrates big time. “Welcome to the NHL Mr. Fedun we are glad to have you!”

  • Chainsawz

    The score flattered the Panthers. They were totally crushed. Will the Oilers lose another game this year? I think not.

    I wonder if the cup parade will could come by Capilano? That way I won’t need to find a designated driver.

    Arcobello for Calder. Fedun for Norris. I’d like to say Dubnyk for Vezina but I’m trying to be realistic here.

    Okay, I’m peaked out. Ready to crash into another valley.

  • PlayDirty

    Well, I’m not a goalie, and never was, so maybe this isn’t fair comment. However, I think that if Dubnyk would just learn to resist the urge to drop to his knees so often, and just stay standing like the 6’6″ goalie he is, that would solve half the problem. We shouldn’t be seeing so many goals going in over his shoulder.

    If Chabot will work on that with Dubnyk, I think our goaltending would go from “average at best” to “better than average.”

  • **

    Justin Schultz is better with Belov than with Ference.**
    Jeff Petry is better with Smid than with Ference.

    **small sample size

    Perhaps Ference talks a better game than he delivers.

  • olesvenson

    Maybe I haven’t had enough coffee, but realistically the Oilers were lucky to get the win. 20 other teams would have taken advantage of them in the first 10 minutes. They were passive and showed very little confidence in themselves. The best part of this game was that it was the Panthers, it did allow the team as a whole to get some confidence and I would agree that they played better as the game went on. Not good enough to beat most teams in this league, but good enough to gain some confidence and hopefully generate some momentum going into the next two games.

  • olesvenson

    Wake me when the team is over .500

    They will steal no more evenings or money from me until the product is improved.

    Do I still care about the Oilers? Sure do.

    Will I continue to enable Lowe et al? Sure won’t.

  • DougWeightProblem

    Not sure Hemsky is getting enough credit for that block he made on the second goal. A nice example of his underrated defensive awareness and willingness to compete.

  • Well we won in spite of ” drop and flop Dubnyk”!

    RNH andd Gordon looked very good again. When Hall and Perron get back we should look like a NHL team again.

    Philip Larsen looked very good and poised………amazing he was delevering papers last year and this year he is in the NHL.