Edmonton lost to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. It wasn’t a surprising loss, both given the teams involved and that it was the Oilers’ second game in two nights (against a rested home team, too). But some interesting stuff happened on the ice.
Thoughts on the Game
- Nail Yakupov had a fantastic night, and his work on Edmonton’s second goal was a great example of the kind of thing he’s capable of. He looked good defensively too, backchecking hard and contributing physically at times. He was pretty decent against San Jose too, despite the miscue on the second goal. I wonder a little whether Dallas Eakins’ strategy is bearing fruit at even-strength because Yakupov looks a lot better than he has.
- With that said, the power play desperately needs a shooter. The 6-on-3 that generated no shots and no chances was embarrassing. I tend to lay the power play problems on coaching, too – Eakins has never really had a good power play and his personnel choices are hard to understand.
- Eakins’ decision not to use Yakupov on the power play is particularly interesting given his post-game comments. "I thought Yak made some great strides tonight," he told reporters after the game. "He had a good game and he really tried to play the way that we’re promoting here."
- The top line was a disaster for the third game in a row; on average the trio of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and David Perron are sitting at plus-eight/minus-27 in terms of scoring chances over that span. These are the three best forwards on the team this season and they’re a mess together. It feels like it’s time for a change.
- The Ryan Smyth/Boyd Gordon duo anchoring line three has been one of the nice surprises for Edmonton this season. they’ve worked well and that line has seen some tough minutes.
- Two-thirds of the fourth line actually had a pretty decent game. Luke Gazdic got the puck four times in the defensive zone and turned the puck over three times (he made a clear successfully on his fourth attempt). Both scoring chances against that unit came off lousy Gazdic turnovers.
- It was nice to see Brad Hunt get his first NHL game. He’s a super-enthusiastic guy both on and off the ice and it’s hard not to like someone with that attitude. After a rough start I thought he played pretty well in the game’s final 50 minutes.
- Both Ben Lovejoy goals, including the backbreaker at the end of the first period, were awfully ugly. Ilya Bryzgalov has generally been pretty decent for Edmonton and this game would have been lost with or without him but it’s hard to see those.
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