Edmonton’s defence has been bleeding all season, and the St. Louis Blues aren’t the kind of team that lets its opponents get away with that kind of weakness. There’s a lot that went into the Oilers’ 5-2 loss on Tuesday night, but that was a big part of it.
The Rest of It
- The scoring chance numbers aren’t kind to him, but I think they lie a little about Justin Schultz tonight. Edmonton’s top pairing featured two players on the evening, and the veteran couldn’t seem to make a pass or win a foot race or for that matter catch a break. Schultz was smart all over the ice – he made a gorgeous pinch on the Arcobello goal, but he was economical in his own end and didn’t get carried away looking for points – and the coaches rewarded him with almost 30:00 of ice-time.
- Brad Hunt, on the other hand, looked like a guy who should get demoted tonight. He’s been a nice story for the Oilers and Barons; an undrafted, pint-sized defender who worked his way into an NHL contract, forced his way up the Oklahoma depth chart (and proved capable on his off-side when roster need pushed him there) and was thus in position to take advantage of an NHL opportunity. He’s an enthusiastic guy, a heavy underdog and impossible to dislike. He also isn’t as good as Taylor Fedun is today (again it’s worth mentioning that Hunt is on his off-side, while Fedun would not be) and now that Fedun’s healthy the Oilers ought to swap the two.
- Martin Marincin got exposed a little, particularly by Chris Stewart on the penalty kill in the leadup to Stewart’s goal, but he also showed some creativity offensively and there’s a lot to like there. On a real NHL team he wouldn’t be in the majors, but it’s nice to see he’s not as far away as we might have thought.
- Nail Yakupov might have been the Oilers’ best forward. He’s looked like a different player since his latest scratch, a much better, more committed player all over the ice. It’s too early to say he’s turned a corner, but his play of late is fantastic news for a team that could use it.
- For a guy with no footspeed, it’s amazing how much havoc Ryan Smyth can create on the forecheck.
- Twice Jeff Petry, who has an undeserved reputation for not hitting, laid the body in the defensive zone and caused St. Louis turnovers. It was nice to see.
- Jordan Eberle had an awful first shift, but he certainly recovered nicely as the game went on. That steal off David Backes in the Blues’ zone is something very, very few players can do.
- The Oilers didn’t quit when the going got tough, but they did get thoroughly outplayed by a better team. There’s not much to say about that; St. Louis is arguably the best team in the NHL today and the Oilers aren’t clearly better than anybody. It’s the kind of loss that just reinforces how far the team has to go.
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