CAM TALBOT: BALLS OUT IN BEANTOWN

The Edmonton Oilers needed the kind of performance they got from Cam Talbot against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden to kick-off a four-game road trip Monday. Likewise, Talbot needed exactly the kind of performance he delivered in a 3-2 overtime win.

It was the kind of game that could’ve and probably should’ve got away from the Oilers well before the second intermission. Had that happened, it might have meant the crease getting away from Talbot, who instead served notice he isn’t nearly ready to loosen a tenuous grip on the blue paint yet.

With Anders Nilsson having snatched the starting job away, Talbot, making his first start since Nov. 27, made a career-high 47 saves to baffle the Bruins, backstop the Oilers to their sixth straight win and begin to re-stake a claim to a job most observers thought was his going into this season.

After sitting on the end of the bench, cheerleading and watching Nilsson eat his lunch over the course of seven straight starts, Talbot stole two points for the Oilers and injected some drama into the competition in the crease for the first time in several weeks.

MONEY WHEN IT MATTERED

“It was a big confidence builder for me,” Talbot told Sportsnet host Gene Principe. “I think that might have been my best game all year.”

Rather than force Talbot to shake off the rust against his former team in New York tonight, Todd McLellan handed him the keys against the Bruins. It did not necessarily set up well for Talbot, who’d had his confidence drained with losses in his last four appearances.

Talbot was less-than-stellar in all of those games, posting save percentages of .875, .857, .857 and .844. Had Talbot done another face-plant in Boston, it’s anybody’s guess when McLellan might have gone back to the guy GM Pete Chiarelli gave up three draft picks to get.

While this performance – his 47 saves on 49 shots is .959 — doesn’t put Talbot back on even footing with Nilsson, it at least gives him a shot of confidence in a season that had seen him win just three times before beating the Bruins. Having joined the Oilers with a career .931 saves percentage, Talbot was a modest .889 this season when he took the crease in Boston.

TAKE THE POINTS

CatBurglar

The Oilers have played well in a handful of games that they’ve lost this season, which is cold consolation. Has there been another night in the first 31 games when they were outplayed as badly as they were by the Bruins and still got away with two points? I don’t recall one.

The Bruins outshot the Oilers 7-1 to start the first period before Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made it 2-0 against the flow of the play. The Oilers were outshot 10-0 to start the second period, before Matt Beleskey cut it to 2-1, and 18-3 overall. 

“We were able to weather the storm early and get a couple quick goals, but then I think we kind of sat back a little bit and let them dictate the play,” said Talbot, whose previous career high for saves in a game was 38. “They’re too good of a team to allow that.”

“It seemed pretty busy for most of the night. The first period, not too bad. They started off pretty quick and then they kind of slowed down and we turned the page on them. During the second and third it seemed like we were hemmed in our end a little bit.”

McLellan was more direct: “We’re a smart group of players but we know we stole one here.”

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  

    • vetinari

      Wait. That shaved bear on skates was really Chara?

      But seriously, I’ve noticed over the last 10-12 games a better commitment to a physical game from the Oilers, and better decision-making by the forwards.

      At the end of a shift or stacked up at the other team’s blueline? Dump to the corner, chase, hit and fight for control of the puck and cycle to the point. A year or two ago, forwards would try a toe drag and try to beat two defenders, lose the puck and watch it go back the other way. Now, it’s a different story and I actually look forward to game night again.

  • Anton CP

    we didn’t deserve to win and I’m not even mad about it.
    Talbot SHOULD have been better to start the year.
    guy played unreal and then didn’t get the memo to hug the post. tie his leg to the posts in practice.
    amazing what 6 wins in a row can do.
    is the pain and suffering over?
    cannot wait until we get our top ( 2nd?) line back.

  • TheBirdOfAnger

    I also liked the fact that JJ went after Chara.

    Did you happen to notice that Chara got JJ in the face with his stick when they were getting untangled?

    I am sure the referees thought it was accidental. After all, they didn’t call a penalty on the play.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    A big difference when we don’t get last change isn’t it . Todd M cant get Hall and Dri away from the other teams top checkers and it makes a big deference .The Nuge and Eberle are going to have to carry the mail on the road trip because Hall and Dri are not going get a lot of room to move around .

    • Chet.

      Boston is a tough team and the Oilers let them play their game. Hall and LD have been playing fantastic against the majority of the rest of the 1st and 2nd line’s in the rest of the league.

      It’s one game against a strong team, Hall and LD are perfectly fine.

    • Danglishish

      Proven wrong in T minus 8 hours 47 minutes… ?

      I understand what you’re saying, but the reality is that ALL top lines in the NHL play road games where they get unfavorable matchups, and they still succeed most of the time.

      Soooo, unless you think Drai and Hall can only play against not-great defenders, I suspect you’ll be proven wrong in short order.

  • Jay (not J)

    Talbot was truly awesome. Those soft skill kids looked pretty good in the OT as well. Here’s hoping that tonight they can rebound from the way they played last night and keep this run rolling.

    • Chet.

      They sure did play really well for being “soft”. *shakes head*

      Why do people call the skilled guys soft? Because they aren’t built like Lucic or something? Eberle gets hit and gets right back up. Nuge is a great two-way player. They are tough and clearly have no problem playing in the NHL.

      What a soft comment more than anything.

        • Zarny

          Except, both Eberle and Nuge are soft. They are knocked off the puck easily, knocked down easily and don’t win many 1 on 1 physical battles.

          It’s not about being the size of Milan Lucic. Watch Brad Marchand or Claude Giroux play. There is a difference.

          Fans need to quit being so sensitive. No player is perfect. Patrick Kane’s game is more soft than not.

          And many seem to miss the context of recent trade rumors. They have nothing to do with the shortcomings of any particular player.

          In year 6 of a rebuild the Oilers were sitting in 30th place, again, with a gaggle of skilled forwards and not enough high end D.

          If you think waiting is the answer that is your prerogative; but don’t fool yourself into thinking Nurse and Klefbom are already top pairing D. They aren’t and McDavid’s ELC could expire before they are.

          And when you have a glaring hole on D like the Oilers it makes sense to move one of the multiple young forwards they have to fill that hole.

          Are you going to trade McDavid, Hall or Draisaitl? No, as good as Eberle and Nuge are all 3 have been better this year.

          Would the Oilers prefer to move Yak or Schultz instead? Of course. The problem is neither has enough value to get the D the Oilers need in return. If they did Chiarelli would have made that move 3-4 months ago.

          By process of elimination you are left with Nuge and Eberle. That’s all there is to it. Doesn’t make them bad players or undesirable players. Quite the opposite. They are elite skilled players who are valuable enough that a GM might part with a high-end D to obtain one of them.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Watching the second period was like a total shell shock. The whole team looked totally lost 90% of the time except Talbot. Was so good to feel good about Talbot. I really miss McDavid passing to Yak!

    • TKB2677

      In the 2nd period the Bruins began making tactical adjustments trying to shake the game loose out of the Oilers grasp , the Oilers WERE NOT LOST 90% of the time as the game progressed…the Bruins were the ones thrashing around in the water not the Oilers.

      Yes the Oilers were holding the line and the Bruins were throwing desperation Plan-B type tactics at us,and this is what Mac-L was aiming for,perfect IMHO.

      There was virtually nothing to add to Mac-Ls System focus last night,all he needed was a wee bit of micro-management offensively….and this need for only “tweaking” is a very good sign….it means we have a stable process and we can make impactfull adjustments without making structural changes to our System.

      Mac-L made a huge effort to keep things KISS last night,and it paid off,the men and Mac-L are learning to trust their KISS process,as they should.

      This is an Oilers System which has been dialed in for them,this base-process Mac-L is running is now stabilised and producing consistant sympathetic dynamics….all Mac-L needs now is accurate superior impactfull real-time IDA and IDM Tactical data fed to him during games to win every time.

      Unfortunately the fLames happen to be in the same position as the Oilers….lol….working towards the same process goals…lol…building a solid base-System which fits their Teams personality…then applying an optimal NHS System Management Program to it.

      Both teams now require the key-stone inputs of an Intuitve Empath to engage their Systems beyond 2nd gear.LOL…..on the flip-side both teams are extremely vulnerable to being terminally dissected at any time by an Intuitive Empath who understands the NHS.

    • Chet.

      I don’t understand why you wouldn;t want to start the guy who just won you game the last night again against his old team in his old barn? What does that say to the guy that he plays the best game of his career, but he’s not good enough to play again the next night? He’s a professional athlete so i can’t take the fatigue thing as an excuse, especially since he hasn’t played in weeks. I say ride him while he’s hot. The oil owe him a way better game then they played last night.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    I really am amazed at the ability of Coach McLellan to play who he wants when he wants. To not play the players for nostalgic reasons takes big kahunas!

  • TheBirdOfAnger

    It was nice not having to think, “Oh, a soft one is going in anytime now.”

    Even though he let one soft one actually in, I had no doubt he would hold it down the rest of the way.

    I could get used to this “good goaltending” thing.

    • Chet.

      lousy knucklepucks!!!

      He’s probably going to be practicing hugging the posts again today. It was a tricky shot, he just has to stay tight to the post until the puck leaves the area. He played very solid. It could’ve been way more if it wasn’t for him.

  • vetinari

    Eberle’s skill at elevating the puck makes me think he should change his name to ‘Roof-us’. Scary wrist-shot.

    RNH was flat-out flying. He is skating as fast as I’ve seen recently.

    Talbot was in fact balls-out but for me the best quality was his confidence. The heat was on high for all three periods and he was focused. The first gal went in off Nurse and the deflection off Gryba was a reaction play of the first order. Good on him.

      • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

        Flames fans who hate to see us closer to playoffs then they are, Boston fans who watched Talbot beat them again(they thought the trade fixed that problem), Ranger fans who are not happy if Talbot turns in to a #1, Nucks fans who just hate everything except trashing their own town. Thats who trashes that.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Wait a second…..Has Ruben Bronte gone soft on us? A dreaded F-word reference on one of his articles, and nothing??

    IMO the only thing softer is Teddy Purcell.

  • Oilers-Entourage

    Im not used to winning. Its always me talking about how we could have won but didnt, shout out Oilers for giving me hope in december!!!! Playoff spot, without McDavid too wait till he comes back!!!

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Talbot was totally awesome last night and Eberle’s slick shot and pinpoint accuracy around the net seems to be coming back..

    The Oilers need Klebom back though… hopefully quicker than what has been reported.

    Finally, a streak of 6 games of the positive side for a change… and I would hope that it continues a bit more because it has been sooooo long to see.

    This will be excellent if both Nilsson and Talbot can keep hot goaltending going because this team needs it big time until the Oilers get one to two more top-D changes to the defence pairings.
    That being said, I am very happy with the progress from those kids of Klefbom, Nurse, and Davidson.

    Tonight its the Rangers so GO OIL!!!

  • crackerjack14

    We’re in playoff spot. We’re in a playoff spot? WE’RE IN A PLAYOFF SPOT!

    Holy frig! This is weird and amazing. And we’re doing it without the Pouliot-McDavid-Yak line. Unbelievable.

    It’s got me wondering that if we’re able to stay in the hunt come the trade deadline, what does Chiarelli do? Trade players for picks, or trade picks for players?

    • freelancer

      Yeah, the fact that we are missing what was our second line at the beginning of the year and doing this is amazing. Will be some very interesting conversations as these guys start coming back.

      As for trades let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Having said that if we are still competing come deadline time I would hope Chiarelli would work to improve the roster.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    The oilers are winning a lot of games they should have lost in this winning streak. Which is good because for the last 9 years this team has been losing a lot of games they could have won.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Just want to add and I think this needs to be credited to Coach McLellan as it was a pretty clever move;

    After Marchand had scored to make it 2-2 McLellan opted to challenge the play knowing that the goal was most likely to stand. He was asked after the game about why he chose to challenge the play and risk losing his timeout.

    His response was (and I’m paraphrasing here) “At the moment of the game I knew having a timeout would only give us 30 seconds where as a coaches challenge would give us 2-3mins of rest and slow down Boston’s momentum”

    That is brilliant coaching. With only 4 mins left it slows down the Bruins and gives his players a longer period of rest then his original timeout that McLellan eventually lost.

  • geoilersgist

    If NN can do what Darnell Nurse has been doing, mainly playing defence over offence, we just may have found a player.

    The whole “less is more”, seems to be working for DN, BD and hopefully NN. Cam Talbot played a statement game…….I hope that he pushes hard, we need two good goaltenders.

    Robin did you think that JJ had a good game? Methinks he was trying to do too much last night.

  • ATL Oiler

    After all these years of awful goal tending, it is great to see our guys steal one or two away.

    “but the Oilers played bad,” you say? Well Talbot’s an Oiler, and as long as the forwards get a goal or two, sometimes all you need is for that one guy to play great.

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but other than a post or two, did Talbot really have to make any highlight reel saves? Maybe the one that went of someone’s skate.

    • Chet.

      I think Talbot was just in on every puck, he had a couple of more important saves, but nothing really highlight worthy, which means he played a strong and simple game!

      Atta be Talbot!

    • Señor Frijoles

      This is a great point. Yes Talbot played great and made 47 saves, but the Bruins basically had no Grade A chances. Most of his saves were routine – he just had a LOT of them because we could never maintain possession.

      Our defensive coverage is much better this year even if we’re being outplayed in our own zone, and they cleared every rebound last night.

      I remember toward the end of the broadcast the Bruins commentators had the “Save of the Game” and it was basically a routine save from Talbot. A Bruin just wacked at a loose puck and Talbot got his blocker on it on the ice. If that was his toughest save then the D did something right.

      • Anton CP

        I saw very little of the game last night but I did see a Talbot hi-lite package. It looked to me that he made quite a few big saves, though maybe not that they looked dramatic.

        Bounces. Defections. Rebound control. From what I seen it was far from a routine 2 goal performance.

        • Goaltenders who get caught out of position can make routine saves look spectacular because they have to move more to make the stop.

          Talbot was very settled and solid positionally last night. He didn’t give the shooters much. I wouldn’t call his performance spectacular, but he was very, very good.

  • TheBirdOfAnger

    Way too early in the season to brag about Playoff spots. Some other Teams got 2 games in Hand. Lets wait and see. Tonight the guys who didn’t show up last night better get on the ice and perform. Hall-Drai. They were flatter than a pancake last night. There is still a fundamental problem on the blue line. D doesn’t show and relies on the goalie too much. 49 shots last night. Bad performance by the D again. As TM said stole the game. Could have been 10-2 after P1.

    • Ready to Win

      I don’t think anyone is bragging, so much as expressing elation and relief. The previous two years the Oilers were out of the playoff picture by the end of November and after the Leafs game on November 30th there was no shortage of people declaring this to be another such year.

    • _MonsterPerformer_

      Every team in the league wins one or two games a year the way the Oilers did last night, who cares what it “could have been”!

      As Oilers fans, it’s been a long time since we’ve been competing for a spot in the playoffs at this time of the season, so how about you allow fans to be fans and let them get excited at the position we are in.

      Instead of complaining about how Hall and Drai played (which wasn’t flatter than a pancake) why don’t you keep constructing your little trade proposals of how you can get rid of them and get back to us in a few years (when Hall and Drai are STILL on the team).

      Thanks and go away with your negativity on a 6-game win streak!!!

  • ATL Oiler

    Nothing better than reading ON without the haters! Also, just got my ON stickers and props to United Cycle for making it happen. Just need to decide if it goes on the Jeep, truck or my ass STREAKING!! GO OILERS GO!!

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    I have a real hard time listening to the play by play with those strong ‘Baaston’ accents, so I turned the volume right down and it worked. I wasn’t too stressed, even tho we played a crappy game, faith in Talbot emerged very early in the game, and by the time we went to OT I was pretty confident for the win. Yes we stole it, we certainly didn’t earn the win, but seeing as how we earned wins but lost several games early on in the season, I will take this win VERY happily! Way to go guys!

  • ATL Oiler

    I am unbelievably stoked that we are winning games.

    BUT

    All this playoffs talk is waaaaaay to early to get excited about. I am excited personally that we are one win away from .500 (excluding Bettman points), but we are 3 points away from the basement with 2 more games played… Not to mention winning games we have no business winning. Perhaps it is karma rewarding us for the blown games earlier in the year, or for our myriad of injuries, but watching the game last night brought up old memories of the Eakins era. Pretty much 9/10s of the game was a total fire sale. Drew cracked that the Zamboni didn’t even need to touch the B’s o-zone.

    I’m a true fan but years of despair may have made me jaded to ‘success’. Let’s hope Nilsson can get hot again and we can take another W from MSG.

  • Anton CP

    Kudos to Talbot and TMac.

    Goalie gets sat down. Then comes back with a stellar performance after getting 100% support from his coach and GM.

    It’s a new concept in Edmonton.

  • TKB2677

    You never like seeing the team play a bad game but Talbot owes the Oilers several games like that given he was the reason they lost several games early on.

    On addition, I think the Oilers goaltending in general owes the team MANY games as until this season for the most part, the goaltending has been a huge reason for some of the teams struggles as it just hasn’t been close to on an NHL level.