Well, 80-2 is still pretty good. Final Score: 2-0 Senators
These past couple weeks have been a strange trip for Oilers fans. For the first time in years, we find ourselves getting excited about game days and checking the calendar with regularity just so we can plan our lives around when the Oilers play next. When was the last time that we can honestly say that we were looking forward to watching Oilers games? It’s a beautiful thing to have that feeling back and I wanted to see another win tonight. Although the Senators are a good hockey club, I considered this a winnable game for the Oilers and they needed to keep banking these early points.
The craziest part about this young season is that the Oilers have been finding new ways to win rather than finding every possible way to lose. To beat the Senators, the Oilers needed to keep repeating the things that have made them successful to this point. Before the game, Edmonton had been able to get great goaltending AND balanced goal scoring. They were going to need both of those things to keep the winning streak going and we all know how that went. We all knew that Ottawa was going to get a roster boost but also an emotional lift from the return of goaltender, Craig Anderson, who was away on leave after his wife was recently diagnosed with cancer.
As expected, Ottawa came ready to play but the Oilers weren’t nearly as sharp as they have been in the past four games. Their passes were sloppy, their breakouts were sloppy, and Craig Anderson sure as hell wasn’t going to let them have an easy goal. The Oilers came out flat and then found themselves chasing. Simple as that. Tonight’s game was also the first time the Oilers have been down a single goal going into the third period, and, aside from the game against Buffalo, the first time they’ve had a little adversity to battle through. Normally, we’d see Edmonton fold their cards and kick their feet up until the clock wound down to zero, but that’s not what happened. They fought back hard in the third period and put up more than 17 shots, but they ran into a red-hot Craig Anderson. Unfortunately, Craig Anderson was not going to get beat and the Oilers ended up wasting a very good third period. Now to figure out how to play like that for all 60 minutes.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Connor McDavid has rocket skates, and I assume it makes NHL defensemen crap their pants a little bit. I like to imagine the “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit” inner dialogue that’s going on in their heads (or out loud) as number 97 comes barreling in.
- What else can we really say about how well Cam Talbot is playing right now? The guy is laser focused, and I can only assume that the puck looks like a Buick to him out there right now. Talbot finished with 20 saves and a .951 save%.
- Another solid night defensively for the Pouliot-Nuge-Kassian, line and I’d argue that they were the best line overall. McLellan must have agreed as they were the only line that stuck together when the blender got fired up. They seemed to get better as the night went on and their offensive chances started to roll in. As soon as these guys can get a little puck luck they’re going to start adding points to their already stellar defensive work.
- The Oilers went 55% in the faceoff circle. There has been a gradual improvement over the last week or so. The centres went: Nuge 69%, Draisaitl 55%, McDavid 50%, Letestu 50%, Lander 33%.
- The penalty kill was perfect again, as they killed of both chances that they had to face.
- Shout out to Craig Anderson for getting himself back in the lineup as requested by his wife, and to the fans that cheered for him despite the fact that he was on the opposing team. As I mentioned earlier, Anderson’s wife was recently diagnosed with cancer and it was actually her idea for him to return to the lineup. That’s a fine woman, and we wish her the best in her fight.
- According to friend of the Nation, Reid Wilkins, the Oilers went 245 minutes and 57 seconds without trailing in a hockey game until Hoffman scored in the second period.
- Another solid night for Zack Kassian. You have to give the guy credit for embracing a new lifestyle and working hard to make the most of his opportunity with the Oilers. He looks two steps faster than he was at the end of last season and he’s making that Scrivens for Kassian trade look better by the day. The fight will be available on his fight card at HockeyFights.com later tonight.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Not a great start for the Oilers. The first period was very sloppy and they were lucky that one of their janky passes didn’t end up in the back of the net.
- The secondary scoring seems to have dried up over these past couple games. Connor scored the lone goal against a goaltender in Vancouver and the first goose egg of the year showed up tonight. It’s worth mentioning that the offense has dried up a little bit here. Now, everybody put thoughts of MOAR GOALZ out into the universe. Thank you.
- The Oilers had three power plays in the first period that resulted in less than five shots on goal. They could have had Ottawa in a hole early, but the PP was brutally ineffective one again. I get not scoring on every power play chance, but to struggle to set up as badly and as often as the Oilers do is troubling. The power play went 0/4 and it was one of those nights where they really needed a PPG.
- Quiet night from Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic tonight despite playing 20 minutes each. Lucic was replaced by Draisaitl in the third period and Eberle couldn’t find the net when we needed him most.
- The Oilers got hemmed in their own zone a few times with the Nurse/Gryba pairing on the ice. They weren’t as able to find each other as we’ve seen over the past week or so, and Ottawa seemed able to take advantage.
- The Oilers love to try cross ice passes in the offensive zone and they rarely work. There were a few instances when they’d throw the puck across the ice only to have it intercepted and moving the other way.
- Mike Hoffman hadn’t scored a goal yet this year and they spent a minute or two talking about it on the broadcast. As per tradition, Hoffman ended his drought against the Oilers. Such gracious hosts, we are.
- When are we allowed to have an Erik Karlsson? The way the guy can generate offensive chances from the back end is pretty special. Can you imagine having that AND Connor on the same team? Dare to dream.
|12:18||Ottawa||Mike Hoffman (1) ASST: Tom Pyatt (2), Kyle Turris (2)||1-0|
|19:27||Ottawa||EN – Bobby Ryan (3) ASST: Chris Kelly (2)||2-0|
BEST OF THE TWEETS
@OilersNation Every time McDavid turnstiles Phaneuf, an angel earns its wings.
— David Smitten (@DavidSmitten) October 31, 2016
Since Talbot is on such a hot streak, have we thought about putting him on the point on the PP?
— Loxy S Pumpkins (@loxyisme) October 31, 2016
@OilersNation I know. I’m jealous of Karlsson too.
— Ryan Byks (@IAmByks) October 31, 2016
Remember that time Smytty stayed out for like half the 3rd period to try to break a record? Can we do that with Connor to try to win?
— Kyla J Lane (@TheNationKyla) October 31, 2016
@OilersNation thanks edmonton for having such classy fans tonight 🙂
— Samantha Marples (@pngsensfan) October 31, 2016
NATIONGEAR POP-UP STORES AT VACANCY HALL
Before each and every home game we’ll be putting on a NationGear pop-up store at Vacancy Hall (10363 104th Street NW – in the Mercer building) for a couple hours before puck drop. Feel free to swing by before (store closes an hour before puck drop) to upgrade your wardrobe with the latest NationGear without having to wait for shipping.