“Last night wasn’t our best effort, mine in particular, so we have to move forward and focus on tomorrow,” Cam Talbot said today after practice. Talbot hasn’t had many off nights, but last night was one of them. It was a game where his teammates should have bailed him out and scored five or six, because on many nights he’s been a main reason they’ve won games.
Talbot didn’t shy away from his off-night. He owned up to it and he discussed with me what went wrong.
“I was more or less too busy. The first one came through traffic and I didn’t get a handle on it. I tried to lunge at it to knock away the rebound, which I don’t usually do. That was out of character for me. On the third one I ended up over sliding, ended up on my butt and couldn’t recover. It was a night of bad recoveries and bad reads on my part. I haven’t had one of those for awhile and I’m looking to rebound tomorrow,” said Talbot.
Part of being a leader is admitting when you had an off night and not making excuses. Talbot has emerged as one of the most consistent Oilers, and the next time he has an off night, his teammates need to step up and protect him like he does so many nights for them.
The Oilers have won games when Connor McDavid has been average, and last night was an opportunity to do the same for their goalie. Next time Talbot has an off-night, they need to bail him out.
Credit Martin Jones for making three huge saves, two on Patrick Maroon, when the game was 3-1. If the Oilers score on one or two of those it might have been a different game, but they didn’t. Maroon was annoyed at himself. “I rarely one-time it. I probably should have cradled it and made a harder shot, rather than just get it away quickly. Credit him, he made a great save, but I need to bury that,” Maroon told me this morning.
Despite a sluggish start and some sloppy play, the Oilers still had some chances to make it a closer game. But it wasn’t meant to be. They still aren’t at the level of the Sharks. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but to be a top team, they will need to be more consistent.
Brandon Davidson was paired with Adam Larsson in practice today and expects to return to the lineup tomorrow. He’s had a very frustrating season, and really wants to have a strong final 39 games.
“I’m not happy with my year. I didn’t get off on the right foot with the injury, then this illness, and now I need to get things rolling towards the playoffs. I want to find my game and make sure I’m contributing going into the playoffs,” said Davidson.
He’s only played nine games, and we discussed what part of his game is the most difficult to pick up when he’s missed so much time.
“The reading and reacting. It is a fast game, and it seems slower from up top, but you lose that (reading/reacting) over time when you aren’t playing. I noticed it when I returned earlier this year. The game comes at you so much faster, and the only way to get comfortable with it is playing. I need to stay in the lineup, and I’m determined to not come out any time soon,” Davidson said with frustration evident in his voice.
Davidson had big expectations coming into this season, and he feels Matthew Tkachuk derailed his year with a cheapshot on opening night. He said “There is a right time and a place for everything. I want to make sure no one has to look after me. I can look after myself, so to speak, but we have teammates in this room who stick up for each other. I think that is one of the best part of this game and our team. It creates a comfortable environment. I want to take care of my own things, but it is nice knowing we have guys who will gladly do it for each other.”
I’m not sure we will see Davidson drop the mitts with Tkachuk on the first shift. Shoulders are very finicky and I don’t know how stable his is. The pulling and tugging that occurs in a fight is much different than taking a body check along the boards. We will see what happens, but the Oilers are a tougher, meaner team and the Flames are scrappy as well.
They are finally close in the standings — in a good spot, not the basement — and we might start to see the rivalry intensify as these teams improve and they have some characters in each room who can stir the pot.
- The Oilers had some new D pairs at practice this morning. Davidson skated with Larsson, while Oscar Klefbom was with Matt Benning and Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell were reunited. It looks like those will be the pairs tomorrow night versus New Jersey.
- Anton Lander was reassigned to Bakersfield and Jujhar Khaira got recalled today. Don’t be surprised to see both Khaira and Anton Slepyshev in the lineup tomorrow. I thought Lander had played well, but his footspeed is still an issue. The good news for Oilers fans is Jesse Puljujarvi will now play with a dominant AHL offensive center in Lander.
- Puljujarvi had one assist and no shots in his AHL debut last night. It will take him some time to find his offensive confidence again. Points will be great, but I want to see him shooting the puck more often, especially on the PP.
- Still no goalie move from the Oilers, at least not when I wrote this at 1:00 p.m. McLellan said the goalie situation will figure itself out in the next few days, which I assume means Brossoit and Gustavsson switching places, but maybe Chiarelli is trying to work a deal and they are also looking for a home in Europe for Gustavsson. The last thought is just an idea. I haven’t spoke to anyone in the organization about it, but it could be an option. I doubt it happens though. They will want to see what they have in Brossoit.
***Update at 4 p.m…Oilers recall Brossoit and send Gustavsson to AHL.**
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