The Edmonton Oilers were able to exhale after ending their six-game losing streak last night. It is amazing how one win can relax a room and add confidence to the entire team. Practice, video session and the flight to Seattle will be more enjoyable, but outside of the team getting a win many players removed some rather large monkeys from their backs.
Derek Ryan scored his first goal, and point, in 23 games. He’s now scored on October 16th against Calgary and December 16th v. Columbus. You could see the relief and joy on his face after he scored. It wasn’t just that he scored, it was that he was on the ice when the Oilers scored. In his first five games Ryan had a 3-3 (GF-GA). But in the next 15 games, he didn’t register a point and was a woeful 0-13 (GF-GA). It was the worst stretch of his career.
But now he hasn’t been on the ice for a GA in five games and he’s scored once and is 3-0 (GF-GA). He has some swagger back in his game and the Oilers desperately needed him to find his game with Ryan McLeod, Devin Shore and now Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in COVID protocol. Ryan is the third line centre.
Brendan Perlini had a goal, an assist and seven shots on goal in 10:22 of ice time. It was easily his most impressive game of the season. In his first 13 games, he hadn’t even been on the ice to celebrate a goal with his teammates. He had an 0-4 GF-GA. Perlini was sent down to Bakersfield last week. He played two games and scored two goals in his first game. Those two goals seemed to reignite his offensive confidence, as last night he was using his dangerous shot much more often, and he had some jump in his game.
It was the fourth time this season he’s played 10+ minutes. Not a lot, but he made the most of his minutes. He had six shots on goal in his first 98 minutes, never more than one in a game, before firing seven shots in 10 minutes last night. I don’t expect him to shoot at that rate every night, but he seems to have rediscovered his preseason confidence, and his shot is his best asset.
Warren Foegele scored his first goal in 21 games. It was into an empty net, but look at his reaction.
Players don’t care if a goalie is in or not. When you go that long without scoring, any goal is cause for celebration. Foegele scored 2-2-4 and added 12 shots on goal in his first seven games. He had a good start. But in the next 13 he only mustered 12 shots on goal and had three assists. Then he started getting more involved again. In the last seven games he’s fired 19 shots on goal and finally ended his goal drought with the empty netter.
Confidence — or a lack of it, more specifically for these three players — plays such a vital role in the game. Foegele had been creating a lot of chances in the six-game losing skid, but couldn’t finish. I won’t be surprised if he pops two or three goals in the coming weeks now. He, like Ryan and Perlini, will be so much more excited and energized going to the rink and playing. We’ve seen it happen to every player.
Even Connor McDavid mentioned prior to the game how doubt can creep in. And he’s the best player in the league.
Add in Colton Sceviour scoring his first goal of the season on Tuesday, and suddenly that is four players out of lengthy offensive slumps. They won’t all continue scoring, but their overall game will be better for a bit as they have a renewed confidence.
With McLeod and RNH out for the next four games before the Christmas break, having some bottom-six guys find some offence couldn’t have come at a better time for Edmonton.
Losing Nugent-Hopkins will impact the Oilers’ penalty kill, power play and 5×5 play. Many different players will need to fill the void.
Kailer Yamamoto has played in the middle spot on the PP, so he could draw in on the first unit. And maybe that gets him going.
RNH has averaged the second most PK minutes/game among Oilers forwards behind Ryan. Zach Hyman is fourth and Devin Shore is sixth. Draisaitl is seventh so he likely goes up, while Warren Foegele is eighth, but he’s only played 24 seconds/game. I could see Ryan/Sceviour and Yamamoto/Draisaitl as the top two units.
Who takes his spot beside Draisaitl at 5×5 is the most interesting.
The Perlini-Ryan-Kassian line was very good last game. I could see the coaches sticking with it, at least to start. So that leaves Tyler Benson, Kyle Turris or Cooper Marody (who is the likely AHL recall).
Marody and Turris shoot right, but if you put Benson with Draisaitl and Yamamoto, then the fourth line has three right-handed shots. Not a big deal, but something to consider.
Perlini has the best combination of speed and shooting ability of the available options. I think he will get a look in one of the upcoming games, but they might not start him there tomorrow.
Who do you think gets the chance beside Draisaitl?
MONTH OF GIVING…
Thank you to Tom for his amazing bid of $10,000 on the A-1 Heating package. Awesome.
Day 13: Pyramid of Giving
We will build a pyramid of giving to help Adopt-A-Teen. It is a simple donation.
We will have 15 people donate $100.
10 people will donate $200.
Four people will donate $500
And two people, or companies, will donate $1000.
And we will raise $7,500 for Adopt-A-Teen. (Tax receipt included).
It goes from 2-6 p.m on TSN 1260. You can text the show between 2-6 p.m. at 101260 and include your name and donation. Thanks in advance.
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