GDB 50.0 Wrap Up: Matt Berlin is an NHL goaltender as the Oilers roll the Blackhawks 7-3

Photo credit:Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers
Zach Laing
9 months ago
Matt Berlin, NHL goaltender. Final score: 7-3.
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What a weird week of hockey it was. On Monday, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Johnny Gaudreau made his return to Calgary to take on the Flames, but they fell 3-2 in OT. Two days later, they knocked off the Oilers 3-2 in OT. Then, it was Chicago’s turn to roll through Alberta. They beat the wheels off the Flames 5-1 on Thursday night. Hopefully, you see where I’m going here, because the Oilers absolutely rolled the Blackhawks.
Jack Campbell got the start for the Oilers turning aside 22 of 24 shots. Stuart Skinner, who was going to back up, ended up missing the game due to illness. Emergency backup Matt Berlin, one of a trio of goaltenders for the University of Alberta’s Golden Bears, drew in to sit on the Oilers’ bench. With the Oilers racking up goals like it were nothing, the Oilers threw Berlin into the crease for the final 2:03 of the game. An incredibly cool nod from the organization, and he got the HNIC interview. Hang that towel up, kid.


The Oilers had a big boost in the lineup tonight as Evander Kane drew back into the lineup. I wrote about him yesterday, and his presence was a welcome addition back to the lineup. He plays with such a swagger and just having him on the ice seems to make every Oiler stand a little bit taller. It’s not hard to forget just how important he’s become to this group in such a short time, and you can see by the score last night that everyone was rolling. Six Oilers found the back of the net, and seven players had multi-point nights.
It wasn’t the prettiest game, at least to start. Edmonton looked sluggish to start the game. Through the first half of the first frame — despite a Tyson Barrie game-opening goal  — Chicago was controlling the pace of play, but that sure didn’t last long. The Oilers ramped things up in the back half of that period, however, starting to turn the game in their favour.
The second period, however, was a different game. Jason Dickinson had tied the game at 1 just 5:25 into that frame, but things turned around quick. Leon Draisaitl scored on the powerplay at 6:37 and the flood gates opened. Between the 12:15 mark and the 14:48 mark, Tyson Barrie, Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman each found the back of the net, and the train had more than left the station.
In the third, Evander Kane and Ryan McLeod each found twine while Jonathan Toews and Taylor Raddysh added two for Chicago, but those last two really didn’t matter.
For the Oilers as a whole, the upcoming All-Star break is a much-needed break in the schedule — as it is for most teams, to be fair. There’s no doubt that players are playing banged up at this point in the season, so 10 days without games is a great chance to heal some bumps and bruises. While I doubt there’s anyone on the Oilers roster is playing through things like Vancouver Canucks forward Ilya Mikheyev, who played on a torn ACL since their first pre-season game of the year, the break will be great for the players.
Edmonton comes back with a really nice stretch in the schedule. They take on the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 7 in their first game back, before taking on the Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and the Red Wings again on the 15th. The Oilers will have one of the softest schedules in the league down the back half of the season, so hopefully, they can do some real damage.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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