Off The Top Of My Head
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
When a reviewed goal involving Zach Hyman is allowed to stand, you know things are going the way of the Edmonton Oilers. That’s an understatement when it comes to what fans witnessed last night as the Oilers poured it on the Vegas Golden Knights 5-1 to even up their best-of-seven second-round series 1-1.
Let us count the ways. Leon Draisaitl scored two more goals to give him six in the first two games of the series and 13 goals after eight games in this post-season. Draisaitl put the Oilers on the board at 1-0 and made it 4-0 with his second late in the first period. The NHL record for goals in a post-season is 19, held by Jari Kurri, who did it with the Oilers in 18 games in 1984-85, and by Reggie Leach of the Philadelphia Flyers. He is outrageously good right now.
After a so-so effort by his standards in a 6-4 loss Wednesday to open the series, Connor McDavid was flying. He put the Oilers up 3-0 with a shorthanded goal and made it 5-0 on a power play on a short-side shot Laurent Brossoit had to stop but didn’t with the only goal of the second period. McDavid added an assist for a three-point game on a night Vegas fans hustled for the exits early.
Speaking of the Oilers power play, historically good during the regular season, it connected three times on five attempts in the first 40 minutes for big-time man-advantage flex to put the Knights in the bag early. The power play finished up 3-for-6 as Jay Woodcroft called off the dogs and went with his second unit on one chance in the third period.
WHAT THEY SAY
“I would start right off the bat by saying I liked the way our team responded,” Woodcroft said. “From how we played in Game 1, I think the true measure of any team is how you respond or how you react when things don’t go your way. Certainly, in Game 1, that game didn’t go the way we wanted it to. I think it was the first regulation loss in seven or eight weeks or something like that. So how we responded, I’m proud of our team.”
Stuart Skinner bounced back with 30 saves after being only OK in Game 1. Evander Kane was in the mix all night, getting into it with Keegan Kolesar on the ice and with a woman pressed up against the glass and flipping him off. To hear Kane tell it, his tussle with Kolesar was a case of FAFO. Body blows ensued.
Whenever the Golden Knights set out to let the Oilers know they didn’t much like the way the game was going, nobody looked the other way. This was one of those all-for-one games that teams with any intention of contending have to be willing to play.
“Certainly, if they want to run around and play that type of game, then we’ll play on the power play all night if that’s what they want,” McDavid said. “At the end of the day, we’re not going to sit back and take it though, either. I thought we did a good job of a good mixing standing in there and sticking up for one another and also kind of staying disciplined like we always talk about.” Game 3 is Monday at Rogers Place.
I had a visit with the Hockey Helps the Homeless crew and several of the Oilers alumni at Terwillegar Rec Centre Friday for the 2023 edition of their annual tournament in support of The Mustard Seed, Jasper Place Wellness Centre and Kids Kottage.
With more than $303,000 raised going into play Friday, this edition of HHTH represents a new high for donations for this event in Edmonton. That’s testament to the generosity of Edmontonians in the wake of two tough fund-raising years because of COVID.
Former Oilers’ coach Ron Low and wife Linda remain really big drivers behind the tournament, a fundraiser in which people sign up and raise funds to play on teams with Oilers alumni, Olympians and other players of note.
Charitable aspect aside, I enjoy the event because it’s a chance to touch base with players I knew during my days on the hockey beat. I caught up with Sean Brown, Doug Hicks, Terran Sandwith, Jeff Deslauriers and Chris Joseph. Georges Laraque, Kelly Buchberger, Charlie Huddy and Rob Brown played. HHTH always has a really good vibe all-around. It was a couple of hours well spent.
I ran into Steve MacIntyre Friday and we spent some time talking about the state of the game — specifically about how designated tough guys have been eliminated from the NHL mix over the last decade or so. Really, how many hammers are there in the league today? There was a time when every team had at least one enforcer and often two or three. Today, you can count them on one hand. After Ryan Reaves, who else?
Reaves, 36, was just coming up with St. Louis in 2010-11 when he ran into the six-foot-five, 255-pound MacIntyre, who was playing with the Oilers. Reaves is a tough dude, and there aren’t too many guys in the NHL now who can hang-in with him when the gloves come off. Of course, there isn’t anybody out there close to being as formidable as MacIntyre.
Anyway, there’s an interesting segment here about the first time Reaves and MacIntyre crossed paths in the NHL. It’s from the Cam and Strick Podcast, hosted by Cam Janssen, a teammate of Reaves at the time, and Andy Strickland in conversation with MacIntyre.
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