The Day After 32.0: Edmonton Oilers make statement in thrashing of Sharks

Photo credit:Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
5 months ago
That was personal.
Anyone thinking otherwise would be naive, given the fact that 49 days prior to last night’s 5-0 win over the San Jose Sharks, the Oilers paid a different visit to them. It was that fateful night the  Oilers fell 3-2, driving the dagger into Jay Woodcroft’s tenure as head coach of the Oilers.
As he and assistant coach Dave Manson walked off the ice, the former said to the latter, “that might be it.” Three days later, they were shown the door.


So when Connor McDavid, Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins came out the gate for a dominant first shift of the game, there was no surprise that it led to a goal before 60 seconds wound off the clock.
It’s no surprise that the Oilers won, with four goals from the offence and a 25-save shutout by Stuart Skinner, his second of the season.
Message sent.
“When you look back after that game, the energy and whatnot of the guys was not at its highest point,” said Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. “Looking at it now, and where we’ve clawed our way to, I think it’s been a great step and shows the resilience of our group.
“At the end of the day, you look at the standings and where we are, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Everything that needed to and should’ve gone right for the Oilers did. It wasn’t just the feverish start to the game but the strong defensive play, too. All night the Oilers limited the Sharks’ chances, most of which came in a second period where they pushed hard.
Bend, no break: a much different story that what happened last time the Oilers were in town. That one saw the Oilers come out strong out of the gate, but they couldn’t find a way to get on the scoresheet. San Jose took a 1-0 lead, and despite Darnell Nurse scoring early in the second, the lead was regained and the Sharks never looked back. This time, the Oilers were able to take the lead and not look back.
“I think the guys were focused, ready to play,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said. “The break is nice and everyone enjoyed it, but obviously they know there’s work to be done. San jose hasn’t been playing their best, but I think we weren’t taking anything for granted, and we came ready to play.”
And now, the Edmonton Oilers are above .500 again — but that’s not good enough for this team.
“No, I think we’ve got a lot of things to work on,” said Knoblauch, when asked if he felt his team should be one game over .500. “We are getting better. If we’re not getting better each day, teams are going to be passing us, and we’re not in a position to do that.
“We need to be getting better because we’ve got a lot of teams to pass if we’re going to make playoffs. I like where we’re going, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
That will continue Saturday night for the Oilers as they remain in sunny southern California to take on the LA Kings Saturday night.

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@thenationnetwork.com.


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