The Oilers win over the Anaheim Ducks wasn’t necessarily impressive because of who they played, but they did get the job done and have now split the first two games of this massive Pacific Division road trip. 
Again, I’m not sitting here and crowning the Oilers champs after a win against one of the worst teams in the NHL, but there were some nice positives that I think the team can use as good building blocks going forward.
Jack Campbell looked good in the game, posting a .913 save percentage. Hopefully, that gives him some confidence and leads to some more consistent results from the Oilers’ $5 million netminder.
Klim Kostin, Matthias Janmark, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were the team’s best line at 5v5 and considering how starved this team is for depth scoring, that’s a great sign.
Ryan McLeod didn’t score against Anaheim, but he did find the back of the net against LA and had a handful of really quality scoring chances against the Ducks. Again, this team needs depth scoring and him getting going would go a long way in that department.
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Again, no one is crowning them champions of anything after beating the hell out of the Anaheim Ducks but I certainly hope the team looks at what they did in that game and realizes that there were a lot of really good things that came from it.
That game was also our first look at Vinny Desharnais and I was impressed. When you see a defenseman listed at almost 6’7, you kind of know that you’re going to get some solid physical play but there’s always concern about puck skills and foot speed. Neither of those seemed to be an issue for the 2016 Oilers seventh round pick and I really hope we see him stay in the lineup on a semi-regular basis.
I like the idea of both Desharnais and Neimalainen working on a bit of a rotation to take some pressure off some of the Oiler’s regular defenders.
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The win against Anaheim was a solid building block and hopefully, the team can parlay that into a strong finish to the road trip because after all, we are currently on the #NationVacation and we didn’t come all this way to watch losses.
Getting all four points still on the board is going to be tough and they’ll have to play some really damn good hockey to pull this off. They won’t just be able to rely on their powerplay or anything like that, it’ll have to be a real team victory. Most of the time though, if a team is going to win two games in two nights, they need their goalie to steal them at least one. The Oilers will need a big performance from Jack Campbell or Stuart Skinner on Saturday vs Vegas. That’s my biggest key to victory: goaltending.
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The game against San Jose is another big chance to just give it to a lower-tier team, and we’ll be having a watch party at Toms Urban in the New York, New York so swing by if you’re in Vegas, and hopefully a bar full of Oilers fans in Vegas will get plenty of reasons to cheer hard tonight.
We are pretty much 24 hours into our trip now and it’s been a blast. There is nothing I love more than being in another city and seeing Oilers fans. The people coming up to us on the strip in their Oilers gear and just wanting to chat was unreal. The fan base travels really well and getting a chance to interact with people and just talk about the team is great.
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Our friends at AMA Travel also made this all so smooth. We got to Vegas on time, our transport to the hotel was seamless and there have been zero headaches. Awesome.
I’m sure you’ve seen some of the social media content, but we’re all having a blast and it’s only going to get better as we lead up to the big game tomorrow night in Vegas.