Cam Talbot went into last night’s game with a lot of things flying around his life—and delivered a tremendous performance. His save with seconds left off Jeff Skinner—who should call the cops, he got robbed—represents the kind of goaltending this town loves and has not seen consistently since Roloson.
IT DON’T COME EASY, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 0-4-0, goal differential -8
- Oilers in October 2016: 3-1-0, goal differential +2
That was a big victory last night and the Oilers (along with San Jose and Vancouver) rule the Pacific this morning. It was not pretty, but it was a gutsy effort and the two points are what matters. Front line offense delivered some, but the complementary sorts came through with flying colors to seal the win. Great defensive moments by Adam Larsson, Kris Russell and others were also part of the story.
- HD SC: 6-13 (31.58 percent)
- SC: 10-23 (30.3 percent)
- Corsi for 5×5 Percentage: 47.37
- Despite the W, teams don’t win many games with 30 percent of the scoring chances. If there is a concern for Edmonton this morning, getting the top two lines going has to be at the top.
DEFENSE LAST NIGHT
- Mark Fayne was playing well right up until the time he got hurt, and he got hurt early enough in the game for things to get difficult for the five healthy blue. Coverage issues were all over, the great part of the night involves insanely impressive recovery plays—which is not the same as good positioning and calm feet. Fayne played 1:15 of his time with Nurse, and they were good.
- Darnell Nurse had his best evening of the season by number and view; played with Larsson (6:46, 7-6 Corsi 5×5) most of the time. I thought they played well. Nurse was +1, had two shots and a blocked shot, and his Corsi for 5×5 percentage for the season is now 49.12—and that is a good sign. Early days, good arrows.
- Oscar Klefbom played 9:46 (8-8 5×5 Corsi) with Larsson and had three shots and a takeaway. He is so mobile that when he pulls out to pass it is like watching a race car wheel. Man I will never get tired of it. Wheel Oscar, wheel!
- Kris Russell had some outstanding moments last night defensively. He is going to be a fan favorite by the weekend based on blocked shots, great recoveries and mobile retrievals. Seriously good four games to start his Oilers career. Eight blocked shots (that is Smid, plus a little) last night. We would be wise to remember the numbers in his resume, while also acknowledging a strong and impressive start.
- Andrej Sekera was calm and effective, although the Corsi numbers crumbled in the third period. He is an excellent passer and recovers extremely well. Led all Oilers with 24:06 in overall playing time, he would be my defensive MVP in a strong field so far this year.
- Adam Larsson made one of the truly phenomenal defensive plays in recent Oilers history last night on what looked like a clear breakaway. I thought for sure there was a PS or a two-minute minor, but hell boys Larsson got it done without any penalty at all. That is a play we should remember if this team actually turns north this year. Had a fluke fall/giveaway late, Talbot bailed him out.
- Mark Fayne picked up the only points by a defenseman, with an assist.
- Cam Talbot made several excellent saves, culminating in the stunning grab off Skinner with the clock winding down. His SP for the evening was .939 and his seasonal total moved up to .886. A great night and we await news of two new Talbot children born in our town this morning. A helluva 24 hours for Mr. Talbot.
FORWARDS LAST NIGHT
- Anton Slepyshev had a terrific night, scoring an early goal that put Edmonton ahead for good. Had two shots, a takeaway, and had a good night on a line with Maroon and Leon. Skated miles, worked hard around the puck and was obvious many times in pursuit. Impressive game.
- Anton Lander played his best (imo) when on the PK, also helped out on a solid 4line with Mark Letestu and Tyler Pitlick. Seems to gain a little more footing each game, grabbed a point last night.
- Tyler Pitlick may have had his best game as an Oiler, scoring a fine goal, three shots and a takeaway. He was physical, a pain in the ass on the forecheck and did not lose a limb. I have always liked him, he seems to know what he is doing out there. Keep going!
- Connor McDavid did not post a point, but that was just a coincidence. If anyone could have hit an empty net, there would have been an assist. I liked plenty about his game (50 percent on the dot, drew some penalties) but a back checking play against Jordan Staal was my favorite moment. That is a Pavel Datsyuk kind of play, something this young man can and does make even at this point in his NHL career. Music! He tried to split the defense at least twice (once drawing a penalty), and in doing so reminded me of Peter Mahovlich—if big Pete had jet boots. He took some shots last night, teams are hacking him pretty consistently now.
- Patrick Maroon had a good night on a line with Leon and Anton Slepyshev, suspect we may see the trio again. Maroon has been a little quiet offensively, so a trip up the depth chart is also possible.
- Jordan Eberle scored, he now co-leads the team with three goals in four games. Also took a cross check (they talked about it like it wasn’t a big deal on the broadcast, but Eberle looked at least winded and possibly worse after the play). Four shots on goal, that top line now has seven goals in four games, on pace for 144 goals—that is Phil Esposito—Wayne Cashman—Ken Hodge level. I still think 82 is reasonable.
- Milan Lucic is skating better now, the line did get a goal but couldn’t make things work as a trio. It happens, suspect the coaching staff will continue with that group (despite the Nuge line struggling) through the 20 game mark—as long as the winning continues. Puck possession and control is key to that line, Lucic is excellent in this area, so one imagines Todd McLellan will use the trio heavily in the coming days.
- Benoit Pouliot had a nice recovery game, he was effective on the forecheck and avoided taking a penalty. He was quiet offensively—the whole line was—but they played the Stempniak line to 6-6 at Corsi for percentage 5×5. Not that it did much good—damn team got Stempniaked twice.
- Zack Kassian has better speed this year and played well to my eye, getting pucks deep and making life as miserable as possible for Carolina defensemen. No offensive looks I can recall, that shouldn’t be counted as a negative because he is a complementary performer.
- Leon Draisaitl had another good night, grabbing an assist and skating miles on a line with Patrick Maroon and Anton Slepyshev. He now co-leads the team with six points in four games, and represents a strong second scoring line on this team—no matter his linemates. I was worried about LD’s offense without Taylor Hall, but this has not been the case so far this year.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his line are not getting enough good looks, RNH getting three of the four shots on net for the group last night. I liked his game away from the puck, despite the possession number. When with Pouliot at 5×5, he was 60 percent Fenwick. He makes too much for a checking line, needs to post some offense.
- Mark Letestu had a strong game despite the Corgis. He was hovering around 50 percent when with Lander and Pitlick, but went 0-2 Corsi with McDavid-Eberle and Draisatl-Maroon. I like that 4line as it stands.
The Oilers gave Jujhar Khaira a push last night, placing him on a veteran line with Ryan Hamilton and Taylor Beck. He responded with two goals in a convincing 4-1 win over the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg last night. Other prospects who showed up in a good way include Nick Ellis (29 saves on 30 shots, .968), Joey Benik (empty-netter) and assists for Joey Laleggia and Jaedon Descheneau. Khaira and Braden Christoffer had four shots on goal.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. I know Bruce will want to talk about the Eberle hit and the breakouts breakdown. That and more from last night’s game, plus the sun and stars.
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. Blue Jays won Game 4 and now they need to win the next one. Are the bats alive today?
- Derek Taylor, TSN Details. CFL stories range from strange releases to late signings that could impact, plus a giant turnaround on the prairies.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.