There are times when being a fan of a team is very rewarding, and for this Oiler fan last night ranks up there with anything these eyes have seen. Not because the game was epic–the refs turned it into a bizarre theatrical with obscure references (who the hell knows the rules by number–that’s un-Canadian) and scenes that resembled Slap Shot–but because the final results bordered on the impossible.
Look, we know the script here. Gifted kids combined with secondary moderns in their late 20′s (plus Hemsky) and older men who have adjusted to being Reg Dunlop’s in this piece.
However, on the way to another loss where frustration and anger won the day, a few things happened:
- they did not fold, they did not give up the goal that would have killed them
- Hall made tremendous plays all over the ice, including a late, goal-saving blocked shot and of course the turn around jumper that would end up giving a nice rebound for the tying goal.
- Nuge was on fire, he’s really a splendid young player. As with Hall, great plays in all three zones and holy hell can he win puck battles. We’re going to be talking about him for a long time.
- Yakupov‘s goal celebration obscured a solid effort for the young man. He had some chances, and his “God of Thunder” slap shots are still ringing in my ear. He’s not a hockey player, he’s a force of nature.
- Gagner had the magic tonight, he and Hemsky with the kid is kind of thrilling–and it’s the 2line! The goal wasn’t a work of art but it counts all the same. Passing the puck is such an underrated skill and all of these gifted kids have it. Gagner had stellar moments at both ends of the ice.
- Petry played all night to my eye and really performed well without Smid. Sometimes a defender can fall off without his partner, there was none of it last night. As he was carrying the puck out of harm’s way during one sequence, I was reminded that he once played LD for a time in OKC. Something to store away for a time when Edmonton has more than three RH shots.
- J Schultz is an absolute gift. He’s adjusting to this level, but even at that the young man creates so much every night.
- Fistric is a hammer, an absolute hammer. Bodies and sticks flying everywhere, and the best part comes when there’s no whistle for a penalty. Impressive first game.
- Dubnyk. Goalies are people too, and for our man Devan this was a stunning comeback game. Giveaways happened with the regularity one expects from a group of youngsters, but DD handled all but the breakaway to a sniper on this night. I don’t know who the stars of the game were, but I would have given him one.
Where do the Oilers go from here? Well, they are 2-1-0 in the new season and have a chance to put a hurt on Calgary Saturday night in the land of cows. Lets not get ahead of ourselves, the Flames are in such a bad frame of mind they’re considering bringing back a Sutter to improve the mood (not really), so its going to be a tough battle on the 2nd half of the HNIC game.
I think we’re down to a few items of need, though. Woodguy mentioned Mark Streit as a trade target, and that’s a nice item. If they could find a way to add a backup goalie under contract that cuts down on the work needed to do this summer and gives them insurance against Nik finding another malady.
For now though, lets just think about the beautiful goals, the great goaltending, the 2-1-0 record and the possibilities. I’ve had many times in my life where sleep escapes me, wish all of them were for this good a reason.