If you’ve slogged through all of the Oiler games this season, then last night’s gem came as manna from heaven. A strong effort, overcoming evildoers and using brilliant skill to win the day against a legit (if flawed) opponent. Seems like a long, long time. It was possibly the most encouraging game all season. Seriously. They made mistakes and it cost them, but the Oilers appear to be improving in very specific areas that have to do with hard work, positioning and paying attention.
The coach is reaching them, they are listening and even more important, applying the lessons of the classroom to real life problems. Is our children learning? Last night, the answer was an overwhelming yes. Now, to do it again!
The defense seems to be coming together a little. Marincin-Petry worked very well (Petry had a Corsi for 5×5% of 61.9!) despite some mistakes (the play made by Petry was pivotal to the game until it wasn’t, one of the few times in this season when a defender got off the hook because the team won a game. I was glad for him, Petry’s going to be a good NHL defenseman for years to come) and all of the blue were 50% or more at Corsi for % 5×5 last night.
I hope they keep Belov around, there’s some skating issues but he brings some interesting things to the game. Justin Schultz has had a miserable season but lately there are some signs of good things, and Martin Marincin has been a revelation. A little early for me to crow about Stu MacGregor’s second round picks, but this young man is certainly establishing himself as one of the 6 best options every night (it’s actually a little better than that, but let’s slow play things).
David Staples has a must-read article up at the EJ, it is here.
- MacT: “We have a hard time sustaining the O-zone (offensive zone) play, even with our best players. They are quick attack guys. So it’s either a five-star play or it’s a one (shot) and out. We consequently spend a lot of time in our defensive zone because we don’t sustain in the offensive zone. So we’re flawed there. Our defence, I’ve said many times, needs to improve.”
One of many worthwhile quotes in the article, I thought it was interesting because it speaks to the style of the team and perhaps a glimpse into why they want bigger men to play alongside the roadrunners. As I’ve said many times in the past, we love big players who can play—that’s been the flaw of Jacques and Stone and really the current Finn too, although that’s not fair to Joensuu I just don’t think we’ve seen him at his best (beyond first 2 periods, G1). A big winger who can play, a Dustin Penner or a Scott Hartnell, for sure. Oilers haven’t had that player since Billy Guerin.
- First 20: 4-14-2
- Second 20: 9-10-1
- Current 20: 2-3-2
- Overall: 15-27-5
Last night was fun, actual fun, watching the Oilers. What a wonderful group of talents and for one night they played together in the most complete game of the season. We should remember this when the corgi’s are barking on Sunday and the Gords won’t come to the phone.