Going into last nights’s game against the Minnesota wild, the Oilers had the dreaded “streak” hanging over their heads. Minnie net-minder Backstrom has owned the Oilers, both at home and here in Edmonton. I was interested last night in watching how the new defense first / shut-down style that Edmonton seems to be playing, would work against the Wild.
With the “All-Ryan” offense in full effect, Ryan Jones scored a goal from a nice set-up from Ryan Smyth. It was a tap in from Jones. After that goal it was a virtual defense only game.
Edmonton did have some breakdowns from the blue-line. It wasn’t just one guy either, there were a number of turn-overs and mis-plays from all the Defenseman that contributed to allowing the Wild to start to gain confidence and momentum. it wasn’t unmanageable though and therefore can not be blamed for the loss. There should’ve been a little more energy from the defense in my opinion. Edmonton didn’t hit anyone last night and make it difficult to play against them in our own end. The Oilers did do a good job of blocking shots, getting sticks in shooting lanes and having good body position, but you can tell that the players are not yet comfortable with each other yet. the “cohesion” factor is not complete.
I am happy to say that the defense is a lot better in this early part of the season than I expected. Which is a huge step forward for this team.
If you haven’t heard the results yet or seen the highlights, with 1.2 seconds left in a 1-0 hockey game where the Oilers were leading, Danny Heatley (of all people) squeaks one past Nikolai Khabibulin from a harsh angle to tie the game.
With nothing decided in overtime, Edmonton lost in the shoot-out. Bellanger hit the post in a heart breaker as the last shooter, and the game was over.
THE WEIRD THING IS…
At the beginning of this season, all of the local pundits, and the Juggernauts like TSN and Sportsnet were saying that the Edmonton Oilers were going to struggle on back end, and would have a ton of offense. Well..the opposite has happened here. We can’t score a goal to save our lives, but we are rated among the top teams for defensive stats. The Oilers have led their games but cannot extend the lead or defend the lead to finish with a win. we are now 2-2-2. the only game where we were leading and kept was the Nashville game back on Monday. every other game this year we have scored first and either had to come back to win (Pittsburgh game) or come back to force O.T. and lose.
Tom Renney stated after the game that he was not concerned about the lack of offense due to the fact that the Oilers are still generating scoring chances. He also mentioned that they would figure it out. He was also quoted as saying “we’ll end that streak, to hell with it”
According to Dan Tencer’s tweet this morning, Renney hinted he may change things up, by sitting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in favor of Sam Gagner who is likely to play on Saturday against the Rangers. Personally, I don’t think this is going help the offense at all. In fact I think it will make things worse. Sam hasn’t played for awhile and will be trying to get his timing back etc.. and now you may be wrecking RNH’s confidence level too. Apparently by sitting RNH though, this extends the time-frame for the decision on Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton rather than sending him back to Junior in Red Deer.
As always…please comment on any post here and let us know your thoughts!
GO Oilers Go!