Nikolai Khabbibulin had another strong performance in the game last night against the Vancouver Canucks. Khabbibulin made 35 saves to help lead the Oilers to a 3-2 victory.
With no score in the first period, The kids came out and started flying in the second. in a little more than 5 minutes, the score was 3-0 Oilers. Jordan Eberle, Shawn Horcoff, and Taylor Hall were the goal scorers.
Due to some defensive breakdowns late in the second period, and sitting back too much in the third, Khabbibulin had to be sharp to stave off the Canucks third period push. Khabby came into the game with an outstanding, league leading, GAA of .72 and SV% of .969. Prior to the game, Khabbibulin was not really willing to discuss the unbelievable numbers he’s put up thus far, as he didn’t want to jinx it. He did say that he was rebuilding the “Bulin Wall” one brick at time. It’s a pretty nice brick, getting a division win…finally against the president trophy winners last year in the Canucks! With the two goals that Vancouver scored last night, this has changed Khabbi’s numbers to a .97 GAA and .963 SV%. Which, after last year is still phenomenal!
There seems to be more of a rivalry with the Canucks now than even the Lames down in Calgary for whatever reason. I did notice at the rink last night that there were a lot fewer knuckleheads in the crowd than usual when Vancouver comes to town. When Roberto Luongo got pulled after the three quick goals, the building exploded and was as load as I have ever heard. Even back in the play-off run. While the noise wasn’t sustained for long periods of time like back in ’06, but it definitely was nice to hear the rink that loud again!
Some other worthy notes from last night:
- Jordan Eberle scores. He’s been getting lots of chances and still putting up points with the assists, but he said after the game he was glad to finally get one. Hopefully the flood gates will open for him now. He would’ve had a second goal if Cory Schneider hadn’t have robbed him with a stellar save, that I still can’t believe he made.
- Ben Eager, Anton Lander, & Lennart Petrell were playing with some piss and vinegar last night. i actually noticed several hits that we made, that helped get possession of the puck back in both ends of the rink. The Oilers need to keep this up as it seems to be working.
- Ryan Whitney left the game in the first period with a “sprained right knee.” this according to coach Tom Renney after the game. Hopefully this will not keep him out of the line-up for too long. Hopefully this will allow Theo Peckham to get back in the line-up and maybe a guy like Jeff Petry will get a call back up to the bigs.
- I tweeted yesterday that the Oilers need to figure out what to do with Linus Omark. Having him sit in the press box again on Thursday will not help his development in my mind. Personally I think there is some resentment from the player and the coaching staff and it feels like there is more to the story. I don’t know if Omark would accept playing in OKC vs. going back to Sweden. All i do know is that he better start playing if the Oilers hope to salvage this kid’s development or trade value. What irks me is, they use the video of him in the pre-game show scoring in the shoot-out. Showcasing the kid’s skill, yet they won’t play him in a game. I say let Paajarvi sit a game or two as a wake up call to him, and get Omark back to the ice!
- Speaking of Pajaarvi, how many potential hits did I witness last night turn into non-finished checks? Probably about five. Magnus really needs to figure out that if he finishes the check, he’ll be more effective and playable while he’s not scoring or producing offence. Too many times di i see him slow up just before hitting the opposing player and let the guy skate by him. it wasn’t a question of an interference call either that made him stop, he just doesn’t want to make the hit. At least that’s what I see. How about you?