All eyes were on Ilya Bryzgalov tonight as he got his first start in Oiler colours and he did not disappoint. His positioning was excellent, he handled the puck well and made everything look easy in a 33 save shut out performance. Bryzgalov had a lot of support as the Oilers had one of their best defensive efforts of the season. The defence had active sticks, covered the slot well and moved the puck quickly and efficiently. The forwards came back and supported them well. Dallas Eakins had this to say about the Oilers performance tonight.
It was a game where there were never any nerves,” ”It was a game that from start to finish, to a man, we played well. They stuck with what we’ve been trying to do. They supported each other in a textbook game.
The 4th line contributed much to the win as they played over 11 minutes. Arcobello returned to the lineup and solidified the fourth line but he didn’t do it alone. Joensuu had his best game in a long while and Jones was hustling and hitting all night long. This enabled Dallas Eakins to spread out the ice time and should give the Oilers players a little more energy for tomorrow’s tilt in Columbus.
When the first line skates well and forechecks hard they are almost impossible to control. Tonight they were moving their feet, cycled the puck well and most importantly were not turning pucks over in the neutral zone.
Looking ahead to tomorrow as long as Bryzgalov feels he is ready to play back to back, you have to go with the hot hand. He controls and handles the puck well and this really helped the defence move the puck tonight.
The Oilers have now won 4 out of 5 games. The playoffs are a complete long shot but as a team they need to learn what it takes to win on a nightly basis and build confidence going into next season. Consistency has been a huge problem for the Oiler all season. Let’s see if they build on that performance tomorrow.