Edmonton Oilers Win One 80’s Style Over Rangers

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How fitting that the Edmonton Oilers should win a game on Glen Sather banner night in the very style that his teams used to do so, back in the day.

I suppose some may criticize some of the many mistakes made in this one tonight, a 7-5 Oilers triumph. But hopefully Gary Bettman (who was in attendance tonight) got a real eye and ear-full of what a really thrilling brand of hockey is like in today’s “3-2 NHL”.

9 Things:

9. Finally, the Edmonton Oilers won a game with (below) average goaltending. Anders Nilsson did not have one of his better nights. One wonders if the fatigue of playing every night has simply caught up to him a bit. Cam Talbot was going to play one of the first two games of this road trip anyway. I somehow think that he will draw the Bruins on Monday.

8. Apparently, Oscar Klefbom has a fractured finger, and did not play the entire 3rd Period. They missed him. Just how long Klefbom will be out depends heavily on which finger is broken. If it’s long at all, that stings. The Oilers lean on Klefbom for a lot of minutes. With Andrew Ference still on I.R., recently recalled Nikita Nikitin will draw in versus the Boston.

7. Justin Schultz easily had his best game of the season, although I believe he is still a ways off from being 100%. His possession numbers would have been off-the-charts good on the night, had he stayed with Klefbom. But there were a couple tire fires with he and Darnell Nurse out there after the Klefbom injury that brought them back to earth a bit. An encouraging night for #19.

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6. Andrej Sekera, at least after the Klefbom injury, was the Edmonton Oilers best defenceman tonight. Like Korpikoski, Sekera started the season very slow. But the last few games, he has looked more like a top-pairing D-man. His battle in his own zone has picked up, and to my eye he is making much quicker and crisper decisions with his outlet passes. Peter Chiarelli may yet get actual credit for his signing.

5. I am one who thinks that late 3rd Period penalty assessed to Teddy Purcell should not have been called at all, let along at what point in the game it was handed out. There are dozens of incidents in a game more violent than that one was. I hate it when the Zebras think I paid to watch them blow their damn whistles. Lucky for Purcell, he otherwise has an excellent game and helped set up the winner.

4. It was not long ago (like, 5 games ago) that some fans thought Lauri Korpikoski should be sent to the minors. True, he has had a difficult start to the season. But he was excellent tonight, going to the hard places in front of the net (which accounted for 2 of his 3 goals), and playing a sound defensive game. He got the hat trick because he coached trusted him in the dying minutes.

3. Leon Draisaitl and his linemates absolutely destroyed one of the best defence pairings in the NHL tonight. He and Taylor Hall are simply magic together. His passing skills are probably the main tools that got him into the NHL in the first place, but his vision is spectacular. He makes passes that I don’t see are there, before he makes them, and in all 3 zones. Leon is tied for 20th in NHL scoring. Remember, he played his 1st 10 games in the AHL!

2. Taylor Hall is now 4th in league scoring, after that 2-goal, 2 assist performance on Friday night. In fact, Hall is so at the top of his game, he is now starting to be mentioned in the Hart Trophy conversation. His team probably has to have a much better record for him to be a serious candidate. But if he keeps playing like this, that could take care of itself. Even his defensive game is strong, now, and finished the night with a Corsi of 65% (!), and the game’s 2nd Star, next to…

1. Glen Sather. The former Edmonton Oilers Coach and General Manager is just the kind of hockey man who would be pleased that his pre-game ceremony (which was incredibly well done by the Oilers) was ultimately overshadowed by the game itself. No doubt, being as competitive as he is, he is not happy that his Rangers did not skate away with 2 points. But on a night when a city celebrated a man who brought such a popular style of hockey to the league, it was fitting that his creation was essentially on display for all at Rexall Place to see.

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Five wins in a row, now, means the Edmonton Oilers on December 12th are just a single point back of a playoff spot in the Pacific.

Bring on the Bruins.