EDMONTON OILERS 5
NASHVILLE PREDATORS 2
Well, it was certainly nice to see the team play that kind of game where we know we’re going to win and don’t need to worry about it too much. I’m a big fan of stress free games. I know most people like 7 game series and 5-4 OT wins; but I love 4 game sweeps and blowouts. This wasn’t a blowout, but Nashville was never really in the game after their tying goal.
We didn’t really seem to score any fluke goals tonight which was a nice change. We were skating briskly and taking good lines to the puck. Having 3 lines playing pretty well offensively and positionally makes all the difference in the world. Nashville never had a chance to get back into the game because they were always under offensive pressure from our lines.
On the powerplay tonight, we had a couple 2 minutes sequences where we looked like a really solid offensive team. This is both a welcome change and a relief. We may not have scored; but we probably should have, and if you can continue to do that in a game you’re comfortably winning and in control of that says something important.
Should this trend with our lines continue, the team may be able to go on a nice run. I’m certainly not convinced we’re perfect; far from it. It is nice however to see the team put a small something together that has a decent chance of developing into something. We still have a bunch of games at home to work with and make a move northward in the standings. It would be something to see that happen in January given this team’s history. Anyway, on to the PLAYER REPORTS
- I’m covering the first line first again tonight even though they weren’t our most spectacular. Ales didn’t wind up with any points tonight but certainly put together a solid game. It was definitely a relief to see him come back from that hit he took and get right back into the physical play. He made a very nice play in the second to take a pass at the opposition blue line and get in alone then just missed and had Penner just miss following up his rebound. It happened to be that kinda night but he set enough guys up and took enough quality shots to be effective. His line was never in danger tonight, nor were they cold, just misfired a couple times in a game where they didn’t have to lift the heavy offensive weight; that’s okay.
- I’m a little torn on Dustin tonight. He made some really nice plays; taking the puck to the net and showing a lot more neutral zone presence than I’m used to. That he couldn’t finish in the second on Ales’ rebound was too bad, or on the two really nice plays he made in the crease including an awkward as hell shot from down low that shoulda gone in (Pekka is GOOD) was too bad, but he was still in really solid offensive position tonight. He wasn’t overly physical but did use his size to get into the right places.
- I liked Horcoff’s gametonight. He carried a lot of speed everywhere he went and got into some really nice shooting lanes. I’d like to see he and Ales work some more on the longer one-timers though as he always seems to just miss catching it perfect. He gets set up for a lot of these and some do indeed go in but he could have a much higher percentage going on if he was connecting. The goalie has JUST enough time with his longer shots a little too often. His goal was a create example of what speed can do to a defenceman and how a quick shot at that speed can be confusing; it was a smart and a bit lucky play that really helped us tonight. Ellis seemed off and we took advantage as good teams do. As always he was solid in his own zone. Made a couple strange passes in the offensive zone in the third but I think he had the right idea both times.
- What a relief that this game finally came. He coulda probably had a trick tonight but it is so important that the one puck did indeed find the back of the net. He was already driving the offensive zone hard and only got faster after he scored his goal. You could see a little bit of his swagger and confident attitude come back after his line found their groove; waving his hand after an unlucky break on a good move in the third. Very different than the lowered head-slow skate off we’re used to. I really hope he can keep this up. His hard chase of the NSH defender created the turnover that resulted in him getting that nice chance at the side of the net. Its great to see hard work pay off and he put it in tonight. His assist on Gagner’s goal was the result of some solid positioning and good traffic play. 3 points is an awesome start and I hope he can keep that level up.
- Tonight could have had an even more positive impact for Sam Gagner. First of all, it really looks like he’s the guy who can and should play with Cole and they seem to be reading off of each other quite well. That’s a huge bonus for him. Sam’s part in Souray’s goal might get missed but he made a nice hard working play to the get the puck off the boards before Cole got it and the rest is history. I didn’t see if it hit the NSH defender on the flip he made to himself to set up Cole…that was a great read regardless to pick the puck and all-world if he actually made that flip to himself on his own. Sweet pass as well. Sam was well positioned and worked hard in the corner before his goal as well. The change in his game once he had some confidence was immediate. He carried speed in the neutral zone and made guys miss the rest of the night. THAT is what Sam is good at and what makes him a special player. That he got back to that style of game; winning in the corners and owning the neutral zone, could make a HUGE difference for this team going forward.
- I didn’t notice Robert much tonight on a line that seemed to be playing so well. I found that quite odd as he should have been able to get in on the play as well. Did I miss something or is he not quite the fit for this line? I’m not sure.
- I really enjoyed the attacking nature Brodziak showed tonight. On any other line he gets a couple points. He gets to carry these guys so I guess it comes with the territory but the one shift he was out with other wingers he looked great. Even with the big lugs he took a couple really good shots. Strudwick and Stortini did what they do I suppose. Watching Zack against Belak was a little sad as I’m not sure he got within a foot of actually hitting him. Felt bad for Brodziak going in 2-on-1 with Strudwick and having no positive options.
- Really liked him going right after Tootoo early in the game. That could’ve been pretty big. It didn’t necessarily stop the guy from running around like the tool he is but it served notice I think at least. Aside from that there was nothing really exceptional from him tonight but I did enjoy the awkward look he got on his face when Cogliano’s shot when in. I think his most important duty on just about any line he’s on right now is generally stabilizing it and he certainly did that tonight.
- Certainly not a flashy game from Marc but he doesn’t have to be every game. What I did enjoy though is that he played with plenty of confidence and made solid choices with the puck. His passes were crisp and he took advantage of his linemate Cogliano’s speed and current streak of excellent play.
- What else is there to say other than that he keeps on rolling right along. The guy is playing flat-out excellent hockey right now when we need him too; and hard work combined with smart play generates breaks like the one he got tonight. Occasionally you need one of those and if you keep working you’ll get it. I love the pressure he’s applying on defencemen right now and the lines he’s picking out there. He always knows where to go. The only thing I wish he’d do differently is sometimes he slows down and tries to maneuver high in the opposition zone when he should just stick to the jets and blow right by guys. Really liked his PP play again as well.
- Cruising along as well. The guy makes such a difference for our offence on so many nights. Everyone looks at the shot but I really think it’s the nights where he patient in our zone and skates the puck out of danger using his size that he’s most effective. He can also be a big neutral zone presence and he did that a couple of times tonight. I’d say I’ve noticed these two things specifically in nearly every win we’ve had this year. He’s almost exactly what we need him to be; hopefully we can make up for his PK shortcomings.
- Great skating with the puck; magnificent passes including the one to spring Hemsky, and solid d including a reduction in turnovers from Lubomir tonight. I think its almost easy to take him for granted in games like this where he doesn’t too anything flashy, but watching he and Hemsky work the puck together is just pure gold. Balancing he and Gagner taking some pucks for Hemsky on the PP could make a huge difference for us going forward there. 5-on-5 he was strong on a night when his partner was a little off I felt.
- Tom was really solid. He’s cemented his consistent play these past weeks and just kept right on doing it. If you want to see what has changed it’s as simple as watching his play with the puck. He made steady cross ice passes in the offensive zone and solid reads in his defensive zone all night tonight. Just what we need from him.
- After the start Stevie played really well. I loved some of the tough shifts he had tonight; really playing with sandpaper. I don’t know what set him off on one particular shift where he went after both a winger and a center with his stick high and menace in his mind. Loved the attack he jumped into to create the pressure for Cogliano’s goal. He often jumps in like that when he’s playing a little better and he did it with increased tenacity this evening. Good to see.
- I thought he looked shaky, out of position and not physically sure of himself tonight. He made a couple suspect passes, wasn’t stickhandling in his usual smooth way, and got pushed around a bit. He’s struggled a little the past couple games but I hope he returns to form soon.
- I didn’t think when he got “beat” in the first creating a partial break was all that bad actually. He kept the man far enough away and distracted enough that there was no real scoring chance there. The trend continued though and he was either a step behind, shaky with the puck, or out of position all night. I remember a particular instance where he read to jump in from his point spot at exactly the wrong time and got completely lucky when the Predators blew a 2-on-1 that was misplayed terribly to boot. He got away with it tonight; but he’s better than this. Did LOVE the fake shot-pass play he made to Gagner on the PP in the third though. That was money. He had EVERYONE thinking shot and made a beauty pass to Sam instead that should’ve likely netted us a goal. Sick. The man is crafty at that opposition blue line.
- I thought he looked shakier than usual in the first. Not of position shaky or going down way too early shaky but still unsure of himself and his lines. He over-pursued a couple different times tonight and that’s something we have to watch. It almost let NSH back into the game when we were up big. After the first he was pretty solid though he never had to be all that spectacular. One good save off of a screw-up in the slot in the second and one more in the third were enough tonight. NSH didn’t take quality shots. He needs to work on the puck movement choices though…that was UGLY tonight. Like pinball.
Why does MARTIN ERAT of all people have to own us? That’s so annoying.
Arnott didn’t get going very well against us which is good tonight though I’m usually a fan. We could really use a big center with a big shot right about now.
I had about the dumbest hockey fan ever sitting behind me tonight…he did things like bemoan the fact that defenders can glove the puck ahead in the defensive zone, said Hemsky needed to shoot sooner on a shot from the BLUE LINE and claimed Staios should be first star…what a CLOWN. I apologize to all those around us who were made dumber by the stuff spewing from the guy. He made the total drunk next to him sound like a genius!
I could get used to this whole winning thing…let’s keep it up. 3 solid lines with offensive pressure = plenty of wins for us. It is that simple.