VANCOUVER ZERO. ZIP. NOTHING.
I haven't watched the Oilers do that to a team in probably seven years. It isn't that they stormed out of the gate like they did. That has happened even during some of our darkest days. It is what happened after that. It was the rest of the game that was most interesting to me.
When we've gotten big leads in recent years (such as against Chicago not that long ago) and immediately backed off, allowing the opposition back in the game to some degree if they put forth any effort whatsoever. This is a sad way to win a game even if you come out and score 6 or 7 in the first. It just makes you worry.
Tonight we got a huge lead and then said to that incredibly annoying Canucks team that has given us so many damn fits...come and take it from us. Good effing luck.
This was not a night of sitting back even though we didn't score another goal. This was "we know we're in control and we're going to show it to you, rub it in, and make you know it." We controlled the puck, passed more than usual, made sure our plays were going to work and went about the business of a win. This wasn't as huge or gradual as the game 6 win against Carolina quite obviously, but there were times when it felt like that.
This squad went for every puck, didn't second guess and committed to each decision. Amazing to watch a team do that.
Not to mention the referees certainly called the game to the score. We should have had an absolute ton of powerplays. All earned through effort and making the Canucks frustrated. It was rather disappointing that this didn't come to pass because that team earned the chance to rack up some crooked numbers tonight.
In the end of course it didn't matter. This game was ours from the first.
I don't agree with Vancouver's decision to pull Schneider. What exactly was he supposed to do on either of those shots? Certainly take a time out but that was an instance where the luxury of Luongo led to a bad coaching decision.
I am disappointed no Oilers player took the opportunity to rearrange Kevin Bieksa's face tonight. If there was ever a time and a place to do it, this was it. Mike Brown should have been told to do so by Krueger. If his play wasn't pathetic enough, the jerk even took off with the game puck because, ya know, he's cool like that. What a loser.
That will be the extent of my negativity I believe. Way too many good things tonight to bother with some of the nit-picky stuff.
Taylor Hall took this game over from the very beginning. I wasn't surprised he got the chances he did. The man can find a gap and make a team give up a chance with the very best of them. I was a little surprised he got those first two shots on net top shelf like he did. That's something that has come a long way from the start of his career as I'd maintain that he would fire both of those over the net. Tonight he made no mistake and it wasn't even really a big deal. He just came in, took a shot and picked the corner. Another day at the office. Wow. The first goal was interesting in that he nearly had a referee and a linesman in his way. Hall's had more run-ins with the officiating crew this year than I can remember anyone else having. Part of it is that his speed is on you so fast that I think a lot of the officials struggle to anticipate it. The good news is tonight it didn't go the other way and end up in our net. Hall's third was a no-brainer. On a night like tonight, if you're a talented player and it is going that way for you, you go to the net just like he did and it tends to find a way. It was a lot like Gagner in the 8-point game. You just knew. He didn't get any more but he could've had 6 or 7 tonight and not batted an eye. Again, between the missed powerplays and the fact that the Oilers played a much more deliberate afterwards held his totals in check a touch. He also passed to Ryan Whitney on a 2-on-1 where Luongo was dead which baffled me. There were more chances in the third. He had this one under control, period.
His linemates Eberle and Hall played pretty tremendous games as well. They both had their passing hats on for most of the night and both made beautiful things happen. Hall's second goal was set up on an absolutely perfect play by Hopkins to send Hall in free and clear. Eberle was skating to the puck well and dishing passes off all night. He set up Hall for that Luongo highlight save in the third. He also made an amazing effort while tired at the end of a shift in the second to drive the net for a scoring chance and drew a penalty. The entire line was just rolling all night. Imagine what they could have done with the 8 or powerplays they deserved.
The Paajarvi-Gagner-Hemsky line didn't put on a show tonight but were still quite good. Hemsky set up a number of chances and got a couple himself. I can't believe he missed the combo of passes from Magnus and Sam that led to him with an open net in the first to make the game 5-0. It was a bit of an awkward sequence but he never misses those and it was weird. He also took a big hit from Sestito and kept going which was admirable. Magnus was excellent and drove the net for two great scoring chances off the posts. Very solid game from him. Gagner played more of a support role tonight but did his job.
Nail Yakupov did some really nice things this evening. There were a few good passes but I think most will remember his hit on one of the Sedins in the second period. The kid knows when to lean into someone and definitely uses his skating to great effect for hitting. He's the anti-J.F. Jacques in this sense. He gets the absolute most out of his speed, size and hitting opportunities. Horcoff had one of his better nights in a while, pressing the play and staying disciplined rather than overskating. He is built for a team that stakes itself to early leads for sure. He just hadn't remembered how to play with confidence like we saw tonight for some time. We're not going to talk about Ryan Jones because I said I wouldn't be focusing on the negative.
The fourth line did some of its job. I certainly can't complain about the job Smyth and Petrell did. Lennart specifically took the opportunity to get himself a couple decent scoring chances and get shots away.
All I really want to say about the D is that they were excellent tonight. They were aggressive, hit people, made good passes and hurt the Canucks when they got the opportunity. As a unit they were exactly what you needed them to be.
Dubnyk wasn't tested a lot, but made probably 5 really excellent saves to preserve his SO. I was impressed by his confident positioning and demeanor, as he sometimes allows the pressure of a lead to make him nervous. Not tonight. Very well done.
Above all else, it is fun to smack that hockey team around and expose their weaknesses. We did it.
The key will be to remember the lessons we learned tonight and build on them. Continue attacking. Play with confidence. Impose your game. These things are true when you're winning 4-0, tied 2-2 or losing 4-0. They are true from the drop of the puck in every single game. The things we did tonight will work. Period.