Monday, October 17, 2011

Game 4 : Edmonton 3 Nashville 1

It was Ryan Smyth bobble-head night at Rexall Place and the fan favourite did not disappoint, sending every one home happy. The veteran forward scored the winning goal in a 3-1 Oilers victory over the visiting Nashville Predators. Edmonton scored three goals in third to earn the come from behind win. Shawn Horcoff lead the way on the score sheet, with three helpers and was his usual stellar self in the defensive zone.

While the Preds led after 40 minutes, it was Edmonton who had carried the play but were unable to beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. The Oilers kept coming in the third period and were finally rewarded. Taylor Hall scored his first of the season on the power play, courtesy of a beautiful cross ice pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, to even it up. While the new "top line" managed to hit the score sheet once, they dominated all night long and if not for Rinne, all three would have had crooked numbers in the box score. Smyth scored two minutes later on a great pass from Horcoff to put the Oilers in the lead and linemate Ryan Jones finished it off with his first of the season into an empty net.

The Good
  • This was arguably the best defensive effort this club has put together in sometime. They only gave up 12 shots against and the six man unit at the back were particularly solid. In all fairness, it is not as though Nashville pushes the envelope much but that is not the Oilers fault. They were patient and did not force things, which ultimately creates turnovers against teams like the Predators. Good thing, as the Minnesota Wild are in town on Thursday.
  • The Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle line was even better then they were Saturday night against the Canucks. Watching the trio cycle the puck down low was pretty damn impressive. They had chance after chance and it was nice to finally see Hall hit the back of the net. I have said this before and I will say it again, can people just stop talking about RNH and his struggles in the face-off circle? I do not care and I am frankly tired of hearing about it. 
  • Linus Omark was great tonight but was not rewarded on the score sheet. The Swede was a puck hound all night and every time he was man handled by Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, he came back even harder. If Omark plays with that sort of determination on a nightly basis, he won't see the press box again.
  • The three points aside, Horcoff was solid all night long. He and Smyth are starting to find the comfort level with one another again and I think Shawn was hit with a jolt of confidence after being put on the power play with the kids.

The Bad
  • Honestly not much to complain about tonight but I think the time has come to probably send Anton Lander down to Oklahoma City. Lander has been good when he has seen the ice on the PK and his limited 5-on-5 duty but with the team running with three lines most nights, having the Swede play major minutes for the Barons will help his development further then sitting on the bench in Edmonton. Calling Ryan O'Marra up to fill the spot, until Sam Gagner is ready, seems to make the most sense. Have him play his 5-7 minutes a night and help out in the face-off circle and penalty kill.
  • The same situation may be facing Jeff Petry with the pending return of Ryan Whitney. I can't see any of Gilbert, Smid, Sutton, Barker or Potter coming out of the lineup and Theo Peckham was already a scratch tonight.

Watch Highlights

Tom Renney Post Game Comments


    1. Looks like Horc had a great game. It drives me MAD when fans (I use that term loosely) go on about putting Horc on the fourth line or sending him to the AHL. He's a damn fine two-way player (look at his zone starts, along with Belanger, and tell me they're not doing all the hard work whilst the kids get soft minutes), and a damn fine captain. He isn't worth $5.5m or whatever he's making, but I would argue he's worth at least $4m. Not the offensive dynamo he looked to be in 07-08, but not the offensive blackhole he's thought to be by many. I even saw some fans deriding the fact that two of last nights assists were of the secondary variety. Well I'm sorry, but without those "secondary" assists, those goals probably don't happen.

      Also the value of having him around the young Oilers I would argue is nearly on a par with Ryan Smyth. Horc loves this team, and gives it everything, and as all of Hall, Eberle and Cogliano have stated in the past, is one of the best pro's they've ever met, and helped them endlessly. He gets asked to do too much, but having Belanger (who also seems to be getting abuse despite how solid he's been) will help no end.

      It's the same deal with Gilbert - very good (not great) NHL defender, whom fans want sent to OKC. Yes he gets asked to do too much, a la Horcoff, which has curtailed his scoring ability a bit, but he more than holds his own. His play on the 3-on-1 goal the other night was absolutely textbook, he took out two of the 3 players, and unfortunately doesn't possess a third arm with which to take out the shooter. This club could do a hell of a lot worse than Gilbert and Horcoff leading the way.

      Sorry for the rant (!), but what do you think Rob?

    2. The only issue I have with Horcoff is how the coaching staff using him. Even with Belanger added into the mix, they have played him too much at times but that is because he their most consistent all around player. Ideally I'd like to see him playing 18-20 minutes a night but with him being added to the power play, he will be closer to the 22 minute mark, which seems a tad high. That being said, once Gagner is back, they will become a four line team, with Belanger likely moving down to the 4th line.

      There are those "fans" who think Shawn should not be the captain and those people are frankly morons. He is without question the leader on this team and he does the Oilers logo proud with how he carries himself as a leader.It is not his fault he is making the kind of $ he is and people need to look past that...but we know many simply won't. At this stage of the game, he is likely a $2.5-$3 million player but he does some much for this team that can't be measured in dollars.

      As for Gilbert,since roughly the midway point of last season Gilbert started to win we back as a supporter. The previous 1 1/2, he was so bad it was painful to watch but he seems to have finally figured out less is more and with Whitney being out, he is by far and away their best d man. He has become a lot smarter in his own end no longer makes the what was once guaranteed "dumb play" a game. He has his flaws but he is a solid second pairing guy...who isn't really over paid. Top end D man make $6 million + so Gilbert is right in line when it comes to his pay.

      Sorry for the long winded response!

    3. Yeah I should have mentioned I do agree that Horc is overplayed - less is more with him. But he is such a respectable guy - a trooper in the true sense of the word; and in terms of Gilbert, I think Derek Zona at C&B said it best: "...Gilbert, the ironman who has done everything asked of him since Smyth left." A wonderful description.