Sunday, April 28, 2013

Game 48: Edmonton 7 Vancouver 2

The Edmonton Oilers finished their seventh consecutive season outside of the NHL playoffs on Saturday night. It was yet another disappointing year for both the organization and their fan base.  While there will undoubtedly be a number of changes coming in the not too distant future, for one night, everyone went home happy.

A six goal third period outburst led the Oilers to what was a meaningless 7-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks “B Squad” at Rexall Place. Nail Yakupov led the onslaught, registering his first career hat-trick, while fellow rookie Justin Schultz chipped in with a season high four point effort.   
Taylor Hall picked up a pair of assists on the night, giving him fifty points on the season and pushing him into the top ten NHL scorers. The third year winger finished ninth in league scoring, trailing only Chicago’s Patrick Kane among Western Conference players.  Safe to say, the Oilers #4 has arrived as one of the premier players in the entire National Hockey League.   
As for Yakupov, his late season surge allowed him to catch Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau in the rookie scoring race, as both finished off the campaign with thirty-one points. However, the former first overall pick did manage to not only surpass Montreal's Brendan Gallagher for the rookie goal scoring title but also finished the year as Edmonton’s top marksman.
With five goals over the Oilers final two games, Yakupov hit the seventeen goal more than both Hall and Jordan Eberle. After struggling for much of the season with his consistency, Eberle still put together a thirty-seven point campaign, one point shy of Sam Gagner, which was good enough for second spot behind Hall’s team leading total.
After starring with the Oklahoma City Barons prior to the end of the NHL Lockout, a performance which earned him the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s Top Defenceman, Schultz struggled through much of the last half of his rookie season. That being said, his twenty-seven points were easily the most among rookie blueliners and twelfth best among all defencemen.  

His four point effort and overall game against the Canucks was nice too see, as it had been some time since the rookie had looked this good. There is little doubt that the former Anaheim Ducks second rounder has worn down during what has ultimately been a full 82 game schedule but the sky remains the limit for the talented rearguard and in due time...he will likely reach it.
All in all, the Edmonton Oilers 19-22-7 record was a disappointment to everyone involved. It will definitely be another tough off-season for fans in Oil Country but last night’s display, during Hockey Night in Canada’s regular season finale, will allow them to dull the least for a little while.  

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