Friday, January 30, 2015

Winning Ugly

Heading into last night’s game with the Buffalo Sabres, Anton Lander had registered a grand total of twelve points in his 105 appearances as a member of the Edmonton Oilers and had not scored a goal in the National Hockey League since January 17th, 2011. 

That’s right, it had been four plus years since the hard-working Swede found a way to sneak a puck in behind a goaltender at this level. While he has by no means been a regular fixture in Edmonton during that span, we are still talking about a run of 64 games in which he produced all of seven assists. 

So to suggest his three point effort during yesterday’s 3-2 win over the lowly Sabres was a bit of a shock to the system would be just a bit of an understatement. 

On an evening in which the Oilers top players could create absolutely nothing against the worst team in the league, it was the likes of Lander, Matt Fraser and Luke Gazdic who saved the day and kept Todd Nelson’s side from suffering what would have been a humiliating home-ice loss. 

While the 2009 second pick was in the midst of delivering the finest game of his still young career, Edmonton's resident tough guy had his most effective outing in some time. Gazdic not only played a big part in the Oilers first two goals but also dropped the mitts early in the third period in what was a rather spirited affair with Nicolas Deslauriers. Not too shabby for just over seven and half minutes of ice-time. 

Despite having been a complete non-factor in many of his first eleven appearances in Orange and Blue, Fraser continues to find ways to hit the scoresheet. Last night’s three point effort gives the twenty-four year old three goals and seven points since being acquired off waivers from the Boston Bruins in late December. While some may have been expecting more of a physical element to his game, the fact he is producing offence is something that simply cannot be ignored on a team that cannot score goals with any sort of regularity. 

It certainly wasn’t pretty to watch but at this stage of the game, the Edmonton Oilers are not exactly at the point where they should be grading victories. When you sit twenty-ninth in the overall league standings, there should really only be one other team you should beat and that is exactly what this group did. 

Scrivens Returns: After taking a seat on the bench as Viktor Fasth’s backup for the previous three games, Ben Scrivens returned to the crease for the first time in two weeks. While he wasn’t tested much, stopping eighteen of the twenty pucks fired his way, the Spruce Grove native fought the puck for much of the evening and looked poor on both of the Sabres goals. With that said, he did come up with a big save in the dying second to help preserve the win. 

Hall Continues To Sit: Taylor Hall missed his second straight game and remains day-to-day with a leg injury according to head coach Todd Nelson. Considering he was hit with a shot during Monday’s practice and was absent from yesterday morning's skate, my guess would be he will probably miss Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames and if all goes well...return to the lineup on Monday evening against the San Jose Sharks. 

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