Monday, October 26, 2015

Tough Break

What can you say…while it was far from their finest effort, the Edmonton Oilers were certainly dealt a crappy hand on Sunday night against the Los Angeles Kings over at Rexall Place. While it looked as though Connor McDavid had snuck a last second game-tying goal past Jonathan Quick to force overtime, the replay official saw it differently and in the end it left Edmonton on the wrong side of a 3-2 decision.

To make matters worse, two of the Kings three goals came off lucky bounces, while the other was gift wrapped courtesy of a terrible giveaway from defenceman Eric Gryba. Despite allowing three of the 34 shots he faced to get past him, Cam Talbot was once again rock-solid in between the pipes for the Oilers but still saw his record fall to 2-4 on the season. 

Benoit Pouliot and Taylor Hall scored in the loss while McDavid picked up an assist to extend his point streak to five straight and give him nine points in last seven games. After getting off to a bit of a slow start, the first overall pick of the 2015 Entry Draft is now on a point per game pace through his first nine appearances of the season. Not too shabby for a kid who is just now starting to show signs of getting comfortable in his NHL skin. 

While the Kings may have been fortunate to see their win streak stretched to five, Darryl Sutter’s side was by far and away the better of two teams over the opening forty minutes of play. If not for the play of Talbot in net, LA could have easily found themselves with a two or three goal lead heading into period three. However, that was not how things played out and it nearly came back to bite them. 

After struggling in their first few games on the power play, Edmonton has started to finally show signs of life on the man advantage. Hall’s third-period goal not only got the Oilers back on even terms but also gave them power plays markers in five consecutive games. While they have yet to find their “A” game on the power play, both units are finding ways to score and that is something which cannot be overlooked. 

In year’s past, this was the exact sort of game Edmonton would have gone quietly in. Instead of seeing the third-period push we saw last night, the norm was for that a one-goal deficit to turn into a blowout before the final buzzer. While much of that can be attributed to the play of their goaltender, this group did not get pushed around as easily as they usually do when facing the Kings...definitely a step in the right direction. With that said, adding McDavid into the mix has forced teams into thinking twice about trying to physically intimidate the Oilers. 

While this roster can certainly still be pushed around, opposing teams want no part of giving the guy wearing No. 97 on his back open ice to work with. Taking penalties would accomplish exactly that and Edmonton has enough firepower to make teams pay for making such a mistake. 

Oil Notes: Justin Schultz left the game midway through the second period with an apparent injury, but there was no word on what said issue might be. Coming off what was easily his worst performance of the season in what turned out to be a 7-4 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Capitals on Friday night, the 25-year old and partner Oscar Klefbom were hoping for a strong showing against the Kings. 

While Schultz only played ten minutes before being forced to leave the game, Klefbom had one of his better outings of the year and led the team in ice-time at just under 23 and a half minutes. Surprisingly enough, Gryba was next on that list with an eye-popping 23:11, despite struggling for much of the evening and coughing up the puck on Anze Kopitar’s second-period snipe. 

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