Thursday, February 05, 2015

Perron Delivers In Return

There is no question David Perron was absolutely thrilled to have been dealt by the St. Louis Blues to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Magnus Paajarvi and a second round pick during the summer of 2013. 

Despite moving from one of the premier teams in the league to one of its bottom feeders, being given the opportunity to prove he was a legitimate top six NHL forward was something the former first round pick was never afforded during his time Missouri. 

While he certainly made the most of his opportunity, registering career highs of twenty-eight goals and fifty-seven points during his first season in Orange and Blue, he surprisingly became nothing more than a secondary piece for Dallas Eakins and his coaching staff in 2014-15. The situation ultimately led to the twenty-six year old being sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins for their first round pick in this summer’s draft and forward Rob Klinkhammer on January 2nd. 

After scoring all of five goals in thirty-eight games with the Oilers, Perron has already found the back of the net seven times in his first thirteen games following last night’s 2-0 win over his former club. His late second period marker changed what was essentially a game that was there for the taking, thanks to the play of netminder Viktor Fasth, to one that Edmonton no longer had any chance of grabbing. 

The three-time twenty goal man not only scored but also led all Penguins forwards in ice-time, “accidentally” ran over the opposition’s goaltender and managed to get under the skin of more than a few of his former teammates. In other words, it was your prototypical David Perron performance. 

The Oilers were certainly undermanned, missing arguably two of their best three wingers in Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot, but even with those two in the lineup, Todd Nelson’s side would have been in real tough against Sidney Crosby and company. While some might suggest they “didn’t show up”, in my mind, nothing could have been further from the truth. 

While the forward group as a whole struggled to generate much of anything, as the recently recalled Iiro Pakarinen took Hall’s spot on the top line, it was a night in which Edmonton’s blueline and goaltender stole the show. Fasth was simply outstanding in stopping twenty-four of the twenty-six pucks fired his way and if not for a couple of unlucky bounces…he could have actually stole a point or two for his side. 

Despite getting caught out of position on Perron’s insurance marker, Jeff Petry was by far and away the Oilers best skater on the night, as he continues to take his game to another level since the departure of Eakins. Same goes for the duo of Oscar Klefbom and Justin Schultz, as the talented Swedish rearguard’s improved play has done wonders for the overall game of the former second round pick of the Anaheim Ducks. The pair led all Oilers in ice-time and at no point did they look overwhelmed in facing some of the premier players in the game today. 

While the outcome may not have been what anyone was hoping for, trying to keep things in perspective might be a good idea. Remember this is a Pittsburgh Penguins team that may have been struggling of late but still find themselves fourth in the Eastern Conference and all of three points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for top spot. Whereas the Edmonton Oilers sit where they have been for what has essentially been the entire 2014-15 campaign…near the very bottom of the National Hockey League standings. 

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