Sunday, October 11, 2015

Game 2 - Carbon Copy

If one were to simply look at the box score from last night’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators, they would likely come to the conclusion that Pekka Rinne was sole the reason Todd McLellan’s side dropped a 2-0 decision. While the three-time Vezina Trophy nominee was solid in between the pipes, the 32-year old was rarely tested by Connor McDavid. 

In fact, if not for some timely stops from Oilers starter Cam Talbot, the final score would have looked a little different after the final buzzer. A pair of costly blunders from veteran rearguards Andrej Sekera and Andrew Ference ultimately cost Edmonton a shot at taking this one to a 3-on-3 overtime session but when you cannot score, it makes it next to impossible to point a finger at anyone other than the offence. 

Six periods into the McDavid Era and all the Oilers have to show for it is one goal and as we all now, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins didn’t even touch the puck for the goal he was credited with scoring. To be fair, they have faced two of the premier defensive teams in the game today but at this time year, teams all over the league are falling into scoring chances…everyone that is except Edmonton. 

And yet we have seen signs of improvement in their own end of the rink. Nowhere near as many fire drills are occurring on a nightly basis in the Oilers zone and their goaltender is not only making that timely save but he isn’t allowing that backbreaking softie either. While McDavid has not been able to hit the scoresheet in either of his first two games, his play away from the puck and willingness to play the ever popular “200-foot game” is rather refreshing. 

With that said, the ineffectiveness of the power play remains a concern. Again, it is early but if someone could explain to me why the guy wearing No. 97 isn’t the focal point on the man advantage, it would be greatly appreciated. Sharing the puck is all well and good but the Oilers have to make teams pay for taking penalties against them. Their zone entries have been terrible and because of it, the power play has looked out sorts through two games. 

If the coaching staff can fix that, something tells me this team will start scoring and likely in bunches. Make no mistake, it is a flawed lineup and McLellan is well aware of it. Why else would he be pulling out the blender 40 minutes into the season? It is a lineup that desperately misses Jordan Eberle but one that should be able to survive in the short-term. 

With games against the Dallas Stars, a return engagement with the Blues at Rexall Place and a date with the Calgary Flames next on the docket, they need to get things going upfront. If they can’t do that, they could be hard-pressed to keep from starting their year on an extended losing skid. Yet with the talent level on this roster being what it is, a lucky bounce could change things instantly. 

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