by Lisa McRitchie on 10/23/11 at 06:30 AM ET
Oilers beat Rangers 2-0
After a stern scolding, some confidence building, a long road trip by the Rangers, or any combination of factors, the Oilers played the game fans have been waiting for. Through 60 minutes of play, the Oilers played a strong defencive game, but also scored enough goals to take the win. With outstanding goaltending by Nikolai Khabibulin and successful efforts by the special teams another glimpse of what is to come from the Oilers was the best thing that could have happened to Oilers fans this week.
A scoreless first period made fans nervous, but hey, at least they weren’t down a goal or more yet. This New York Rangers team did look as though they have not slept in their own beds yet this season, but that is no reason for the Oilers to take this game lightly.
In the Oilers’ last game, the Hall – Nugent-Hopkins –Eberle line saw reduced ice time in the third period, mainly because they weren’t playing to deserve it. All that changed Saturday night, and it was none other than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who put the Oilers on the board. If Nugent-Hopkins gets sat in the pressbox for a teaching tool anytime soon, the Oilers may not score another goal all season, or at least until Nugent-Hopkins has learned what he needs to be taught. I maintain my argument that sitting in the pressbox would not teach all that some people seem to think it would. It is very true that it is a far different view of the game than from ice level, but traditionally that teaching tool is brought in when there is a specific lesson to be learned. Currently, Nugent-Hopkins is the team’s leading scorer and is not showing any glaring errors or shortcomings. If there are fingers to be pointed, they should not be directed at number 93.
Scoring his first goal as an Oiler, Corey Potter from Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle gave the Oilers a two nothing lead and the final goal of the game. Potter had played four seasons for the New York Rangers’ AHL team, and a mere eight games with the Rangers at the NHL level. Surely Potter must have felt a lot of pride scoring his second NHL goal against his former club.
It wasn’t just that the Oilers scored more than one goal through sixty minutes, but it was also a power play goal, something that the Oilers struggled with last year. Really though, they struggled with all special teams play last season.
The Oilers also out shot their opponents 27-19, and saw a third period goaltending change with Mathieu Garon stepping in to replace Henrik Lundqvist while Khabibulin earned his first shutout of the season. This is the Khabi that Oilers fans would like to see more of. Besides a few brief moments in the first period where Khabi chose to play the puck a little further away from the net than fans would like, but at the end of the game, things worked out.
The Oilers will continue to struggle throughout the season at times, but there will also be times where certain players shine. Overall through sixty minutes, there were not players that overly upset me or made game changing errors. That is not to say that everyone played a great game, but the excitement of being at a live win for the Oilers this week has erased from my mind anything that I was disappointed with. It’s funny how that often works.
Ryan Smyth was the guest on Hockey Night in Canada’s After Hours, but the crowd was cheering so loudly it was difficult to know what was said. They did discuss the curve on Ryan Smyth’s stick, his bobblehead, his return to Edmonton and how important his family and their happiness is to him. Once the Oilers make available the video from the program, I will be sure to share it.
With this win, the Oilers have some positives to build off of before another game against division rivals, the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. It will be interesting to see who gets sent to Oklahoma City now that Sam Gagner is back on the ice and Hemsky is said to be not far behind. Many believe that it will be Anton Lander and or Linus Omark. The fact that Omark has been benched twice now this season has led many to believe that his days with the Oilers may be numbered. It seems rash to make that call, but stranger things have happened.
The team also has another two games to decide whether or not Nugent-Hopkins will play out his season with the Oilers, or go back to Red Deer. Surely the Red Deer Rebels are not holding their breath. Last year, Taylor Hall was told near his fifth game that he had made the team. With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, how could the Oilers not find themselves in the same situation?
Enjoy this win Oilers fans, it was a long week getting to it, but hopefully it will not be the last win this month.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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