by Lisa McRitchie on 01/22/12 at 03:45 AM ET
Oilers lose 6-2 to Flames
If there were any doubts that this Edmonton Oilers team will not finish well in the basement of the league once again this year, they may have been removed with one single period. The Oilers came out flat and allowed three goals through the first 20 minutes. The best scoring chance and actual goal came from injured Taylor Hall who scored just as the buzzer rang. You have to feel for those young competitive, first overall draft picks, they’re just not used to this and they hope they never have to get used to such a long string of losses.
Nikolai Khabibulin was simply put not good enough during his two periods in net. Khabi allowed goals from Mikael Backlund, Blake Comeau and two from Lee Stempniak. Stempniak would go on to score a hat-trick and earn 4 points on the game, tying his career high.
Devan Dubnyk replaced Nikolai Khabibulin in net for the third period, the only 20 minutes that many Oilers fans wished they had watched. Dubnyk allowed only a single goal, a power play marker from Flames’ defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. The most unfortunate part of this goal is that it was kicked in by Dubnyk himself. Another bad break for the Oilers.
The Oilers did manage two goals, and it was little surprise that Ryan Smyth was involved with both. Smyth had his first NHL goal against the Flames, and growing up an Oilers fan, any game against the Flames has a special meaning for Smytty.
Andy Sutton was the first to put the Oilers on the board with a slap shot from Jordan Eberle and Ryan Smyth. The second goal was a Ryan Smyth deflection from Jeff Petry and Ladislav Smid.
The scoring wouldn’t be complete without an empty net goal by Lee Stempniak, his hat-trick goal. What will be the news story in the morning was that Taylor Hall clearly asks “Why did we pull the goalie?”
Coach Tom Renney addressed the matter saying “He’s a competitor.
“I bet you if you asked him right now how he felt about pulling the goaltender, he’d say it was the right thing to do. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing he’d say that. Because it was the right thing to do.
“We’re not going to quit behind the bench either. We have to coach the game; we have to coach to win. Period. “
Hall came up frequently during Renney’s post game address simply because of Hall’s competitive nature. He is exactly what this team needs, and everyone seems to hope that he will rub off on the other players. “I’d like to think that it would be contagious,” Renney said. “If nothing else the fact that losing is a pain in the ass might help.”
The Flames were by far the better team. The Oilers did not play the night before, so that excuse doesn’t work. The only forward still out is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Even Taylor Hall who many didn’t feel was ready to get back in the game played with a fierceness that many players just didn’t have, but you have to keep in mind that Taylor Hall is one of the best players on the team.
“We didn’t try very smart.” Renney said of his team’s overall play. This was especially frustrated to all observers who weren’t Flames fans. “It’s supposed to be a great rivalry; we have to live up to our end of the bargain.”
The same positives remain. The Oilers are far better on the power play this season than last. The same with the penalty kill. Faceoffs are better, but the wins are not coming. Part of this is due to a lack of depth, and some is due to the inexperience. Things will get better, and there are glimpses even in games such as this.
Although the Oilers lost, there were some scoring chances that were exciting and had it not been for the outstanding play of Nikolai Khabibulin Taylor Hall would have had at least one goal.
The most frustrating issue with this loss is that it was of course another loss to the Alberta rivals, the Calgary Flames. If this loss has frustrated you the Oilers fan enough that you do not wish to you use your tickets for say Monday’s game, please be sure to donate your tickets to a charity such as Kids up Front. Jason Gregor of the Team 1260 has also offered to take them and ensure that they get to someone who may not otherwise get to see a game live.
Chin up Oilers fans, there are only two more games before the All Star break when we should see the return of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Whitney also hopes to give playing another shot this season. Hopefully this next attempt will work out.
Up next, the Oilers will host the San Jose Sharks while the Oilers are a mere 6 points ahead of Columbus. The race is on.
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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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