by Lisa McRitchie on 01/20/12 at 03:15 AM ET
Oilers lose 1-0 to Blues
It could have been far worse but somehow the Oilers have continued their inexplicable run of having better luck against playoff teams than non-playoff teams. For this game the team only allowed a single goal when many pre-game predictions out there had the team losing by as much as 7.
Perhaps inspired by the return of sophomore sensation Jordan Eberle, or maybe even more so player for Taylor Hall, the Oilers played a much stronger overall defensive road game than they did on Tuesday night against Columbus. The Oilers had the early lead, but couldn’t hold it for the full sixty minutes, giving up four goals in the final two periods. Or, if you want to look at this game more pessimistically, it was the outstanding play of Nikolai Khabibulin that held his team in the game and there are a long list of players that just weren’t good enough.
“We’ve been struggling to score goals,” said defenceman Theo Peckham of his team’s recent struggles. “But at the same time we have to do our best when our goalie, our oldest player is battling his rear end off for us and keeping the puck out of net, we have to get him one.”
This was the 11th time this season the Oilers have been tied after the second period, the worst part of that stat is that the team hasn’t won a single one of the 11 games. That sort of stat usually indicates playing not to lose.
With the increased injuries, and the lack of scoring the lines were once again shaken up. This was a less than ideal night for Paajarvi, and it just so happened that Paajarvi was playing on the left wing instead of the right. Paajarvi was drafted and has played as a left winger, but seems to be doing better on the right. This could be of use should Ales Hemsky get traded.
While Khabibulin stopped 37 of 38 shots on net, the Oilers only managed 15. That’s through the entire game, not any single period either. Three of those fifteen came from Ryan Jones, the man who this year has slipped to sixth in team scoring and has 12 goals on the season so far.
The Oilers’ scoring struggles weren’t helped with their many minutes on the penalty kill. But their penalty kill was perfect on the night, something that would not have happened at this point in the season last year.
When the Blues finally broke the goose egg tie, it was Alex Pietrangelo who jammed the puck in behind Khabi just a little quicker than the netminder could slide into position to block his net.
“We never really ever felt overwhelmed.” Claims Oilers’ head coach Tom Renney. “Obviously Khabi was dialled in which was important of course. And there were a lot of shots from outside, but that is a part of the plan as well in this game to get it to the net, get it to the blue paint.”
The Oilers will now head home to play another edition of the battle of Alberta. Without Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney, Cam Barker and Eric Belanger this could be the most painful game yet. Taylor Hall is definitely eager to get back in the lineup, and if he had his way he would be playing. However, if Hall is still having vision issues, he only risks further injury. Then there is of course the swelling on his head. Continue to expect regular updates from the Oilers, but for Hall to miss a few more games.
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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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