by Lisa McRitchie on 11/25/11 at 11:00 PM ET
Oilers beat Wild 4-2
This win was a very long time coming. The Oilers had not won their past 17 outings to St. Paul Minnesota; the last win was Jan 16th, 2007. Of course the Oilers have a similar losing streak in Dallas, and it is still fairly recently that the Oilers have broke a Nashville losing streak, but still this was truly a momentous day in the life of many an Oiler fan. Of course Tom Renney would be so calm following this game, saying “It’s just another win.”
The Oilers are showing once again that they have better luck if they can get that first goal. Tonight’s first goal was care of Ryan Smyth’s rejuvenation from coming home. A large part of Smyth’s come back season is certainly his return to his home and his team, but also playing with the youth of the Oilers.
In one of his first media scrums as an Oiler this summer, Smyth said of playing with youth “I think it’s a big deal going both ways, it’s a two way street. I think that the experience that I’ve gained over the years can be a big thing and with these young kids pushing the pace and really showing their skill and their energy on a consistent basis it can really rub off on players like myself. I want to be like a sponge. I want to learn every day and I want to provide as much as I’ve been experienced. “
I think that the energy from the youth is certainly rubbing off on Smyth, as he now has 12 goals and 12 assists. At this rate, I don’t see why Ryan Smyth couldn’t score 30 or more goals this year.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had another lesson in the NHL through this game, getting caught up in a line change, but with 2 goals, including an empty net goal all is forgiven. Nugent-Hopkins continues to wow, show his skills and improve in all aspects of his game. On most nights of late, Nugent-Hopkins holds his own in the faceoff circle. Tonight, his play through the rest of the night makes up for his 13% faceoff wins.
Ladislav Smid is in many ways the stereotypical shut down defenceman, Smid still leads the league in shot blocks with 62. Because of this, Smid has not scored in a very long time. The last time Smid scored was December 5th, 2009 in a game against the Dallas Stars. Today, Smid came closer to breaking his streak than he has in a very long time, but Josh Harding was a little too quick and Smid continues on his goalless streak.
It seems that Darcy Hordichuk may be what the Oilers need from time to time. Shocking, I know. Hordichuk has been waiting to fight Brad Staubitz for years, and came very close to doing that this game. Hordichuk could be seen suggesting that the two could fight, but Staubitz wasn’t interested, not until Hordichuk was on his knees, or after being hit. “I wanted to let him know that if he wanted to score off, that this was his chance and there was no response.” Hordichuk played the situations perfectly, and earned his team two extended (4 minute) power plays. Unfortunately the Oilers were not able to generate a shot during the first power play thanks to the strong defencive play by the Minnesota Wild, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins score during the second.
Ryan Whitney was back in the lineup, and seeing the contrast between a veteran like Whitney and a nube like Jeff Petry is quite remarkable. Everyone has to start somewhere, and there are always challenges associated with learning, but Whitney is a much needed member of this Oilers team, and will only help to make those around him better. I was not always a Whitney supporter, in fact I was quite upset with the Lubomir Visnovky trade, but I have definitely turned that opinion around. I still think Visnovky is fantastic, but I see Whitney’s value to this Oilers team and wish that he would have longer healthier seasons.
“I don’t carry the weight of the world, like it seems the rest of the world does to be honest with you. This is what we do, we’re supposed to go out and do everything we can to win hockey games. We’ve been very, very close here and we’ve always had good games against Minnesota and I’m sure that that will continue.” Although Renney felt that this was just another game, I’m sure he was in some ways delighted to have this streak at an end.
Next up for the Oilers, another northwest division rival, the Colorado Avalanche. This will be another Hockey Night in Canada game tomorrow. There are a couple of things that will be very likely to happen in tomorrow’s game; Devan Dubnyk will likely get the start, and Nugent-Hopkins may score several points. For whatever reason, perhaps a sense of pride in his country, Nugent-Hopkins has scored 11 points in 4 Hockey Night in Canada games.
Nikolai Khabibulin had another excellent game in net for the Oilers, up against Josh Harding who replaced Khabi in the NHL’s top standings. At this point you have to wonder if Khabibulin will hit a wall sometime soon, but certainly hope that he wont.
To my American friends, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving weekend. Personally, I am thankful for this Oilers win and hope for many more.
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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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