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Oilers on the Wrong Side of Shutout

Oilers lose 3-0 to Red Wings
The Edmonton Oilers continue their challenging first road trip of November. This trip will see the Oilers play three of the four past four Stanley Cup champions. The Oilers of course didn’t fare well against the Boston Bruins on Thursday and the results of the game against the Red Wings could be seen as better for a number of reasons.

It wasn’t just that the Oilers allowed half as many goals through sixty minutes than the previous night, but also that the Oilers were able stand up to the physical play of the Red Wings and keep up with the speed of the game, for the most part, or perhaps only for the most part of the first period, but at least the Oilers didn’t look as though they were in a completely different league.

Lennart Petrell took the extremely rare instigator and fighting with a visor penalty combination for a fight that resulted from a hit on Magnus Paajarvi that Petrell took exception to. Although I have speculated that Petrell could be a player moved to the AHL as more forwards come off the injured list but Petrell certainly is making a case for himself staying with the club. In fact, I think that Coach Tom Renney is very impressed with what he has seen and would rather have players battling for spots, than hoping he has enough players healthy enough to play the game.

This was Paajarvi’s first game back after sitting the past two. Paajarvi didn’t see much ice time though. Through the entire game, Paajarvi played only 7:05 and a total of 10 shifts as Renney juggled lines looking for chemistry and to generate some scoring chances.

The line juggling certainly increased through the third period and following the game Renney commented that it looks as though he will be trying new combinations at this point, but that reminds that “You’ll always look at different line combinations.” Again, I’m sure that Renney is delighted to have more options this year, than last.

For Magnus Paajarvi to draw back in, Ben Eager sat out. On the back end, it was Cam Barker who drew out of the line-up and Andy Sutton was back in. Barker wasn’t in the pressbox though, it seems the defenceman has already travelled back to Edmonton due to an ankle injury.

This was only Nikolai Khabibulin’s first regulation loss of the season, and Khabibulin had a good game between the pipes and despite the loss, remains a league leader for GAA. This game now has Khabibulin tied with the Minnesota Wild’s Josh Harding and another win could bump the Bulin Wall back up to the top. On the game, Khabibulin says “Tonight it seems that maybe we were a little bit out of sync, maybe a half a step behind here or there. I think that we played better tonight than we did in Boston but it still didn’t feel the way we would play say Los Angeles.” It was interesting that most Oilers interviewed after the game referenced the Los Angeles game, the game against the Canadiens was the last convincing win, but perhaps a win against a western rival weighs a little heavier in the mind.

On Khabibulin’s excellent stretch of goaltending this season, Renney says he’s good because he wants to be.  Renney says “He continues to be a leader on our team and he understands that we’re still a pretty young team that needs leadership and it certainly starts in a number of ways from the goaltender out.”

Anton Lander continues to search for his elusive first NHL goal that I thought would happen in Detroit. It was at last year’s Remembrance Day game when the Edmonton Sun’s Rob Tychkowski called the forecast “As always, is muggy, with a chance of murder,” that Theo Peckham scored his first NHL goal against the Detroit Red Wings.

Despite not finding his first goal, Lander continues to prove to the Oilers that they made a wise decision selecting him in the draft and that it was worth the effort to entice Lander to leave the Swedish Elite League and play for the Oilers. Post game, Lander gave fans another example of the leadership we hear about so often. Lander says on the game “I think that the big thing is that we need to talk more on the ice to each other. That’s a big part of the game. If you’re talking to each other you’re helping more, and you’ve got four eyes to see it, more than two eyes. So we need to talk together more and same with Tom and see what we did wrong and keep it up. [The next game is our] last game for this road trip, we need two points next game.”

“It’s painful to win; it’s not always going to be easy.” Says Renney “You’ve got to be prepared to put out what you have every single night and I think beyond that continue to go out there and play with the enthusiasm and vigor that they can because when they do that, they’re very effective for us. And don’t go take a backseat to anybody. Assert your will on people; apply yourself to the best of your ability and good things will happen if you keep doing that.“

Renney has it right when he said “That’s a good team that was able to take advantage of the opportunities that we gave them and ultimately I think that our battle level kind of weaned as time went on.”  The first period saw an Oilers team that looked very much in the game, and that could possibly walk away with a win and preventing their first string of losses on the season. Instead, the Oilers continued their defencive game and goals eluded the entire team. This is all a part of the rebuilding process and there will be bumps along the road. Some fans were especially distraught by the loss, and were already talking about top ten picks again, but that is just the fun of being a fan. Two losses in a row are no need to panic.

This was also Andy Sutton’s first game back since the defenceman was suspended for five games following a hit on rookie Gabriel Landeskog in Denver. Sutton took a puck to the back of the leg during one exhausting penalty kill and looked to be in extreme discomfort. Sutton did continue to play through the rest of the game, and so should be fine for Sunday’s game.

I am well aware that a very large portion of the readers at this site are Red Wings fans, so I will mention that I definitely have a soft spot for original six teams, and I always love seeing the Red Wings succeed. This of course goes out the window when my Oilers are involved, but still, good game friends, the better team on the night definitely took this one.

Next up, the Oilers make a stop in Chicago Sunday night before returning home. The team will have a day off to recovery slightly, but look for the team to come out with all cylinders firing.


Filed in: Edmonton Oilers, Anton Lander, Magnus Pääjärvi, | Oil Patch | Permalink


J.J. from Kansas's avatar

It was at last year’s Remembrance Day game when the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones called the forecast “As always, is muggy, with a chance of murder,” that Theo Peckham scored his first NHL goal against the Detroit Red Wings.

That was Robert Tychkowski who said that and that guy’s still a dickhole.

That’s not important though.  I agree with the sentiments here.  I’ll say that I thought the Oilers played a pretty good game.  Their aggressive forecheck made the Wings pass the puck around in their own zone more than they like to, but ultimately, the Wings were just on.  I felt the game was closer than the score indicated here.  Detroit was able to cause more mistakes and capitalize on more mistakes, but Edmonton did fairly well considering they were on their third game in four nights.

Eberle had a few very frightening chances.  I really like that kid.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 11/12/11 at 05:05 AM ET

Lisa Brown's avatar

Ooops! Thanks!

I agree that the game was closer and that Eberle was flying out there. I didn’t want to ramble on about everything though. I know that Oiler fans tend to go back and look at players they wish had been drafted, I wonder how many teams or fans look at Eberle with a sense of regret.

Posted by Lisa Brown on 11/12/11 at 05:09 AM ET

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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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