The Oilers play their second game in as many nights and they have the privilege of doing it against the undefeated Sharks. Yay.
The Sharks have come out of the gate guns blazing and slaughtering the opposition like a Quentin Tarantino protagonist. They are 1 point back of the NHL lead (Blackhawks) but have played 1 fewer game than Chicago. They can take the outright lead with a win against the Oilers. Edmonton is trying to out their own winning streak together and can turn some heads if they get their 3rd in a row against Marleau and the Sharks.
Heartless Patrick Marleau has 9 goals in 6 games and 14 points in total. He is lighting the league on fire right now and that includes a great performance against the Oil already. The former Sharks captain is definitely the early season MVP. If he were a Maple Leaf they would be re-naming streets after him by now. The Oilers will need to find a way to slow that big train down.
It was an embarrassing loss that the Oilers had against the Sharks. There is no shame losing to an unbeaten club, but Edmonton lost that game in the 1st period alone. They have something to prove tonight against the toughest opponent they will face for almost a Calendar month (They wont play Chicago until Feb 25th). Above all, the Oilers need to keep things even in the 1st period.
The Oilers are a talented club but it wasnt on display for most of last night’s affair. The game was disjointed and boring to watch until late in the 3rd period. As predicted Smyth, Hemsky, and Hall all came away with points and Yak’s late game heroics were clutch. However, if the Oilers think for a second that they can repeat that performance and win against San Jose they will be eaten alive.
Touching on last night’s game, I would just like to say that if Shane Doan isnt given a suspension then it is a grave miscarriage of justice. Doan’s hit on Horcoff was brutal. He hit Horcoff from behind, in the head, while he didnt have the puck. This courtesy of Jonathan Willis. There was no penalty on the play despite it being obvious and there being an injured player laying face down on the ice, but the NHL needs to review that play. There is no place for such a blatant attempt to injure someone. Now I am no bleeding heart trying to get hitting out of the game, but the hits have to be against the puck carrier or someone who had JUST handled the puck. This was neither.
Oilers Keys to the Game
The last game didnt have any. There was no rhythm in the game against the Yotes, just a collection of mis-handled passes and bouncing pucks. Maybe the ice was bad, maybe the Oilers werent paying attention. Either way, they need to be better tonight vs the Sharks. It’s going to be tough sledding, but if they can find a way to get a few lines rolling success should follow. It will be tough to do that on the road though as San Jose can get some favourable matchups as they have last change.
The Oilers arent a bad Penalty Killing team but they arent great, and the Sharks PP is #1 in the league. Edmonton isnt far off, less than 1%. Both clubs are loaded for bear on the Power Play so the team that can stay out of the box is going to to give themselves the best opportunity to win. I think the phantom calls are beginning to decline (forgetting about Gagner’s last night) because the Officials are back to game speed again. They were off just as long as the NHL players were and the rust showed. Now that we are 6 games in, things look like they are returning to acceptable levels.
3) The Kids need pitch in at Evens
There’s no doubt that the PP is elite and the kids a driving that bus, but they arent getting it done at even strength. A few too many dangles, not enough work in the corners, a little bit too much individualism, whatever it is it needs to change. The Power Play cant win them every game. If the young guns want a leadership role now and in the future then they need to do the little things. Everything is too pretty right now. On the Power Play they have the time and space to get away with those dipsy doodle plays, but I think they are seeing the results at even strength when you arent willing to get dirty.
Puck drops tonight at 8:30 on Sportsnet. Game On!