Last night’s game, nationally televised, has a pretty good chance of going down in history as the day the Young Oilers arrived.
For close observers the case can, and probably should be, made that it was actually the game before against Dallas but the outcome will negate that argument from being made by the media. The fact that the Oilers managed a come from behind win and shot the lights out on Hockey Night in Canada will make last night’s contest a convenient plot point in the narrative of the Oilers’ season.
Continuing to build on the good work that was squandered due to the herculean efforts of Kari Lehtonen, the Oil came out shooting against the Avalanche. Despite out shooting them 23-12 in the 1st period, however, the Oilers were down 3-1 and Dubnyk was yanked by the time Don Cherry had finished his usual rant. Even halfway through the 2nd it looked like the Oilers were destined for another loss despite the shooting clinic they were putting on.
Cue the comeback.
This night featured goals by Eberle, Nuge, Paajarvi and a trio of assists for Hall. It was as if somebody took the plan from Oiler Management’s head and made it come to life. The fact is the new Oilers broke a franchise record previously held by the Dynasty team from 1986. Many Oiler fans had long ago come to terms with the fact that the records held by those 80’s Oilers were untouchable. The players were so good and the games were so much more open that it was laughable to think they could be broken by the present club. And yet somehow the team found a way to come up with 85 shot attempts, 56 of which found their way on net for a new club record.
The fact that they have grossly outplayed their opposition two games in a row is a good sign that their slide may have come to an end, and if we’re lucky we will look back at this as the moment the switch flipped. The young Oilers seem to have figured out a way to take advantage of their speed and skill. The constant attempts at pretty zone entries have been shelved and there is a willingness to chip it in and battle for the puck down low. Of course there are also a few pretty zone entries too, but that isnt the only way they try to come in anymore. Quite honestly a team that features Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Hemsky, and Gagner in their top 6 should win more puck battles than it loses on a regular basis.
This Oilers team is an absolute load when it plays the way its capable of. Every team in the West should have nightmares about yesterday’s game. They should be worried about trying to figure out how to stop wave after wave of Oilers from peppering their goalies with shots.
I think there is more than a good chance that people will remember that Saturday night as the one when the Oilers said to the rest of the NHL, “We’re Here.”