If you’ve been watching the Oilers this year with last night’s game in particular, you’re probably getting the sense that it’s a good time to be an Oilers fan. In fact, you’re probably having a hard time right now just trying to contain your exuberance. The excitement in the air is nearly palpable…
For those who haven’t yet noticed, after clawing their way back from a 4-1 deficit in last night’s game vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets to win 6-4, The Edmonton Oilers are currently ranked 4th in the Western Conference with a 6-2-1 record. I would love to suggest that Moreau’s offensive zone roughing penalty sparked this come back, but it happened in spite of a 4 minute stretch of penalty killing in the second period. For those who would argue that we’re only nine games into this season, sure it’s premature to expect that we’ll finish this high in the conference. However, with Dustin Penner’s new found confidence, the chemistry with the Gagner line, and the attitude that seems to be pervading the locker room, it might not be out of the question to start hoping for a glimpse of the second season.
I can only speculate, but for some, I would imagine that all of this excitement is tempered by some sense that the Oilers are unlikely to continue at this pace. In fact, the Oilers themselves are on pace for a 118 point season. Last year, the San Jose Sharks won the President’s trophy with 117 points. I can acknowledge that I too share this sense of foreboding that either one or both of Dustin Penner or the team will turn into a pumpkin when the clock strikes 12. Okay, the arrows are not quite pointed in that direction, but we have to anticipate Penner/the Oilers coming back down to earth, don’t we? However, regardless of the results on the stats or score sheets, I think the fans themselves will continue to be thrilled with this team if the level of compete itself continues.
As with some of the Oilers previous failed trades, it’s definitely starting to look like the Dany Heatley trade is among the best that never happened. Forget the fact that Dustin Penner is currently out producing Dany Heatley (see below), but there’s some other aspects to look at. Ladislav Smid for one is something to consider. He’s currently ranked second in the league in terms of his +/- number which in his case seems to be an accurate reflection of his current level of play. Specifically, it looks like Smid’s turning into the shut-down defensemen that man Oilers fans have been hoping to acquire in a trade. Cogliano as well has shown to be a valuable piece for this team even if he’s been bouncing between the bottom six.
- 10 Gp: G6-A6-P12, +/- 0 [7th in points in NHL]
- 9 Gp: G7-A7-P14 +/- +9 [4rth in points in NHL]
- On pace for 63 goals, 63 assists, 126 points!
First line Chemistry
Pat Quinn’s already being heralded as a ‘genius’ for putting together the Oilers first line last night including Sam Gagner, Dustin Penner, and Alex Hemsky. Last night, that line combined for 13 points in the game with Penner and Hemsky each having a five point evening. In terms of the momentum shift last night that sparked the come back, to me it looked as though it came after Penner’s near goal attempt while driving the net with a CBJ player water skiing off his back. The play neither resulted in a holding penalty for the CBJs which many it felt it should nor a goal, but to me it sounded like Penner was saying, “This ain’t over yet.”
In short, Pat Quinn’s Oilers thus far have been one hell of a hockey team to watch. All arrows suggest that it’s going to be an exciting season following my favorite team.