In just a few short hours, the Edmonton Oilers will be playing the Dallas Stars in their second game of this season. Unfortunate gaffs and bounces aside, already I am liking what I see in terms of Pat Quinn hockey. In their first game of this season, the Oilers showed some ‘compete’ and ‘grittiness’ which has been absent for a while. However, the Oilers also showed that their lacklustre special team performance in a trend that could be scary should it continue.
Dallas Stars roster:
- Neal – Richards – Eriksson
Morrow – Ribeiro – Benn
Ott – Wandell – Brunnstrom
Barch – Sutherby – Petersen
- Grossman – Robidas
Skrastins – Daley
Woywitka – Niskanen
Edmonton Oilers roster:
Shawn Horcoff is expected to play, but he missed a recent practice due to injury. Thecaptainethanmoreau is out with an ankle injury (cellulitis). Hopefully this spells one less penalty for the Oilers weak PK squad to kill tonight.
- Jacques – Horcoff – Hemsky
O’Sullivan – Comrie – Stone
Penner – Brule – Nilsson
Cogliano – Gagner – Stortini
- Souray – Visnovsky
Grebeshkov – Gilbert
Smid – Staios
3 Problems from game 1:
Penalty kill: In game 1 vs. the Calgary Flames,the Oilers PK was 33.3%. Basically, Calgary converted on 2 of their 3 powerplay chances. Last season, the Oilers penalty kill finished at 77.5% which was 27th in the league.
Powerplay: Again, in the first game, the Oilers failed to convert on 4 powerplay chances. Last year, the Oilers had a powerplay conversion of 17% which was in the bottom ten league-wide (22nd).
Clearly, the Oilers will need some drastic improvement in their special teams to make the playoffs this year. Overall, the special teams totalled 94.5% last season. The Oilers will need to bring this number north of 100 to increase their chances of seeing the second season.
Okay, this wasn’t an area of glaring concern despite the Oilers poor performance last season on the dot. However, Brule and Gagner were both pretty weak at faceoffs on our bottom two lines. Mike Comrie and Shawn Horcoff both had unsustainable percentages going forward.
- Mike Comrie: 9-3 – 75%
- Shawn Horcoff: 14-7 – 66.7%
- Gilbert Brule: 4-7 – 36%
- Sam Gagner: 2-8 – 20%
Okay, it’s only one game and even with the mishandled puck in the dying minute of the game, the Bulin wall let in 3 other goals in just 21 shots. Well, we won’t dwell on Bulin’s 0.810 save % or his 4.00 goals against average, but it still looks like he’s off to a somewhat shaky start.
Final Score: Edmonton 5 Dallas 4 (OT)
Game overview: The Edmonton Oilers came out with some physical play in the first period-out hitting the Dallas Stars somewhere around 10-1. Hemsky was off to a pretty slow start and overall the JFJ/Horcoff/Hemsky line had a lacklustre performance getting severely out-shot during the game. The first period ended with a 1-1 tie with Mike Comrie scoring on the powerplay for the Oilers and Brendan Morrow scoring for the Stars.
The second period ended with another tie score of 3-3. Sam Gagner potted a goal with a blast of a slapshot after receiving a spinning pass from Grebeshkov and carrying the puck into Dallas’ zone. Gagner score just minutes after the Oilers gave up a short-handed goal to Neal. Robidias converted on the powerplay to put the Stars up by a goal. During the second period and into the third, the Dallas Stars erased much of the hitting deficit and there was a noticeable momentum shift in the game. Near the end of the period, Dustin Penner took a slick pass from Nilsson and drove to the net with a slick move and shelved the tying goal.
During the third period, Morrow (that’s Brendan, not Ethan) scored his second goal of the night to put the Stars back in the lead (5v3 powerplay). Grebeshkov managed to score the tying goal in the third. Overall, Khabi looked pretty shaky in net during much of the game. On more than a few occasions, he turned to check the back of the net after making a save. Though Stone played a physical game, he looked lost at times during the game. Pat Quinn put Penner back onto the first line during the third and the effect was immediately noticeable. Hemsky seemed to come back to life with this change. It did seem that the Oilers top line spent a fair amount of time playing with Souray/Staios on the backend which had the predictable adverse effect on generating some moment on the rush out of their zone.
Positives: The Oilers started out playing physical and managed to claw their way back from a one-goal deficit on three occassions. One of the power play goals against was during a 5-3 and the other one looked like it deflected off a few Oilers. Dustin Penner was the best Oiler on the ice and continues to look like a new man. Gagner continues to impress and fairs pretty well on a line with Cogliano/Storts. Khabibulin did fare well in the shoot-out with 3 stops and manged to get his 300th win! Hemsky was the only player to score on the shoot-out to get the Oilers the much needed 2 points vs. the Dallas Stars.
Negatives: I don’t have the stats but I would guess that the first line was out shot 15-1. Both Horcoff and Hemsky played less than spectacular games. Like the game vs. Calgary, our coverage and play in our own zone needs improvement. Bhulin got beat with a gaping five hole on one goal and maybe could’ve been expected to save one or two of Dallas’ goals. Last year, the Dallas Stars managed to score just 2 short-handed goals during the entire season–on that note, they’ve made half their quota against the Oilers tonight.