Tonight, the Edmonton Oilers will be playing the Montreal Candiens at Rexall Place. The game is scheduled to start at 8 pm on CBC. The Canadiens are 2-2-0 which currently puts them in a tie for 1st in the Northeast division while the Oilers’ record of 1-1-1 has them sitting in 3rd in the Northwest division. Each team is missing a marquee dman and each team is unfortunately gaining notoriety for their abundance of smurfs. We can’t expect that this will workout well.
Markov / Souray –
The Montreal Canadiens will be playing without their top-scoring defenceman from last season, Andrei Markov, as he’s out with a left ankle injury which will require surgery. Sheldon Souray, the Oilers top scoring defenceman last season, is out indefinitely with a mild concussion. With the return of not-as-steady as I used to be, Steve Staios, it looks like he will be joined by Strudwick for the Oilers’ shut-down pairing?
Tale of the ‘Tenders…
Carey Price – Apparently, the word is already out on Carey Price – shoot high! Price has a 3.69 GAA this season along with a .903 SV %.
Nikolai Khabibulin – The Bulin wall is currently ranked 38/48 goalies based on his .867 SV % and 32nd based on his 3.49 GAA. Of note, many of the goals scored on Bulin this season were either deflected by one of several Flames players doing their best Ryan Smyth impersonations, or banked off of various Oilers dmen. However, Bulin’s been slow to shut the five hole on a few different occasions.
The Oilers not-yet special, special teams:
The Oilers PK is currently at 69.2% after killing 4 powerplays in the recent game vs. the Flames. However, the league average is currently 74.9%. Our powerplay is clipping along at 25% which is basically the current league average. In short, we’re going to see far better numbers than (69%+25%=94%) to make it to the second season.
Horpensky is back?
I know that I mentioned this prior to the Calgary game, but it sounds like the Oilers will be reuniting the Horpensky line against the Habs. So far, the HorJacsky line has not be terribly impressive, though not all of the blame for this can be placed on JFJ. Sure there’s been more than few occasions where JFJ’s either failed to notice that Hemsky likes to do a dipsy doodle in front of the blue line or he’s simply been overzealous in following Quinn’s orders to skate to the net–both of which has resulted in JFJ being off-side. Without the benefit of some careful analysis by David Staples, I remember at least a few goals where Jacques’ play lead to scoring chances or goals despite JFJ not getting an actual point.
I don’t know what it is about JFJ, but the guy sure knows how to deliver a hit. JFJ’s smaller than both Storts and Smac, but possibly because of his better skating ability, he’ pretty effective and banging dmen including JBo.
Last few random Oilers thoughts:
Gilber Brule’s been more impressive to my eye during the first 3 games than he was during the preseason. Hemsky has been mostly unremarkable bordering on invisible except when he’s dangling in the neutral zone and having the puck stripped off his stick. We’ll need to see a lot more from the Hemmer… Overall, the Oilers have been playing more physical and with more emotion which is good to see. Despite some of the unfortunate losses, it’s been more exciting hockey to watch IMO.
The Oilers possible lineup:
Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky
Jacques – Gagner – O’ Sullivan
Comrie – Brule – Stone
Moreau – Cogliano – Stortini
Strudwick – Staios
Grebeshkov – Gilbert
Smid – Visnovsky
Final Score (Oilers 3/Candiens 2)
Well, I watched the game at Hudson’s last night which is why I am updating the post today. Overall, it was good to see the Oilers get the “W” and the overwhelming consensus is that Bulin won the game for us. He was also rewarded with the first star.
The game went from a potential blow-out by the Oilers and turned into a close game in the third. From what I recall, it sounded like the announcers thought that the deflection off of Moreau’s skate was actually a goal. Fortunately, it went to a review and the puck didn’t actually go into the net because within the next thirty seconds or so, Horcoff managed to tip a deflection in past Bulin which did count.
O’Sullivan ended his scoring drought off a nice forcheck and pass from Ryan Stone earlier in the game. Hemsky had beat Price on the powerplay also previously, but was denied by the post. JFJ also managed to get his first goal of the season. The third period was a bit of a nail-biter, but we managed to hold on for the win.
Uncharacteristically, the Oilers were both out-shot and possibly out-played (though the shot clock did seemed to indicate more than what I actually saw), yet in spite of this we managed to get a win from the visiting Habs. The Oilers have started off the season with a respectable 2-1-1.
Penner’s been used on the first PK unit and has been resonably effective in that role, but he was sleep-walking again and didn’t score any big man goals last night.