I’ll freely admit that I thought the Oilers’ 5-1-0 record going into last night’s game was very much in jeopardy. Washington is an NHL powerhouse and has been for years. From the top of the roster right through to the coaching staff, the Capitals are an elite NHL team. But yesterday evening a different story was written.
Is there a new sheriff in town? Maybe…
I’d still like to see them dominate one or two more upper-echelon NHL teams before making that jump to the “Oilers are a Western Conference Power” train car. And We’ll have to wait a bit for that as the next three opponents for Edmonton are Vancouver (Do we really think they’re worthy of a 4-2-1 record?), Ottawa (These guys are 4-2-0 too?!), and Toronto (Nobody is going to care about the standings in this game, McDavid v. Matthews part 1!). So we wait until Nov. 4th against the New York Rangers.
Now getting back to the game versus the Capitals, I let out a huge sigh of relief when Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot combined for the Oilers first goal. I had been giving it to Nuge on Twitter before the game had started and he showed me by getting 2 points when all was said and done, both assists on goals by Pouliot.
When the Oilers went into the 3rd period up 2-0 I was still feeling a bit cagey and then Ovechkin scored and I thought to myself, “Is this how it ends?” But then the Capitals started to open things up and send in the extra man on the forecheck, which, in any other season would result in the Oilers’ defense collapsing under the pressure and throwing the biscuit up the wall to a winger who wasn’t prepared because they were already on their horse out of their zone looking for that hail mary pass.
Something has changed.
This time when the opposition put the pressure on Edmonton, the boys didn’t collapse, they were collected and cool. The Capitals had possession in the Oilers zone but they were the ones that felt the pressure and it was their turn to give the puck away as Caps rookie (and former junior teammate of Connor McDavid), Andre Burakovsky, tried to force one through into the slot and the puck took a deflection that landed right on Jesse Puljujarvi’s stick to which he tapped up to McDavid and they were off to the races! A 3-on-2 with Alexander Ovechkin barrelling down from behind but it didn’t matter as the speed of McDavid and Puljujarvi couldn’t be matched. I actually thought that Pulju was going to get his first goal right there because it looked like it went in but it wasn’t to be as Holtby’s post saved the day, the only problem being it bounced out the other side where “Big Rig” Pat Maroon was to clean things up.
*My bad! I totally thought Puljujarvi hadn’t excited his first goal yet. Thanks to you guys for shaming me for my mistake :p*
3-1 Oilers and there was no looking back.
Milan Lucic scored on the PP later in the period with a masterful tip which must’ve lead everyone on the Capitals’ bench wondering why nobody was marking him…
As each game goes by this season I see these Oilers grow into the sort of team that we’ve been clambering for for years. A big team with speed, skill, and smarts; and goaltending that we can rely on. Don’t ask me how Talbot is doing this but I hope he doesn’t burn out anytime soon. It’d be a shame for him to pull the ol’ Khabibulin and rip the carpet out from beneath our feet.
Speaking of Talbot, how about TJ Oshie putting the “o” in assh*le as he was cross-checking Talbot in the thigh? Check it out below.
Then there is
Then there is THIS clickbait from Russian Machine Never Breaks entitled “Did Cam Talbot Deserve a Match Penalty for Punching TJ Oshie in the Face?”
Are you kidding me? TJ Oshie deserved to get kicked out of the game for intent to injure if anything. Honestly, tell me how cross-checking a goalie in the tight repeatedly is an attempt at playing the puck? The kicker is when the linesman saved Oshie from further beating by laying on top of him as if he were some sort of grenade…
Cam Talbot did the right thing in my opinion and it’s a shame that neither Gryba nor Nurse could get their hands on Oshie any more than they did at that time.
Just a quick note on Jesse Puljujarvi.
The big Finn is slowly coming along. Last night I noticed him gaining a bit more confidence with the puck and he’s firing that puck but he still doesn’t look fully engaged. He’s not going into the board battles 100% and he’s staying to the outside quite a bit. Anton Slepyshev has looked opposite to that so far and in my opinion, he should be the one on Nuge’s RW. I reckon they’ll keep Pulju and play him his 9 games at least but I hope they do send him down to Bakersfield. Then again, who knows? It might just click for him at game 15 but as of now, it’s not clicking.
So next up the Oilers will play the Vancouver Canucks and to me, this is another Buffalo Sabres-like match-up. The Oilers had better take them seriously even though the rest of the league isn’t. Bo Horvat has had his way with the Oilers since coming into the league, Jake Virtanen will be a thorn in the side of McDavid all night and there’s that shiny new 1st line of Sedin-Sedin-Eriksson that had better not be overlooked.
That being said, the Oilers can capitalize on the Canucks defense and/or its goaltending. I wonder if Ryan Miller will have the Lucic Flu come game time?
The points that Edmonton gain vs. their Pacific Division opponents are of the utmost importance as they’ll need them when the schedule starts to get more challenging and especially if they’re in a fight for a playoff position.
What did you think about the game? Are you becoming more and more convinced that the Oilers are for real or are you still a bit reserved about this new feeling and waiting for the other shoe to drop?
Let us know in the comments below!