The red-hot Edmonton Oilers dropped a 4-2 loss to the almost-as-hot Phoenix Coyotes tonight. So is this a reality check for the upstart Oil? Let’s take a look at some reasons why it might or might not be the case.
Their goaltending was human: Devan Dubnyk allowed three goals on 29 shots while registering a .897 save percentage on Saturday.
It was the wrong human: Sure, Dubnyk was the frontrunner to be the starter going into the 2011-12 season, but Nikolai Khabibulin has been the star so far (and certainly has more skins on the wall). One could argue that the Oilers shouldn’t worry until “The Bulin Wall” starts to show some cracks.
Offensive struggles come into focus: OK, it’s hard to beat up on a team for its limited offense when they haven’t been forced to fill up the net. Still, the Oilers need to improve on their average of 26 shots per game as their magic begins to wear off.
The kids are still more than alright: On the bright side, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to be a favorite for the Calder Trophy. He scored his sixth goal of the season with assists from fellow youngster Jordan Eberle and relative old man Ryan Smyth.
So what’s the takeaway from that quick exercise? My feeling is that the Oilers cannot expect their goaltending to maintain its unreal start, even if Khabibulin’s return to the NHL’s elite isn’t a mirage. That means Edmonton will need more offense from depth spots, especially if Nugent-Hopkins and other inexperienced players hit a wall.
The fact that their defense is seemingly competent – maybe even very good – is mind blowing, but the simplest numbers hint that their transformation has a chance to continue. If that holds true all season long, then Tom Renney deserves to be at least a finalist for the Jack Adams.
Long story short, it’s not time for Oilers fans to be too concerned, but they might want to put any over-the-top braggadocio on “pause” too.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.
Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.
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“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”
Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.
Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.
DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.
Blashill says DeKeyser has a bruise, not a break. Will know more tomorrow, but probably day-to-day
The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.
But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.