2, the number of six game winless streaks. 1, the number of seven game winless streaks. These are not very exciting numbers, but none of those streaks matter right now they were last year, and this is a new one. The Edmonton Oilers have won one and reset the counters much to the delight of Oilers' fans.
News broke this afternoon that Jordan Eberle had an emergency appendectomy Wednesday night. Just a quick side note, is it ever a non-emergency appendectomy? Does everyone ever have a routine appendectomy? As Bruce McCurdy and Tom Renney said, good for the kid for being smart enough to require surgery when he is already out with his ankle injury. Eberle is not expected to need extra time to heal, the ankle will be the deciding factor in when he returns to the lineup.
While the Oilers were still short Ryan Whitney, Shawn Horcoff and Jordan Eberle, the Islanders were without starting goalie Rick DiPietro and captain Doug Weight but they did bring with them a name familiar to all Oilers fans out there, Rob Schremp. While Schremp was not expected to receive the warm welcome fans reserve for Ryan Smyth, or the cold hatred fans hold for Chris Pronger, fans were likely to remember Schremp none the less.
The game got off to a pretty good start for the Oilers. Andrew Cogliano made an initial shot on net and Gilbert Brule was able to take advantage of the rebound to get the Oilers on the board. The next series of events was interesting. Devan Dubnyk got a delay of game penalty, no really, Dubnyk takes a penalty then Dustin Penner was able to get that big body of his moving. When Penner uses his feet, there is not much a small eastern team like the Islanders can do about it. So, Penner gets the Oilers up by two. Those two goals brought a change in net for the Islanders. With Dwayne Roloson traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Rick DiPietro out with a pulled groan it was Nathan Lawson starting, but quickly benched and 20 year old Kevin Poulin who is currently on his first recall to the NHL. Yes, that means that it was also Poulin's fist NHL game even if it wasn't his first NHL start.
So, to say that that was an amazing start for the Oilers seems to be an understatement to say the least. The team that usually comes from behind, and more often than not in the third period, owned the first period. Well, they owned the scoring. The Islanders were ahead in shots with 13 while the Oilers had 9. The Oilers also took all three of the first period penalties. At least this showed that the PK is still improving, no powerplay goals against.
As we all know, nothing seems to go smoothly for the Oilers this season. Unaccustomed to leading any team on the scoreboard, the Oilers seemed to stand back and play soft hockey through the second period. Taking the only penalty of consequence during the second, the Oilers still avoided allowing a PP goal. Excellent. Sadly, immediately upon killing it off, Edmonton allowed Blake Comeau an even strength goal. With a score of 2-1, the shots for the second period were 10-6 for the Islanders. That brings the totals for the game to 23 - 15. How many times can I ask this team for more shots?
Five minutes into the third period, the Oilers had just failed to take advantage of their only PP of the night when it was announced that Jim Vandermeer who had just missed nine games with an ankle injury would not be back in the game. No, that was not super news. Whether it was the same injury, or something new we will have to wait for confirmation but it is likely that it is the ankle injury that kept Vandermeer out previously. Yay! The good times keep rolling in Oil Country.
The biggest "excitement" for the third period had to be the nearly two minutes of 3 on 5 PK the Oilers lived through. The amazing thing about the kill was that the Oilers still didn't allow a goal against!
Dustin Penner and Andrew Cogliano both came out with two points tonight and both had a very positive impact on the game. I can't say this enough, the Oilers went another game without allowing a power play goal. This is huge ladies and gentlemen. Face-off wins... The Oilers do have two players who are 50% or higher on the dot right now in Gilbert Brule (53.2) and Taylor Hall(50). In terms of this game, the Oilers didn't fare very well, especially when up against Zenon Konopka.
Next up, the Vancouver Canucks and a whole new type of competition versus what the Oilers saw tonight. This will also be the Oilers fourth set of back-to-back games. The first one saw the Oilers beat the Blackhawks on October 29th, the second saw the Oilers lose to the Devils on November 12th, while the third saw the Oilers whitewash the Leafs on December 2. Not enough to suggest a trend. Stay tuned folks, we don't have long to wait.