I have so many things to say about this game, I hardly know where to begin. Let's start with the fact that your pal Lisa was the only one able to write about this game, but didn't get to start watching it until after midnight. What did we do before DVRs? Secondly, I totally called this win. Remember when I said "What if that is the one win the Oilers get before the end of the season though? Do you really want to risk missing it?" Alright, I admit that wasn't me explicitly saying the Oilers would win, but I sure was implying it! The worst part is that I missed this win while I was at a concert. A big thank you to my friend in another city who was keeping me up to date throughout the game and questioning where my hockey loyalties lay; a concert over a hockey game? Lastly, I know you know the final score. Yes, the Sedin twins played during this game, and yes it was more than just one or two shifts.
I know that there are many of you out there that will cite the Vancouver Canucks as your least favourite team, so this year has surely been torturous for you as an Edmonton Oilers fan. Tonight, you had a chance to feel a little bit better about things. In case you didn't know, or forgot, Paul Henderson is touring Canada with his jersey from the 1972 Summit Series and a whole lot of other hockey memorabilia. The tour is currently in BC, and the Vancouver area on it's way back across the country. The tour will be in Calgary April 16th if you missed it in Edmonton. More information about the tour can be found on the Paul Henderson tour website.
The Vancouver Canucks got their first power play on the night when Jordan Eberle was called for tripping on Henrik Sedin at 3:28. If you didn't know anything about the outcome of this game, you surely thought that this was the beginning of the end. The Canucks had some chances, but Devan Dubnyk was strong and alert as well as being able to keep his balance well enough to keep the Canucks off the board. Chris VandeVelde successfully drew a hooking penalty on Aaron Rome, but the since the Canucks are the second in the league for penalty kill and the Oilers are dead last on the power play you likely didn't see Kurtis Foster scoring off of the post and in. The puck bounced in off of one post, across the line, and out the opposite side of the net. The play did go under review, but the puck clearly crossed the line. 1-0 Oilers with just over 3 minutes in the first period. The Oilers would finish the first period with the lead in goals, but trailing 11-9 for shots.
In the second period it was brought to our attention that there was something wrong with Gilbert Brule. After battling injury and ailments, Brule played 4:32 in this game and that's it. There was no announcement made as to what was wrong with Brule. I'm going to start the rumours now, what about the Oilers buying out Brule's contract? It's not that they can't afford him, but can they afford to keep a guy who just can't stay healthy? This might be just middle of the night musings, maybe there is another team that would be interested in Brule, or maybe the Oilers feel that the risk will be worth it, keeping Brule for the remainder of his contract.
Andrew Cogliano had the best scoring chance(s) at the beginning of the second period, ringing the puck off of the post on the open side of Cory Schneider roughly two minutes in. Cogliano didn't give up and kept trying to get one past Schneider. The play and interaction in front of the net resulted in another Canucks penalty, Victor Oreskovic for hooking. Jordan Eberle didn't waste much time, scoring the Oilers' second goal and second power play goal 12 seconds into the power play. Soon after, Jim Vandermeer took a tripping penalty which the Oilers easily killed. I'm doing a great job of making you forget that this is the 30th place Oilers taking on the President's trophy winning Canucks.
Magnus Paajarvi was having a great night with Linus Omark, as per usual. You likely weren't expecting to hear "Paajarvi schooled Bieksa" were you? Omark showed off his fancy footwork and stick work, drawing attention to himself on Canadian national television. It won't be long before other teams things of Omark for more than just his shootout moves.
While Omark was stealing most of the attention, Jean-Francois Jacques and Tanner Glass dropped the gloves, Glass attempting to spur his team on and after missing 9 games due to a rib injury. It didn't seem to work as Cogliano lead the rush, passed to Teemu Hartikainen, who then passed across ice to the wide open Linus Omark. Omark made no mistake firing the puck past Schneider. 3-0 Oklahoma City Barons, wait, Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers' couldn't maintain their three goal lead through 40 minutes. At 15:20 Alex Burrows scored with a wrist shot and due in part to the defensive pairing of Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid. I want to chalk this up to the disbelieve that the Oilers were leading this game in scoring. Disbelief continued as Teeemu Hartikainen was assessed a penalty shot with 3:30 left in the second. Hartikainen was unable to trick Schneider and released the puck just wide, 3-1 Oilers. Chris VandeVelde was caught for hi-sticking and left his team short with 1:07 remaining in the second.
The Oilers successfully killed off the remainder of the VandeVelde penalty in the first minute of the third period. There was some fairly solid play, and it all seemed to lead up to the next gorgeous Oilers goal. Linus Omark, behind the net against the wall, all alone with the puck, spun and passed to Magnus Paajarvi who was camped out in front of the the net. Paajarvi wristed the puck top shelf and beat Schneider. 4-1 Oilers. No, you are not dreaming. Linus Omark had another excellent opportunity but tripped over his own feet and ended up sitting on the ice in front of Vancouver's net.
Ryan Jones, the man with the flow had been playing his game, physical and offensive, but ended up taking Paajarvi's stick in the face. Jones was shown to have teary eyes with a rag covering his nose, that is a painful place to be hit, or at least that's what all of those self defence classes tell us ladies. Paajarvi took the next penalty, this one for boarding at 13:46. At this point, even when I was following the game with my Score ap and my friend's diligent texting I wasn't too concerned. This team gave me confidence and I know that this power play for the Canucks would not undo the Oilers, that the Oilers would come out with a win this time. They couldn't possibly let a 4-1 win go twice? Two Saturdays in a row?! Of course not. Aaron Rome took an elbowing call with 1:32 left in the period. As even more Justice played over the loudspeakers in the arena, I wondered about the amount of lyric-less music played in Vancouver. Don't get me wrong, Justice is on my running playlist and I sometimes use it in my spin classes, but I think that many Edmonton fans would be irate at hearing music like that so often. The Oilers would be unable to score on their final power play of the game and would close out the final frame winning 4-1, and trailing 15-21 for shots.
Ultimately, the Oilers showed the Canucks that you can't discount any team's effort level, no matter what point of the season. The Oilers have nothing to lose except pride and were bound and determined not to go into the offseason with a sixteen game losing/winless streak. This was almost as good as a win against the Calgary Flames. Since I will be at the game on Wednesday, I hope that the Oilers can remember that they beat the Canucks and do the same against the Flames.
Linus Omark has some fancy feet and some great hockey intelligence. What he has been missing has been time and learning experiences in the NHL. Omark has been earning both, and was even said to have a little of the Sedins in his by the Hockey Night in Canada commentators. It's nice to think that Omark is getting some love outside of Edmonton and Sweden too. Omark appears to be even learning for himself just what he is capable of. If someone you know is talking about trading Omark, feel free to just reach over and slap them. You can tell them that it was from me, that they deserved it.
Devan Dubnyk deserved this win. After struggling right alongside his teammates, looking for a win, Dubnyk stood on his head, allowing just one goal on 41 shots, and 41 shots from the Vancouver Canucks. Dubnyk said after the game "You come into a game like this and nobody expects you to have a chance but you take that as motivation and as a little something extra to take into it. At the same time, realize that they're as good as they are for a reason and it's that much more important to be ready to play for the entire game, and we did that." Yes they did. This is one of the few games that I have written about this season that I have no hesitation to say yes, this team played an entire 60 minutes. Maybe even more if you understand what Dubnyk meant when he said that it all began in warm-up, that Dubnyk was prepared to get this win before the puck even dropped to start the game.
Following the game, coach Tom Renney said of his team's efforts "That's a team that's growing up before your eyes. That's all we've ever suggested, that this team would do that for it's fans. It does take time, there's no question about that. Certainly some of the faces have changed, there's no doubt about that, but we are growing up in front of people's eyes and I think getting the respect that we deserve." It's good to hear the coach sounding as though he feels the plight of the fans, and hopefully especially the season ticket holders, the fans that the team couldn't do without. The team does need all of their fans, but the season tickets holders are the ones shelling out hundreds and thousands of dollars throughout the season and fill the seats.
On Gilbert Brule's absence from the game, Renney said he "Just felt a little light headed and a little off. So, we decided to pull him out and play it safe as you can appreciate. Our hope is obviously that he's going to be fine. We'll see how he's doing tomorrow. " When asked if it was due to a hit or contact, Renney replied "It wasn't anything in particular for him. He just came off feeling a little light headed; it wasn't any contact at all. He was just feeling out of sorts so we decided to pull him." This isn't quite good news, especially if it was not due to contact.
The Oilers went 44% overall with all Oilers under 50% with the exception of Ryan Jones, 1 for 1 and Gilbert Brule who went 2 for 2. The Canucks are such a strong team in many departments that it should not be surprising that there were some things that the Oilers just couldn't win. Faceoffs were not the only loss the Oilers suffered, but also shots. The Canucks out shot the Oilers 41 to 34, but at least that was within reason and at the end of the day, the Oilers won, so anything else is just gravy.
The Oilers were impressive with their penalty kill for the evening, four penalties, and four successful kills. The Oilers had three power play opportunities and had two power play goals. These goals were the difference makers and are hopefully a sign of things to come in the coming seasons. This was excellent work by the special teams on the night.
There are four more games to savour before the end of the regular season for the Oilers, are as we have come to know it, the season. There is no real need to distinguish any more, but there is no real reason to remind us of that either. The Oilers will host the Canucks on Tuesday night, but something tells me the result will be completely different from those of this game. Yes, the Canucks were likely in rest for playoff mode, but they still have a few more games to play before the end of the season. Unless the Canucks don't care about embarrassment or the final points of the season they can't just let the Oilers or any team beneath them school them in any way.
The Copper & Blue Three Stars:
★★★ - Devan Dubnyk
★★ - Magnus Paajarvi
★ - Linus Omark