Hey, exactly what I was expecting. Oilers rolled into Hockeytown and emerged a scant 2 hours and 15 minutes later with a convincing 4-1 win, outshooting the erstwhile Western Conference power 36-28 in the process.
Hey wait a minute, isn't this the same Detroit squad that ranks 2nd in the league in shots on goal and 6th in shots against? Isn't Edmonton, like, 3rd from the bottom in shots for, and 6th from the bottom in shots against? Check, check, check, and check. And Oilers outshot Detroit 36-28? Check.
Actually, "check" was the operative word tonight as the Oil put in a real solid team effort. Other keywords were "skate" and "pass", and even expressions like "hit" and "shoot" and "stopthedamnpuckalready" put in regular appearances. Although they were helped by a couple of ridiculously soft goals, the Oilers won this game on merit. Bizarre.
What changed? On the individual level, Ryan Stone and Robert Nilsson returned from lengthy injuries to play on a solid line centred (!) by Zack Stortini. Patrick O'Sullivan actually found the net, and then found it again 3 minutes later. Tom Gilbert came out of purgatory to be paired with Sheldon Souray and played a solid game. Jeff "Top Shelf" Deslauriers bounced back from allowing 7 goals in his last 30 minutes of action to play an acceptable, if occasionally chaotic, game between the pipes. The team skated hard and checked hard and broke out of their own end with some authority and came within a team-wide brain cramp in the dying second of the first of posting the shutout.
Actually, Detroit did "out-Corsi" the Oilers 58-53, but fewer of their attempted shots got through, with a key stat being 17 blocked shots for the Oil to just 8 for the Wings. And when the Oil entered the third with the lead in the third they played like they'd been there before and actually knew how to defend it. I was particularly impressed with their puck control in the defensive zone and the subsequent breakouts, with the result that the last 20 minutes simply flew by, completely under control. Where'd that come from? Did we enter an alternate, not-so-parallel Universe while I was drifting off?
Some interesting stats from tonight's game:
Hands up, those who guessed Strudwick. Liar.
Faceoffs (2 or more)
Stortini 5/7 = 71%
Gagner 7/14 = 50%
Horcoff 3/12 = 25%
Potulny 1/9 = 11%
Hands up ...
* * *
Individual stats (* = team high):
Smid: 1 shot, 2* blocked shots, +3*, 4 hits
Nilsson: 1 highlight-reel goal, 2 shots, 2 hits (!), +2
Potulny: 5* more shots, 2 hits, Corsi +6*
O'Sullivan: 2* goals, 1 on an actual shot ... well, sort of
Jacques: 7* more hits
Deslauriers: 27 saves, 1 GA
Souray: 1 assist, +1, 2 shots, 3 hits, 1 takeaway, 2* blocked shots
Stortini: 1 assist, +2, 2 shots, 4 hits, 5/7 = 71%*
Visnovsky: 1 goal, +3*
* * *
And for the cherry on top:
Oilers record with Ryan Stone in the line-up: 7-2-1
Oilers record without Stone: 4-11-3