The Oilers and Leafs just played one entertaining game of hockey. That's the good news. The bad news is that even though they had the lead in the final minute of the third period, they managed to come away with the loss (in overtime) and remain with only a single win on the season.
How did this happen? Here's how:
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Corsi / Fenwick (to come)
We all know what happened right? The Oilers scored. A lot. The Leafs scored. A Lot. The Oilers left their goalie to fend for himself on a few occasions, all of which ended up in the back of the net. When they did manage to cover the Leafs properly, Dubnyk coughed up a few easy ones. The nail in the coffin was the game tying goal with 30 seconds left and then the game-winner in OT was a calamity by the guys on the ice that Dubnyk is going to end up paying for. Leafs win.
- I like Craig MacTavish. I do. I want to believe he's going to get this roster right. That said, I take issue with a number of things he did this off-season. He did 50% of things right, and 50% wrong, so it was an improvement, but management still needs to assemble a better roster than what they have. Sometimes though, you have to be lucky to be good and they are getting lucky with Marc Arcobello. MacT told him he'd get a shot in camp, but I don't think anyone expected this. He's producing points, his lines are winning the possession battle consistently, he's dominating the face-off circle, and if not for some incredibly bad luck, he could be tied for the team lead in goals instead of looking for his first. It's a wonderful question to have to ask, but what happens when Gagner gets back? I have my thoughts, but bottom line, this guy should not be heading back to OKC and the Oilers may have filled the last remaining gap in their top 9 through sheer good fortune as Arco is only getting this chance because of the injury to Gagner.
- Whether it is Eberle, Hemsky, or eventually Yakupov, the Oilers have a line that can dominate when Hall and RNH are out there together. If Eberle and Arcobello can continue to do what they've been doing, then you try to ride that pair as well. Personally, I liked what I saw from Gordon and Hemsky as well. That gives the Oilers the makings of three solid lines and with Yakupov, Perron and Gagner filling in the three open spots in some order, that's a dynamite top 9. That could leave a trio of Smyth-Acton-Joensuu for the 4th line. I'll take that upgrade over the current group 11 times out of 10. It also opens up the possibility of a deal to address other areas of the team, which are still agonizingly poor.
- Before I move on from the forwards, the Perron-Gordon-Joensuu line got obliterated tonight. Absolutely crushed. This was easily Perron's worst game and Joensuu for coming in and taking Nail Yakupov's place in the line-up did basically nothing. You have to ask yourself...with all the open ice there was tonight. Was today the day to sit Yak?
- Anton Belov had a great game today. I'm still waiting for the final numbers, but from a possession standpoint I think he came close to breaking even. That said, he looked to make far fewer mistakes out there, he imposed himself physically, he looked excellent on the powerplay and to my eye, was one of the two best blueliners for the Oilers tonight (along with Petry)
- Justin Schultz. What do you say. He's got so much skill but tonight was dreadful for him positionally. There were three separate occassions where I found myself looking for the second Oiler Dman because I couldn't find him anywhere. All three times, it was Schultz I found. DB was noticing the same thing on twitter
Oilers continually leave whole sections of their d zone open.— Derek Blasutti (@dawgbone98) October 13, 2013
How the fuck does Lupul get that open again?— Derek Blasutti (@dawgbone98) October 13, 2013
Both times, the answer was...Justin Schultz.
- What do you say about Dubnyk. I'm a believer in numbers. Dubnyk has shown himself to be nothing less than an average NHL starter, which is pretty damn good. It means he shouldn't be losing him games on a regular basis. Still, I had to admit tonight that I'm at the point right now where every shot on goal against makes me nervous. He doesn't look right in the net. He looks slow to react, his body language is far to manic and active for a player playing with any degree of confidence and with Elliotte Friedman noting a few weeks back that Dubnyk was one of the last goalies to receive his new smaller equipment, you wonder if it's taking him a while to adjust. Dubnyk laughed off the notion in an interview, but have you ever played with a stick that was an inch and a half taller or shorter? It feels entirely messed up for the first few games. I imagine that would only be magnified with goalie equipment.
- I don't know if it is that, or whether Dubnyk is just battling bad luck to start the season, but a even in a small sample size, a SV% of .829 and a GAA of 5.43 are horrendous and the Oilers need to figure out how to right the ship quickly. This is a team that should be 3-2 and instead, they're 1-3-1.
- The team's blueline is still just not good enough. In an unsurprising development, it turns out that Nick Schultz, Ladislav Smid and Andrew Ference are all varying degrees of the same NHL player. Smid is the best among them, but none of them are particularly adept at moving the puck, and so far, none are proving to be outstanding at keeping the puck out of the net either. Schultz is young and would benefit from a little more protection, but you know he's not going anywhere. Belov's game tonight earned him another look to see how things progress and Petry is a gift from the heavens, but that left side is a clusterfuck. Ference is the new signee and the new Captain so he's going nowhere and Schultz is UFA in the summer and therefore won't get much in a deal, but you have to ask yourself if its not time to consider packaging Smid with some of the team's highly touted D prospects like a Klefbom or Marincin to try and get some immediate support in the top 4. Please hurry Darnell Nurse.
Bottom line. This one is another the Oilers should have had. The silver lining is that they are continuing to put themselves in a position to win games. So far though, they are continuing to come up short. Goaltending and team defence are to blame and if these guys can't collectively figure out how to stop giving up five goals against every night, the season is going to start to getting away from them pretty damn quickly.