The Oilers played an interesting game tonight at Rexall. The Oilers played the game to evens for most of the game, certainly while it was close, but played in a tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When it was close, the Oilers' two best lines were their top and bottom lines but neither could convert their chances. The Arcobello line wasn't good early. As the margin widened, the top line faltered and suffered glaring breakdowns as the Arcobello line came on like gangbusters but couldn't convert on their chances.
In the end, it was Washington's ability to take advantage of inexperienced forwards in their own zone and unprepared refs that got them the win.
3-7-1 now and 97 points to ensure the playoffs. It's a long road ahead and the Oilers need lady luck to start visiting soon.
Final chance tally: 3rd period: 8-3. Overall: 26-11; 7-2 ST— Dennis King (@DKingBH) October 25, 2013
I don't know the last time anyone on this site wrote anything like this, but the Oilers fourth line of Sweet Lou Gazdic, Will Acton and Ben Eager was really good. Granted, Dallas Eakins and Adam Oates observed the gentlemen's agreement and allowed their fourth lines to face off, but for the first time all season, and for the first time since, what, Pat Quinn thought it a good idea to have Gagner on the fourth line, the fourth line had extended shifts...in the offensive zone! They generated scoring chances! They didn't score, but they didn't get outshot 7-3 either!
Jeff Petry and Ladislav Smid played an extremely solid game in difficult circumstances. The two drew the Ovechkin assignment more often than not, and with that comes great responsibility. But Petry and Smid more than held their own on a night when that line looked great on the scoresheet.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had an outstanding first period-and-a-half to begin the game. He seemed to be everywhere and on every puck. It helped that Nail Yakupov went into Wall-E like puck retrieval mode for him, but Hopkins was outstanding, especially on the power play early.
The Oilers came in with the 27th-ranked penalty kill (by shots against) in the league, yet gave up just one shot on goal in nearly three-and-a-half minutes of short-handed time. There were a number of blocked shots to account for this, but given that coming in they would have allowed 4 shots in that same TOI - holding the Caps, the second-ranked power play in the league to a single shot is great work.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a terrible last period-and-a-half to end the game. He was overpowered, and out-raced repeatedly during that time, including the ugly effort on the Capitals third goal by Backstrom. Watch the highlights above, it was a lesson in NHL zone play for Hopkins.
The refereeing from Francis Charron and Steve Kozari on the Caps' second goal via Joel Ward. Ward barged into the goal crease, bumped into Dubnyk who wasn't near the top of the crease to be exposed to a play like that, then sat on top of Devan Dubnyk using a not-so-subtle dive to get there and watched as the puck ping-ponged around and into the net and changed the entire outcome of the game. I rarely harp on the refs because they're typically bad in all aspects, but not seeing the play that led to the goal is inexcusable even in a league where felonies are part of the code. That's got to be disallowed and the Oilers have to get a power play out of that. If I were Eakins, I'd wait until I had Charron and Kozari again and ask Ryan Jones or Keith Acton to "fall" on top of the opposing tender. A gentle reminder of their terrible judgement afterwards would likely be in order.
Nail Yakupov's on-ice demonstration of circumduction on the Caps' first goal by Alex Ovechkin. From the drop of the puck, Yakupov was headed either out of the zone or straight to the point, so singularly focused that he skated around the man with the puck and allowed him to shoot with an open net. It could be Yakupov, or it could be the Oilers. I do know is that the Oilers have had an obsession with attacking and covering the point to the detriment of all around them since last season.
Jordan Eberle's turnover that led to the Caps' fourth goal. Mikhail Grabovski stalked the dispying and doodling Eberle and picked the puck clean from his stick on his way up the ice going the other way.
Kevin Quinn and Louie Debrusk. At this point they've become a caricature of prototypical bad broadcast teams in the NHL. Quinn and Debrusk yammered on about the first game back from a road trip and how badly it affects teams (it doesn't). Debrusk begged for a fight in the third period when Eager and Gazdic were on the ice, even after they'd played a wonderful game and actually changed the game with their play, not punching faces. He couldn't help himself and talked about the possible fight changing the momentum (it doesn't).
The Copper & Blue Three Stars:
★★★ - Ben Eager
★★ - Ladislav Smid
★ - Jeff Petry