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Early Takes On The Oilers Downs And Incredible Ups

Not quite 30 thoughts on the early part of the season.

All eyes focus on Hopkins
All eyes focus on Hopkins
Derek Leung

dawgbone put together a post-game recap, but I had a few more takeaways from the Oilers comeback win over the Devils, so in the spirit of Elliotte Friedman, here are my not quite 30 thoughts:

First and foremost, I know that Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and David Perron were on the ice for...ever, it was Nail Yakupov that kick-started the Oilers in the third period. dawgbone mentioned it:

Nail Yakupov was bound and determined to get the Oilers back into the game in the 3rd. He had 2 very good chances, including off the post on a shot that beat Brodeur clean.

  • There's no reason Yakupov should be 6 minutes back of Jordan Eberle in time on ice. With Perron-Gordon-Hemsky taking toughs, the temptation to use the Hopkins line every other shift must be overwhelming, but Yakupov has a skillset that no other Oiler possesses. Teams don't win with such enormous TOI disparities at the top end.
  • Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference are a mess as a pairing. I'm sure it's difficult for Ference to play Master Po to Badger's Caine, but if he can't do it, why was he signed in the first place? I'll give these guys the benefit of the doubt on Schultz' talent alone, but if Schultz is going to wander, and not play below the goal line, Ference can't stand people up at the blue line and he can't wander to the corner for a 45/55 puck.
  • Speaking of messes, Ference and Nick Schultz have been awful on the penalty kill as the first pairing, so that should end immediately until they get their stuff together.  Schultz has struggled early, and the first PK isn't the place to get your feet under you.
  • On the other hand - both Justin Schultz and Anton Belov have been excellent on the power play but for completely different reasons. Schultz is well-known for his ability to get pucks on net, and he hasn't disappointed. He's got a cut fastball, a slider, a sinker and a change up, and he puts them all over the plate without hassle. Belov has a huge booming shot, but it's been his passing ability, especially the look-away, pass to the short right that's been effective for him.
  • For as much as Will Acton doesn't belong near an NHL club, Mark Acrobello has earned an extended stay at Rexall Place. Even when Sam Gagner comes back, Arcobello should get a look on the LW with Gagner and Yakupov.
  • I'm extremely happy that I get to watch games via NHL Center Ice.  The complaints about Mark Lee and Kevin Quinn have been overwhelming so far.
  • I know that the crazy edges of the fanbase are always going to be crazy, but the Twitter calls for the Oilers to sign Ilya Bryzgalov are certifiable.
  • The early count on own/deflected in goals is four in three games.  Oilers' opponents have given up one in three games.  That's going to cause some issues with save percentage for any goaltender.  Perhaps the Oilers should stop trying to block everything.
  • Nugent-Hopkins returned and Dallas Eakins didn't want to take him off of the ice.  I cringed each time he neared the boards, however, and it's something a numbers of Oilers fans are going to do for the next few weeks, I'm willing to wager.  All eyes are on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
  • Eakins has employed a pick play off of a faceoff on the left side of the ice.  I've caught the Oilers right wing holding on to that pick for an extended period a couple of times and it's only a matter of time before they get called for interference.