Flashback: The Oilers last regulation road win came against Calgary on October 17, 2015. That night Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov all scored in a 5 - 2 win.
Fast forward to today. The McDavid-less Oilers played one of the "hottest" home teams in the NHL, the Florida Panthers. Unlike the previous road win the Oilers were not the dominant team but were still able to squeak out a 4 - 2 win.
Most would look straight to Hall after he scored 2 goals and had an assist. But when you look at the underlying numbers Hall didn’t play his best game. Hall had a 50% offensive zone start but only a 41.67% corsi. I agree he was a major factor in the win because of his goals and assist but he wasn’t the key.
That honour goes to Cam Talbot. Talbot played a great game, made some spectacular saves and kept the Oilers in the game all night. In the first few minutes of the game the Panthers had most of the chances but Talbot kept the Oilers alive allowing Oilers to score. Talbot may not be the best goalie in the NHL but since settling down over the past few games he has brought the stability in the crease the Oilers have needed for a while.
All I can say is the Panthers’ first goal. It was a horrible breakdown by the Oilers all around. Andrej Sekera hit Leon Draisaitl with the puck and the puck just sat there. Reilly Smith takes a shot and sure enough it deflects off of Sekera as it goes in. Watch it Again:
If you have been one of those trade Nugent-Hopkins people, you got a good look at an Oilers team without a good two way centre. At the end of the second RNH blocked a shot with his open hand and it sounds like he’ll be out a while. Many people go on about his lack of offense but neglect to look at the underlying numbers. RNH faces some of the toughest competition and zone start times but continues to be a driver when it comes to possession. This cannot be overlooked and it will be an issue if he’s out for more than a month of two. As Todd McLellan mentioned in his post game remarks, RNH’s injury appears to be long term and an Oilers team without him will put a lot of pressure on other centres to step up. The problem is the Oilers don’t have much. Anton Lander hasn’t played as advertised and Mark Letestu isn’t RNH.
The Oilers continue on their road trip and meet up with the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow. As you probably remember, the last time these two teams met the Oilers scored all the goals, including 3 for the Lightning. Once again the game will start at 5:30 PM MT. We’ll see you tomorrow.