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Game Recap: Oilers 1 - Islanders 8 -- Looking for a Silver Lining

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We found a few positives in an otherwise dreary performance by the Oilers.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As the Islanders continued to score goal after goal yesterday afternoon, en route to what would be an 8-1 thumping of the Oilers, I decided to take my time in writing the game recap. Not because I didn't have anything to say but because I figured that in the immediate aftermath of the game that I'd be just one more person piling onto the team. The Oilers were terrible yesterday. They were also terrible the day before. I know that. You know that. And I'm sure that the players know that as well. So what good would one more article explaining just how bad they were really be? Instead I thought I'd take a depth breath, relax, wait for the sun to come up the next day, and come up with a few positives to take away from the game.

Here's what I came up with.

It made the Super Bowl better by comparison

Believe it or not, an afternoon game between the Oilers and Islanders wasn't what many sports fans in North America were excited about when they woke up yesterday morning. But after all the anticipation, and all they hype, the actual Super Bowl game sucked. Neither team's offence did much of anything and there were more penalties called than you usually see in a CFL game. It simply was not a good game. But if you watched the Oilers game earlier in the day then the Super Bowl wasn't the biggest waste of time in your Sunday.

It could have been worse

Yesterday was the seventh time in the last decade that the Oilers have given up eight or more goals in a game. That's not even once a season, and not the most frequent in the NHL over that time frame - the Winnipeg Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Toronto Maple Leafs have done it more often. That wasn't even the most goals that the Oilers have allowed or the team's worst single game goal differential of the past decade. So sure, giving up eight goals is bad, but keep your head up, it could have been worse.

Anders Nilsson answered an important question for us

Anders Nilsson hasn't played very well over the last two months and his performance yesterday should answer, once and for all, the question of whether or not he's capable of being an NHL backup. For what is't worth, Nilsson actually ended up giving up fewer goals than Cam Talbot yesterday, but none of the three that he allowed (on the Islanders' first ten shots of the game) should be allowed by an NHL netminder. Was Justin Schultz sleepy on the second goal? Was the back check missing in action on the third goal? Yes and yes, but it doesn't excuse the goals. The Nilsson question has now been answered and it's time to look at other options over the last couple months of the season.

We're one game closer to the end of the Justin Schultz era

The Oilers lineup yesterday included one top four defenceman: Andrej Sekera. The other five belong on either the third pair or in the press box. Of those five, the one that gets the most attention is Schultz, with his every move, turnover, or blown assignment dissected endlessly. He's not nearly good enough to handle the minutes that he's playing and those minutes are hurting the team. In the right role, on the third pair, playing sheltered minutes, I think Schultz can be an NHL defenceman, but that's never going to happen in Edmonton, it's just not how the team is built. Soon he'll no longer be a member of the Edmonton Oilers and that'll be a good thing as the team can start looking for a real top four defenceman instead of hoping that he'll magically transform into one.

Admittedly, it's not a lot, but hopefully this makes you feel a little bit better about yesterday's game.

Highlights

Watch at your own risk.

Up Next

The Oilers are in New Jersey on Tuesday. No word yet on if the team plans on trying actually to play hockey that night.