SUN Hockey Pool

Young Oilers up against men

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:27 AM ET

Their Swedes versus your Swedes.

Their centres versus your centres.

Their defence versus your defence.

It was time for a men versus boys game in Edmonton if for no other reason than to settle the town down and provide the latest reality check and update.

Just when some fans were beginning to get giddy with the Edmonton Oilers having gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and the way the kids have been going, the Vancouver Canucks showed up at Rexall Place Sunday night.

The contrasts were conspicuous and conclusive.

Maybe they were so obvious going into the game that the Oilers figured that out themselves and were beat before the game began.

"We helped," said head coach Tom Renney. "We didn't compete hard enough. We didn't have enough hands on deck."

This was a team which was outshot 32-12 and had only one shot in the third period for a second game in a row.

The Oilers are 30th in the league in shots on goal at 25.3 per game and 30th in shots on goal against at 34.7.

That has a whole heck of a lot to do with all the donut lines (no centres), and the defence.

The Canucks are the No. 1 faceoff team in the league with the best trio of centres in the league. They met the No. 28 team on the draw missing their only proven centre and faceoff man in captain Shawn Horcoff.

Manny Malholtra won 11 of 13 in the first two periods and ended up 14 for 19.

If you are talking defence, and that's where the Canucks tinkered most to try make them a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this year, the Oilers are bad enough as it is without losing one of their guys, Jim Vandermeer, two shifts into the game.

Devan Dubnyk played great in goal to keep this a game.

The Swedes, of course, are almost always the story in Edmonton.

If one of the reasons Henrik and Daniel Sedin decided to stay in Vancouver when they hit free agency wasn't all the divisional games they play against the Oilers, it should have been.

Both had two-point games in making the difference against the Oilers to give them both 53 points career against Edmonton. With Henrik scoring, they have a combined 39 goals against the Oilers.

And young Marcus Paajarvi was given a first-hand look at the Swedish twins when head coach Tom Renney decided to have him on a line checking them.

"They're good. They're skilled with the puck. Against them, you have to get it in their end and keep it there," said the Oilers rookie who had a five-game point streak snapped in this one.

"I got to play with them in a charity game in Sweden this summer. They are awesome guys."

Paajarvi had one shot on net.

Friday night Swedish shootout star Linus Omark was virtually invisible, and when Paajarvi was awarded a penalty shot he certainly didn't dare try to copy Omark's spin-o-rama.

"I wasn't even thinking about that at all," said Paajarvi. "I tried to make a move there but it was a bad penalty shot by me. I just took it. It didn't work out."

Not scoring on that penalty shot wasn't the difference in this game, although the scoreboard in the end suggested it was significant.

To some extent Renney was left scratching his head when it was over.

"I've got to canvas these guys (Mondy). I'm at a bit of a loss."

Perhaps this might help. Henrik Sedin offered an interesting perspective on the young Oilers when it was over.

"You can see some parts of their game, with so many young guys in the lineup, there are going to be mistakes.

"They're a young team, so they tend to overplay a lot. They tend to go two or three guys on one when we've got the puck and they look at the puck more than other teams do, maybe.

"They're an exciting team to watch and they're going to have a bright future, but they make some mistakes where you can tell that they're young."

The questioner threw out the thought: "You were these guys once."

"We weren't this good though, I'll tell you that. They've got some great players.

"I think they're close. They're not that far off. It takes time for a young player to learn what it takes to play a 60-minute NHL game. You can't make any mistakes. It's a lot mental."

Twitter.com/sunterryjones


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