Oilers prey on Preds
Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Oilers right wing Ales Hemsky (L) watches the puck enter the net past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (R) during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Nashville, Tennessee, November 22, 2011. (REUTERS/M. J. Masotti Jr.)
NASHVILLE - If it’s maddening to watch the Edmonton Oilers alternate between awesome and awful this season, take comfort in the fact that this year’s trend is better than last year’s trend.
Stinking the joint out half the time beats stinking the joint out all the time.
After looking horrible at home against Ottawa, then great at home against Chicago, then horrible on the road in Dallas, the Oilers looked great again Tuesday night in Nashville, posting a convincing 6-2 triumph over the Predators.
“It’s good that we can be great, though, that’s a good sign,” grinned captain Shawn Horcoff, who set the tone with a gritty first goal, added another in the third and turned in some huge PK time. “And I think that with maturity will come the ability to not be so (crappy) when we don’t have it.”
It’s either roses with these guys, or what Horcoff said. Lose 5-2, win 9-2, lose 4-1 and win 6-2 in less than a week. Go figure.
“Bring out the paddles for the coach,” said Tom Renney, who can be forgiven for clutching his chest every other game. “We’ve got to identify with a standard of play play every night and when we do that we’re fine, but we have a tendency to give the puck up and turn it over and try to get fancy...”
To see how good they can be one night, then watch them play like they’ve never been in a video session before drives everyone up the wall, including themselves.
“They’re trying hard and I don’t want anyone to lose sight of the fact we’re still a young team trying to figure this out,” said Renney, crediting the leadership group with keeping the lows from getting too low or too long. “We have very, very good leadership on this team, an excellent veteran presence, no question about it, but that being said we’re still young.
“Sometimes you get tired of watching the kids fall off the bike and get back on, but that’s what we’re here to do.”
Playing their second game in as many nights after getting whupped in Dallas, this had all the makings of a classic beat down. Instead the Oilers picked Nashville apart in the first period, outshooting them 13-3 and taking a 3-0 lead into the first intermission.
“That’s what teams that are able to make the playoffs do,” said Horcoff. “You’re going to lose, and you’re going to play bad games, but you have to be able to come back the next game and find ways to win. This isn’t an easy place to play, they come at you hard, but we got it done.”
Preds starter Pekka Rinne got the hook during the first intermission, marking the second time in three games Edmonton chased the other team’s goalie. They either chase him or give him the night off.
“Dallas is a game we definitely learned from,” said Jordan Eberle, who had a two goal, one assist night for eight points in his last three games and a point-per-game pace on the season. “They took it to us in the physical department and we learned from that and applied it in this one. It’s good to see that we can forget what happened the night before and get right back at it.”
The consistency needs work, but the bounce back factor is elite level. The Oilers don’t lack for confidence, no matter how badly they looked, or were beaten, the night before. That’s a good sign.
“There’s two sides to the coin there,” said Taylor Hall. “The best teams in the league, you can really count on them to be the same every night and we want to be a team that’s known for that.
“But the other is that we’re proud of how we can be a bounce back team. We can put a bad effort behind us and really re-group and come out the next game with a fresh mind set. That’s also the sign of a good team.”
LATE HITS: Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves in the win and Ales Hemsky and Jeff Petry added singles.