Offensive blast of the Oilers a reward for a solid defensive game


EDMONTON – You can hear commentary from the entire National Hockey League as the Edmonton Oilers built a 5-2-1 run under new trainer Ken Hitchcock, with just 16 goals in eight games.

"They're playing Hitchcock hockey," they said, as if the coach asked the team to stop every night with two goals. "That's what you get from Hitch."

The reality in Edmonton is this: this team has no depth in scoring – especially on the sidelines – so the only way for Hitchcock to succeed is to train the disc out of the Oilers network. Make them confident enough in their defensive game, make sure you do not need more than three to win, salt in one or two pauses, and that's it!

As Teemu Selanne always said, the bottle of ketchup always finds a way to flow. And the flow it did, in a 7-2 win, the Oilers prepared Friday night against Minnesota Wild.

"First of all," said champion Cam Talbot, "knowing that we can win those tight matches. So knowing we can go out and when we play the right way, will we be rewarded the night weird?"

"It's good to know that we can check our victories, but it's also good to know that we have that firepower that we can get a bit of depth."

The Oilers scored two regulation goals, or less, in six of eight games under Hitchcock. But the goal was good, and his defensive game began to solidify.

As the pitcher fills up from bottom to top, they took on Hitchcock's identity in the defensive zone and went to work on his neutral zone game. Hitchcock left them largely alone in the offensive zone, and the Oilers dried up – until Friday.

"The offensive is something that comes in waves and for some reason we can not find it – but we've been defensive," said Connor McDavid. "It really does not matter how good your offense is if you're just giving up two a night. You'll be in the game."

The Oilers have a great Corsi under Hitchcock, but all those shots and all that time of possession somehow do not translate into goals. We still wonder how bad luck is, and how much is a reflection in the list, but at times like this, every hockey team simply waits for the first, and avoids looking at the second.

"We have a lot of faith in each other, and we have been fighting a lot with many games and they are one-goal games," said wing Jujhar Khaira. "A game like that shows that all the hard work we're putting into place is working.

"We know we have (offense) in us."

Of course, McDavid led the way on Friday with three assists and a goal you've probably seen 19 times in the highlights. Leon Draisaitl was actually jumping, tossing home a beautiful opening game goal, another in the third and adding a assist in a night over 4.

The blue line hit five points, the fourth row scored, the second row hit a home, and Talbot gave the Oilers their second consecutive Grade A performance. He won two straight after losing six straight, and with Unbeaten Mikko Koskinen at Rogers Place (5-0), Edmonton suddenly looks very solid in the tubes.

Of course, Devan Dubnyk gave up a toast for the second goal, and once Dubnyk won the hook, Alex Stalock could not close the accounts. But do not doubt: this was a game between a team that is gaining confidence and one that is going in the other direction.

Talbot seems to be back in shape. Meanwhile, Dubnyk had another stink, just when it seemed he was stabilizing his game.

"To say I'm not worried, I'd be lying to you," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I'm worried about a lot of guys on this team right now. He's not the only one."

"It's a character test now," Boudreau thrilled. "You recover or you start blaming everyone else.We have to look at ourselves.This has been the same group for almost three years.We have to straighten the ship and leave.We have to be ready for the next game and play the right way ".

Here in Edmonton, with a new trainer, does not look like the same group. It may be that Edmonton can not score enough, but for now it's been a long time since we had a defensive Oilers team like that.

"I thought we played so well with each other in the third period," said Hitchcock, who made a rare post-game oratory for his players on Friday. "I told the players that at the end of the game, the things we did, the way we covered our own network, the way we left the transition … I thought we did a job and we were rewarded for the goals." .

"When you spend time in the offensive zone, things like that happen eventually." "We did not finish," he said. "We had a lot more opportunities in St. Louis than with the time in the zone, but today we set our chances."

"But when you spend so much time, good things happen. We're trying to get on with it."

That's what they always say. That bottle of ketchup will always flow eventually.


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