So, the Oilers, like Don Shebib’s anti-heroes in the classic Canadian movie, are Goin’ Down the Road.
If they find a consistent scoring touch, continue to get strong goaltending from Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk, and fight through the fragility that has afflicted them early this truncated season, they have a chance to fashion a happier ending than was delivered to Shebib’s cinematic boys.
The Oilers send-off at Rexall Place on Saturday afternoon for the 17-day, nine-game journey was all panache, determination, grit, superb goaltending and a coaching tour de force by first-year NHL head man Ralph Krueger. The fans certainly went home happy after a 3-2 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, punctuated by highlight reel showdown goals by Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle.
The first-year NHL head man changed his forward lines to start the game and, partly owing to penalties, partly to hunches, blended up “the 99 different combinations today,” by his half-joking estimate during a lengthy, fascinating post-game session with reporters.
The line changes were a response to the team’s abysmal five-on-five play that has them dead last in even-strength goals in the 30-team NHL, a startling reality, given the team’s obvious and copious high-end skill.
Don’t blame Ralph Krueger, Edmonton Oilers coach dancing fast as he can with young/old team
Edmonton Journal | Feb 24