Edmonton - November 28, 2014 - On the surface one might look at the Edmonton Oilers 1-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night as one of those games that you simply chalk up to the play of the goaltender down at the other end of the rink.
While Viktor Fasth was very good in between the pipes for Edmonton, stopping twenty-four of the twenty-five pucks fired his way, Pekka Rinne was on a completely different level. When healthy and on his on his game, the thirty-two year old is arguably the best goaltender in all of hockey and so far this season, he has been exactly that for the Predators.
The Oilers were the better team for much of the evening but in the end, they were unable to get one of their thirty-seven shots behind Rinne. The top line of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played well but were unable to get the job done and in games like this one, a team needs their best players to come through when they need it most.
Eberle had a couple of glorious opportunities, including a penalty shot early in OT, but was unable to find a way to beat the towering Finnish puck-stopper and it would come back to haunt them. After being pinned in their end for what felt like an eternity, Filip Forsberg made his way around a dead-tired Taylor Hall before snapping home his tenth of the year and hand Edmonton their eighth consecutive defeat.
While the players and Dallas Eakins may want to focus on the so-called “positives” from what many are viewing as a “tough loss” for the worst team in the Western Conference, those days are long gone. At this stage of the game, baby steps mean nothing. People can point to to shot totals or Corsi % all they would like but the losses keep piling up and that is all that matters.
Justin Schultz and Martin Marincin took a seat in the press box against the Preds but not surprisingly the results were no different. Despite clearly being the better of the two teams, Edmonton was still caught running around in their own end of far too many occasions and if not for a sliding save from defenceman Andrew Ference and the good fortune of a couple of posts, this game likely does not even make to overtime.
Fasth was solid but as per usual, the Oilers had the second best netminder on the ice. Don’t get me wrong, they did not lose this game because of the guy in their net but it did come down to goaltending. No one should be surprised by the fact Rinne was the better of the two on Thursday night because he is the better goalie. Unfortunately for Eakins, he tends to have the second-best goalie going into every single game and more often than not…it shows on the scoreboard.
While Edmonton’s top flight offensive players were unable to score, Forsberg found a way to get it done for Nashville. He may be a rookie but this kid now has ten goals on the season and continues to come up with one huge play after another for his team. In their defence, the likes of Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins do not have the advantage of being insulated by quality veteran forwards upfront, a rock solid blueline and an elite netminder but that is the cards they have been dealt by their general manager.
News flash to everyone within the Edmonton Oilers organization, everyone is tired of hearing about this team taking “small steps” forward in their game or about the “process” any longer. None of that matters anymore. All anyone cares about is wins and losses and we are now sitting at eight straight on the negative side of the ledger with number nine likely coming tonight in St. Louis against a rested Blues side.
Do yourself and everyone else a favour and spare us the nonsense and just go out and find a way to win a damn hockey game because this is now well past the point of being embarrassing. Twenty-three games into the season and still not a single victory against a Western Conference opponent....absolutely disgraceful.