Oilers vs Blackhawks : The Way Hockey Should Be Played
By Rob Soria
With the Edmonton Oilers recent struggles being what they have been, a game against the Chicago Blackhawks has more often than not resulted in one sided trashing over the last couple of seasons. That was not the case last night, as the Oilers dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 decision in a shootout. It may not have been the result they wanted but man was it fun to watch.
Edmonton - March 7, 2015 - With the Edmonton Oilers recent struggles being what they have been, a game against the Chicago Blackhawks has more often than not resulted in one sided trashing over the last couple of seasons. In order for Edmonton to have any sort of real shot, it generally came down to one thing...goaltending.
If the Oilers netminder was in top form and the Blackhawks starter responded with a less than stellar effort, Edmonton would usually find a way to hold their own against one of the National Hockey League’s perennial powerhouses. That is not exactly how things played out last night in Chicago but man was it fun to watch.
Despite Todd Nelson’s crew being severely undermanned, the Oilers still managed to skate into the United Center and give Joel Quenneville’s side all they could handle in what ultimately turned out to be a heartbreaking 2-1 shootout loss. While the result may not have been what Edmonton was after, it was as entertaining a game that fans of the Orange and Blue have been treated to in what truly feels like ages.
Ben Scrivens held up his end of the bargain, stopping 38 shots on the night and coming oh so close to registering his second shutout of the season. Unfortunately for Scrivens and the rest of his teammates, Corey Crawford was not so cooperative. While the thirty year old has rarely been at his best when facing the Oilers, he was fantastic from start to finish on Friday evening.
In today’s NHL, games that finish up at 1-1 after sixty minutes are usually not something fans walk away from wanting more. That was not the case in Chicago as both teams exchanged one odd man rush after another, in what was as enjoyable a regular season hockey game this writer has witnessed in sometime.
From a coaching standpoint, it was far from a “perfect” performance but with all due respect to the men who stand behind National Hockey League benches, watching one team after another play what has essentially become drone-like hockey is grown rather tiresome. Instead of everyone focusing on “system play” and doing the right or wrong thing on the ice, yesterday was about the game itself. When it is played the way it was meant to be played, you would be hard-pressed to find a more exciting sport to watch.
Be it because yours truly cut his teeth on 1980’s hockey and absolutely fell in love with the wide open style of game a certain team in this neck woods used to play or the stunning beauty of those great Russian sides of the late seventies and eighties, today’s game can at times become almost painful to watch. While the idea may be for teams to try and play mistake-free hockey, it has taken far too much of creativity out of the game…which is exactly what makes this game so great.
Yesterday was one of those rare occasions when we were treated to a mistake-filled game and not surprisingly, it was awfully entertaining. Obviously the one stat that stands out above the rest were the shots on net, 47-39, but in all honesty that number was secondary. The fact these two teams went end-to-end and exchanged one quality scoring chance after another is what made it so special...not how many pucks that were collectively thrown at the two netminders.
The scary thing is, both teams were missing arguably their most exciting and explosive players in Taylor Hall and Patrick Kane but it did not seem to matter in the end. Oscar Klefbom looked so good last night that it was almost laughable and as productive as Derrick Roy has been during his time in Edmonton, the veteran centre managed to turn back the clock to 2008 with what was easily his finest performance to date in Oilers silks.
Top to bottom it was a rather impressive effort from both teams and while Coach Quenneville likely was not a fan of the type of game his players delivered, it was fantastic to watch. The unfortunate thing about last night is fans do not get to the pleasure of witnessing that level of hockey on a nightly basis and it really is too bad because again...that was fun too watch.
Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org