Remember Thursday, January 24th. Sometimes there are games that remind sports fans why they bother watching, and this was one. I'll be damned if that didn't feel as close to winning a playoff game as the Oilers have had in a long time.
For everyone wondering, here are the official rules on some of the controversial calls on Thursday night (decide accuracy of the calls on your own):
Ladislav Smid; smothering puck at 7:09 of the first period: There has been a change to NHL rule 67.2, which deals with handling the puck. Any player who uses his hand to conceal the puck or impede an opponent from playing the puck will receive a minor penalty.
Ladislav Smid; face shield instigator at 9:54 of the first period: NHL rule 46.6 states that "if a player penalized as an instigator is wearing a face shield, he shall be assessed an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Should the player who instigates the fight be wearing a face shield, but removes it before instigating the altercation, the additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty shall not apply."
Here players are faced with a spur-of-the-moment decision of removing their helmet (with visor) in order to fight, which will certainly result in an instigator penalty, or choosing not to do so, which will result in two penalties. Derp.
Served by Teemu Hartikainen; face-off violation at 3:54 of the second period: NHL rule 76.6 states that "if a center should move prematurely prior to the face-off, or if the referee or linesman shall have dropped the puck unfairly, the play shall be considered a face-off violation and it must be conducted again.
When at least two face-off violations have been committed by the same team during the same face-off, this team shall be penalized with a bench minor penalty to the offending team."
RNH's disallowed goal because of Gagner's goaltender interference: According to NHL rule 69.1 regarding goaltender interference, "if an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact."
I submit into evidence an image borrowed (without permission but hopefully also without repercussion) from Oil on Whyte:
According to Rule 69:
If a player pushes, shoves, or fouls another player into the goalkeeper, who is in or out of the crease, [and] the attacking player, after having made reasonable effort to avoid contact, makes contact with the goalkeeper at the time a goal is scored, the goal will be allowed."
Having said all that, here are some other observations from the game:
- Yakupov. You have to wonder if he has watched old Theo Fleury footage, but at least he picked an appropriately high-emotion time to break out the big celebration. If anyone has a problem with it, well, tough titty said the kitty. It's a horrible thing to break this game down (or our comments on it, for that matter) into a stuffy gentlemen-only affair. Bring on the slides across the ice and red-hot stick celebrations.
- The Oilers outshot a very good team by a margin of 39-31 on Thursday night. Their season total is now 100 shots in three games, or 33.3 per outing. Take it with a grain of salt but the Oilers are currently 4th in the league in shots per game. That's an area that needed to improve enormously, and so far it has.
- 30.3 shots against per game has the Oilers ranked 16th in the league. Again, it's early, but a little improvement is better than none at all.
- Justin Schultz and Jordan Eberle are picking up where they left off in the AHL. The two are tied for the team lead with a goal and three points each, although Eberle is a plus-2 to Schultz's Even rating. Taylor Hall has the same stat line, but he's a plus-3.
- Justin Schultz led the team with 6 shots on goal on Thursday, and now has 11 on the season. He also led all skaters with a massive 26:52 of ice time, and is leading the Oilers with 23:48 of ice per game. Not bad for a rookie, and he hasn't looked at all out of place.
- On that same track, Sam Gagner has been good offensively to start the year, with the same 1-2-3 as the top four Oilers scorers. The only problem is that he's a minus-4.
- Mark Fistric had 4 hits in his Oilers debut, along with 4 blocked shots, 4:13 of shorthanded ice time, and 14:25 overall. Please, no more Potter unless necessary.
- Edmonton currently sits in 8th with four points. Calgary is three points behind with as many games played, and the Oilers have a chance to dig that hole deeper on Saturday. The game on Thursday got the hair on your neck to stand up, so let's hope the Oilers have a good encore in store.