Edmonton was sick, getting sicker and injured, while Detroit sans Johan Franzen was relatively healthy and posed ready for a break-out game. It would have taken a total Oilers team effort to escape alive.
So when Edmonton hopped out to an early 5-1 lead, excitement to escape the game with a point, became enthusiasm for a possible offensive spanking. That would have been exactly what the Oilers needed to break a seven period scoreless funk.
Shawn Horcoff had a goal and two assists (up to the Detroit game, he'd been horrid offensively), Ales Hemsky was terrific with two goals and a helper, and Dustin Penner was his reliable (never thought I'd use that word coming into this season) self, with another multi-point night, netting a goal and three assists. The Oilers were looking good.
Then, without fail, the Oilers became the Oilers. Missing Lubomir Visnovsky and still without Sheldon Souray and Steve Staois, the young blueline got tired and panicked. The first line stopped producing and any depth on the Oilers roster that might have existed, disappeared.
Detroit jumped all over it and within a twenty minute time period, had clawed all the way back to tie the game at five goals a piece. In short, despite Edmonton's 6-5 win, it was a real wake up call.
Hopefully the entire Oilers team got the message.
Is it true, that Dustin Penner is third in the NHL for points with 19? Yes.
Is Hemsky fifth in the NHL for assists with 11? Yes.
Is Ladislav Smid is quickly making a case the that Pronger trade was not a total disaster? Perhaps.
Let's take it a step further.
Taylor Chorney is auditioning for a permanent job on the blueline and he may have earned it. Gilbert Brule is posed to become a reliable NHL forward and he's earned that, too. All the while, Jacques continues to rank high in the NHL in terms of hits at fourth. I can't remember the last time an Oiler did that.
Are these things enough? No.
For the Oilers to do more than escape with a win, they'll need to figure a way to piece some individual success stories together to make a total solid team effort.
If they don't, the Oilers will continue to be out-shot, out-scored and out-played.
They also won't keep winning.
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