The Oilers notched their 21st win this past Sunday—closing in on the 32 wins they had all of last season.
The Oilers owe it in large part to the shootout, and perhaps, more importantly, their shootout specialist, forward Sam Gagner.
With a shootout win to start the season, Edmonton might be on the verge of what can soon become a phenomenal record-breaking season.
Through 46 games, the Oilers are closing in on the NHL record for most shootouts wins—in an era that is still young—shootouts are relatively new in the NHL; they where instilled after the 2004-05 lockout.
Already, Edmonton has recorded 11 wins in the “fifth” period; and many of those games ride on the stick of 18-year-old Sam Gagner.
Gagner’ nifty, show-casing moves quickly caught nearly every goalie by surprise. He moves with such finesse that there was several ways a goalie could commit before the puck would end up in the back of the net.
Of course, as with every other move in a shooters repertoire, goalies adapt and learn to stop it.
Yet, Gagner can still shoot and score.
On the other end of the spectrum, Garon has been solid for the Oilers.
He has only allowed a total of two shots to get past him in the both the shootout and penalty shots.
With enough confidence in Garon, MacT has probably considered replacing Roloson with Garon in net in these situations.
Of course, I wouldn't want to break up a goalie's night, but as we all can probably remember when we would replace Conklin or Markkie with Morrison during the ‘05-06 season.
Though, with less than half a season to go, and 11 of our wins coming in the shootout, it only makes me pause and wonder how different the season could be for the Oilers if there were no shootouts.
If you think about it, with ties still in the mix, Edmonton would probably be near dead last in the conference. Eleven points would be gone and the season would be over, our closest contender would be Los Angeles.
As an Oiler fan, all I can say is thank god for the shootout.