a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Sunday, 20 November 2011

11/20/11 Duh, Winning

Did you see that? The Oilers beat  destroyed Chicago on Hockey Night in Canada. If ever there was a time to send a message to the whole of this hockey-crazed nation, it was Saturday against the best team going. Here are some notes from the game:

Told you he was going to be fine. Taylor Hall scored his second career hat trick faster than John Tavares, Steve Stamkos or Patrick Kane scored two. He's back on pace to score 27 goals and nobody would be shocked to see him score more than that. There's nothing like a hat trick to get people to stop worrying. After having a shooting percentage of just 7% coming in, 75% of Hall's 4 shots went in on this night.

- Theo Peckham responded from a minus-3 night against Ottawa by going plus-5 against Chicago in just 14:52 of work.

- Jeff Petry had a whale of a game with 3 assists and a plus-5 rating as well.

- Nugent-Hopkins is back on a point-per-game pace with 7-12-19 in 19 games. He tallied 5 assists in just 13:20 of ice time. It might be a tad premature to think that RNH could match or better Jari Kurri's 75 points in 75 games as a rookie, but nights like Saturday make it seem possible. If Nugent-Hopkins only scores a point every two games from now on, his 50 total points would make him the 5th-highest scoring Oilers rookie of all time. Sam Gagner currently holds that spot with 49 points, which is a note of caution. On the other hand, Gagner only had 9 points in his first 19 games as a rookie.

- Speaking of Sam Gagner, he was one of nine Oilers who went without a point on Saturday. Magnus Paajarvi was held without a point as well. Both of them looked more dangerous than they have recently, but it's time for them to start scoring.

- The Oilers now have five players on pace for 50 or more points, and four players on pace for 20 or more goals. If the season ends that way, it will be a vast improvement over last year. In 2010-11 the Oilers had one 20 goal scorer (Hall) and no players with 50 points.

- Edmonton is now just barely back inside the playoff cut line with 22 points. We all talk about wanting the team to play meaningful games in March, but the truth of the matter is that just playing meaningful games in December would be a nice change. The Oilers haven't had a winning record after 19 games since 2008-09.

- This was a good game to be at. Besides all of the goals and the electric atmosphere in the building, the best part of being there was the fans' chant of "We Want Ten" after the Oilers scored their ninth goal. For those who don't remember, the fans sarcastically chanted "We Want Ten" when the Oilers were down 9-2 against Buffalo back in 2009. The Sabres lit up Dwayne Roloson for 3 goals and Jeff Deslauriers for 7 on the way to a 10-2 drubbing. Chicago won 9-2 in Edmonton on December 16th of that same year, so there's a certain amount of symmetry to Saturday's game. This win, and that chant, were like seeing the Oilers turn the corner; even if it was just one night of many on the road back to respectability.

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