The Oilers are good. Not powerhouse good, or reliable good, or even make the playoffs here and there good. They're a different kind of good -- potential good. Sure, they don't have a solid defense (they allow 2.58 goals a game, which admittedly is a hell of a lot better than the Blues' 2.84), and sure, their goaltender is learning the ropes still. But man, can their forwards fly. Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle -- all of these kids are going to be NHL stars, and thanks to the Oilers' Ash-like "gotta catch 'em all!" philosophy to first overall draft picks and young prospects, in a few years the team will be rewarding the loyal and long-suffering Edmonton fans.
They're not quite there yet. Elite young defenseman Justin Schultz is still more focused on scoring than defending, and a lot of the team's either quite old or just a flat-out bottom six kind of guy. The Blues have run rings around the Oilers the past few seasons. They're 9-2-1 against them and have won five straight games at home as well. If they play like they did last night against the Blackhawks, however, that winning streak might end. There're some line-up changes coming for sure.
Halak will play tonight, Elliott Sunday in Dallas. Steen will not play tonight. Redden is in, Cole is out. #stlblues— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) March 1, 2013
It's understandable Cole is out - he just didn't look sharp last night, especially on the Blackhawks' first goal, where he allowed Jonathan Toews to just blow right to the goal. He also managed to have two of the Blues' nine turnovers. Andrew Murray is also sitting tonight so Adam Cracknell can get into the lineup.
Halak has not been an issue, obviously. The issue is lack of scoring. You score by getting the puck on the net, not onto the other guy's stick. Last night, the Blues did more of option B than option A. They need to pay attention and be aware of what they're doing just a little better.
"I like the way I worked most of the game, but I didn't like the way I turned the puck over," forward David Perron said. "I turned the puck over a couple of times and that's something we can't have on our team.
"It's something that the way our our system is, you've got to funnel the puck to get it back and shoot it on net as much as you can. I think the two times I did turn it over I could have shot it on net instead. I guess when you're trying to look for offense, it's tough...but you've just got to keep following the program."
It'd be even better if the Blues could just get with the program.