ST. PAUL, Minn. | Teams have reputations and narratives, based on past success and forecast for the season. For the Edmonton Oilers, it’s that they’re a young, hungry group of kids wanting to prove low expectations are wrong.
“They’ve got a lot of young guys that are playing well and they’re playing hard,” Capitals forward Jason Chimera said. “They’re a fast team. They’ve got a lot of small forwards that can really move and played really well.”
Added coach Bruce Boudreau: “They’re filled with enthusiasm and they’re filled with hope and they’re playing pretty good.”
In some cases, the narrative is misleading. With the Oilers, it appears to be dead-on. There’s Jordan Eberle, there’s 2010 top pick Taylor Hall … and 2011 top pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. They can all skate well, pass and score.
“Edmonton [is a] young team – they just have fun over there and play well,” Alex Ovechkin said.
An obvious aside with Edmonton is this has been a bad, bad team recently. That’s how they got the No. 1 pick two years in a row. But, at least for now, the young prospects appear to be sparking each other. Eberle and Hall each had a goal and an assist and Nugent-Hopkins had an assist in the Oilers’ 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
It really didn’t play like that close of a game. The young, quick Oilers chased Roberto Luongo out of the game with three unanswered goals. From there, the other elements of Edmonton’s revamped team came in.
“The defense is playing good right now and [Nikolai] Khabibulin is playing as good as any goalie out there,” Chimera said.
Khabibulin made 35 saves to preserve the win, Edmonton’s second in a row.
Now, the Caps are in town for a Thursday night visit, and Boudreau insists the Oilers will “have our attention.”
That’s the way it should be right now. Especially considering the mindset Edmonton is likely to carry into Rexall Place Thursday night.
“I’m sure Edmonton is sitting there saying, ‘We’re going to be the team thats going to knock them off. We’ll be the team that’s going to knock them from their pedestal.’Thats a great challenge for them,” Mike Knuble said. “I’d be thinking that if I were them.”
Being on the other side, Knuble is thinking something else going into a game like this.
“Players in here, we’re not going to fall into any traps of thinking you can just show up and play,” he said.