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Oilers' attack blast is a reward for a solid defense game



EDMONTON – You have heard a comment from the National Hockey League because Edmonton Oilers has created a 5-2-1 run under the new coach Ken Hitchcock with only 16 goals in eight games.

"They play Hitchcock hockey," he said, as if the coach asked his team to stop every night in two goals. "That's what you get with Hich."

The reality in Edmonton is: this team lacks the depth – especially on the wings – so Hitchcock succeeds only to hit the Oilers net. Make sure they are confident in their defensive play, make sure you do not need more than three to win, salt at a good break or two, and still!

As always told Teemu Selanne, a bottle of ketchup will always find a way to flow. And it overflowed, in the 7-2 Oilers victory over Friday night he prepared against Minnesota Wild.

"First of all," said the improved goalkeeper Cam Talbot, "he knew we could win the hard games (trust us). And then, when we know we can get out and play the right way, we get a special night's reward?

"It is good to know that we can check our victory, but it is also good to know that we have this firepower to gain some depth."

The Oilers scored two goals, or less, in six of eight Hitchcock games. But the goal was good and their defensive play began to strengthen.

Just like the pitcher, filling bottom up, they took Hitchcock's identity in the defensive zone and went to work on the neutral zone. Hitchcock has largely left the assault zone and Oilers fled – until Friday.

"The attack is something that comes in the waves and for whatever reason we were unable to find it – but we were firmly defensive," said Connor McDavid. "It does not matter how good your offense is when you give up just two at night. You'll be in the game."

The Oilers have an amazing Corsi under Hitchcock, but all those shots and all that time of holding have somehow not transposed to the goals. We are still interested in how much of this is bad luck, and how much is a reflection on the list, but at such times, every hockey team simply hopes for the first hockey and turns away from the other.

"We have a lot of confidence in the other and we are really fighting a lot of games and it was a one-goal game," said Jujhar Khaira. "Such a game, it shows that all the hard work we give us works.

"We know we are in ours (offense)."

Of course, McDavid led a Friday trip with three assistances and a goal you've probably seen 19 times at the most important show. Leon Draisaitl actually jumped, got home a beautiful home goal, the second in the third and added help for a plus-4 night.

The blue line spiked in five points, the fourth line scored, the second line hit one home, and Talbot gave Oilers his second Grade A straight lead. Today he won two when he lost six corners and Mikko Koskinen defeated in Rogers Place (5-0), Edmonton suddenly looks very good in the pipeline.

Sure, Devan Dubnyk moved away to the second goal and after Dubnyk got a hook, Alex Stalock did not. But do not doubt: it was a game between a trusting team and one heading in a different direction.

Talbot seems to be back in shape. Dubnyk had more glowing when he seemed to be able to stabilize his game.

"To say I do not like it, I would lie to you," said Bruce Boudreau, a wildlife coach. "I'm concerned about a lot of people in this team right now. It's not the only one."

"It's a test of character now," Boudreau sensed. "Whether you are bouncing back or blaming everyone else, we have to look at each other, it's the same group for almost three years, we have to manage the ship and go from there We have to be ready for the next game and play the right way."

Here at Edmonton with the new coach it does not look like the same group at all. It may well be that Edmonton can not get it, but for now it's been a long time since we have the Oilers team, which has turned that back.

"I thought we played so well in the third season," said Hitchcock, who made his players a rare post-game on Friday. "I told the players that at the end of the game we did, how we covered our own network as we got to the cross … I thought we did a lot of work and we were rewarded for the goals.

"When you spend time in the assault zone, it finally happened. We did not end up. We had more opportunities in St. Louis than with time in the band, but today we scored with our chances.

"If you spend so much time doing good things, we're trying to stay with it."

They always say that. That the ketchup bottle will always flow.


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