The Edmonton Oilers closed out a 6-1-1 preseason with a 3-2 win at Vancouver, icing a team without their best two players and their top defensive pairing, yet still managing to win comfortably, building a 3-0 lead that lasted until the final minutes.
“Not as steady as we would have wanted it, but any time you win it’s good,” said Brendan Perlini, who scored again for Edmonton. “Pre-season, regular season, playoffs… A win is a win. It gives everyone confidence. Hopefully it can continue to the regular season.”
Let’s face it: In a season where anything the Oilers accomplish in regular season means next to nothing — where the playoffs are everything for an Oilers club coming off flops in the past two post-seasons — Edmonton polished off a near perfect pre-season with a win over a Canucks lineup that was pretty close to what they’ll have in their season opener Wednesday at Edmonton.
So, what did we learn in the last audition, where Edmonton got goals from Kailer Yamamoto, Perlini and a bomb from Evan Bouchard? Well, a few things…
Head coach Dave Tippett went with all six of his fourth-line hopefuls, icing a line of Ryan McLeod between Tyler Benson and Colton Sceviour, and another unit of Devin Shore with wingers Perlini and Kyle Turris.
While Perlini scored a goal, it was the pass from Sceviour that really stood out. He drew the checkers to him, then threw a puck back into the high slot to a wide open Perlini, who buried his sixth goal in six pre-season games.
It was the kind of pass Leon Draisaitl would have been proud of.
“He was yelling,” Sceviour laughed. “I figured this out: A guy that hot, you get it on his stick any way you can. It worked out.”
The Oilers are light on right wing, with Josh Archibald (myocarditis) out long term, and Zack Kassian in concussion protocol. That should open the door for Sceviour to get a contract. He’s been on a PTO at camp, but has earned a spot on Edmonton’s fourth line.
“I’m happy with how I performed, however this all works out,” the 32-year-old said. “My offensive numbers … they’re never going to jump out at you. The Oilers don’t need me to chip in much offensively. They can score. But if you’re playing in the bottom six and getting scored on, you’re not going to get a lot of ice time.”
The other guy who simply played his way on to the opening day roster is Perlini. How do you cut a guy who scores six goals in six pre-season games?
“I had a good one in Chicago a couple of years ago,” he recalled. “I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Perlini is a fourth-line left winger all day long on this team, behind Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Warren Foegele. But you’ve got to admit, he did outscore every one of those guys in the pre-season, potting his sixth in six pre-season games off a lovely pass from Colton Sceviour in the second period.
Not bad, for a former first-round pick of Arizona who rolled through Chicago and Detroit, and then ended up in the Swiss league last season.
“Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward,” he said. “I went over there, learned a lot. It was a different experience. You realize how great life was in Canada or the U.S. I am also coming back with a lot of humility and gratitude to be here again.”
Around the lineup: Stuart Skinner played the final 40 minutes between the pipes and looked very much like a goalie who could come up from Bakersfield and back up capably, if need be. He let in two goals on 17 shots, but looked more like an NHL goalie than ever before … Bouchard scored on a slapper from the point. He just has one of those heavy shots, like Sheldon Souray. The puck jumps off his stick, harder than most NHL defencemen. “He looks like a (genuine) player now,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “He’s now a player you can play in all situations. He’s still got some growing to do, but he’s a good player now. He’s played six of the seven pre-season games and been solid all the way through. That’s a real positive for us.” … Yamamoto scored his first goal of the pre-season, a lovely roof job off a shorthanded pass from Derek Ryan … Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci enjoyed their best preseason outing. With no Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie, the Keith-Ceci pairing played 25 minutes and were on for a goal for and one against. They killed nearly five minutes in penalties. “They’ll be a real solid pair for us,” said Tippett.
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