The Oilers planned all along to play Mark Fayne and Martin Marincin against the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top line last night. Them, along with the Oilers trio of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, had the responsibility of playing against the dynamic Steven Stamkos and company. They did very well in a 3-2 victory.
“I thought we played pretty solid, I thought we limited a lot of their chances,” Fayne said. “Also, you’ve got to get a lot of credit to the forwards, they controlled a lot of the puck. I felt like we had a lot of possession when that line was out there, which is always the best defence when they don’t have the puck.”
Fayne was the easy choice for the Oilers. The defenceman got a lot of experience against Stamkos while playing with New Jersey.
“He’s one of those tough guys to handle,” Fayne said of Stamkos. “He can change the game on one shift, he’s a tough guy to cover. I don’t think you really can contain him, you just try to limit the amount of chances. Last night we were lucky enough to do that.”
The Oilers in the locker room had complete trust in the veteran defenceman and knew the 22-year-old Marincin had it in him as well.
“We all knew Fayner could do it from playing against him in New Jersey,” David Perron said. “It was good to see Marty play as good as he did. He was assertive, he uses his body well and we obviously need more of that.”
Fayne has been impressed with his new defensive partner, who he says has played well since being recalled from Oklahoma City.
“The last two games, I thought he’s been playing great,” Fayne said. “We’re talking a lot at practice, working on some stuff. I think the chemistry is there, I’ve really enjoyed playing with him and I thought last night he had a real good game.”
When Taylor Hall lined up for his penalty shot last night he wanted to take his mind off the moment. So the Oilers winger gestured for the fans to get on their feet and make some noise before scoring in the eventual 3-2 win over Tampa Bay.
“It’s just kind of one of those things that happened,” Hall said. “It was a split-second decision. It got the crowd going and they gave me some energy for the penalty shot. Throughout the whole game they were loud, they were boisterous and they kept us going so that’s great for the fan base.”
For at least one teammate, Hall’s pump up of the crowd was exciting.
“That was pretty cool I thought, just to get the crowd into it and then he scored,” David Perron said. “If he didn’t score it might have been a little bit different, it probably would not have mattered in the game. He’s definitely one of our biggest leaders and to see him come through at a big moment like that, and same with (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) there at the end of the third when we allowed that second goal. It was awesome to see.”
For another teammate, it was a nervous moment.
Defenceman Mark Fayne said, “I was a little nervous, I hadn’t seen that before. It worked out for him. He said he was just trying to calm himself down and if that’s what it takes, it worked.”
Fayne was the player who set up Hall on the play that led to the penalty shot.
Third-overall pick Leon Draisaitl has played six games this season. He has three more games in his nine-game rookie window. The Oilers have not yet made a decision on whether or not they want to assign Draisaitl back to junior or give him more NHL games.
“We talk about every one of our players every day,” Eakin said. “That’s the way it is in pro sports. We’re all being evaluated every day. Yes, we’ve talked about Leon but it goes back to the process. There’s a process to this. I think it’s dangerous to lean any way until it’s time to make the decision.”
Eakins says Draisaitl has played well so far in his rookie season as he continues to develop as any young player will.
“I think he’s played very good for a kid, in a tough league, who’s 18 years-old. We spoke about him last night, I think he’s been well-supported by his linemates, he’s been very very good on our power play and he’s finding his way like any player of that age.”
The Oilers are on the ice for an optional skate at Rexall Place.
The Oilers on the ice are as follows:
The Oilers got a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, largely due to the play of their top three forwards. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle each contributed with at least a point in the win. Hall scored on a penalty shot and Nugent-Hopkins scored the game-winning goal.
It’s the maturity of those players and their growth on and off the ice that has impressed their head coach.
“Our top guys were our top guys tonight I thought, along with our fourth line guys who played excellent,” Eakins said. “It’s amazing to watch the growth of a player and it’s a special thing. (Watching Hall) mature and watching what he’s turned into already this year, not only for our team on the ice but off the ice is an amazing thing. You see it with others as well, like Nuge. You forget how old he is because he has an older soul. Great night. It was a tight game, evenly matched I thought, and tonight we were able to find a way to win it rather than wind up on the other side.”
Hall says it was fun playing with his linemates but the entire team deserves credit for the win.
“We had some chances,” Hall said. “Nuge was really skating well, Ebs was making plays and it’s fun to play with those guys when we’re working as a unit like that. Not only our line, but it seemed like every line had a chance every five minutes or a good shift so it’s good to keep the momentum going when every line is going like that.”
The Oilers have to be happy with the play of their fourth line so far this season. Matt Hendricks, Boyd Gordon and Jesse Joensuu have shown to be defensively responsible and have flashed an ability to turn the puck the other way and create offensive chances.
That continued tonight in the Oilers first win of the season against Tampa Bay. Those three players have even begun earning more ice time as a result of their play.
“That line has been excellent for us,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “They’re proving to be a problem for some of our other players. They’ve been playing well and they’re taking minutes. We’re doing everything we can to win the game and those guys have been able to give us some confidence in our game. They’re all students of the game because of their skillsets and they just do almost everything right. We’ve been real impressed with them up to this time and they do a lot of heavy lifting for us and tonight they were excellent.”
The Oilers said this morning that they had a plan for what they wanted to do against Steven Stamkos and the top line of the Tampa Bay Lightning. That plan was apparently to entrust their young top line with the bulk of the work, while relying on 22-year-old defenceman Martin Marincin and his partner Mark Fayne on the blueline.
“We wanted Fayne and Marincin against them,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins explained. “We thought they’d match up real well size-wise and responsibility-wise. Between Nuge and Hallsy and Ebs, they have to not only want that matchup but they’ve got to enjoy it. For Nuge, I know he was looking forward to it and we had a couple of game plans ready to go depending on how it was going. But early on, I thought Nuge was really engaged and was driving the play out there. I thought he was excellent against that line and Hallsy and Ebs were going as well.”
Eakins continued, “We really liked that matchup, we didn’t come off it very often. (Jon Cooper) is an excellent coach over there and he was changing his rotations it seemed almost like trying to get away from it, which if I’m Taylor, Nuge, Ebs, Fayner or Marincin that’s a big compliment when you see that trend happen.”
Nugent-Hopkins was impressed with the team’s ability to defend against Stamkos and the Lightning.
“He’s a guy who can take advantage,” the centre said. “You give him an inch and he’ll put the puck back in your net. I thought we did a really good job, not just our line but every line that was out there against him and especially the d-men, of not giving him too many opportunities and trying to limit him to the outside shots.”
Two players were on the injury report during Head Coach Dallas Eakins’ post-skate press conference. Both Viktor Fasth (groin) and Luke Gazdic (shoulder) got a positive prognosis from their head coach.
“Fasth was on the ice, always a good sign,” Eakins said. “It’s not as bad as we thought, which is good. He’ll just go through his process of rehabilitating that. At first he had heard something pop, which usually means six weeks. But everything has come back way better so we’re encouraged by that.”
Gazdic is getting closer to returning to action as well.
“Luke is on the cusp now of getting closer and closer. He’s not months away, he’s weeks away.”
Luke Gazdic gave an update on the status of his injury on Sunday after practice, noting that he was cleared for contact a few days ago.
"I'm real close," he said. "I'm taking some pretty big contact, doing all those battling drills and feeling strong."
When asked about timelines, Gazdic felt that he should be back relatively shortly.
"I'd say a couple of weeks away. We'll see how these next few practices go and then re-evaluate here."
Gazdic said it was nice to get battling again in practice after many weeks skating in a non-contact jersey.
"That practice yesterday, we had a ton of battle drills in the corner. It's great to get into that physical aspect," he said. "It's nice to finally hit somebody."