The Edmonton Oilers are a terrible, awful, horrible hockey team this year. In a Western Conference chock full of talented squads, the Oilers (13-25-5) are the halibut. If they were in the Eastern Conference, they would be competing with the Buffalo Sabres (11-26-4) for and New York Islanders (14-21-7) the bottom spot, but they’re not, meaning the second closest team to the cellar has five more wins and six fewer regulation losses.
Surprising, especially for a team with three No. 1 overall picks. But then, when one of them (Taylor Hall) gets benched for a big portion of the second period of a 5-1 drubbing by the Sharks due to poor performance, the game becomes an indication of just what’s going wrong with a team.
No win is a given (the Sharks got beaten up by the aforementioned Sabres early in the season), but San Jose decided to show off their full arsenal against the lowly Oilers at SAP Center Thursday night. Even concerns over a bottom six that’s combined to score only six goals on the season (two from Bracken Kearns in the last two games) couldn’t stop the Sharks from taking a stranglehold early and holding it all the way to the final horn.
Brent Burns got the scoring going early after taking a sweet touch pass from Joe Pavelski and one-timing it past Devan Dubnyk.
As it turns out, that effort from Dubnyk — who was screened on that goal, but not that screened — was a pretty good indicator of just how terrible he would be tonight. Patrick Marleau got him again with an unassisted goal later in the first after pick-pocketing an Oiler and wristing it into the net.
Remember how Bracken Kearns was finding his goal-scoring stride at the end of 2013? He kept that going in his first game of the new year, ripping a no-look shot past Dubnyk in the second. Then it was Logan Couture with a breakaway top corner snipe and Joe Pavelski with a one-timer from Joe Thornton that pinged off of the left post and pin-balled around the net for good measure.
Couture’s goal didn’t have much of an impact on the game, but it represented his 200th point and third-straight game with a goal after a severe goal drought. Just how balanced is Couture’s game? His 200th point came only two games after his 100th goal.
Pavelski’s goal had little impact on the outcome too, but it meant a lot for the Sharks’ american star and the team’s fanbase. A roaring “U-S-A” chant broke out in The Tank, celebrating Pavelski’s inauguration onto the U.S. Men’s National Hockey Team for the Sochi Olympics.
At the halfway point of the season, the Sharks are 26-9-6 and second in the Pacific behind the Ducks. Six of their next eight games are on the road, and they’ve got sixteen games to go before the Olympic break. They ran over the Oilers tonight, and they’ll need to put more of these types of games behind them, especially on this road trip, as they push for a certain playoff berth.