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.
Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Fayne and Marincin were up to the task and played very well in a 3-2 win.
“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.”