Sports: James Neal becoming ‘Real Steal’ with dominant start to Oilers tenure - PressFrom - Canada

Sports James Neal becoming ‘Real Steal’ with dominant start to Oilers tenure

22:10  09 october  2019
22:10  09 october  2019 Source:

Neal keeps scoring as Oilers top Red Wings 2-1; Edmonton back in first in NHL

  Neal keeps scoring as Oilers top Red Wings 2-1; Edmonton back in first in NHL EDMONTON — James Neal may be leading the NHL in scoring, but it's Ethan Bear that impressed Edmonton Oilers coach Dave Tippett on Friday night. Neal and Bear both scored as the Oilers moved back into sole possession of first place overall in the NHL with a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday. Darnell Nurse had a pair of assists for the Oilers, who improved to 7-1-0. Bear scored for the second time in as many games, playing in just his 26th career NHL game."The goals are nice, but he is playing a lot of really hard minutes," said Tippett. "He is giving us real quality minutes on both sides of the puck. We need him right now with (Adam) Larsson out.

Zack Kassian et al. posing for the camera: Neal© Provided by Rogers Media Inc Neal

UNIONDALE — James “The Real Deal” Neal has become “The Real Steal.”

Lifted from Calgary in exchange for lumbering Milan Lucic, Neal has stormed out of the gates in record-setting fashion in Edmonton, scoring four times in a 5-2 Oilers win Tuesday night on Long Island.

He now has six goals in Edmonton’s first three games, all regulation victories. No one in Oilers history — not Wayne Gretzky, not Jari Kurri, not Mark Messier or Glenn Anderson — ever had six goals after three games.

Truly, we thought those kinds of team record were…

“Safe?” asked centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Neal had seven goals all of last season, causing the Flames to unload him in a swap of what were perceived to be two bad contracts. At this rate, only one of those contracts might be poor value.

Watch: Neal tops 2018-19 goal total with 8th tally

  Watch: Neal tops 2018-19 goal total with 8th tally James Neal continues to prove his scoring touch is back. The Edmonton Oilers forward has passed his goal total from last season after notching his eighth marker of this campaign in the veteran's sixth game on Monday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Neal stays hot with his 8th in six games & 6th on the PP. #LetsGoOilers — Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 15, 2019 The 32-year-old was traded to Edmonton for Milan Lucic in July after potting just seven goals in 63 games with the Calgary Flames during the first season of a five-year, $28.75 million contract.

“Well,” Neal smiled,” I’ve scored goals my whole career. I put pressure on myself to score goals, I want that pressure, and last year was a tough year. I wanted a chance to prove myself. I came here, and had people who believed I could bounce back, put a good season together, and help a team get to the playoffs.

“It feels good to have that confidence in me.”

With the New York Islanders up 1-0 on a shorthanded goal, Neal sniped one from the top of the circle, then gave the Oilers a first intermission lead when he slammed one home from the edge of the crease.

He completed the natural hat trick by finishing a lovely passing play from Connor McDavid, to Leon Draisaitl, to Neal at the top of the crease. Neal would score his fourth of the night from a sharp angle in the third period, a pure shooter just letting looser ‘cause he’s in the groove.

Edmonton Oilers sink Kings in high-scoring game

  Edmonton Oilers sink Kings in high-scoring game James Neal scored twice as the Oilers outscored the Kings.Connor McDavid opened the scoring 53 seconds into the game when his centering pass went in off Kings defenceman Matt Roy. The Kings scored the next two goals, both off giveaways by Mike Smith. Dustin Brown had an open net after Anze Kopitar intercepted Smith's clearing pass. Five minutes later, Kyle Clifford stole the puck from Smith behind the net and centered it to Trevor Lewis, who made it 2-1.

“It feels good, for sure,” said Neal, whose six goals match Lucic’s production from the entire 2018-19 season. “With all the change here — management, Ken Holland coming in, then Tipp (coach Dave Tippett) coming in — I think things are changing around here. We have guys in here, right from the bottom to the top, who want to contend to win a Stanley Cup. Right from Day 1 it was easy to fit in. It felt comfortable here.”

McDavid had a three-point night, and has seven points in his last two games.

How long did it take Neal to score his sixth goal last season for the Flames? How about March 29?

Here are a few other nuggets from a special night in the old Nassau Coliseum:

• Neal became the first Oilers player to score four goals in a road game since Alexander Selivanov on Nov 14, 1999 at Chicago.

• The first player in Oilers history to score six goals in his first three games with the team — regardless if it began the season or if it occurred midway thru a campaign.

Neal scores 4 to lead Oilers to 5-2 win over Islanders

  Neal scores 4 to lead Oilers to 5-2 win over Islanders James Neal had his first career four-goal game and the Edmonton Oilers beat the New York Islanders 5-2 on Tuesday night. Zack Kassian also scored as Edmonton won its first road game of the season and improved to 3-0-0 for the first time in 11 years. Connor McDavid had three assists, Leon Draisatl added two and Mikko Koskinen stopped 25 shots.Anthony Beauvillier and Matt Martin scored for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov, signed to a four-year deal in the off-season, made his second start of the season but was pulled in the second period after giving up four goals on 19 shots.

• It was Neal’s first hat trick since March 14, 2016 — which he scored as a Nashville Predator against the Oilers. “In Rexall,” chuckled Neal, who had eight shots on goal, and 11 shot attempts in total.

“I’ll give him credit,” said Tippett. “He’s come in here and been a really energized player. He’s helped our group, not just scoring some goals, but he’s really helped our group with giving us some juice in the locker room.”

“We know he’s a goal scorer. We know he can put the puck in the net,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It’s great for him to get the confidence going … and he really set our team up for success tonight. After last year, just talking to him, he came in very focused.”

There is a third-round pick in the balance, as a sweetener in a trade that saw the Flames take on a Lucic contract that is much more difficult of the two to buy out than Neal’s. Calgary gets the Oilers’ third-round pick in the 2020 draft if Neal reaches 21 goals this season, and Lucic ends up with 10 or fewer goals than Neal.

Ken Holland early leader for NHL executive of the year, says NHL insider

  Ken Holland early leader for NHL executive of the year, says NHL insider This in from Kevin Paul Dupont , the long-time hockey writer of the Boston Globe, some praise for Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland: “We’re a long way from the vote tallying, but Ken Holland is the early leader for NHL executive of the year on the strength of his July 19 deal that brought James Neal to Edmonton — a swap for Milan Lucic that looks like it may have triggered a turnaround for the moribund Oilers franchise…. Neal’s production is not an anomaly. The anomaly was last season (7-12—19 in 63 games). He has reached the 25-goal plateau five times, and prior to last year’s blip his annual yield on an 82-game season was right around 30.

At this point, with Lucic managing just a single shot on goal through Calgary’s first two games, the Flames can begin scouting on the assumption they will receive that pick.

“I met with him in August,” Tippett said of Neal. “I flew out to Toronto, and he was in a really good space. He came into camp, worked hard, really gelled with his teammates. You see him practice and play and you know he’s capable of scoring, but I don’t think anybody envisioned a start like this.”

For Neal, or the Oilers, who are 3-0 with a game in Newark against the Devils on Thursday.

“Tonight was by far our best game,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “The first two games we showed flashes of tonight’s game, but didn’t maintain it. Tonight was a better full 60.”

The Oilers are quicker, deeper, and possess a defensive group that moves the puck better than last season. We’re only three games in, but the way they handled a good Islanders team here in Uniondale, there is reason for optimism in Edmonton this October.

“That’s the best game we’ve played so far,” echoed Tippett, whose Oilers are 3-0 for the first time since 2008. “We managed the puck pretty well most of the time, discipline, power play and penalty kill were good. Even when we were in our zone a little bit I thought we were pretty solid, we weren’t giving up a lot. That’s working toward who we want to be.

“The Islanders are a good, hard working team and I thought we worked right with them. That’s a good sign.”

Jurco, Bear with two goals each as Oilers beat jets 5-3 .
WINNIPEG — A little desperation went a long way Thursday night as the Edmonton Oilers turned around a game the Winnipeg Jets had dominated for two periods. Tomas Jurco had a pair of goals, and Edmonton scored three times in the third period to come from behind and beat the Jets 5-3. “Guys were just desperate,” said Edmonton star centre Connor McDavid, who scored in the second. It lifted the Oilers to 3-3-0 with just one game left in the pre-season while the Jets fell to 2-3-1.Ethan Bear tied the game in the third, then added an insurance goal with less than four minutes left.

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