Don Cherry has a lot of praise for the Edmonton Oilers these days.
Sure, he admits he called them “sucks” in the past. “They were sucks in the past,” he said during Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada.
In Cherry’s view, the Oilers of old were missing size and strength.
“There were guys around that said, ‘This is the NHL future. Young players skating and all that,'” Cherry said.
“I said, ‘They can’t win unless they get tough, they get big guys—I don’t care how skilled they are. They won’t win ’til they get big and tough, and now they’re big and tough.”
According to Cherry, though, the main factor in Edmonton’s most recent success has been goaltender Cam Talbot.
“Cam Talbot, I’ll tell ya!” said Cherry, who proceeded to list off the 29-year-old netminder’s recent feats.
The Oilers are up 2-0 in their second-round series with the Anaheim Ducks after withstanding a barrage of shots from the Ducks to take a 2–1 win in Game 2 on Friday. In that victory, Talbot made 39 saves. The Ducks outshot the Oilers, 40–23.
“He absolutely stole the game,” Cherry said, adding that Talbot is the “reason they’re winning.”
While Cherry had nothing but love for Talbot, he admitted to being mystified by the struggles of Anaheim right-winger Corey Perry.
“I’d like to know, would somebody tell me, what happened to Corey Perry?” he said. “I just cannot believe a guy goes from MVP [to] playing the way he’s playing for Anaheim.”
Cherry added: “That would drive me nuts, to see a guy with all that talent, know he could win the series by himself—doesn’t even seem to be trying.”