The Edmonton Oilers had a chance on Saturday to pick up two points from one of the league’s worst teams. They had healthy bodies back, the Flyers had lost two straight, and this game represented a real opportunity to start things turning around after a strong effort in a win over Florida and a stronger one in a loss to Tampa Bay.
It didn’t happen.
It’s not just that the Oilers lost, or who they lost against, but how they lost. Some fans will want to place the blame on Devan Dubnyk – who was actually reasonably solid until that fourth goal – or on the referees for mistakenly assessing a major penalty against an innocent Anton Belov.
But the real problem was the skaters. The following chart shows on-ice scoring chances at even-strength for the Oilers forwards against Philadelphia, as counted by me.
And for the defence:
For the most part, it was the Oilers’ best players getting killed against the Flyers. Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall all had among the worst marks on the team in this regard. These are the guys that typically push results – and did last year, even as the rest of the team gave everything back and then some. On defence, the Oilers top pairing of Andrew Ference and Jeff Petry were lit up, too.
The Oilers play in Chicago tomorrow. It seems unlikely to go well.