GDB 25.0 Wrap Up: So generous those Winnipeggers

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When they’re taking a stadium shot and @thenationchris and I bust out the finger guns. #NationGoesToWpg #HeritageClassic

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You missed us didn’t you, Winnipeg? Final Score: 6-3 Oilers

Is there anyone happier to see November come to a close than Edmonton Oilers fans? The Oilers won only five of 15 games in the year’s eleventh month and I think anyone who watches hockey would tell you that that’s just not good enough. To make matters worse, the Oilers limped into the holiday season riding a three-game losing streak at the hands of teams bellow them in the standings. Not good. December brings with it a fresh start, in a sense, and it began with the Oilers evening out at 12-10-2, something I’m sure that even the most positive fan wouldn’t have expected. That said, this was a game that the Oilers had to win just like they did back in October. The result was the same, but the path to get there was not. 

The last time the Oilers were in Winnipeg was for the Heritage Classic, a game they walked away from with two points in hand (obviously). If our boys in blue (uh, white) wanted to repeat the performance they were going to have to get a much better effort than they got from basically everyone not named Connor McDavid against Arizona and Toronto. Several Oilers have been struggling to score goals lately and, as a team, they’ve had an equally hard time keeping the puck out of their own end. To end the losing streak, the Oilers were going to have to get more than shots on net, they were going to have to get a little bit ugly. When the Jets are playing their game they’re a tough team to beat, and the Oilers got a big dose of that truth early tonight. I’m not sure if the Jets were playing all that well or if the Oilers were being generous house guests, but, either way, the visitors found themselves in an early hole. 

After the dust of the first period settled, the Oilers started to play much better. I’m not sure what Todd McLellan said to his team during the first intermission, but it obviously worked as the Oilers rattled off three straight goals in the second period, taking the lead in the process. Best of all was the fact that the offense was being spread throughout the lineup, and wasn’t necessarily dependent on the stick Connor McDavid. I mean, you know Connor was going to get his points as he always seems to, but we still have to give credit to the bottom six for playing some effective minutes and chipping in on the scoreboard. Once they climbed out of the 2-1 deficit, the Oilers went on to score three straight goals and ended up taking a lead into the final frame. After allowing Winnipeg to get back to within a goal on a two-man advantage early in the third period, the Oilers picked up where they left off and put away two more goals and the final nail in Winnipeg’s coffin.

When the Oilers needed a win, they did what they had to do to get it, and the three-game losing streak is over. Tonight’s story was all about the power play and the offense as the Oilers scored six goals and started December on a high note.

Wrap it up.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

Donair

  • As I do after most games, I am starting off the bright side section of this Wrap Up by talking about Connor McDavid. The kid is an absolute wizard with the puck and seeing him out there gives us all hope that basically anything can happen. Connor finished the night with three more assists which extended his NHL lead. What a blessing he is to this franchise. 
  • Just as he did at the Heritage Classic, Mark Letestu scored the Oilers first goal of the game against the Jets. This time around, the Oilers gave up a quick one and Letestu’s goal (his third) tied the game up a few minutes later. He put the Oilers up by a goal (his fourth) in the second period by crashing the net on the power play. Great game for the Oilers veteran. Clutch Letestu. Note the Mark Letestu chant video in the best of the tweets. That clip comes from our Nation trip to Winnipeg from back in October. Letestu finished the night with three points. 
  • Leon Draisaitl continues to have a good year as he scored the Oilers’ second goal to tie the game up in the second period. Draisaitl was left alone in the slot on the power play, and he made no mistake when the puck came to him. One goal wasn’t enough for the big boy, though, as he got to work again in the third period to put home another goal to keep his run of terror going. Draisaitl now has nine goals on the year (three points tonight) which is good for the Oilers but will likely be bad come contract time. 
  • Patrick Maroon may not have scored one of the prettiest goals of his career, but he did put a hell of a shift’s worth of work in to get it. Maroon battled through a couple Winnipeg checks to fire the puck towards the net from a brutal angle. Fortunately, he got a little puck luck and had the biscuit bounce in off the Jets’ defender to beat Hellebuyck (his seventh goal of the year).
  • The best part about Maroon’s goal might have been the loud, screaming “WOOOOO” that Kassian let out after the puck went in the net. Shout out to the WOOOOO fans.
  • Benoit Pouliot has been neck and neck with Eberle for Nation goat and he did his best to get you back onto his side as he scored his first goal (his fourth) in 200 years (14 games).
  • I liked the Pitlick-Caggiula-Slepyshev line tonight. They got some of the easier matchups, but they were effective when they were out on the ice. 
  • Who would have guessed that the power play would score THREE goals in the same game? Three! As it turns out, Mark Letestu is the missing link. The PP was rock solid tonight, finishing the game with three goals on four opportunities.
  • Connor Hellebuyck was awesome tonight. 
  • Pat Maroon tried to get the boys fired up in the first period when he threw down with Thorburn. Check out the fight over at HockeyFights.com on Patrick Maroon’s fight page. 

THE FACE PALMERS

Wrap

  • The Oilers gave up the first goal of the game only 35 seconds into the game. Good starts are overrated anyway, though, right?
  • Bryan Little hadn’t scored a goal all season (only his third game, though, to be fair) but he got one tonight. Classic Oilers. 
  • Speaking of Bryan Little’s goal, guess who took the penalty that resulted in that power play? Sorry, Poo, you know it’s you.
  • Anyone else salty that Winnipeg won the second pick in the draft lottery and wound up with Laine? Just me? Hmm. And don’t take that as a shot against Puljujarvi, it’s not meant to be, but Laine is pretty damned impressive. Two goals for the big Finn tonight.
  • Cam Talbot may not have been great but he played well enough to win. Fortunately, the offense was there to pick him up on a tougher night but Talbot got better as the night went on. He finished the night with 22 saves and a .890 save%. Talbot can and will be better. 
  • Nuge took a terrible penalty and it cost the Oilers a goal. Edmonton was already down a man after Russell took a penalty and Nuge took another in the offensive zone, giving the Jets a two-man advantage. Laine scored Winnipeg’s third goal shortly after which gave the Jets some unnecessary jump down the stretch.
  • Oilers got torched in the faceoff circle, winning only 39% of the draws. 
  • The Oilers’ penalty kill surrended two goals for the first time in what seems like forever. The Oilers PK has been rock solid lately but allowed 2/4 on the night.  

SCORING SUMMARY

1ST PERIOD

TIME TEAM DETAILS SCORE
00:35 Winnipeg Bryan Little (1) ASST: Blake Wheeler (10), Drew Stafford (3) 0-1
02:31 Edmonton PPG – Mark Letestu (3) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (11), Andrej Sekera (5) 1-1
10:14 Winnipeg PPG – Patrik Laine (14) ASST: Toby Enstrom (7), Nikolaj Ehlers (17) 1-2

2ND PERIOD

TIME TEAM DETAILS SCORE
00:51 Edmonton PPG – Leon Draisaitl (8) ASST: Milan Lucic (11), Connor McDavid (21) 2-2
05:06 Edmonton PPG – Mark Letestu (4) ASST: Milan Lucic (12), Connor McDavid (22) 3-2
11:43 Edmonton Patrick Maroon (7) ASST: Zack Kassian (3), Mark Letestu (5) 4-2

3RD PERIOD

TIME TEAM DETAILS SCORE
01:44 Winnipeg PPG – Patrik Laine (15) ASST: Dustin Byfuglien (12), Blake Wheeler (11) 4-3
07:13 Edmonton Leon Draisaitl (9) ASST: Connor McDavid (23), Adam Larsson (4) 5-3
07:33 Edmonton Benoit Pouliot (4) ASST: Andrej Sekera (6), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (8) 6-3

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  • 4000miaway

    Really looking forward to Puljujärvi playing/being in Drai’s position in a couple of years, but such a relief to finally have the coaches pull him. He wasn’t contributing at all. Let actual NHL:ers play. We have enough borderliners as it is.

    And please Mr. McLellan, don’t bring out the blender just because before next game. Let these guys enjoy the win and build some confidence. It was kind of cool to see an old school ‘Kid/Energy Line’ as 3rd and a ‘Checking Line’ as 4th.

    It brings me back and seemed to work pretty fine.

  • RJ

    I should have done an obvious game day prediction for this game.

    I knew Wheeler would produce tonight. How do I know? Had him in my hockey pool and finally dropped him. Ever since he’s been lighting it up.

    And for someone who criticizes Eberle as much as I do, I kept him over Wheeler.

    #fantasynerd

  • DXB

    Based on McDavids post game comments I suspect we’re going to see a lot more of him and Drai together. I think we have found the chemistry with McDavid we have been waiting for. That tick tack toe play they couldn’t close on was silly and I hope there is a lot more of that to come.

    • S cottV

      Yeah – a bit surprising that McD would say it like it is, as Captain – given what is says for the other two wingers he’s played with by default.

      The chemistry is pretty obvious.

      With Drai and McD switching off on the fly with c duties, it gives McD more space because he is much harder to cover. He can be here or there or almost anywhere, depending on how the two read and react together.

      Lucic’s presence should also not be underestimated. They are scoring goals partly because of his net presence. McD and Drai are also smart enough – that with some time together, they will figure out how to use the big guys presence even more.

      Like less one and done rushing and more focus on o zone possession. Drai will become more capable of helping Lucic with heavy lifting, while McD uses his speed around the perimeter.

      If they get the balance right – the best line in hockey – this year is possible.

      • DXB

        Couldn’t agree more. Think we will see Mc David chipping in more goals moving forward as he wont be the only set up guy on the line. Potential is scary good as you say

        • GK1980

          The nations highs and lows. This was just one game. winnies pk was brutal. This team played well and they have the weapons just need to be more consistent. I like keeping nuge and eberle together, they played well last night. Both of these guys will start to roll soon.

          • S cottV

            I agree – one game, but the chemistry between McD and Drai has been evident for some time and there is a lot of logic to support why it should work with some consistency.

            Learning to use Lucic properly – has a lot of upside for growth for the line as well.

            A huge key is getting Nuge’s line in gear.

            There’s like $16 mil committed to that 2nd line. It has to get going and I think McL has to leave it alone, so they can sort it out and make things happen.

  • Mitch92

    I was not happy to see Puljujarvi scratched for this game against his countryman Patrik Laine but I am sure he got the message regardless of any language barrier. Hope he comes back strong when he gets his next opportunity. Go Oilers!

  • Keg on Legs

    Also was impressed with the new “kid” line, fast on the puck, created havoc for the Jets D all night, didn’t get hemmed in their own zone much, if at all. Unlike a couple of the veteran lines

  • Looch#27

    We looked like a determined team last night which we didn’t have the last few games hard to believe that PP was amazing!! Sweet game for Letestu he looked great!!!

  • Hemmercules

    @Kegs on Legs……………Does JP have a good one-timer like Laine?? They should have him on the point on the PP if he does. You could tell that was Winnipegs only plan on the PP, just keep setting up Laine for one timers as much as possible. I’m surprised the Oil didn’t have a guy just hugging him on the PK.

    The Oil PP just seems so slow to me, no quick passes and way too predictable most of the time. Almost every guy keeps the puck for a few seconds. They need to practice a 3 way play on the PP, two quick passes and a shot.

    • NZOF

      I believe JP spent time on the point on the pp for his team in Finland, so it’s certainly a possibility.

      Not too many guys have a one timer like Laine though. Ovechkin, Stamkos…can’t think of many more.

      Stupid Winnipeg winning that lottery. How good would Laine have looked receiving passes from McDavid? :O

  • Will

    Great game, I was super happy to see that third line play the way they did. Sure, as you say they got easier match ups, but isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? A less experienced line gets easier match ups so they can excel. Also with last change going to the Jets, it’s not like McLellan was trying to shelter them.

    Simply way better than Draisaitl and Maroon as a third line group. They were fast, got chances, hit almost everything. They were a bit scrambly with the puck at times, but if McLellan can just leave that line intact, then maybe they can get some chemistry and clean it up.

    The whole time I was thinking how everyone in Edmonton was mad the team doesn’t have a Kadri, but it was pretty clear both Cagguila and Pitlick were getting under the Jets’ skin.

    This FINALLY freed up Draisaitl to slot in on the wing in the top six. How many times did he carry the puck in, then pull up short and dish a set up pass? Once that play got picked off, but the rest of the night is was pretty effective. Watching him and Conner on the same line is great because of how they each change the speed. I think the Jets had a real tough time constantly adjusting to slowing down, speeding up, slowing down, stop, full blast… and on and on. I really hope that line stays together for a bit.

    It also allowed Eberle to get back on a line with Nuge and Pouliot. All three of those guys looked their best tonight, keep that together.

    Ugh, long post sorry. Two more things:

    I don’t think Talbot was bad tonight. Those Laine one timers are some scary stuff. If you ask me they are even deadlier than an Ovi or Stamkos one timer because those come from the slot. Laine is doign it up above the hash marks and still blasting it in. What a shot. That kid will make a career out of that shot, and it’s going to be great watching it for a long time.

    Finally the fourth line. Did we as Oiler fans ever dream our fourth line would be Maroon, Letestu, Kassian? That is depth reminiscent of the LA team that first one the cup. All we’re missing is a Doughty. I hear Klinberg is available. Maybe Reinheart and Omark for him?

  • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

    I wonder if the years of total futility have tainted RNH and Ebs. RNH’s penalty last night and the game losing goal vs the Yotes are plays that sum up the last number of years of the Oil. I hope they (Ebs and RNH) can get past this history, but its almost like they are stuck in the mold of making a mistake when it hurts the most.

  • NewPants

    They split Larson the klefbom pair to play with Nurse and Benning respectively. It looked better, I think that helped keep game from getting away.

    Go OIL!!!

    • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

      A few days ago I suggested that Klef might need a spell lower down the line up. If TMC needs any more advice he knows where to find me.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    Laine has that little spot on the left circle just like Ovechkin, but Laine starts farther towards center and backs over to his spot as he’s getting ready to shoot.

    Amazing shot.

  • S cottV

    No question – Laine can shoot big time.

    At this point, it looks like a big gap between Laine and Puljujarvi.

    I think it will narrow though.

    Puljujarvi reminds me a little bit like Drai.

    He needs to get more comfortable with his surroundings and the language gap is part of that deal. Laine speaks pretty good english and that leads to getting more comfortable – quickly.

    I know Puljujarvi looks a little scattered but there is something there – that is gonna take shape with a little more time. It’s not like Yak looking scattered.

    I wouldn’t put him in Bakersfield. Keep him close – role him throughout the line up, to get rounded experience in both scoring and checking roles. Too much upside, to throw him in another environment – to have to get used to.

    We might have a shades of Kurri in the making.

    • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

      Wow there big fella, next to Gordie Howe Kurri might have been the most complete RW that has ever played. Outstanding at both ends of the ice. And he didn’t just hang on Getzky’s cape, look at his numbers post Gretzky.

      • S cottV

        I said shades of….

        As in a high end Finnish rw that can play both ways.

        You don’t have to remind me how good Kurri was – I know full well myself – thank you.

        I will never forget my first live Oilers game, when I moved here in the late 80’s.

        Went to the game and was expecting to be wow’d by the likes of Gretsky, Messier – Coffee and so on.

        I keep looking at this other guy and he is all over the place. Making great plays in both ends of the rink. Nice pass – Nice shot – great back check – on and on.

        I leaned over to the guy next to me and said – who is that guy? That was my introduction to Kurri.

        Best player on the ice – that night.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Man the nation is so much happier when it works on the ice the night before. I know Im stating the obvious but this is a fan base that so wants to cheer. We are not near so jaded as people say.

  • I agree that Pulju looks like Drai, which is why I’m thinking he should be sent down.

    I think the team can survive without him. I think he needs some development (lots of ice time) and confidence (how many chances, goals, has he been getting?).

    Call him up when we face injuries, but until then, let him dominate a league.