Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Paging the offence

The Edmonton Oilers have scored five goals in four games.

The forwards have one 5×5 goal in the series.

The Oilers played very well defensively in games two and three, but they need to be more determined offensively, more discliplined and not show their frustration so easily.

The playoff intensity is a new beast and in two games they’ve looked good, while in games one and four they were completely over matched.

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It is now a best-of-three and there is no time for a pity party. They need to learn from last night’s ass kicking and show up ready to play on Thursday.

Whether you lose 3-2 in OT or get spanked 7-0, the result is only one loss.

You don’t get bonus points for playing well and you don’t get docked points for playing poorly.

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The San Jose Sharks took the Oilers to playoff school last night.

They played desperate.

They played smart.

They were disciplined.

They were the better team.

And now the challenge for the Oilers is to play like they did in game two when they dominated the Sharks.

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The difference is the stakes are higher in game five. The loser will find themselves in their first true must-win situation of the season. There will be more pressure, and I’m curious to see how the Oilers respond.

They dominated game two and were very poised and controlled in game three.

The only valid concern I see is the entire offence, excluding Zack Kassian, has been underwhelming for the majority of this series.

Last night’s offensive display was pathetic. They had one good sequence in the first period, when Connor McDavid created a chance, but other than that the offence never got on track.

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Every forward needs to be better, especially the top-two lines.

This group has discussed how close they’ve become all season. That’s great, and last night’s effort might be a bit easier to swallow because the goalies, defenders and forwards didn’t play well. It is easy to hold each other accountable when everyone knows they played like junk.

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“We were bad tonight, obviously. That’s not our team, that’s not our game. We haven’t been like that all year. It was a one-off,” said Connor McDavid last night.

The Oilers rebounded in game two after a weak effort in game one, and they will need a similar response tomorrow.

The best part about the NHL playoffs is there is no where to hide. The Oilers don’t get to play the 30th place team in the NHL tomorrow and have an easier opponent help them regain their confidence. They know they are facing the Sharks, and they know it will be a tough game.

San Jose took their game to another level last night. It’s amazing, but the intensity and pressure rises the longer a series goes, and if you played well or poorly two nights earlier means nothing when the puck drops Thursday night at 8:30 p.m.

It is now a best-of-three and the Oilers still have home ice advantage.

Many of their offensive stars have yet to show up in the series. The good news is they still have time to make an appearance and help their team win.

Kassian’s performance was the main catalyst in their two victories. He was outstanding. To go deep in the playoffs a team needs timely contributions from the bottom six, but now the onus is on the Oilers top-six forwards.

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McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle have to be better. They must find a way to create more offence.

They combined for 147 goals and 363 points in the regular season.

The rest of the team had 90 goals and 280 points.

It is unlikely all six break out in game five, but at least two or three of them must create some chances and bury a goal or two. Often, we try to dig deep and over analyze things, but the simple truth right now is the Oilers best offensive forwards need to produce. They can’t get frustrated. They need to maintain their confidence, because if they can’t break out in the next few games the Oilers chances of winning are very low.

Talbot has two shutouts. The defence allowed a combined 39 shots in two victories and Kassian scored both game winners.

The rest of the team has done their part to get them to this point, and now it is time for the top-six to show up.

They’ve been looked at as go-to players their entire career.

They want to produce.

They know they have to, and now it’s just a matter of seeing if they can do it at the most important time of the season.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Been there

    Where has the offence gone? Simple, coaching. The coaching staff, media and fans all have the same approach. Weather the storm for the first ten minutes! Why not try being the storm! We are younger, faster and when we want to be, more physical. I also think TMac feels too much loyalty to his old players, there is no hitting Thornton or Couture, no animosity being displayed. Outside of the first game, the physical forechecking has been non-existent. In last nights game we had one shift where our cycle was efficient, and it was during a line change where Kassian ended out with McDavid and Maroon. You have to want it, want the puck, want control. The best defense is having the puck, make them chase you. Hit them, hit them hard but clean, wear them down, make them always be looking over their shoulders. Hit their best players. Last but not least, hit the open nets! How many have we missed the last few games, two for sure last night, McDavis and Nuge. Play Kassian with McDavid and Maroon, reward him for his good play.

  • Been there

    Forget about growing playoff beards, grow some gonads! It is playoff hockey. The frigging Sharks were laughing at us sitting on the bench. No one will respect you if you don’t respect yourself and each other! Show some emotion, and that includes the coaches! So frustrating watching them just accepting this.

  • ScottV

    I don’t think that big a deal that we got blown out last night. May even work in our favor for game 5, in terms of relative team mind sets. Example – Major Oiler determination to rebound vs Sharks allowing some over confidence to creep in.

    That being said – we are showing some cracks beyond the obvious from last night. Something tells me that there will be some major woulda, coulda, shoulda’s for us to kick around at some point. I like most of PC’s work but a 5 ft 6″ c isn’t one of his better moves.

    McL went to the well far too often in a number of cases and with this and a few other issues, he may have coached himself into a corner.

    I would argue that he went to the well so much with McD / Drai, Nuge / Eberle and Talbot in net – among other things, that he might as well stick with it and hope that appropriate top 6 playoff production will materialize. I would argue that short term gain in an effort to just make the playoffs, overly trumped the balance on things that otherwise might have pushed back peter principle constraints for the playoffs. I have a feeling that our level of incompetence is looming, but hopefully not to the point where we get eliminated in the first round.

  • Release the Hounds

    Even though no one wants to stick it to the officials for influencing the outcome of the games, I would just like to make an observation. First of all, a disclaimer. I have never played organized hockey however I did play high school football and refereed senior men’s hockey back in the day. I have been a hockey fan for almost 60 years and watch many hockey games (too many according to my wife)
    Now, in the 4 games of this series so far, the Oilers have been called for 20 minors, including 1:04 (3×5) and a 5 min. major. The Sharks have been called for 13 minor penalties. Other than Drai’s stick to the nards, have the Oilers really played that much more “outside of the rules” than San Jose? Is the best player in the world being shut-down offensively by using nothing more than legit means? Not likely
    Another thought. I’m not a psychologist, but if my coach tells the team to stop taking penalties, do you not think that I will go out on the ice and play tentatively, knowing that if I take a penalty, I may cost my team the game? Especially with the inconsistent way the refs are calling games. What was a penalty against us in the 1st is now not a call against them in the 3rd? #97 is a classic example of this. How ironic that he gets called for interference on Pavelski. Interference yet. On Pavelski. Think about that for a second. How many “pick plays” have the Sharks gotten away with in this series? I counted 5 obvious ones in last night’s game alone!
    Now that the Sharks seem to have found their PP, this factor-in more in the next 3 games. So, to summarize, the officiating has been suspect and not only in this series, but in most of the others as well. Perhaps I should learn to watch a game without such a critical eye to the officiating. GO OILERS!!!!

    • Been there

      Coaches don’t mind good penalties, it is the lazy ones or selfish ones that they do not like. As for officiating I have said it before, they favour American teams all the time, doesn’t matter which series, but lasts night game really didn’t have a bearing, it was total lack of effort, compete or caring, right from TMac down to the last player!

    • The Dave

      Veteran players and teams get the calls more often, and the Oilers and Sharks are as opposite as it gets in terms of experience. I hate it, but I honestly don’t think the reffing has been so bad that it can’t be explained by that, and in every game so far the better team has won with reffing barely mattering in the end. That could change, but for now I would say the Oilers have got to focus on their skating, passing, and team play and not the refs. Everybody was out of position, there were a ton of sloppy passes all night, and there was way too much ineffective and slow skating. They looked nothing like that in Game 2 and 3, and they need to get back to it.

  • giddy

    My wonder is what happened to Draisaitl? His game, especially his skating, has completely fallen off. I noticed it in the last 2-3 games of the season, but it was well masked by the fact the Oilers were hotter than fire and were playing the Canucks, plus he and McDavid were on massive point streaks. At the time I thought he might have just been resting himself up for playoffs. Nope, going into the playoffs now he can’t seem to get his feet moving, and his overall play continues to spiral downwards.

    I do like seeing his more physical play, especially on the forecheck (when he embarrassed Burns in his own end and forced a turn over twice was a thing of beauty), but looks like it’s affecting his game hugely and you can tell he isn’t used to it. If he had a nagging injury going into the playoffs, I can only assume this forced physical play has only made it worse.

    Drai talks a lot about trying to emulate the play of guys like Kopitar with their big, heavy, physical yet skilled hockey, but the reality is he needs to play his own game, not Kopitar’s. That spear especially was completely out of character for the stoic German. Try to simplify things, get your feet moving, play the game that got you 77 points in the reg season and not someone else’s, and lets get back to having some offensive success.

      • Been there

        I will respectfully disagree, the Oilers lack of forechecking, waiting for breaks instead of creating them have caused their downfall so far. No emotion, no push back, no effort. Cannot not just watch and wait.

        • MrBung

          A strong possibility for the lack of the Oilers ability to do those things might be that they are trying to deal with the intensity and solid puck movement of the Sharks. Additionally, I suspect the Oilers concern about taking penalties is playing into it. And they are still taking them. The Oilers are having a tough time determining what constitutes a penalty in the playoffs and it is adding this tentative level to their game.

    • The Dave

      “That spear especially was completely out of character for the stoic German.” – No he did a nasty elbow in World Junior hockey a few years ago. Just because he seems stoic doesn’t mean he’s not boiling on the inside – the guy can get nasty when he gets frustrated. I am positive he is playing with a lower body injury, and his poor play plus the blowout looks like it was enough for him to get lost in the moment.

  • GK1980

    San Jose is a good team, GOOD TEAM despite their late season collapse. Edmonton vets need to step up. You can’t be relying on drai and McDavid to score all the goals. Luckily Kassian has found the magic but if the Oilers think they can depend on lass to win the game then this series is over.

    And where is Maroon and Lucic? Aren’t they supposed to step up during the playoffs? Maroon has been completely absent. I even call the two oiler wins lucky. Oilers need to wal up now or they will lose this series.

  • The Dave

    At every level McDavid has played at it has taken him a few games to figure things out. It happened in CHL playoffs the first time, it happened at World Jrs, it happened in the NHL, it happened at the World Cup of Hockey, and it’s happening now. He gets a few points here and there, but he needs a few games to just figure out his game. I expected him to be slow to start, and I’m hoping he’s had enough time. This is usually when he figures it all out and starts finding the gaps and getting his breakaways.

    As for the rest of the team, they’ve been doing 90% of what it takes to get good scoring chances at 5×5, and Martin Jones is playing well enough that it’s not enough. Everyone needs to be get about 5 feet closer to the Shark’s net. Our shots have been just a bit too far out to be dangerous, our guys have been a bit too far out for rebounds, and everybody has been a half step too slow to really put sustained pressure around the net. In Game 2 and 3 we had good time in the attack zone but we rarely sustained any havoc in front of the net.

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    I think the Sharks overall are a better team in almost every aspect, maybe even by quite a bit. But, McDavid is special, and Talbot it damn good, so this series is still a toss up. Edmonton could easily thrive off the home crowd next game, get a couple bounces and be one win away…. Or, it could be a sleeper, with 1 lucky bounce late and Talbot shutting the door…. Or else McDavid is good enough to take over the series, no matter how good the Sharks are. Home ice is huge right now. And the Sharks might be one of the top 3 teams in the league, so knocking them off might very well mean a trip to the finals. TRADE THE MALL SAVOUR THE MALL

  • D'oh-ilers

    The Sharks have played LA in 4 of the previous 6 post-seasons, who play the same type of tough, physical, punishing hockey the Oilers are trying to play this year. They’re used to it. They aren’t going to get rattled by it, and the Oilers are hurting themselves by crossing the line too many times in their attempt to play that Kings brand of demolition derby playoff hockey.