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Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A Dose of Reality

Prior to Sunday’s game, many Oilers fans were thinking sweep. It is understandable, considering their team won the first two games on the road and the excitement of playoff hockey often breeds excited, positive thoughts. Your emotions run high, you get excited, and what is strange and great about the playoffs, is how concern and angst can flood your brain instantly after a loss like last night.

Were the Oilers thinking sweep? I highly doubt it, but they weren’t ready to play and Rikard Rakell scored the fastest opening goal in Anaheim Ducks’ playoff history 25 seconds into the first period. The Oilers played catchup the rest of the night. They were down 3-0 only 11:51 into the first period. It was terrible start.

Unlike the 7-0 drubbing in round one by San Jose, the Oilers fought back and tied the game at three, 8:40 into the second frame. Connor McDavid scored an incredible goal to tie the game and send Rogers Place into a frenzy. It was fitting, however, that the Ducks regained the lead 48 seconds later, and the emotional rollercoaster ride for Oilers fans continued.

Cam Talbot didn’t like the fourth goal. Chris Wagner fired a wrister from a sharp angle that deflected off a stick, lost momentum and deflected off Talbot’s blocker into his own goal. After his stellar play in game two, it would be foolish to blame the loss on Talbot, because the harsh reality is the entire team was not ready to play.

The Ducks scored on what looked like a designed play. “A team scored on us the same way. We stole the idea,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle in his post-game scrum. The Ducks must have seen a few weaknesses in the Oilers forecheck and neutral zone play, because they used the long outlet pass to perfection on numerous occasions.

To their credit the Oilers battled back and the second period was their best of the series, and if John Gibson didn’t make a few huge stops, including robbing Patrick Maroon in the slot, the Oilers might have went into the third period in better shape. However, the first and third periods weren’t good enough and the entire team will need to be more focused on Wednesday.

QUICK HITS

  • The Oilers need more from Jordan Eberle. His defensive game has improved, no doubt, but at some point he needs to show up offensively. The most concerning thing for me in his game is I’m not sure he’s had a great scoring chance all playoffs. In the regular season at least he had some chances and wasn’t finishing. “Not enough,” Todd McLellan replied when asked about what he is getting from Eberle. He then added, “This is his first time here, so what he’s done in the past (regular seasons) isn’t a direct comparison. He’s experiencing it for the first time,” said McLellan, who didn’t want to throw Eberle under the bus when the entire team was asleep for the first ten minutes. It is obvious McLellan wants more from Eberle, and Eberle wants to do more as well. “It is frustrating. The good thing is we are winning games, and up until tonight we hadn’t been giving up much defensively, but…”said Eberle. The fans are frustrated with Eberle, as is the coach and so is the player. But the harsh reality of the playoffs is he needs to show up soon. At the very least, he needs to create some quality chances and be emotionally involved in the game.
  • McLellan said it was Eberle’s first time here, but it isn’t for Milan Lucic and I believe those two both need to do more. Lucic needs to get more physically involved in this series. He has shown he can find ways to contribute without scoring points, but we haven’t seen that this round and didn’t see much of it in round one. I’d like to see a bit more tenacity and anger from #27. We know he is capable of it, and against the Ducks it would be a valuable asset.
  • I would go back to the four regular lines on Wednesday. The Oilers had won four in a row prior to Sunday’s 6-3 loss. McLellan switched the lines when they were down 3-0 and it worked for a bit, but they still allowed three more goals. I’d start the game with the same combos we’ve seen for the majority of the playoffs. It will be very hard to match that bad of a start in game four.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can’t finish. He has had some great looks. He’s skated very well this series. His edge work has been outstanding, none better than the chance he created last night in the second period, but once again he couldn’t score. You hope this is just a funk for RNH, but considering how many good looks he has had past few seasons and not finished, you wonder if he’ll be able to score 25 goals? If I’m the Oilers, I’m asking him to work on his accuracy and faceoffs this off-season.
  • The Ducks have some really difficult decisions heading into free agency. Even if they convince Kevin Bieksa to waive his NMC, which I expect he will, and they are able to protect Lindholm, Vatanen, Fowler and Manson, then they still have to leave Jakob Silfverberg available. Bob Murray will have to make a trade and Silfverberg is a very attractive trade asset. He makes $3.75 million for two more seasons. The Ducks will want a young player they don’t have to protect. I doubt the Ducks would trade him to Edmonton, but if I’m Chiarelli I’d be putting in a call. Silfverberg would look great on the RW in Edmonton.The other option is to trade Vatanen for a forward. Either way the Ducks have two attractive trade options leading up to the expansion draft.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Lucic is reverting back to his early season issues. The man has hands of stone, useful for fighting or laying the body, but my gawd his passing is atrocious. That play where he fanned on a pass on a 2-1 and then also fanned on the shot after panicking was basically his playoffs in a nutshell… He seems like the type of player that needs to get physically engaged and then will be sharp in other facets. He’s also getting knocked off the puck a lot and losing more than half of his battles… Hopefully he can pick it up as Nuge is the only one doing any heavy lifting (offensively or otherwise) on that line.

    • Druds

      I agree , even if he does not score another goal the least he can do is stop bleeding pucks with his dumb passes and bad decisions. He looks terribly slow in both skating and in thinking… His contract will be a buyout within 3 years.

  • Derian Hatcher

    “The Oilers need more from Jordan Eberle. His defensive game has improved, no doubt, but at some point he needs to show up offensively”

    We must be watching different Eberle’s. My eyes see a soft definsive player, who will not or cannot win a board battle, and has sent more pizzas toward the middle of the ice than anyone else. He plays on the perimeter and does not demonstrate the heart or desire needed for the playoffs. That’s my “visual” – he has been riding those world Jr. goals and his first NHL goal for quite some time now.

    Maybe my expectations are too high for Eberle. I’m at a loss with him.

      • Heschultzhescores

        This IS your time Eberle, you want to leave a lasting legacy in the Big Leagues, then you perform now. You sacrifice the body, you go to the tough places in front of the net…you win the game, you feel great! The alternative is 200 miles south, and nobody wants to end up like that or living there.

    • slats-west

      I was watching the post game with Eberle and I always find it odd how he distils the game down to a special teams contest almost every time – “our PP was not that good and we did not have any urgency so we need to better”. Really? I thought you play more 5 on 5 than on PP/PK but this is probably a reflection of how he sees himself. Some coach needs to change that quick!

      The second thing I noticed about Eberle (this may sound a bit weird) but how perfect his face is – what I mean is after 9 playoff games there isn’t a nick, a bruise, it’s not even red… Eberle not only doesn’t win any puck battles he doesn’t even engage in any!!! Even Pouliot has a yellow eye from an errant stick – Eberle has NOTHING.

      Just think if either him or Lucic decided to crash the net from both wings on one of those snake bitten Nuge wristers (or at least the off winger should crash -ffs Letestu had 4 goals from that spot!!!). These guys need to get a bit dirty and pay some price right now. If not move him to 4th line and let Parkanen or JJ have a shot at these minutes. We can’t wait much longer for this 2nd (4th line!) to get going.

      • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

        You almost lost me when you started talking about how perfect his face looked, but honestly, I agree. That whole line is due for a breakout game and I think he’ll show more intensity on Wednesday. Eberle’s a steadier presence in the top six than JJ or Pakarinen, so I doubt he loses his spot unless he slumps a lot worse.

  • D

    The Oilers scraped away with a Game 2 win that they otherwise could have lost. Game 3 second period shows what the team really has, and Talbot always bounces back after games like this one. Oilers will take the next two games and wrap up the series in five.

  • Oilerchild77

    Trade Eberle for whatever you can get because, at this point, it doesn’t matter what the return is. They need cap space and to be rid of the boat anchor #14 has become to his teammates.

    • Bagged Almond Milk

      The worst thing I think I’ve ever seen from him (and there’s been a lot), is Kesler was roughing up McDavid after the whistle last game, and Ebs was right there. He did absolutely nothing. Nothing. Zero, pretended he didn’t see it, just skated by. That alone is grounds for immediate dismissal, not the mention the fact he doesn’t score and is a liability defensively. Right now, he is, at best, a below average defensive NHL player, who can no longer score.

    • Ronr68

      We’ll be lucky to not have to retain salary when we get rid of him. Eberle, like Hall, hasn’t been the same since McDavid got here and stole their thunder. How’s yesterday’s news and a constant reminder of what was wrong with this team 2010-2015. We’ll be a better team without him. He’ll either revive his career elsewhere (ala Schultz) or he’ll be out of the league. One thing’s for sure, he’ll be lucky to get half of what he’s making now.

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    You simply can not be getting scored on on the o’l bench play. That’s nothing short of an embarassment. It’s the NHL for gords sake, not Midget. Smarten up.

    • oilerjed

      there was a NHL Officials link posted on another thread, clearly stating that this play is illegal for exactly the reason it worked. Refs should have blown this dead and called a penalty.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    I was really hoping Eberle would show well in the playoffs. Where’s that World Juniors Legend who could step up his game and produce in the biggest moments? Mr. Clutch. Mr. Always-in-the-right-spot-at-the-right-time. It’s almost like he’s been in a 2.5 year funk. Maybe he’s lost a step and won’t ever be able to regain his elite scoring touch.

    The good news for him is that he still has time to turn it around this year. I don’t think he’s been horrible. He had a nice assist on the Game 2 winner for f’s sake.

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      Come on.

      Just a couple days ago, the general consensus was that the 2nd line (Ebs, Nuge, Lucic) wasn’t scoring but were doing a good job of shutting down the oppositions’ top players. And Pou has been very good on the penalty kill lately.

      Ebs and Pou can be better. They should be based on their pay. But it’s not like they’ve been useless. They helped us get to where we are.

  • MaxBoost

    Wow. This site becomes really depressing after a single loss. Can’t win em all boys this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, not the series against the Flames in the regular season. As far as i’m concerned Looch has been a benefit to the team this post season, and he had a bad game last night. So did Talbot, Russell, Nurse, and a host of others. Jeez guys i dont know about y’all but i’m ready for Wednesday night!!!

    PS I kinda agree on the Ebs comments, but he’s what we have in place for this run. Hopefully he can make a (positive) impact at some point.

  • That's My Point

    Caggiula 0 points; Pouliot 0 points; Eberle 2 assists and -4; Nugent-Hopkins 2 assists. Too many Oilers have to wake up soon or find themselves on the golf course. I’m sure there are players in the Oilers system that will gladly go in the Ducks corners and take some bumps and bruises to WIN the cup. You only get so many chances, so why not play the best you can.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Right now dealing Ebs to Vegas and getting something back plus not having them further plunder us for a player would be a win.

    Sign Iggy to replace him.

  • Spoils

    Some games it doesn’t matter what you do, you just won’t win. They scored a goal off Kesler’s face practically. The Wagner goal, the goal 25 seconds in, here’s hoping the puck luck better balances out next game…

  • M.O.O.G.

    McLellan is the type of coach who demands that his players earn their ice time. That being said Eberle has earned a demotion to the 4th line, or even a night in the press box. Nuge and Lucic may not be racking up a lot of points either but those two bring a lot of other tangibles to the rink every night. When Eberle isn’t scoring he is useless. Maybe if Eberle was a healthy scratch he could spend that time wisely, like trying to find his heart, because it is missing most nights.

  • Thumby

    Mac saying Eberle is ok defensively is grasping for something postitive to say…this is standard management practice…give a compliment along with constructive criticism. Truth of the matter is he’s a 6 million boat anchor right now. He’s a 3 “s” player – small, soft and slow. Now that he cant score, he’s pretty much gone this summer I think…

  • Heschultzhescores

    You know how you get back at Kessler, Getzlaf, and Manson? You WIN the game! You want to hurt them, then beat them on the scoreboard, all the cheap shots won’t be remembered, but a series win and a step closer to The Stanley Cup Will!

  • LordVallko

    I wasn’t thinkin sweep. I was thinking talbot won us game two, Todd should have challenged Anahiems goal #2. Todd should have pulled Talbot after 3 and another year with Todd is a wasted year of McDavid.

    • EthanMoreau'sHands

      So, from 29th and 70 pts to up 2-1 in the second round of the fricken SCP and McLellan has wasted a year of McDavid’s career? You forget to wear your helmet again?

  • RJ

    A couple of points for me:

    1) it’s one game – I for one never expected the Oilers would go 16-0 through the playoffs, and you never expect a sweep. So you remember the good, work on the bad and get ready for the next one.

    2) Eberle – I’ve been critical of him over the past two+ years. Commentators want to mention his outlier season as proof he’s elite, but he’s been in steady decline points-wise for years. Players have to continue to evolve if they’re going to improve. A few of us have pointed out Eberle can’t fire a one-timer. If he could, then he would have killed with McD on the PP, like Letestu has done.

    3) Lucic – he’s been one of those UFAs who got signed on reputation, rather than his level of play. Great for him, his family and his agent. Not so great for the Oil. It bears repeating when he was traded by Boston, fans weren’t upset because the steamroller who demolished the Canucks hasn’t been around since he got his ring. He has the tools to play that way, but he doesn’t, for the most part. If you’re not signing him for production and he’s not performing as a steamroller, what does he bring?

    4) Nuge – when he was the #1C, he got the best opportunities to score and the most talented offensive wingers. Now that spot goes to McDavid. So it’s unrealistic to expect him to produce like he did when he was the only centre of note on the team. Outside of Yak, he was the lowest scoring forward among #1OVs in recent years. He’s not a bust, but he’s not an elite C either. If Canada goes to the Olympics (doubtful but humour me) would anyone here really be surprised if he doesn’t make Team Canada? To put it another way, if he did get picked, then wouldn’t that be a surprise for most Canadian hockey fans? Appreciate he’s better than average defensively, he is not going to put up a ton of points, and he’s brutal at faceoffs. It would be nice to see a sudden leap in his quality of play, but I’m not holding my breath.

      • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

        Do you really want someone to reply telling you Crosby, Bergeron, Toews, Getzlaf, Giroux, etc. are better than Nuge and that’s why he wouldn’t be an Olympian? Is that supposed to be surprising to anyone at all?

        Nuge is a good player. He isn’t on Crosby or McDavid’s level. Give him a break and let him keep working. He’s 24 and still has room to get better.

  • Alberta Ice

    Game 4 will be another test of reality for the Oil. And the goal tending probably will be the difference. We trust that was Talbot’s worst game of this series.

  • Oilerz4life

    OK Eberle needs to be better, but that loss isn’t on Ebs. One loss and it’s straight back to whipping boy syndrome. This happens every, single, time. Ebs will get traded and you’ll all single out somebody else.
    Edmonton loves it’s scapegoats.

  • Ol_OneNut

    Jason, the play the Ducks used to score their first goal on Sunday is well know to the officials. They call it the ‘magic door’ and it is an illegal play and a too many men on the ice penalty should have been called. Any thoughts on this.