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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Major mistakes are costing Oilers

It is difficult to win in the NHL at the best of times, but it is almost impossible to win when you continually gift wrap glorious scoring chances for your opponents. Right now the Oilers are their own worst enemy.

The Oilers aren’t losing due to a lack of talent. They have enough skill to compete, but not enough talent to overcome the hideous mistakes they’ve been making.

Bad reads.
Ill-advised pinching.
A porous penalty kill.
Sub-par goaltending.
Inability to score from in close.

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They allowed a goal 20 seconds into last night’s 5-3 loss to Carolina. Oscar Klefbom elected to pinch, even though the Oilers had three forwards deep in the offensive zone. It led to a two-on-one for the Hurricanes and Teuvo Teravainen ripped a shot off the post and in.

“I was over excited. You want to do almost too much. We’ve been losing some games and you get excited wanting to make a play, but I can’t do that, especially on the first shift,” explained Klefbom post-game.

Klefbom and his partner Adam Larsson are the Oilers top pairing. They should be the reliable duo, but Larsson has been on for eight goals against the past two games and Klefbom’s been on for seven.

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“It is tough to win when your top pair is on the ice for four goals against. We have to be better,” Larsson said bluntly.

The Oilers top pair have struggled much more than the second and third pairings, and McLellan split them up after the first period last night. The Chicago Blackhawks play St.Louis tonight and Todd McLellan and his staff will watch the game and discuss pairings for Thursday when Matt Benning is expected to return to the lineup.

I could see him going with the same three pairs we saw on opening night, and simply challenge Klefbom and Larsson to play to their capabilities.

When the Oilers were down 1-0, they took a too-many-men on the ice penalty. Zack Kassian was the culprit and he only played 1:30 in the first period, and a total of 3:44 in the game.

Then Patrick Maroon let his emotions get the best of him. He was taken down, didn’t get a call, and then retaliated and the Oilers were back on the PK only 4:08 into the game. The Hurricanes scored and were up 2-0, due to a bad pinch and two dumb penalties.

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“I was frustrated and took a stupid penalty,” Maroon said this morning. “We just have to find ways to limit the mistakes that are costing us,” he continued.

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Unlike the Ottawa game, I thought the Oilers did a lot of good things. They battled back in the third and made it 4-3 and then Maroon had a breakaway from centre. Cam Ward stoned him and a few minutes later the highly-talented Jaccob Slavin scored to give the Hurricanes a 5-3 lead.

“We did a lot of good thing last night, but we also gave up too many triple A chances. We discussed the penalties we are taking, because they aren’t acceptable, especially the way our penalty killing is going. We had a lot of positives to show the players. We were significantly better last night from Saturday, but the quality of chances and the way the chances happen needs to get cleaned up, ” said McLellan.

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ONLY WAY IS UP

Oct 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot (33) makes a save against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period at Rogers Place. Winnipeg Jets won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

I’d be pretty confident in saying the Oilers won’t have a four-game streak with a sv% of .897, .894, .806 and .762 again this season. They’ve allowed 19 goals on 121 shots over four games. Ouch. There is no arguing the goalies need to make more saves, and the Captain Obvious statement is Cam Talbot needs to play better, but the team defence needs to improve. They must cut down the egregious errors, and Talbot and Brossoit need to make more stops.

The Oilers PK has hit the skids. They’ve allowed eight PP goals in three games on only 14 penalties. They are 68.2% on the season. Terrible. It will improve, but this bad of a start will likely impact their ranking all season. Last year the Chicago Blackhawks gave up 15 powerplay goals in their first eight games on 30 penalty killing situations. They were a horrendous 50% through eight games. In their final 74 games they gave up 32 goals on 181 kills for 82.3%. The 10th best PK in the NHL was 82.5%, but the Hawks’ horrible start had them finish 24th overall on the season. The Oilers PK will improve somewhat, but they need to tighten up their lanes quickly and get some saves.

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Leon Draisaitl and Drake Caggiula skated this morning, along with Andrej Sekera and Tyler Benson. All four moved around nicely. Draisaitl and Caggiula are going on the road trip, but according to McLellan they won’t be available tomorrow in Chicago. They are looking at Saturday in Philly or next Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Sekera is only five-months post surgery. He skated well, but there was no contact, or lateral stops and starts. It is a good sign he is skating, but you’d think he’ll be out at least another month (he had surgery on May 18th). Benson looked good also, and he’s currently on the non-roster IR. Once he is 100% they will send him back to the WHL, but rumours are swirling he won’t be long in Vancouver. The Regina Pats host the Memorial Cup and right now they are the fourth best team in their division behind Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Brandon. Regina will try and load up and everyone I talk to associated with the WHL believes Benson will be on the move at some point.

The forwards, including Connor McDavid need to be better. It isn’t good enough to just get shots on goal, you need to bury some chances. If a D-man is in the right position, but doesn’t tie up his man and he scores then he isn’t completing his job. The forwards are creating chances, and a fair amount are coming from in close, but nine goals in five games from the forwards is not good enough. Last game was an improvement, but they need to fight through the low-confidence and find ways to score. They can’t just wait until their luck changes, they have to make it change.

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  • TruthHurts98

    It can’t get any worse can it? We have a significantly better roster than the teams in the decade of despair. Hopefully the goalies can start making some saves and we get some lucky bounces. Something!

  • JimLaheyTrailerParkSupervisor

    can we please petition to have drew remenda removed from calling the game, he likes to stroke the other teams stick any chance he gets

  • Hemmercules

    Team is averaging around 40 shots a game so the goals will come. They need to increase the net presence a bit. I see Lucic there on the PP but they are lacking a man out front a lot of the time. Pucks flying through that area a lot and nobody there to bang one in. I didn’t think not having Sekera was going to hurt this bad but they need him if even just for the minutes he eats up. Talbot obviously needs to get into form quicklike before this gets any worse.

    Is it just me or do the Oil get scored on on breakaways waaayyyy more often than saving it??

  • madjam

    Gryba 16 PIM.’s , Kassian 13 PIM , Lucic 9PIM , Maroon 6PIM . The top 2 also try and do penalty kill . With a young and porous defence to start the season , and equally porous goal tending , we are probably lucky not be 0-5 .

  • EastVanOilFan

    Goalies are slumping, that’s something that they will just work out of their game. It’s unfortunate it’s happening right from the get go. The key is for those guys not to panic build shift from shift, gain momentum, and take what you can from those losses. Everyone knows Talbot played exceptionally well last year and that was a big reason to our success. Our Defence needs an upgrade yes but they also need more time to work out kinks and gain consistency. Talbot will return to form, and bolster this team with confidence, a division title may not happen, but I’ve still got us penciled in to a play off spot.

  • FlamesFan27

    Yes, there have been a lot of bad plays. But the difference from last year is Talbot; his play last year was outstanding, and he covered up many mistakes. Have the Oilers commentators said anything this year along the lines of “Talbot stoned him” (like the point in this article “Cam Ward stored him”)? That breakaway save was critical in the game last night, and this type of save hasn’t happened yet for the Oilers.

    I can empathize with the Oilers fans because it’s exactly why Calgary was poor at the start of the year as well as the playoffs last year.

  • smiliegirl15

    Being at the game last night, they didn’t look like they were really into the game a lot of the time. There were some good points, when they brought up their score to 4-3 but that was it. They made a game of it but their PP looked like a PK and they were passing the puck around in their own end like a hot potato no one wanted. So many times they lost possession because they weren’t trying to control the play, just get rid of the puck.