Before the game against Philly, I was optimistic about the Oilers. They had won three of their last four and were heading into a game against a struggling Flyers team. This was going to be the streak they needed, I just had a feeling.
Now, I look at a team that came out flat in a very winnable game and my optimism has disappeared. They’ve lost two of their last three and now go on the road to face a red-hot Canadiens team and a highly skilled Leafs squad in back-to-backs. It’s not getting easy and given their play against the Eastern Conference this year, there’s little reason to believe they’ll find success on the upcoming three-game road trip.
I don’t want to look ahead though, I want to reflect on the last three games and find somewhere to place the blame. They had a chance to put together a winning streak and they blew it, so I want to point fingers.
Low hanging fruit? Maybe, but the reality is that Brossoit’s performances have been frustrating, to say the least.
Against Toronto, he made some huge saves but when you look back at that game you can find more than one instance where he allows a goal that had no business getting past him. The frustrating part is that you can also find multiple instances where he made remarkable saves that kept them in that game. But in the end, you look back and see the weak ones and can’t help but think that if kept just one more of those out of the net, they grab at least one point.
Of course, the debacle that was the third period against Calgary has been dissected to no end but the theme was similar.
Then we can look at last night vs Philadelphia. Brossoit made some solid saves, some at key moments but still, he gifted the Flyers a goal late. If LB could have avoided the softie, then once again, we could have seen the Oilers bring the game to overtime.
Brossoit hasn’t been the only Oiler guilty of making one critical error in each of the past games. The man who wears #4 has been playing some of the best hockey of the season as of late, but he’s also made three brutal mistakes that have cost the Oilers goals in close games.
Of course, the own-goal vs Toronto has been beaten to death, but the reality is that contributed to the Oilers not getting at least a point.
Against Calgary, he blew a tire and allowed the Flames to continue their rapid comeback. Then against Philly, he made a more subtle but just as impactful error when he made an errant pass at the offensive zone blue line that the Flyers capitalized on. The Oilers essentially lost by one goal, just like against Toronto and it’s hard not to remember the big mistake by Russell.
While the powerplay is only 0/4 over their last two losses, I’m less concerned about the overall percentage than I am about the execution and timing.
Against Toronto, they missed back-to-back powerplays when they were down by a goal in the second period. Now, they did come back and eventually tie the game you can still point to those two missed PP opportunities as great chances to gain momentum and take control of the game, and they couldn’t get it done.
Against Philadelphia, their powerplay couldn’t get a result at a prime spot in the game. With less than five minutes to go, in a one-goal, you need to find a way to get one especially when you roll out a power play with the firepower that the Oilers have.
The lacklustre play with the man-advantage is puzzling because this was a unit that did win them games last season and it’s more or less the same five-man unit on the ice. Do they need a shake-up? Time to play through this? Who knows, but the reality is it’s costed them hockey games.
Those are just a few of the things that have hurt the Oilers recently, but the thing is that they’ve made multiple mistakes that have cost them in what have essentially been one-goal losses.
If they could have figured out the powerplay or avoided the bone-headed mistakes, then they likely would have grabbed points in their last two losses. That gives me a little bit of hope going forward simply because of the fact that there are multiple factors costing them games.
The point of me writing this was not to place the blame or point my finger, solely at Brossoit, Russell or the powerplay.
My point was, and I know that sounds a little off, if they could solve just one of the above issues (bad giveaways, weak goals or the powerplay) then they’ll put themselves in spots to win games and that’s encouraging to me. They don’t need to solve all their problems to start winning. They are proving that they can stay in games without playing perfect, or even good for that matter, and that’s the sign of a team that’s honestly better than their showing.