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Photo Credit: © Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers 7, Blue Jackets 2 post-game Oil Spills: More of this, please

The Oilers have played well in back-to-back-to-back games now, highlighted by a thrashing of the Metro-leading Blue Jackets in their home arena. Are things finally turning around?

Highlights

The Oilers opened up the scoring just a few minutes into the game off of some excellent work from the fourth line. Anton Slepyshev finished his check on the forecheck, Mark letestu did a good job keeping the puck in, and then Slepyshev and Letestu did a quick give-and-go before Letestu found Zack kassian waiting in a perfect spot beside the net. There was an impressive combo of grit, skill, and patience on this play from the fourth line.

The Oilers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second period on a power play goal from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Matt Benning got a puck on net from the point, it bounced out to Mike Cammalleri who made an incredible fake-shot-pass to Nuge who fired a rocket into the yawning cage. Beyond the obvious gorgeous pass and finish on this play, I liked how Benning simply got a puck on net, which was something the Oilers were failing to do in the game against Toronto.

Another example of how getting the puck on net is a good thing… Connor McDavid rushed the puck up the ice, lost it in the offensive zone, and Benning fired a low wrister that fooled Sergei Bobrovsky and found its way into the back of the net.

The Oilers converted on their second power play goal late in the second period. Leon Draisaitl picked up the puck on the backcheck at Edmonton’s net and feathered a saucer pass up to Connor McDavid in stride. He worked his way into the zone slowly and hit Milan Lucic at the perfect time for an easy tap in. This isn’t exactly your standard power play goal, but it was a nicely executed play nonetheless.

Right before the end of the second period, Mark Letestu intercepted a pass on the penalty kill and busted down the ice in a race against the clock, burying the team’s fifth goal of the game past Bobrovsky at the last possible moment. This goal was the dagger for Bobrovsky and it resulted in John Tortorella having to make a mid-game goalie switch for the first time all season.

Hey look, the guys are having a good time on the bench! This is always a good sign.

I’m sure this one felt really good for Puljujarvi. Remember when the Blue Jackets passed up on him at the 2016 draft? He played a pretty strong game last night, using his body to battle to the net. He buried the sixth goal of the game after outworking Columbus’ defender and making a skilled play to shoot the puck while falling.

Soon after, Puljujarvi returned the favour to McDavid, feeding the a nice pass to the captain for an easy tap-in goal to make it 7-2.

By the numbers

It was an evenly contested game in the first period, but the Oilers broke out in the second. They had 16 shot attempts to Columbus’ 11, and they managed 11 even strength shots on goals while the Blue Jackets were only able to get four on net. In the third, Columbus battled back for a while, but the Oilers smothered them and put their foot back on the gas. All told, the shot attempts at even strength were close, 51 to 45 for Columbus, but the Oilers did a better job of getting the shots on goal, leading 28 to 26 in even strength shots. They also had eight even strength high danger chances throughout the game while the Blue Jackets have five.

Thoughts…

  • The Oilers have played three good games in a row since Todd McLellan barked at them after that terrible effort against the Flyers. They pounded Montreal on Saturday, thoroughly outplayed Toronto on Sunday but came up short because of poor puck luck, and played a very good game against Columbus last night. I think the Blue Jackets game was easily the most impressive because Columbus is a good team. They don’t get knocked around like that, especially at home, but Edmonton smothered their offence, made easy work of their defence, and matched them physically. The Oilers looked last night like the multidimensional, high energy team from last season we expected them to be this year.
  • If the Oilers are going to climb back into the playoffs, it’s going to come off of a god-like run from Connor McDavid. The reality is the team has dug a big hole and it there isn’t much room for error down the stretch. So when there’s games that the goalie isn’t good or the team is tired, the MVP is going to have to put the team on his back and make magic happen. Last night was one of those MVP games. Though the rest of the team was good on its own merit, McDavid was flying around the ice, not only creating chances and driving offence, but playing responsibility in his own zone.
  • I liked Jesse Puljujarvi’s game last night. I feel he’s the perfect winger alongside McDavid because he’s got a rare combination of size, skill, and speed. He goes to the net and can handle passes in traffic, which is something many wingers have struggled to do when playing on the team’s top line. It was also nice for Pool Party to have a good showing in front of the Blue Jackets to remind them they messed up at the draft in 2016. I’m sure that’s a confidence booster for the young Finn.
  • Laurent Brossoit played a solid game last night. During the last three games, Brossoit has posted a .934 save percentage in all situations. He’s been good enough for the Oilers to win, which is all you can ask for from your backup during a stretch like this. I think he’s proved a lot of doubters wrong on this stretch.
  • Overall, the team has just looked different the last few games. I find it’s a major key for the Oilers to score first because they look a lot better protecting a lead than they do chasing the other team. But, in general, the team has looked a lot more confident and energetic. I’m not sure if it’s McLellan yelling at them after the Flyers game, finding the right combinations on the lines, Brandon Davidson as a waiver claim injecting life into the room, or if they’re naturally regressing to the norm after a poor start in which they had good underlying numbers. There are plenty of theories, but whatever it is, the team proved on this road trip they’re still good, now they just need to keep it rolling over a prolonged period of time.

Source: NHL.com, Official Game Page, 12/12/2017, 7:30pm MST

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    Puljujarvi the Pizza boy is looking like he’s finally settling into the NHL. That goal of his was hard fought, and his assist to McDavid was perfect.

    • Lausbube

      Funny how many people were writing this kid off as a bust. I had that feeling that he was going to follow Drai’s lead coming out of the AHL with mediocre numbers and impress at the NHL. Glad he is here is stay!

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      Can you imagine if all of the pain and despair inflicted upon readers of the comment section was because of a common illness and THIS is your team going forward? A 7-2 against Columbus kind of team?

      Yes, Hemmercules, that is something we should all consider.

      • Hemmercules

        Something was definitely up in the early goings. Weather it was the Flu, an internal problem in the room, buying into their own hype or a combination of those, something was amiss.

        Last season when they got scored on in a crappy way or at a bad time they often bounced back quickly without that “woe is me” moment. This season that confidence just hasn’t been there until recently. I don’t think they can maintain what they did last night for 50 more games but anything close to that effort will keep them in the hunt for the wild card at least.

        • BringtheFire 2.0

          There was also talk about locker room problems, but Nurse was referred to as; “happy” by one of the commentators during the game. I think that’s encouraging. And maybe in part due to Cammy’s presence. He’s been in a lot of locker rooms with a lot of egos in his career.

  • CMG30

    LB has proven that he can backstop a team when they’re scoring 5 + goals per night. We all know that he has the talent to be an NHL goaltender but his still has yet to eliminate that 1 soft goal per game. In a tight game, that’s going to be the difference. Getting rid of that soft goal will come but only with practice. We need Talbot back ASAP. Once back, I wouldn’t object to LB going down for a conditioning stint just to get more playing time to push his game to the final level.

    • Jordan88

      The problem with that line of thinking is you don’t face NHLer’s when you’re down in Bakersfield.
      Up here he travels with the team, practices with the team, and learns from Talbot and other players.

      You think its easy in practice to stop set plays from McDavid and Drai working on their 3 on 3 mojo?

    • FISTO Siltanen

      Dubnyk had a great year in 2013 (the season leading up to MacT’s famous remarks) but the one criticism was the lone weak goal.

      It’s fixable. Glad LB is settling in now.

    • Jonny vdv

      I don’t know that him playing at the AHL level is really going to improve his game, even with more ice time. I would rather see him get a few more starts in Edmonton once Talbot is back.

  • Vanoil

    Very good outing from all four lines and 3 D pairs, which let LB relax a bit, however those two goals against were SOFT. Sorry LB but you need to keep focus on EVERY shot if you want to make it in this league. You can do it, just bear down.

  • OilersBro

    Dubinsky messed with the bull and got the horns. Homeboy thought he could take runs at Draisaitl and Strome, drop his gloves first, and take Kassian. Sidney Crosby must have loved watching that.

  • camdog

    Oilers lead league in fighting majors. They aren’t really a team to start running when the game is out of hand. Maybe Dubinsky should change his game aka stop running the other teams skilled players.

    • MessyEH!

      With Lucic, Nurse,Kassian,Gryba and the recent showing by Jarjar the Oil have functional toughness in spades.

      I’m not seeing to many players slink away from the scrums.

  • Muddy

    Mentioned it on the last post but Connor didn’t look right for most of the starting games, maybe that flu or an injury. I thought the biggest thing about last night and Montreal was the confidence they gained when they were up by a few goals. Good teams start games with that confidence but Edmonton only seems to find it after potting a few. I can’t imagine how on fire we would be if we could start games like we ended the last one. The one guy that I notice gets hot in both ends when we are up is Drai. He was an absolute beast last night and his play in his own end was the best I’ve seen all season. The Oilers have been a team with short term memory loss, lets hope they can remember last night and bring that to the rink against the Preds at the START of the first period.