That was painful. Absolutely painful. The Oilers were riding a three-game
losing winning streak and had a game against the hapless Buffalo Sabres at home. The table was set for the Oilers to continue their streak and possibly make some noise in the standings prior to the trade deadline.
But if you believe in this team, you’re going to look like a fool. The Oilers got picked apart by a team that only had nine regulation wins and a putrid -58 goal differential heading into the game. I’ll say it again — that was painful.
From an Oiler perspective, there weren’t any highlights in that game. When you lose 5-0 to the borderline-AHL-calibre Buffalo Sabres, you didn’t do anything worth mentioning. Instead, here are some highlights from the #HereComeTheOilers hashtag on Twitter last night. It’s a lot more suitable.
Let’s check in on the Oilers. pic.twitter.com/8KPrPT57py— Travis Yost (@travisyost) January 24, 2018
The Oilers on the power play pic.twitter.com/stCFDW5YVj— Cam Lewis (@cooom) January 24, 2018
The numbers don’t look good for Edmonton in this game, but honestly, they’re a little generous given that performance. The Oilers looked sluggish in the first, and then reached a new low when Buffalo scored a power play goal to take a 1-0 lead. Edmonton didn’t have a single high danger chance at even strength in the first period. Buffalo exploded for four goals in the second period, two of which were on the power play. All told, Edmonton had 62 even strength shot attempts to Buffalo’s 42. But, again, it doesn’t matter if your penalty kill operates at, like, a 50 per cent rate. All you have to do is get this team in the box a few times and you’re bound to score a couple of goals.
- Let’s start with some positives. Uhhh…. The third line was pretty solid. They were easily the best trio. Ryan Strome, JJ Khaira, and Anton Slepyshev, who made his return to the lineup, played with a lot of energy and dominated Buffalo in shots when they were on the ice. Al Montoya was also solid in relief. Otherwise? I’m struggling to think of anything.
- The penalty kill was amazingly bad last night. The Sabres aren’t even good on the power play, currently sitting in 26th in the league in power play efficiency, but they managed to score three goals on four opportunities. Like I said above, Edmonton was OK at even strength. I mean, they didn’t get a hell of a lot of high danger chances on Robin Lehner, but they controlled possession at a decent clip. But it doesn’t matter at all when a team like Buffalo can unload for three power play goals just like that. Sticking with special teams, Edmonton’s power play was also shockingly useless. For a team with high-end skill in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl plus a big, expensive pest like Milan Lucic to stand in front of the net, it really shouldn’t be this hard to score on a power play. But they can’t even get the puck into the zone properly let alone put together an effective set up.
- How much leash does Peter Chiarelli have at this point? I get that you have to blame the players to some capacity, in that a lot of guys are underperforming expectations, but the guy building the deeply flawed, inadequate roster is certainly the one at the top of the list of blame. The Oilers just look like death out there. They’re slow and effortless a lot of the time, they struggle to generate high-quality offence despite their good possession numbers, and their blueline doesn’t excel in starting the play from the Oilers’ zone or stopping the other team from working in the offensive zone. It’s amazing that, after giving up so many high quality assets from a position of strength to fill an area of need, both areas are still inadequate. Chiarelli has pissed away a lot of talent in his two-and-a-half years at the helm, and, at this point, can you trust him to pull the trigger on another deal?
Here come the Oilers pic.twitter.com/XtfzIizcXc— Stats Canada (@stats_canada) January 24, 2018