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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers 4, Flames 3 post-game Oil Spills: The Battle of Alberta gives us life

The season hasn’t gone as anybody planned. It’s late January and the Oilers are very far from a playoff spot. Watching the games can be incredibly frustrating at times, but last night, the Oilers gave us some life with a wild come-from-behind double victory in the shootout over the Flames. As bad as the season is, beating Calgary will help cure ills.

Highlights

The Oilers were down 2-0 after the first period, but got themselves back into it when Brandon Davidson pinched in and picked up a puck that Jesse Puljujarvi fanned on and fired it between David Rittich’s pads. This was an ugly one, but you need to be lucky to be good. Getting pucks on net is a good thing.

Just a minute later, Zack Kassian feed Leon Draisaitl in the high slot. Draisaitl shoots, rings one off the post, but Kassian in right there to slam in the rebound. It was his first goal since Dec. 12. That must’ve felt nice.

In the third period, Davidson gave the Oilers the lead with his second of the game. Ryan Strome picked up the puck behind the net and fed Davidson in the high slot who quickly buried a clapper past a screened Rittich. Oscar Klefbom wanted the one-timer, but Davidson had the hot hand and ripped home a perfect shot.

I really can’t figure out what the NHL was thinking here. Connor McDavid streaks his way up the ice and cuts through Calgary’s defenders, is stopped by Mike Smith, but Ryan Strome crashes the net and buries the rebound.

Game over. Oilers win. The crowd goes wild. What a moment. But wait!

After David Rittich leaves the net assuming the game is over and the Oilers clear the bench to celebrate, the refs go upstairs to see if there was goalie interference on the play. They determine that McDavid’s tap of Rittich’s pad/stick was enough interference to reverse the call.

Uhhh…… That’s so bad there aren’t even words for how bad it is. Obviously it’s maddening from an Oilers fan perspective, but the NHL needlessly took away a great moment in a game for a scant interference call that was very clearly just incidental contact. I mean, you could easily argue Rittich initiated contact with his stick.

The game eventually goes to a shootout and Connor McDavid puts the Oilers ahead in the third round with a gorgeous backhand deke past Rittich. After that, he mockingly tells the ref to go check upstairs to make sure there wasn’t any interference. The ref assessed McDavid a 10-minute “abuse of officials” penalty.

*Ahem* Auston Matthews didn’t get a 10-minute penalty for his goal call the other day after his goal was disallowed.

By the numbers

The shot attempts at even strength were split right down the middle, with the Flames and Oilers each getting 44 pucks directed on net. In all situations, the shots were deadlocked at 37. But, as the heat map suggests, the Oilers were peppered by the Flames in terms of quality chances in front of the net, with Calgary getting 17 high danger chances and Edmonton getting just six. One thing the Oilers did really well was stop the Flames on all four of their power play opportunities, which is something they haven’t been able to do all season.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Thoughts…

  • I’ll start this on a positive note by saying that beating the Flames is always, and always will be, an excellent thing. Even in a season when virtually everything has gone wrong, the fanbases is at each other’s throats on who to blame, and the games at times can be un-watchable, a game like that can make you forget about the big picture for a few glorious minutes. The Oilers are now 3-0 against the Flames this season, they were 4-0 against them last season, and they haven’t lost to them since April 2, 2016.
  • The Oilers didn’t play a perfect game by any stretch, but they showed a lot of resilience last night. They battled back after being down 2-0. They didn’t get dejected after they gave up the 3-2 lead in the third period. And, most impressive of all, they managed to win again after having a win taken away from them in overtime. There was a lot to like about this effort. I won’t say that it’s going to turn anything around because too many times this season have I been fooled into thinking a great effort is the start of something with this group. Regardless, that was a damn good and enjoyable game, and we needed it.
  • The overtime goal being taken away is garbage in itself because it was the completely wrong call and it wasn’t necessary by any stretch, we’ve been over that already, but I feel particularly bad for Ryan Strome. He had himself one of his best games as an Oiler and should have come out of that game with three points and a game-winner. It hasn’t been an easy season for Strome, who had big shoes to fill being the return in a one-for-one deal, and he was robbed of, in my opinion, his biggest goal as an Oiler.
  • The NHL needs to do some soul searching about these terrible replays. The offside replays where some guy not involved in the play has his foot slightly over the line being the reason for a goal being overturned is terrible. These scant interference calls in which the refs go upstairs and the war room looks for a reason to take back a goal is terrible too. The league needs more excitement. It doesn’t necessarily need more goals, but it needs more exciting moments. Last night’s overtime win was one. A wild back-and-forth battle between the Oilers and the Flames ended in overtime? That was a great moment, and it was completely erased because the NHL isn’t totally sure what constitutes as interference. I mean, hell, where was that against Anaheim last spring?
  • Redbird62

    Can someone explain why Rule 69.7 did not apply. ” In a rebound situation, or where a goalkeeper and attacking player(s) are simultaneously attempting to play a loose puck, whether inside or outside the crease, incidental contact with the goalkeeper will be permitted, and any goal that is scored as a result thereof will be allowed.” It was both a rebound situation and incidental contact.

    • Cam Lewis

      This is what perplexes me the most. It seems Rittich interfered with McDavid on the play, and, if anything, they should have just viewed it as incidental contact. There’s just no rhyme or reason as to what they’re calling with these goaltender interference reviews. It’s like a coin flip.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          You know, “here is iron in those words.”
          I always said that hockey is great, because it can’t be fixed, like say, baseball… But the last few years, I’m not so sure…
          Bettman is trying to keep all the owners happy..
          You know, if we stopped going to games & Katz started losing money on this team, maybe we’d win a cup or someth………..
          Oh, forget that thought,… We’d just be moved out to a southern beach somewhere….. I take that back…..

  • Johnny Zylon

    Top Ten Reasons NHL Command Center Gets Things Wrong:
    10: Music was too loud in the bar so they couldn’t think straight.
    9: The dog ate the rule book so they weren’t sure what to do.
    8: Cuz they can do what they want, so there!
    7. The screen on the iPhone was so scratched they couldn’t see.
    6. Spilled a full rye & coke and was just too mad to care.
    5. Bettman threatened their jobs if they used logic.
    4. Left the iPhone on the bar while in the bathroom and the bartender made the call.
    3. Hey, we were pretty drunk at the time.
    2. The rule is clear: No Canadian teams can win.
    1. The stripper told us she cheered for the other team. Wink, wink!

    ok…sort of pathetic…somebody else try?

    Oiler Domination to follow.

  • GK1980

    What gives Las Vegas “life”? What drives them to play hard ALL GAME EVERY GAME? What drives them? What can get the Oilers to be driven? Talbot says to look at the standings but is that even enough?

    • Big Nuggets

      every player on Vegas had an axe to grind thus season for getting left available in the expansion draft. They had the underdog narrative from the start. Oilers have a different narrative, they need to implement a standard of excellence and have enough pride to put in the effort every game. That hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully next season

  • GK1980

    “These scant interference calls in which the refs go upstairs and the war room looks for a reason to take back a goal is terrible too.” Most of the time it’s the coaches going requesting a look upstairs lately, not the refs.

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    I’m happy McDavid chirped the officials! About time! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sick and tired of the abuse he takes with the awful/ or non calls he gets from these Neanderthals , I can only imagine how mad he is….

    Also how can clinging to a goalie’s leg like a koala on a tree during a hurricane (in a playoff game with so much on the line) be no interference, but the garbage yesterday is (and enough to overturn the good goal call on the ice)……the NHL and its incompetent officiating is ruining the game to new levels

    • geoilersgist

      This! I am actually happy he has finally voiced his displeasure. He constantly is being hacked and slashed and does/says nothing. He may say something behind closed doors, but it is nice to know he is as frustrated as the fans are. I had zero issue last spring when Drai gave whoever it was a little stick to the twigs and berries. This team needs more of this emotion all the time.

      • nijames

        The Oilers have a decent last 10 game record being 5 – 5 as good as we can expect from this group. Its very clear though that playoffs are done as during that time they lost ground in the standings on every team sitting in a playoff spot right now. Sad to say just playing out the string now 3 point games dont help teams on the outside trying to get in the playoffs. Always next year for us. Very sad

    • Hemmercules

      I was going to say this same thing. How many times this season have they had that game where you tell yourself “maybe they turned the corner now and they are ready to play” only to lay an egg shortly after. Always feels good to beat the Shames but I wasn’t jumping for joy like I usually do.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      You know, I really liked that column that Kerry Fraser used to write on TSN, were fans could write in their questions on calls in recent games…
      It was quite an education… Probably because Fraser (for the most part) was respected by the Canadian Fan-base…

  • The Whispererer

    Loved seeing Connor giving the ref the gears after the terrible non-goal decision along with his mocking gesture following his shootout goal. It’s about time somebody blew his top over the treatment he’s been receiving. As a corollary, when is robot Mclellan going to show some emotion in his post game interviews ? One solid roasting of the reffing might cost him 10 grand but would earn him a ton of cred and respect in the locker room.

  • Derian Hatcher

    I miss the refs who would actually have a conversation with players and be less demonstrative. Most of these guys now are waving their arms and pointing to the box with aggression. NO ONE IS HERE TO SEE YOU! And that goes for the linesmen as well. Drop the frigging puck! While I’m at it, if both linesmen cannot come into a fight at the same time, let it go. I realize kass fell down, but he was up in an instant. – one linesmen jumped in and the other didn’t – I know it’s a tough job but come on –

    Stauffer is right – the refs can’t keep up with McDavid – so they can’t see what is going on – just guessing like the “war room” in Toronto. Ray Ferarro’s tweet was bang-on.

    The NHL has some serious issues with this and old school guys like Colin Campbell and whoever is making these ridiculous decisions – they need to be shown the door. You’ve had your time – move on – the game has passed you by.

    End of rant.

  • Oiler Al

    Was a fun game to watch after Talbot changed his underwear. Would hope that Burger Bob, and other team Heavies take up the cause with Bettman or Daly on the calls being made by the Refs. The game is getting faster and these incompetent loogans cannot process the game.McLellam should have been throwing sticks on the ice, but he is about as passionate as a frozen horse turd. It shows same in his coaching.Don’t get me started on Woocrap.

    • Fire Woodcroft!

      Mar 23 2017 against Colorado.

      Since then there have been 15 times where Oilers lost a Coaches Challenge, or a Situation Room review of a call-on-the-ice against the Oilers favour was not overturned.

      There have been 5 times in that time span where a Situation Room review of a call in the Oilers favour upheld the call. (i.e. Checks to see goal crossed the line, that sort of thing.)

      But it’s safe to say that it’s now fifteen times in a row that the Oilers have lost a Coaches a Challenge or had an on-ice ruling overturned in their favour.

      I listed them all in the comments in Brownlee’s ‘Get A Clue’ column.

      • Fire Woodcroft!

        Just to be clear – the last fifteen times the Oilers have been involved with a Coaches Challenge, or had an on-ice call overturned in their game after a video review, it has gone against Edmonton.

        That is statistically improbable given the law of averages.