Thank you, Connor. Final Score: 4-2 Oilers
After I posted the GDB this morning, I spent about 10 minutes just staring at my screen, the Oilers’ schedule, and off into space. I was trying to wrap my head around how this season went so wrong when everyone expected it to go so right. You can point to holes in the roster, or how some of the trades have been a downgrade in skill, but I don’t think that anyone would have expected things to go this badly in so many different ways. I know I’ve said that a few times lately, but I can’t shake the thought. It seems like anything that could go wrong does go wrong, and it’s happening only one season after the Oilers had everything go right for them. I guess, the Hockey Gords can be as cruel as they can be kind. I don’t have an answer as to how we end this curse, but maybe a win will be a step in the right direction.
As for today’s game, I wanted to start off slow and had my eyes set on making it through the first shot on net, getting through the first five minutes without a goal against and seeing where things went from there. Small goals and small wins, that’s what I was after. While the Oilers were able to summon the strength to get through the first shot on net without allowing a goal, they couldn’t get past the second and the Oilers found themselves in a familiar position and down by a goal before the game was even five minutes old. Clearly, it’s a proud tradition and who am I to question tradition. In a similar fashion to yesterday’s game, the Oilers were able to settle into the game after another dreadful start, with the obvious difference being that they were able to score some goals to cover up for their mistakes. Of course, it helps a tonne when Connor McDavid throws the team on his back and personally puts three goals up on the board.
Sometimes I shudder to think what this team would look like without him, but on this day, I’m just happy he’s here. Thanks for saving us from another loss, Connor. And thank you for saving me from back-to-back beets.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- After going pointless in his last two games, I knew that the McPoints would start to come again soon and I was happy to see it happen today with a pair of game-tying goals and an empty netter to complete the hat trick. Like I’ve been saying, aside from winning another draft lottery one of the only things left to be excited about this season is for Connor to win the points race. Would you bet against him?
- Ryan Strome gave the Oilers the lead late in the third period after he got absolutely robbed on what looked like a gimme, earlier on in the frame. The second time around, Strome was able to snap the wrist shot through traffic and past Varlamov to break his 21-game goalless streak and give the Oilers a win. Strome played well today and it was a big plus to see him cash in on one of his many chances. Your move, Looch.
- Leon Draisaitl had one of his better games in a while as he was able to get back to protecting the puck and distributing it with ease. Leon collected two assists on the afternoon and was a big part of the comeback and eventual win.
- Part of me was half expecting the Oilers to play Cam Talbot again despite the numbers showing that back-to-back starts don’t work as well and, as it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. Clearly, Montoya is still not feeling right after taking a puck to the head in practice, and I guess Brossoit wasn’t an option either but he was still the backup today. Either way, Talbot was fired up after yesterday’s loss and I was curious to see how he would handle the back-to-back starts. After allowing a goal on the second shot, I wasn’t feeling so great, but he did manage to settle down and make some big saves as the game went on. Despite another early goal, Talbot had a decent afternoon and played well enough to give his team a win, stopping 24 shots and finishin with a .926 save%.
- Matt Benning looked good after drawing back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch yesterday. He had had a couple of really solid chances and could easily have had a goal to go along with the assist he picked up on McDavid’s goal. Benning needs more games like this one to try and get back to the level he was playing at a year ago. He’s still inexperienced and there will definitely be more ups and downs, but it’s important to see him contribute and find some consistency.
- The Oilers were perfect on the penalty kill again, continuing the strange narrative that is their home versus away comparison when down a man. They killed off all three chances against to finish with another clean sheet on the PK.
- Last year, the Oilers could win hockey games but not faceoffs. This year… well… You get the idea. Once again, Edmonton did a good job on the draws, winning 53% of the faceoffs taken.
- For the second straight game, the Oilers got 40 shots on goal. It was nice to see the shooting percentage give them a break for a change.
- The Oilers were passing the puck with purpose today and it translated into fewer giveaways and unnecessary possession time for the Avalanche. According to the NHL’s count, the Oilers only gaveaway the puck three times and I believe it. It was one of the best displays of puck management that we’ve seen from the boys in a while now. More of that please.
- An excuse to drink early!
THE FACE PALMERS
- Tyson Jost walked in and ripped a wrist shot past Talbot to give the Avalanche the lead on their SECOND SHOT OF THE GAME! I mean, c’mon. It’s just ridiculous at this point.
- Alex Kerfoot gave the Avalanche back the lead after an impossible deflection beat Talbot only 1:10 after Connor McDavid scored to tie the game at one. Luck on the tip aside, the Avalanche responded the way you’d hope your team would after a goal, claiming back the lead almost immediately.
- Taking a look at the power play (because I have to), the Oilers performed as expected:
- 0/1 on the PP, though, to be fair, they didn’t get four shots on goal.
- Make it 22 goalless games for Milan Lucic. At this point, I would start to feel bad for the guy but his $6 million pay cheque is preventing that from happening. Maybe he could try a little rain dance or something because this drought is real. Strome ended his slump, maybe the big man is next.
- I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again today. I like Jujhar Khaira a whole lot but I don’t like him as the second-line centre. If they want to play Draisaitl with McDavid then that’s cool but then there’s no chance Peter Chiarelli should be trading Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
- Is it just me that wishes the Oilers would have had the depth to give Drake Caggiula some time in the AHL? Can’t be just me.
|04:04||Colorado||Tyson Jost (6)||0-1|
|11:57||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (24) ASST: Patrick Maroon (16), Matt Benning (9)||1-1|
|13:07||Colorado||Alexander Kerfoot (15) ASST: Anton Lindholm (3), Colin Wilson (10)||1-2|
|08:59||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (25) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (34), Kris Russell (17)||2-2|
|13:18||Edmonton||Ryan Strome (8) ASST: Michael Cammalleri (17), Adam Larsson (4)||3-2|
|18:34||Edmonton||EN – Connor McDavid (26) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (35), Oscar Klefbom (13)||4-2|
Tell the Oilers
— Melnick, Sr (@pepperdjm) February 18, 2018
I feel 1st line Cammy is going to come up big for you today
— Raider☠Jesse (@EdmontonRaider) February 18, 2018
Why bother it’ll just be overturned by video review.
— Wade Poloway Photogr (@munch34m) February 18, 2018
Scoring doesn't win lottery drafts. We're intangibling our way to Dahlin. #LetsGoOilers
— O. (@OmJo93) February 18, 2018
Jesse Puljujarvi, friend of all living things. Hockey sticks included. pic.twitter.com/tgNouWiyzY
— Thee Nation Dan – In shorts #Sacrificefor500 (@TheNationDan) February 18, 2018
He did that for you. Not the hero we deserve. But the hero we got.
— William James (@William_J87) February 18, 2018
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 02/18/2018 – 3:30pm MST