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Photo Credit: © Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Flames 1, Oilers 0 post-game Oil Spills: Shut Down

You’re welcome, Calgary. Mike Smith and the Flames edged out the Oilers last night for a massive win in Calgary’s pursuit of re-claiming a playoff spot. The Oilers weren’t all that bad, but one horrible defensive play ultimately cost them the game as Smith stood on his head for the Flames.

Highlights

Woof. This is hideous. The Flames finally opened the scoring a few minutes into the second period when the Oilers completely forgot how defensive zone coverage works and went for a Sunday stoll around the defensive zone.

Adam Larsson casually follows the Flames forward (Michael Ferland) towards the boards to check him, Leon Draisaitl strolls behind him doesn’t actually do anything, and, at the same time, Darnell Nurse floats up to give a little attention to the Flames forward (Sean Monahan) in the high slot. While all that’s going on, another Flames forward, a guy who, uh, you should probably pay attention to (Johnny Gaudreau) is just standing in front of the net planning his goal celebration. Monahan gets the puck to Gaudreau and he buried a backhand over Cam Talbot’s blocker.

This is so bad and so soft and so lazy it looks like something from a charity ball hockey tournament. Nurse and Larsson are supposed to be Edmonton’s top defenders and they got taken to the cleaners on this sequence. Draisaitl here you can see why the team avoids using him as a centre like it’s the goddamn plague. I wonder if he played this so poorly because he’s passive aggressively trying to get himself back to easy mode life on Connor McDavid’s wing.

Interested in a video that summarizes why this season has been so bad? Well, there you go.

Since that Flames goal made me feel violently ill, here’s some good Connor McDavid content to use as medicine. McDavid was excellent last night, but, unfortunately, so was Mike Smith. McDavid breaks through Dougie Hamilton and TJ Brodie for a partial break, which is impressive given the fact those two both skate well, but Smith slams the door. Mike Cammalleri races in like a cannonball while McDavid is being face-washed in the crease, too, which was good stuff.

By the numbers

In terms of even strength shot attempts, the Oilers edged the Flames 53 to 45. But when it came to getting quality chances, Calgary hammered Edmonton 14 to eight in high danger chances at even strength, as you can see by that massive splat of red on the heat map above. Edmonton’s defence conceded quite a few chances against and the team didn’t get much going in terms of high quality offence without Connor McDavid on the ice. Ho hum, another day.

Thoughts…

  • I don’t want to dig into that Flames goal too much again because I feel like I said everything I could about it already, but goodness, that was frustratingly terrible. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t something that happened waaaaay too much this season. Poor, lazy, soft defensive zone play has really been something that’s guttered this team all season, and it’s shocking because it’s something that the team was largely good at last season.
  • It’s irritating how little the Oilers got going without Connor McDavid on the ice. The Flames aggressively defended him by having their best all-around player Mikael Backlund stapled to him all game but despite that the other lines couldn’t generate quality offence. Beyond Backlund’s line, the Flames aren’t great defensively, giving Draisaitl’s line a golden opportunity to shine, but the second group only had one high danger chance at even strength. You can’t be successful with a one-man team, no matter how good that one-man is.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looked very good on McDavid’s wing. The two of them are cerebral players and both see the ice extremely well, beyond obviously having good skill. I like the idea of rolling RNH out there with McDavid for the rest of the season. I’m more inclined to support the idea of the three top centres, but there seems to be some very good chemistry here.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi was second on the team with four shots on goal in all situations. He only played 11:45, though. Why is this? Why on earth is Pontus Aberg playing 15 minutes while Puljujarvi is watching from the bench? Did Peter Chiarelli pull Todd McLellan into a room and say “man you need to play this random bottom-six scrub I acquired in the top-six no matter what so he stacks some points and  it looks like I actually did something good”? Also, Anton Slepyshev only played nine minutes. He’s a similar young player at a similar age, yet the one who was acquired more recently in a trade seems to be the one being favoured. Odd.
  • Ethan Bear had another solid game and has been getting noticeably better as time has gone on. He had the best shot attempt differential among Oilers defenders at even strength. He played with Kris Russell, which, you’d think, could be a bit of a gong show, but the two were quite effective.
    • Madhatter

      The Lucic contract is one of the biggest issues the team has. Not just the worst contract on the Oilers but one of the worst contracts in the entire league. Benning is always the worst player on the ice but Lucic is giving him a run for his money this year.

  • Spydyr

    As good as Talbot played last night Smith played better and once again the team with the better goalie wins. I’m not blaming the lose on Talbot i’m just trying to show the pattern.

    • Hemmercules

      I noticed something myself, no NHL team has ever won a game with zero goals. Look it up, its a fact.

      We get it, you want Talbot run out of town. Why beat a dead horse??

    • Redbird62

      Yes, Smith got a shut out and made some big saves, and probably deserved first star, but his margin over Talbot was virtually non-existent and he was named second star. He faced almost twice as many high danger scoring chances as Smith and the goal he was beat on was off the stick of a highly skilled shooter who was left alone in front of his net and was able to put in in off the cross bar. Talbot deserves his fair share of criticism for the many off nights he has had this year, but last nights performance was stellar and would generally result in way more wins than losses and so is no indication of any pattern whatsoever. If you want to say because Talbot has not played at or near last night’s level often enough this year (unlike last year) and that is a one of the contributing factors to the Oilers’ situation, that is fair, but trying to use last night’s game as an example of the problem in the way you have is extremely weak.

  • Snoop Scottie Dogg

    I hate to say it but I think the team has already said fawk it to the season. Why wasn’t here flamers blood all over the ice? CMD and RNH got rag dolled and nobody did anything about it. Looch! Kass! I’m not mad…just disappointed.

    • Madhatter

      Agreed, at least Lucic could be fighting and keeping the Flames honest with respect to McJesus as he doesn’t seem to be capable of anything else. Although $6mm is a lot to pay for a scrapper.

  • Keg on Legs

    As former 6′ goalie who didn’t get beat over the shoulder all the time, why was Talbot on his knees again? If he stands up, Gaudreau got no where to “flip” that puck, and if he makes a move he can move with him. On his knees he gives up way too much room and some mobility as well.
    What ever happened to the attitude of “i dare you to score on me”?

    • SSB1963

      As a former goalie as well we would have been beat with a stick if we spent as much time on our knees as they do now. But as a parent of a goalie as well they teach the kids these days to take away the bottom of the net as much possible.

      • Odanada

        The newer, better butterfly goalies play a bit of a hybrid, where they stay on their feet a little longer, keeping the shooter guessing.
        It’s kind of like when McDavid passed it all the time – the defence just played the pass. As soon as Connor started shooting more, they were no longer sure.
        Yes, Talbot has become flat out predictable.

    • Spydyr

      I’m not sure where or who it came from but Talbot seems to be trying to make himself small as possible by going to his knees and crouching down. Once upon a time goalies were taught to make themselves as big as possible play the angle and let the puck hit you.

  • Keg on Legs

    ………and if Nuge doesn’t shoot that puck the ONLY place Smith can make the save we’re having a different discussion here. Needed to get it up!!

  • Consultant

    Bear is looking better game by game. I thought he would be over his head at this point but not the case last night. They have him out there with the big boys with 2 minutes left down by a goal…

  • oilerjed

    OK, so I just watched the Kassian non goal again on the morning re broadcast, still can’t believe that there was almost no replays of the play. Second, it is very clear that the puck was never covered and Zach had every right to poke at the puck. It was sitting half covered by Smith’s pad. That is a loose puck.

  • Derian Hatcher

    How does many commenters on here, plus many in media suggest, for most of the year, that RNH play with 97 to see what that pair would bring, and it takes the “coaches” 60+ games to try it. Something is wrong when fans of the team have better ideas than the coaches. Just don’t get it.

    • oilerjed

      Guess it is your opinion that you have better ideas then the coaches….. I for one disagree and think the Oilers are better off with Drai on the wing and Nuge at center. I could care less about whether the 1RW is making 8.5 and the 2c is making 6, or vice versa. All comes out of the same bank account and is already counted against the cap. Nuge is a better center and Drai just doesn’t have the same pop when he is at center.

  • corky

    Now I just hope the Flames are in the hunt until the end of the month when they play the Oil again and the Oil throttle down and destroy them, ending their hopes. Pan up to see Burke seething in anger. That would make my day.

  • Summercrush

    You think Aberg is a scrub? It’s not his fault the coach plays him more than Puljujarvi. Puljujarvi should still be in the AHL. At least Aberg can skate and puck handle.
    Half the time Puljujarvi looks off balance.

  • Oiler Al

    Nothing has changed in 60 gamess! Same approach to the way they play.Defense is a tirefire ,speciall teams lost at sea etc.There better be some coaching changes at season end.

  • dlypm

    Did #29 make a mistake on that goal? Yes, of course. But did “he played this so poorly because he’s passive aggressively trying to get himself back to easy mode life”, come on … go find yourself