This is how it should have gone in 2006, right? Ha haaaa! Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s walk through Edmonton’s pounding of the Hurricanes in Carolina last night.
This is some nice work by the Oilers’ second line. They kept the puck in, slid a shot on net, then stayed persistent to get it past Scott Darling. Also, speaking of Darling, what the hell is he doing here? He slides waaaaay far out of the net to stop this easy shot by Pontus Aberg and then takes forever to get back into position. Yikes.
I won’t make fun of Darling for this one. Matt Benning makes a good defensive play and then joins the rush, tries to pick up a rebound, Darling makes a nice pad save, but then Benning bats it out of mid-air from behind the net and off Darling and in. Being bad and having bad luck, a bad combination for Darling.
After getting scratched from the lineup in back-to-back games as punishment for missing practice, Pontus Aberg buries his first goal as an Oiler. Aberg does a nice job forechecking here and pressuring the Canes’ defender into just randomly tossing the puck into the middle of the ice. Leon Draisaitl gets it and slides a pass back to Aberg for an easy goal.
After scoring a frustrating goal on his own net to open the scoring, Yohann Auvitu redeemed himself with an absolutely gorgeous snipe on the rush. Draisaitl found the streaking Auvitu and he made no mistake burying it over Darling’s blocker side. Again, I’m not a goalie, but this is horrid positioning by Darling who looks like he’s just inviting Auvitu to fire it into the top corner as he crouches on the ice.
I really have no idea how you score from an angle like this, but when you’re facing a goalie who had been as bad as Darling, you shoot from everywhere, so props to Puljujarvi and Draisaitl for connecting on this nice one-time goal. Puljujarvi and Draisaitl looked good together last night in the times the Finn made his way up to the second line. I talked the other day about the importance of finding good lines behind McDavid, and maybe this is the start of something.
We’ll finish off with a nice Pool Party goal. Puljujarvi, who was buzzing around all night, took a pass and busted through the middle of the ice, got past Carolina’s defenceman, got a backhand on net, and then buried his own rebound. This was the player we thought the Oilers were getting when they picked him fourth overall in 2016. The big, strong, skilled forward who can bust past defenders and drives the net.
This was actually an evenly played game — shot attempts at even strength were split 45 to 43 for Carolina and the Oilers edged the Canes 15 to 13 in high danger chances — but the difference was Darling being very bad.
- Leon Draisaitl had one of those games that reminds you why he was paid $8.5 million annually. He buried a goal and had three assists and his line was buzzing all night. At even strength, Draisaitl’s line had 14 shot attempts for and just six against, which is pretty impressive given he was carrying Drake Caggiula and Pontus Aberg around. He got out there with Jesse Puljujarvi a couple times and the two of them looked good together. I think two big, fast, skilled guys like that could create a nice line behind Connor McDavid.
- Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse played a lot of minutes last night, 25:46 and 27:22 respectively. On the other side of that, Ethan Bear got smashed into the boards and only played 11:57, so hopefully there isn’t anything going on there.
- I can’t get over how bad Darling looked in this game. I remember in the off-season he was regarded as a goalie who could turn your team around because his numbers as a backup in Chicago were so good. He was like last year’s Cam Talbot or Martin Jones who just needed a shot, but since arriving in Carolina, he’s been terrible. Last night there was multiple occasions where he just looked slow or his positioning looked bad. I wonder if Carolina wants a mulligan on that one. It goes to show the importance of having a good goalie. You really can’t be successful without one.