Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers 4, Capitals 1 post-game Oil Spills: The importance of special teams

The class of the NHL, the Penguins and Capitals, who have combined to win the last three Stanley Cups, came through Edmonton and the Oilers managed to earn three out of four points. That’s huge.

What happened…

Evan Bouchard opened the scoring in the first period with his first NHL goal. The second power play unit, which hadn’t converted yet this season, finally scored. Bouchard got the puck at the point and blasted a bomb past a screened Holtby. The best thing about this shot is how much Bouchard was able to get on it without a big, long windup.

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a two-goal lead in the second period with a shorthanded beauty. He picked off a drop pass John Carlson was trying to make before going into the zone, deking out Nicklas Backstrom and sniping a shot past Holtby. This is probably my favourite goal the team has scored so far this season. It really shows how well RNH thinks the game.

Washington’s lone goal of the game came in the second half of the second period. The Caps’ fourth line got the puck down low and the Oilers defence got caught looking. Nic Dowd made a smart play spinning around behind the net to find a wide-open Andre Burakovsky. You have to praise the play by Dowd here to an extent, but he wasn’t being pressured at all and Burakovsky was able to just stand beside the net while the Oilers watched the play happen.

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Do you think Alex Chiasson wanted to show his former team that they made a mistake letting him go? The former Cup Champ took a pass from Tobias Rieder and roofed a snipe post-and-in over Holtby’s glove. Chiasson can shoot.

By the numbers… 

I think this is a prime example of a game in which in the Corsi chart is a little misleading. Washington carried the play in terms of getting shot attempts at even strength, but the two teams were completely split down the middle in high danger chances. While Washington had good possession, they failed to break Edmonton’s defence and generate high-quality chances. Obviously, possession is a good thing, but shooting from the outside isn’t going to do much for you.

The Edmonton Oilers are learning to play different games


  • This game really goes to show you how important special teams are. The Oilers were able to neutralize Washington’s offence because they only took one penalty. The Capitals have a deadly power play, but if you don’t give them a chance to use it, they aren’t going to burn you.
  • Cam Talbot had a nice bounce-back game after his rough outing against the Penguins. We’d like to see some more consistency for Talbot, but, still, he was a key reason why the team won this game. Washington threw quite a few shots Talbot’s way but he stopped 31 of 32. That said, you have to give some credit to the blueline as they did an excellent job limiting high danger chances and shutting down Washington’s top line. But, when Talbot had to be good, he was good.
  • Alex Chiasson continues to thrive in a top-six role. He’s big, has a good shot, and goes to the net. It’s going to be hard to take him out of such a role when Ty Rattie is ready to return especially given the fact Chiasson has a much bigger track record of success in the NHL.
  • I mentioned it at the beginning, but it’s huge the team was able to take three of four points from Pittsburgh and Washington. The Oilers had a very difficult nine-game stretch to start the season, but they’ve guaranteed they’ll finish no worse than 4-4-1 after Saturday’s game in Nashville. Given the fact many worried the team would go, like 1-8 after the 0-2 start, I’d say things have gone pretty well.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    While I’m happy the Powerplay is back to respectability, I still think they’re doing it wrong. Feel free to correct me, but all of their PP, until Bouchard’s tally at least, have been scored off the rush. I’ve said on the OilersLive Podcast, I’ve said it on twitter. The Oilers need to start rolling out units with an actual strategy in mind. Have 2 different units, play two different styles. Keep the opposition guessing.

    But hey, a win is a win, and I’m happy that this team is where they are right now. They’re already better than last year, and I think they can really make some noise. I know there are still some Debbie Downers out there, which is fine, but I think this start has got them thinking a little bit.

    Or I could just be talking out of my ass, and the Oilers will stink up the joint in the next 5 games or so

    • fisherprice

      I’m starting to think generating chances off the rush is a deliberate play design at this point, considering they seem to be looking to spring McDavid in the O-zone quite frequently on the PP. However, I agree that they need to vary it up a bit, and get more time in a traditional setup. Different looks means the PP is less predictable and harder to gameplan against.

    • OilerForLife

      The Oilers face Nashville tomorrow morning, Koskinen is in net. Talbot can’t play the whole season. Maybe we can surprise them as well. I think that game could have gone either way, aside from two quick breakdowns in a row. Really pulling for him to have an outstanding game. Imagine the roll the Oilers could be on if it works!

  • Hockeytalkguy

    It’s still early but I think most oiler fans have been impressed by the way they have played. Who would have ever thought that effort and hard work would win hockey games. They just might be on to something.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      My thoughts exactly. Doesn’t matter if they win or lose, just put some damn effort into the game. That’s why I wasn’t bummed about the Nashville loss too much. It sucks to lose, obviously, but at least they were able to match the Predators hit for hit, shot for shot, shift for shift, outside of 90 seconds

      • Dynasty No More

        Of course it matters because it’s more wasted money on a guy who can’t play and because of contracts like that we don’t have the flexibility we could use to do player upgrades.

        • Towers-of-dub

          It hasn’t mattered as far as results have gone thus far. If the oilers make the playoffs as a 6-8 placed team it doesn’t matter at all. It’s just nitpicking a triviality. So what. He’s getting 2.5 million to be a backup. Megyn Kelly was getting $20 million to ask why it’s no longer acceptable to wear blackface at Halloween. The world has issues.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            Methinks that Koskinen is at least a better goalie than Mike Smith (at least last night) what’s he getting, like 6.5? Koskinen is a huge bargain in my eyes. Let’s just concentrate on hockey. Keep up the great play.

  • The future never comes

    Stoked on our record, but a couple points: our pp % success is deceptive, our goals have been odd man rushes for the most part. The goal yesterday was off of a broken play and Nuge scored one that was banked off the back boards. I do not think any have come from a set play yet, maybe McDs in the Pitsburgh game? No one on the second PP seems to want to take control. I’m scared Bouch’s goal will deter his case to be sent down. Yes he has a good shot but he is to slow/casual to puck retrievals and his pinching is a little to delayed.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      I’ll go out on a limb here and say the PP rushes are by design. I credit the new coaches for thinking outside of the box. “How” the PP scores is less important than “how many” it scores.

      • The future never comes

        But the odd man rushes in part have been the other team getting a chance and we come back down fast the other way. Not sure they are designed that way but moreso the coaches saying dont be afraid of attacking instead of setting up. When they are set up, nothing to profound has happened. I do agree with how many not how do they happen, I am just not sure how sustainable it is.

    • Bon Signore

      Remember last year when the Oilers had a historically bad PP? Now they have the 6th best PP in the league and our complaint is, “but they’re not scoring them the ‘right way’.”

      This is why we can’t have nice things.

    • That shot by Bouchard is what the D should be doing more of. You see a across the league, Burns, Getzlaf in the playoffs a couple of years ago were just getting pucks to the net. Hope it was in the coaches video package this morning.

  • Spoils

    let’s say the Oilers are clearly going to make the playoffs near the trade deadline… imagine this team picking off assets from teams like Detroit or LA… what are we willing to trade to get?

    how much better would this team be if it added a solid top 6 scorer? or a PP quarterback RD? or a veteran presence.

    what would you prioritize? what would you be willing to part with.

    heck, we beat the Stanley Cup Champs last night 😉

    • Whaler

      Heard someone the other day suggest a JP for Mantha trade out of Detroit. I have faith in JP, but I’ve also always been a big Mantha fan. What are people’s thoughts on this? Could be win/win for both teams. Gives us a lethal right wing option who has proven to score on NA ice and had a breakout year in the NHL last year. He’s struggling now, and seems Detroit will be in a full on Loose for Houges strategy. Mantha is big and talented like JP but I believe he’s about 4 years older and maybe the ages of both players fit where each team needs to be at.

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        Nope. Not a chance. The problem with some of these fans and management is that they forget that players have time to grow. I hate how this organization has handled JP. Send him down to Bakersfield and by George, don’t bring him back until next season

    • MrBung

      Slow down. The Oil need to show that this season’s addition can win games against their Pacific rivals. It seems most seasons – they can win against the one conference, but then struggle against the other depending on the season/team.

  • Bills Bills

    Moving Rattie back into the top six won’t be tough at all. Send Yamamoto to the AHL and Play JP on the third line with Strome and Lucic. Problem solved.

    The team played the system and it worked. It goes to show you don’t always need the most talent to win. Solid and consistent play can and will win you games. Puck support is more important than playing with speed.

    Talbot needs to stay on his feet in that situation. He is better able to rotate and track that puck plus stay close to the post preventing that goal. Down low okay puts Talbot on his knees. It is a weakness he needs to work out of his game. The book reads: in close go high on Talbot.

    All props to Nuge on a fantastic goal. But I have to ask what the hell Carlson was doing on that play?? He clearly didn’t even think before he makes that play.

  • Arfguy

    At this point, I will take a few wins to build the confidence of this team. They are definitely not having any fun out there. Everyone looks like they are playing on eggshells. As much as there is pressure on this team to perform, I think if they are serious all the time, it gets a little too heavy and they forget what they are capable of individually.

    Despite the positive power play statistics, I am concerned that they are not scoring goals as a result of execution. They are scoring and I am glad, but they don’t look like a team that is scoring because they know what they are doing.

    Looking forward to the next game. I think this team is capable of keeping up with any team, provided that they play hard, don’t lose their cool and have a little fun.

  • ed from edmonton

    Last year the Oil lost many games due to poor special teams. Every victory this year has included a least on2 PP goal and good PK. Let’s hope this trend continues.

  • ed from edmonton

    Last year the Oil lost many games due to poor special teams. Every victory this year has included a least on2 PP goal and good PK. Let’s hope this trend continues.