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Post-weekend Oil Spills: Oilers sweep difficult Central road trip

The Oilers rolled into Nashville and Chicago this weekend for back-to-back afternoon games and came out with two wins. This is a different team than we watched last year, folks.

What happened…

Drake Caggiula scored his first goal of the season to open the scoring for the Oilers against Nashville. He brings the puck into the zone and fans on his shot but stays with the play and works the puck out to the point. Darnell Nurse gets a shot on goal and Caggiula wrestles past Kyle Turris in front of the net to bury the opener.

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Leon Draisaitl scored a goal on the power play to give the Oilers a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Then, in the final minutes of the period, Filip Forsberg scored to cut the lead in half, but Connor McDavid answered immediately to restore the two-goal lead. This was clutch and allowed the Oilers to roll into the intermission with momentum.

With the score 4-3, Drake Caggiula would ice the win with his second of the game. He got the puck and fired it on the open net, missed, but won the race and buried it into the open cage. That’s another hard-working, gritty play from the Caggiula we hoped to more of see this season.

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On Sunday, the Blackhawks jumped out to an early lead, but Zack Kassian got the game tied at 1-1 with his first of the season before the end of the first period. It’s nice to see Kassian get off the schneid because he’s been largely invisible this year.

The Oilers are pretty much automatic when they reach overtime. McDavid stops Brandon Saad in the defensive zone, the Oilers start working their way back up ice, then Driasaitl finds the captain for the overtime winner. I feel like I’ve seen this exact thing many times before and I feel like I’m going to see it again.

By the numbers…

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The Oilers really came out hard against the Predators on Saturday. They started to run away with the possession game in the second period, but Nashville managed to pull themselves back into the game towards the end of the period. The teams duked it out back-and-forth in the third. All in all, Edmonton was the better team here and the numbers reflect that. The Chicago game was a bit different. Both teams were on the second leg of a back-to-back, but the Blackhawks started to pull the game in their favour in the second half of the game. Still, one thing the Oilers did well was limit the Blackhawks from generating high danger chances, allowing them to take the game in overtime.

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Thoughts…

  • Mikko Koskinen made his first start in the NHL in seven years. It was an interesting decision to finally give him his start against the league’s best team, but the big Finn was up to the challenge. Early on in the game, he stopped Viktor Arvidsson on a breakaway that easily could have swung the momentum away from Edmonton. He would stop 24 of 27 shots and came up big in the third period when Nashville started to pour it on.
  • Cam Talbot also had an excellent game for the Oilers on Sunday featuring a huge save on a breakaway in the second period. Chicago was starting to gain momentum as the Oilers looked burnt out, but Talbot stopped Nick Schmaltz with a huge save to keep the game tied 1-1. Talbot would stop 31 of 32 shots in what was likely his best showing of the season.
  • All in all, it was a good weekend for goaltending, but the team also deserves some credit for their defensive play. They only allowed Nashville to get three high danger chances and then they only let Chicago have four high danger chances on Sunday. The team has done a good job at protecting the front of the net, generally limiting opportunities to the outside while at even strength.
  • Did it seem like the Oilers were playing for an overtime on Sunday? If so, I don’t blame them. On the second leg of a back-to-back, the team looked pretty burnt out in the second half of the game, but they kept plugging away. They did a great job shutting Chicago down from quality chances and Cam Talbot was good when he had to be. It looked like they were slowing things down and waiting for their chance to pounce in overtime because they’re basically automatic at three-on-three.
  • Did anybody expect the team to win both games of this tough Central Division swing? They’ve put themselves in a great position navigating through their most difficult part of the schedule with this strong 6-3-1 start. It’s clear they play up to the level of good teams like Nashville, Winnipeg, Pittsburgh, and Washington, now the key is not to let up when they face weaker teams.

  • CMG30

    Yes, they do have tendencies to play to their competion. This is great when the big boys come to town but not so great when they leave points on the table because the level of compete dropped against the easier teams. Calgary is coming up soon, I hope they’ve gotten over the ‘play down’ bug by then.

    • GRC

      The team isnt reminiscent of the team last year so why do you assume that playing down to the competition will be an issue?
      If this years version has made one thing clear its that its probably makes more sense to actually see what happens instead of jumping to conclusions.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      I hope they don’t. It would put a dent in our aspirations. And no matter how either team is doing, both teams should always show up for a BoA game.

  • GK1980

    Well I’m ashamed of myself. I didn’t think the Oil would come out of October alive let alone above 0.500. This team has shown great strides but……but it’s a long season. They need to keep this up. If Talbot keeps playing like he is the Oil will be in the playoffs. No doubt about. it.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Hey guys I just made some rocking fresh Kool-Aid. Feel free to drink up!

    I kid. This team reminds me a lot of the 16-17 club. Sure it’s not a mirror image, but i love how they’ve approached this season. They’re out to prove something, they’re playing with a chip on their shoulder. Sure I’d still take that 16-17 club over this one, but if this club keeps doing the right things, the road to success will reveal itself. Let’s knock Minnesota and Chicago dead!

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I thought the Oilers fared well, the Pens, Preds, Caps game was a really good indication of the Oilers going up against some really good teams and playing well, yes there were some areas of those games where they could be but I liked what I saw from the team because it seemed like an indication that the Oilers were starting to come together.

    The breakouts started to be a lot better, the Oilers were still making mistakes in their own end, but those seemed more just player situations where guys were just having a Homer Simpson d-oh moment, and as the teams came thru we started to see thing get better in the Oilers end, the guys were chasing down pucks taking to the net being a lot harder on the forecheck taking pucks to the net, and forcing the opposition to make quicker decisions with the puck and Talbot seemed to be getting into a groove, even Kokinen did well in his first outing against Nashville.

    Chicago was a little challenging for the Oilers and Hawks, both teams played the day before and the ice seemed to be horrible with the pucks bouncing all over, but The Oilers did well against the Hawks, Talbot was solid, cause the Hawks got a lot of nice chances but Talbot was really really good, like Talbot we saw in the playoffs run.

    Minnesota will be a good test too, the Oilers have done well so far against teams were a lot of us thought they might not fare so well, if they can keep it going and play a full 60 minutes like they have been I dont see why they cant give Minnesota a run for their money. It should be a good game to watch