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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers 4, Chicago 0 post-game Oil Spills: Deep Dish Domination

After getting dropped by the Minnesota Wild, the Oilers responded with a big 4-0 statement win over the Chicago Blackhawks. They were firing on all cylinders as Mikko Koskinen stood tall, the blueline was able to shut down Patrick Kane, and multiple depth players chipped in with offence.

What happened…

After Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota, everybody wanted Drake Caggiula in the press box. Instead, Todd McLellan put Caggiula on the top line with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This line needs somebody who goes to the net, and, well, that’s exactly what Caggiula does here. He bats down a pass in the crease, does a spin move, and buries the puck past Cam Ward for an early 1-0 lead.

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Right before the end of the second period, Power Play Unit 2 extended Edmonton’s lead to 2-0. Jason Garrison grabs a clearing attempt with his glove, shoots the puck cross-ice for Tobias Rieder who started to walk the puck towards the net before making a spin-drop-pass back to Garrison at the point for a one-time bomb. It’s great to see PP2 get rolling.

Chicago started to pour on the pressure early in the third period with a couple early power plays, but the Oilers completely gutted the momentum with this short-handed goal. JJ Khaira worked the puck up the ice, waited out the Chicago defender as he dove down for a block, then fed the puck to Caggiula who buried his second of the night past Ward.

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Terrified that either Mikko Koskinen or Caggiula could steal his title as The Answer, Alex Chiasson got into the mix in the third period. Leon Draisaitl got the puck into the zone, found Reider, who was completely in alone, then Rieder hit Chiasson at the side of the net for an easy tap-in goal.

By the numbers…

Chicago had a couple of huge pushes in which they dominated the Oilers in terms of shot attempts, but Mikko Koskinen came up huge and allowed Edmonton to maintain momentum. I think the shot attempt chart in this game might be somewhat misleading in that the Oilers had significantly more high danger chances than Chicago did. There were many instances in which the Blackhawks carried the play for an extended period of time but failed to get a high-quality chance on net.

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Thoughts…

  • Mikko Koskinen is silencing his doubters. I won’t lie, I was extremely skeptical of this signing given Koskinen’s last of NHL experience and the fact other goalies like Jaroslav Halak signed similar contracts. Koskinen also had an ugly pre-season, which compounded worries. But, through two starts, the big Finn has been excellent. He played a big role in Edmonton’s win over Nashville and then he was perfect last night against Chicago. As I mentioned above, the Hawks had a few flurries in which they pushed hard and got a lot of pressure on, but Koskinen stool tall and allowed the momentum largely to stay in the Oilers’ court. At this point, you have to start giving Koskinen more looks as Cam Talbot hasn’t managed to seize the net.
  • It looks like we’ve finally found our wingers for Leon Draisaitl. Tobias Rieder and Alex Chiasson have helped Draisaitl create a very strong second line. In the past, a key the team was missing was a line behind McDavid as Draisaitl wasn’t carrying his own line with consistency, but Chiasson and Rieder have given Draisaitl some speed and skill to operate with. They chipped in another goal last night and were dangerous all night.
  • Much to everyone’s disappointment, Drake Caggiula got a shot on the McDavid line. It seemed odd given Caggiula’s poor game against Minnesota, but, to be fair to him, he had been playing well before that. Despite his gaffes against the Wild, Caggiula had been working hard, going to the net, and playing physically. Like I said earlier, that line needs a feisty player who goes to the net, and that’s what Caggiula does. At the very least, the team now has options as to who plays on the top line. Last season, it was a struggle to fill out the lineup card, but, this year, there’s legit competition for ice time.