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Photo Credit: © Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-weekend oil spills: Downward spiral continues with back-to-back divisional losses

It’s been said many, many times. The key to success for the Oilers is success within the division. Finally, after a month-and-a-half, the Oilers played their first two games against Pacific Division opponents over the weekend. They lost both games.

What happened…

The Oilers got off to a nice start in Calgary. Alex Chiasson scored a short-handed goal to give the team a 1-0 lead and then Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid hooked up to extend the lead to 2-0.

A little before the Oilers went up 2-0, Matt Tkachuk did his thing. Mikael Backlund and Connor McDavid got into a bit of a scrap in the Oilers zone and then Tkachuk jumped into the mix. Later on, Zack Kassian hunted Tkachuk down, dropped the gloves, but Tkachuk turtled.

As a result, Todd McLellan pulled out the blender and threw Milan Lucic on the top line and Kassian on the second line to get some sandpaper at the top of the lineup. The Flames would go on to score four unanswered goals to take the game 4-2 as the Oilers looked completely out of it in the third period.

The Sunday game was similar to Saturday’s game. Connor McDavid scored under a minute into the game, Vegas scored later in the first to tie it up, and then Alex Chiasson restored the lead with a goal on the power play.

But in the second period, the wheels completely fell off. Cody Eakin scored a short-handed goal, Max Pacioretty scored just over a minute later, and then Jonathan Marchessault scored on the power play under a minute after that. Vegas would go on to win the game 6-3 after adding a couple more goals in the third period.

By the numbers…

The shot attempt chart kinda shows it all. It was a tightly-contested game for the first two periods, but then the Flames took control of the game in the third. Calgary pounded Edmonton in even-strength shot attempts 24 to 10 in the third and they had six high danger chances while the Oilers had none.

At least the Oilers played 40 minutes on Saturday. On Sunday, they only played 20. The first was back-and-forth, but then only one team came out for the second. Vegas carried play in the second, getting 18 shot attempts to Edmonton’s 10, and they converted on their chances, scoring three goals in a matter of a few minutes to completely take control of the game.

Thoughts…

  • Overall, that wasn’t the weekend anybody was hoping for. Saturday’s game was frustrating, Sunday’s game was disappointing.
  • I’ll talk about Saturday first because I felt there was more to that showing. It was frustrating how the Oilers completely disappeared in the third period of the game against Calgary given how intense and emotionally-charged things were in the first part of the game. That’s supposed to be Edmonton’s bread and butter. They’re supposed to be a tough team that thrives in games like that. Unfortunately, it worked to Calgary’s advantage. Matt Tkachuk got into everyone’s head — including Todd McLellan. McLellan made lineup adjustments that effectively guttered the Oilers’ offence as plays endlessly died on Milan Lucic’s stick while on the top line. Despite that, McLellan continued to send Lucic out there even at the end of the game when the team badly needed a goal. I get having him out there right after that Backlund/Tkachuk nonsense, but it didn’t need to go on for the whole game. McLellan got badly outcoached in Calgary. Simple as that.
  • And then the Sunday game, which was just disappointing. With the Oilers on the second leg of a back-to-back, everyone knew the game was going to be tough, but they completely folded after 20 minutes. The effort in the second period was non-existent and the game got out of hand in just a matter of minutes. That was a 2017-18 loss in which a few goals go in and the team just gives up.
  • It’s difficult not to think Mikko Koskinen is the starter after that weekend. He played a solid game in Calgary, stopping 33 of 36 shots, then Talbot got shelled for six goals on 31 shots. Talbot now owns an .888 save percentage for the season and he’s had more bad starts that good at this point.
  • Alberta Ice

    The Tkachuk turtle was brilliant. All ready out after Drai’s slew contact, he didn’t need a concussion protocol removal from that point on. What a pest. The player every other team loves to hate but would love to have on their team.

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    I’ve said this before, and Ill say it again. The issues with this team is that there is no depth, the weak D also makes goaltending struggle…. and despite all this, we have NO cap room to fix anything!

    Our only hope, is that either the NHL or NHLPA opt out of the current cba next fall, lockout likely follows….and the new cba HAS to have a compliance buyout or two… otherwise this circus continues (regardless of who is coaching) and one day Connor will wake up very and realize he’s done with this crap

    • wiseguy

      We had a way out but didn’t take it. We had to call his bluff and tell Katz to move his team to Seattle. We could’ve built a better expansion team without the management baggage that this team has.
      Our next chance is if Calgary moves, we can ask the oilers to move to there so we can have a blank slate to start over.

      • Oiler Al

        Wiseguy.. hopefully you are not in charge of anything important with that mindset. If its comedy, you need a new writer.I hear there is ice in Inuvik, maybe move the team there.

        • wiseguy

          Al you must be a big fan of building up hope before the season starts, having it crash and burn 20 games in, rinse and repeat. Katz has been pedalling this same merch for 10 years now. With your mindset, you must actually enjoy mediocrity. I don’t have to hope, I know you don’t do anything important with your mindset.