Two. Big. Points. Final Score: 4-3 Oilers in OT
What a day, right? I don’t know how many of us woke up this morning expecting to see Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, but here we are in a brand new era. As I said this morning in the wrap on Chiarelli’s press conference, I refuse to heap all of the blame on Todd McLellan for the way things have gone lately, especially when you consider the cards that the GM gave him to play with. That said, the guy certainly shoulders part of the blame, especially when you consider the weird lineup choices and his tendency to, in my opinion, favour certain guys over others when it didn’t necessarily make sense. Since tonight was only the first of the Hitchcock era, I was excited to see how he handled the bench or if he sat back to watch things play out. While we definitely saw some changes to the line combos and overall deployment tonight against the Sharks, I know it’s only the beginning. Over the next few weeks, it will be very interesting to see how he handles some of Todd’s favourites and continues to put his lines together.
Back to tonight’s game, I legitimately burst out laughing when the San Jose Sharks opened the scoring only 45 seconds into the first period. Right after Donskoi scored, Sportsnet cut to a shot of Hitchcock on the bench for a reaction shot and it was absolutely hilarious. I would have loved to know Hitchcock’s first thought at that moment because his face said WTF. The bright side, obviously, is that tragic start to the hockey game wasn’t enough to derail the Oilers’ entire night as they finding solutions to any problem that was thrown their way. On three separate occasions, Edmonton found ways to tie the game up after the Sharks took a lead and that’s the kind of resilience that has been non-existent over these last couple of weeks. Rather than lay down and die, they kept their feet moving and kept fighting until the job was done. Call it the new-coach-bump or a whatever you want, but that’s a big win over a divisional opponent that they’re trying to catch in the standings.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- First game as the Oilers head coach, first win in the bank. Nice start for Hitchcock.
- Remember when a certain media member said that Connor McDavid’s offence might go down a bit with Hitchcock as his coach? Connor remembers. He always does. Midway through the first period, Connor McDavid tied the game up at one with his 100th career goal after finding space in the slot and beating Jones with a quick snapshot. Nice way to give his new coach a taste of what he can do.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored a huge shorthanded goal that tied the game at two apiece after he and Kyle Brodziak broke away on a 2-on-1 chance. Brodziak sent over the pass to Nuge and he roofed it. But then after he scored, all I could think about was how Nugent-Hopkins is 25-years-old and Ken Hitchcock is already his sixth NHL coach (7th if you count the few days he had with MacT).
- Drake Caggiula scored a huge goal early in the third period, answering back after Logan Couture gave the Sharks the lead late in the second period. Caggiula charged towards the net with his stick on the ice and tipped home a perfect centering feed from Connor McDavid.
- Are you surprised Leon and Connor closed the game out in overtime? Of course not. On what seemed like a broken play, McDavid got the puck out to Draisaitl in the slot and had it bounce in off his skate and past Jones. It may not have been the prettiest goal those two will ever score, but they all count and for that I’m grateful.
- After allowing a pair of goals in the first four shots against, Mikko Koskinen did a really nice job of settling things down and made the saves the team needed from him to get the win. It wasn’t necessarily a perfect game, but I liked the way he battled through the early adversity and never let the Sharks pull away on the scoreboard. Koskinen finished the night with 22 saves and a .880 save%.
- Darnell Nurse played a team-high 25:04 tonight and did a nice job with it. He was physical, moved the puck well, and rose to the challenge against a tough San Jose offence.
- Speaking of the defence, the entire top four played over 20 minutes with only Benning and Gravel finishing under 15 in total. Will be interesting to see how Hitchcock spreads the minutes around as we move forward.
- Solid night on the PK for the Oilers as they killed off all three chances they faced. More efforts like that, please.
- Booze not beets wincast is coming up! As always, you can follow along and join in the chat over on my Twitter.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Did anyone else burst out laughing when Donskoi scored only 45 seconds into the hockey game? I sure as hell did. Welcome to the Oilers, Ken!
- Marcus Sorenson restored the Sharks’ lead after he took a perfect pass from Joe Thornton into the slot and roofed it over Koskinen’s shoulder. For a guy that’s 12 feet tall, Koskinen gets beat upstairs a fair bit. Just me?
- Logan Couture gave San Jose the lead going into the third period after he absolutely walked past Adam Larsson (embarrassingly actually) and scored with under a minute left in the second period. For the second time tonight, the Sharks were able to beat Koskinen upstairs which will never cease to amaze me since he looks like he’s on stilts, but this one is on Larsson for losing his jock on the play.
- Only 40% in the faceoff circle tonight which is not good enough.
- The Oilers got blanked on the power play tonight, though they did only get the one chance. Personally, I find it hard to believe that the Sharks only cheated one time tonight but I guess the always consistent NHL referees saw it differently.
- Kris Russell left the game in the first period but I couldn’t tell exactly what was up. The report from Twitter was that he left for concussion protocol but, as you’d expect from the Caroline native, he was back in the game shortly after.
- I’m going to miss Todd McLellan’s suit game. The threads were always sharp and the haircut was always tight. Sail on, good sir.
|00:45||San Jose||Joonas Donskoi (5) ASST: Joe Pavelski (4), Brent Burns (20)||0-1|
|08:09||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (13) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (12), Adam Larsson (8)||1-1|
|10:32||San Jose||Marcus Sorensen (4) ASST: Joe Thornton (3), Kevin Labanc (10)||1-2|
|01:46||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (5) ASST: Kyle Brodziak (1)||2-2|
|19:04||San Jose||Logan Couture (7) ASST: Tomas Hertl (12)||2-3|
|03:32||Edmonton||Drake Caggiula (7) ASST: Connor McDavid (17), Leon Draisaitl (13)||3-3|
|00:51||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (13) ASST: Connor McDavid (18)||4-3|
Oh shit. I bet Remenda is inconsolable
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) November 21, 2018
"Hemsky plays D now? No wonder you guys suck…"
— Tempest (@tempest9) November 21, 2018
He's got more dads than Cartman.
— Nihilist Moxie's (@ThomsonCam) November 21, 2018
UNDEFEATED IN THE HITCHCOCK ERA
PRAISE OUR THICCC NEW DADDY
— Cam Lewis (@cooom) November 21, 2018
Booze beats beets!!
— Sarah (@Zogabogga) November 21, 2018
Coming up on Thursday night at midnight, our annual Black Friday collecting drops for a limited time only. We’ve got hats, a tee, hoodie, and toques and they’re pretty dope so you’ll definitely want to check it out. Every year, we sell out of all of these items so be sure to get to NationGear.ca as fast as you can if you want to score something to beautify your wardrobe.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 11/20/2018 – 11:45 pm MT