That is a tough way to lose a hockey game. Final Score: 2-1 Ducks in OT
If I’m being honest with you guys, I’ve been drinking a whole lot of Ken Hitchcock Kool-Aid over the past few days. Since he was announced as the Oilers new head coach, I’ve been reading all kinds of great content and quotes about and from the man who felt inspired enough to come out of retirement to try and help his hometown team. I don’t know how much more the third-winningest coach in NHL history will be able to get out of this roster, but I’m all in on finding out. Call it the ‘new coach bump’ or whatever you want, there was some excitement in the air after the Oilers opened up the Hitchcock era with a win against San Jose and that’s something Oilers fans desperately deserve right now. What we also deserved was a win over the Ducks but some brutal decision making at the end of the game robbed us of a point. Coming into today’s game, we heard a lot about how the Ducks are dealing with some key injuries and, to me, that sounded like the perfect opportunity for the Oilers to take advantage of. Unfortunately, they mustn’t have gotten the memo.
Early on, the Ducks were the team that came out flying and the Oilers had a really hard time generating any kind of sustainable pressure, but that was offset because they were able to get the saves they needed to settle into the chess match. Both teams got their share of chances and were each benefitting from strong goaltending, which gave the game a feel of only being a mistake away a four point swing. That said, the Oilers were doing a good job of preventing the Ducks from getting secondary chances or even an initial shot at times, both hallmarks of the tight defensive structure demanded by Hitchcock, so it seemed like good news was in the cards. Heading into the third period with the game as tight as it was, it wasn’t overly surprising to see the teams trade goals and wind up in OT, though Nick Ritchie’s goal with 16 seconds on the clock was especially frustrating. Even so, I remained hopeful. The Oilers are a very good OT team and I figured they would still close things out even if it took a little bit longer than normal. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did the Oilers lose but they got beat by a set play and a Draisaitl flyby away from the puck gave Rickard Rakell all the chances he needed to knock the puck home. Brutal ending to what should have been two points.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got the Oilers on the board with a power play snipe that beat Gibson high over the blocker side. The Oilers entered the zone with speed and Connor McDavid found Nuge on the left side and he made no mistake of burying the shot and giving his team the lead.
- I’ve always got time for a McPoint.
- The Oilers needed to get another big game from Mikko Koskinen and they got exactly that. Right from the opening puck drop, Koskinen was dialled in and he shut the door any time his team needed him, especially early. From where I blog, the guys in front of Koskinen let him down tonight because he played well enough to get the win. Koskinen finished the night with 23 saves and a .920 save%.
- Big shout out to Kris Russell for saving that puck that was hanging onto the goal line from going in. Frankly, I was shocked that the Oilers were able to win a call against the Ducks considering how close that was so I wanted to make sure to give the man props for the quick reaction.
- Kevin Gravel had a really good night on the back and I thought that he calmed things down with the puck a lot. He’s not the kind of guy that will put up many points but he’s starting to use his size and speed to limit the space of the people he’s defending and it worked very well tonight.
- Pontus Aberg didn’t score against us!
- Anyone that played the ‘Identity Line’ drinking game got absolutely buckled today. But for the second straight game, that line was effective and was able to use their size to cause some mayhem in the offensive zone. I honestly liked how they played, but now I hope Hitch knows to never have them out in the final minute.
- The Oilers got a power play goal tonight and probably should have had two. They were very good on both of their chances even though they only ended up cashing in on one.
- Not to be outdone, the PK was perfect for the second straight game as they killed off both chances they faced.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Nick Ritchie scored his first goal of the season with only 16 seconds left in the game to tie it up and it was insanely frustrating for multiple reasons. Not only could the game have been over but Hitchcock decided that the Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian line was the trio he’d have out there to close things out.
- Richard Rakell’s OT goal frustrated me to no end. After he beat Draisaitl into the zone for a chance on net, Leon took a hard right turn into the corner and left Rakell all alone to hack away at the puck. Terrible defensive effort. Draisaitl also made a glaring mistake on the goal that got called back for the Ducks too, making this one of his poorer games of the year.
- If the Oilers are going to run with McDavid and Draisaitl on one line then they need to improve the quality of wingers for the second line. Cuddles-Nuge-Chiasson did not inspire today.
- I don’t know about you guys but I saw the Oilers passing up all kinds of quality shooting chances to try and make a pass, and it was driving me crazy. I really wish the boys would be more selfish sometimes.
- Cooper Marody needs to get sent down to Bakersfield ASAP because he only played 3:19 tonight and there is no point in having him here to play that little. He needs to be with the Condors.
- Only 38% in the faceoff circle for the Oilers tonight. There’s getting beat and there’s getting dominated and it’s not hard to figure out which this was.
- *sigh* #BeetCast coming up on my Twitter.
- I will not complain about the refs. I will scream into a pillow.
|08:55||Edmonton||PPG – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (6) ASST: Connor McDavid (19), Alex Chiasson (2)||1-0|
|19:43||Anaheim||Nick Ritchie (1) ASST: Rickard Rakell (11), Marcus Pettersson (3)||1-1|
|00:14||Anaheim||Rickard Rakell (4) ASST: Brandon Montour (9), Ryan Getzlaf (11)||1-2|
Looch is gonna need a whole case of spray cans.
— Nihilist Moxie's (@ThomsonCam) November 23, 2018
Hey. Now you're just making up stats.
— Réal🎸 (@pwrcord) November 23, 2018
Anaheim really pushes the boundaries of the NHL’s interference rules every time they see McDavid.
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) November 23, 2018
— Alice Moran (@Alice_Moran) November 23, 2018
Beet-free for [ 0 ] game(s).
— Anthony Flynn (@anthonyjflynn) November 23, 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, 11/23/2018 – 4:45 pm MT