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GDB 26.0 Wrap Up: Grinding out wins in the Hitchcock era, Oilers win 2-1 over Vegas

That, my friends, is a huge regulation win. Final Score: 2-1 Oilers

When the Golden Knights were in town a couple of weeks ago, they were actually struggling at the time and looking like they weren’t going to be able to get anywhere near last season’s success. Fast forward to tonight’s rematch, and Vegas was rolling into town on a five-game win streak carrying with them a dominating record against the Pacific Division. Yeah, our boys have been playing better over these last couple of weeks, defensively they’ve been a lot stronger than we’ve seen in a while, but they’re not scoring a whole lot right now and that had me feeling nervous since the Golden Knights seem to be getting goals from everywhere. And with the way the Oilers started this game, I was having war flashbacks from last time. Had it not been for Koskinen’s brilliance then the boys would have found themselves in an early hole and who knows how this thing would have ended.

In their first meeting of the season, the Oilers’ downfall was that they allowed a warehouse worth of chances from high-risk areas and couldn’t get the saves needed to bail them out. That’s a bad combination for a team that needs to grind for every goal they get. While they had some of the same issues again tonight, especially in the first few minutes of the opening frame, the obvious difference was that Mikko Koskinen was there to throw up the wall and save his teammates when they needed him. Once again, they found a way to bend without breaking. As we dive deeper into the Hitchcock era, we’re seeing the Oilers start to look much more comfortable in these close games and rather than coughing up a game-tying mistake as we’ve often seen, they’re instead finding ways to lock things down and close games. Heading into the third period with the game tied, the Oilers had an opportunity to extend their winning streak and get themselves a step closer to a team they’re chasing in the standings, and they did exactly that.

In every way, this was a huge regulation win that the Oilers absolutely had to have. I know it’s still relatively early in the season, but you can’t drop the first two games against of the year against a divisional rival and you have to give the boys props for not letting that happen. Big win. Big two points.

The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Don’t you love when Connor does Connor things? I know I say it on a nightly basis, but the guy is absolutely wonderful to watch and the goal he scored to open the scoring was poetry on ice. He sailed past the defender with ease, gained some space for himself, and finished by absolutely roofing the puck past Fleury for his 14th of the year. Enjoy that one on Sportscentre later.
  • How about Ryan Spooner having his first goal with the Oilers end up as the game winner? With the game tied at one apiece early in the third period, the Oilers were hunting for the next goal and it was Ryan Spooner that gave it to them. Cuddles got lost in traffic and found himself alone in the slot and ready to smash home the perfect centring pass from Jujhar Khaira.
  • Ken Hitchcock said he’s going to ride the hot hand in net and that’s exactly what he’s doing as Mikko Koskinen got his fifth start in six games under the new coach. Koskinen has been great for the Oilers over this last month or so and he locked things down again for his team again tonight, especially early in the game when Vegas was dominant. From start to finish, Koskinen made the all kinds of fantastic saves that his team needed to stay in the mix for a win and that’s exactly what you want from him. To put it simply, he was great. Koskinen finished the night with 31 saves and a .969 save%.
  • Another strong night for Oscar Klefbom as he played a team-high 24:38 and extended his point streak to three games. Klefbom has really poured it on over the last little while and it couldn’t come at a better time.
  • He may not have gotten any points tonight but I still think Ryan Nugent-Hopkins deserves a mention for his excellent two-way play. The guy is turning into a penalty killing wizard and the way he was stripping Golden Knights of the puck was like running through a crash course in thievery.
  • Speaking of the penalty kill, the Oilers were perfect again tonight, killing off all three PK chances they faced. The Oilers couldn’t get anything done on their own powerplay, but at least they didn’t let Vegas find a way to score with their chances.
  • I really liked Ty Rattie’s game tonight. He was all over the puck, got some really good offensive chances, drew a penalty, and, in my opinion, did enough to get himself back into the lineup on Monday. He only played 9:38 but I thought he was noticeable when he was out there.
  • Doing #BoozeNotBeets wincasts are so much better at this time of night than having to eat a can of beets. Better in every way. Join in the celebration over on my Twitter account.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • The Oilers had a horrible first five minutes to this hockey game and had it not been for Mikko Koskinen then they would have been down by a pair of goals.
  • William Karlsson had the puck in the slot and scored because of a lucky bounce off of Klefbom’s leg. At that point, the Golden Knights had the Oilers on their heels a little bit and it wasn’t overly surprising to see them get a greasy goal to tie the game up.
  • Is Leon Draisaitl okay? I’m not saying that he’s playing poorly or anything, but he doesn’t seem like himself over the past couple of games and I really didn’t like the cross-checking penalty he took in the third period. He seems frustrated or something.
  • It would have been really nice if the Oilers’ powerplay had been able to get something done tonight and close this game out long before the final buzzer. In three chances with the man advantage, they weren’t able to get much of anything done outside of a few shots from the outside. It didn’t cost them in the end, but it would have been great to get that insurance.
  • According to the NHL site, the Oilers had 26 giveaways to Vegas’ 14 giveaways. Honestly, I think they’re being a little bit generous because the Oilers were giveaways machines early in this hockey game.
  • For the number of minutes the third line is getting, the team really needs them to chip in with some offence. I know they’re banging and crashing and that’s all good stuff, but they need to find a way to score and soon. This isn’t me complaining because I really like what that trio is bringing, but they can’t be a black hole in the offensive zone either.

SCORING SUMMARY

1ST PERIOD

TIME TEAM DETAILS SCORE
06:11 Edmonton Connor McDavid (14) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (16), Oscar Klefbom (12) 0-1

2ND PERIOD

TIME TEAM DETAILS SCORE
12:17 Vegas William Karlsson (9) 1-1

3RD PERIOD

TIME TEAM DETAILS SCORE
05:50 Edmonton Ryan Spooner (2) ASST: Jujhar Khaira (6) 1-2

#GOODCONTENT

Talk to me, Twitter. Tweet at @OilersNation and @jsbmbaggedmilk for your chance to land in the Best of the Tweets.

OILERSNATION RADIO

A new week means a new episode of Oilersnation Radio and this episode is chock-full of Edmonton Oilers content that you can slip right into your earholes. This week, we cover the Valentin Zykov waiver claim, whether the Strome for Spooner trade is worse than Eberle for Strome, the “retro” jersey debut, and another look at the Milan Lucic goal bet.


Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/01/2018 – 11:00 pm MT

  • Gary

    Mathew Tchuck, McDavid. Barzal
    Hall, Draisaitil,, Eberle
    All Charreli needed to wory about was Defence.
    Don Mclean, American Pie.
    Substitute music for Oilers.
    Draisaitil is grossly over paid,

  • Gary

    Lets try that again.
    Line one
    Mathew Tkachuk, McDavid, Barzal
    Line two.
    Hall, Draisaitl, Eberle
    All chiarelli needed to worry about was defence. A great big F&^%$%^ng Fail.
    Don Mclean, American Pie.
    Substitute music for Oilers.
    Draisaitil is grossly over paid. Cry’s when he doesn’t play with McDavid. The turtle.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    Remember all those insiders and experts that made excuses for Talbot?
    They would say that Oilers defense was horrible, and Talbot needed better players in front of him.
    Imagine if Koskinen had the players they
    wished for Talbot.
    Would the Oilers be undefeated?

  • hagar

    It was a horrible move not playing kosk against the kings. In the grand scheme it may or may not matter, but enough of the experiments.
    Run this team like a business, not a club house, and they have potential.

  • Since 72

    O, if we all could have hindsight how easy life would be! There isn’t a team that wouldn’t take the Drai in a heartbeat. He’s a young man that will get way better.

    • YFC Prez

      He’s already sitting at over a point per game and the second best player on the team. The potential drai still has is through the roof.

      I’m pretty sure there’s some trolling going on above us ^ in the comments section

    • Gary

      Hindsight? Why not just leave it alone. We had a super strong team before Chiarelli came along.
      Last years MVP Taylor Hall traded for Larson, Eberle for nothing, Barzal pick for nothing, give me strength, hoe many regulation wins does this team have? 4 I think.
      You cant tell me you’d rather have Jesse Puljujarvi over Matthew Tkachuk or Mathew Barzal over Griffin Reinhart, or perhaps Taylor (freaking Hall) over Adam Larson.
      If this is what our fan base has become, I’m out.
      You’ll say good riddance and ill say good luck with that. I always expected better.

      • YFC Prez

        Oilers most certainly did not have a super strong team before Chiarelli came along. They havnt had a super strong team in a very (I mean very) long time

      • Mcjesus97

        Get over yourself buddy those players are gone stop thinking about the past. Ya Tkachuk and barzal would of been nice but trading hall and Eberle was inevitable did we get what we wanted? No. Who cares it’s over. Out? Bounce boy.

      • GK1980

        Yes, Chia is not a good GM we all know this. You have valid points and this 3 game win streak has people in here thinking this team is fixed. I hope they are right because I still see major flaws. Need more consistency in secondary scoring and need more goals.

      • Oilers2017

        Hey bro, you’re having a hard time with this because you can’t let go of the past! Seriously. Let. It. Go. Focus on the now and possibly the future. I am not aware of a more pointless exercise than looking backwards with the “what ifs”. Doesn’t do anybody any good. Stop it. We have a decent team with a great new coach here….let’s watch them grow into respectability (and possibly the playoffs), won’t that be fun?!?!?

      • No way, Koskinen has been calm and positionally sound. Watching the condensed game after all you hear is “save by Koskinen, another save by Koskinen, and it’s Koskinen.” Really happy Koski is proving us wrong. Hope he keeps it up, because he has been a wall back there.

      • Marcus

        I don’t think he has a great work ethic either unfortunately. When he’s giving it 100%, he can fly out there and make plays….when he’s not, he play is slow, sloppy, and seemingly lazy. Shouldn’t happen at NHL level.

  • The future never comes

    Dont want to drag on a great Oilers win, but Leon has looked noticeably bad the last few games. Turning pucks over, not getting pucks out of the zone at key times, bad passing, not moving his feet, and bad body language. Get it together man this team needs him to step it up. Anyways not to be a negative nelly but all in all solid grind tonight.

    • hagar

      Yeah, leon is having a hard time signing up for the average effort required to bank on players for a solid team to work out.
      You can have bad games, but he is really hanging onto the oilers traditional failure of not playing unless he feels like it.
      The sooner the players cut that tradition out, the sooner good days arrive.

    • Niurou

      One playoff appearance actually made us worse. Everybody was talking about oilers will be cup contender last year. That makes overpaid Leon and kassian. We are not that good yet, and even worse is we don’t have cap space to get better.

  • OilersGM

    HNIC panel especially Hrudey are goofs, Nuge at worst is a second line Centre and Hrudey keeps saying 3rd line maybe second. Nuge has became a point per game player and also along with McDavid should be in the running for Selke trophy with the amount of takeaways they have every game.

    • Oilman99

      Take a look at their record two years ago. If they didn’t have all those OT wins,they wouldn’t have made the playoffs. Shut down hockey is the only way they are going to win,due to a lack of top six forwards.

    • jesse says yep

      im ok with winning one goal low scoring games for now. Its just a matter of time before the floodgates open again for the top 2 lines. Then ride the waveand the back to winning one goal games. Rinse and repeat all the way to the playoffs.

    • hagar

      Dont fear the averages. The highs and lows being removed is a perfect start for hitch.
      The number one change since hitch took over? Where are the guaranteed or near guaranteed periord, half game, play by play failures? They are drying up like water in the desert. Every game under hitch breads more stabilitly. Might get a little boring at times, but thats the way it works when you have a higher low point, and a lower average high point.
      Hopefully the manic games are replaced by one goal losses, and one or two goal wins.

  • rnj

    People have been saying Nuge isnt a 1 or 2C for ages. When Johansen was getting shopped most commenters and at least one ON writer wanted to do the deal of RNH + for him. Nuges numbers have always been minimum 2C. Hes underappreciated like Malkin, guy gets no love

    • Heschultzhescores

      I loved the Nuge’s game tonight. He was great and D and created lots of scoring chances. I’d just like to see him snipe 1 of those golden chances. He’s hit a lot of posts this year and missing the net tonite. Maybe stop trying to be so precise and aiming the shot.

      • YFC Prez

        “Underappreciated” like Malkin. You can’t just ignore the first word of that sentence. It completely alters the context. You know very well he wasn’t comparing Nuge’s game to Malkin. They’re very different hockey players.

        • Rugbypig

          YFC,
          Alf cant understand big words “greater than 7 letters” so underappreciated means “better than” to him.
          Weird I know but some people don’t realize the computer can also be used to search to the meaning of words – you just spell them out in the search bar – and “Tada!!” learning moment realized!

    • Blackbyrd82

      ‘Hes underappreciated’

      Agreed.

      ‘like Malkin’

      …are you high? Seriously that’s insane. Here. I’ll help you: ‘He’s under appreciated like Koivu.’ Now it’s factually true AND you don’t sound like a ridiculous homer.

    • hagar

      If hitch gets the team to the playoffs, they will change it to the ken hitchcock.
      I think it will happen.. The oilers playoffs, not the hitchcock trophy. Lol

      • Ratt McNuge

        He’s a fantastic coach. He’s got these guys playing a good team defensive game. It’s really the only way this lineup can win games, and it’s working so far.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      They might have been trying to scare the eff out of Benning so he’d play better. I think it worked. Also another cheap depth-RD isn’t a bad idea.

      • The future never comes

        You’re right, Benning has looked better the past two games. He seems to be making more accurate passes and having less defensive lapses since Wideman arrived.

    • Ohlyr

      Heavy forecheck on the winning goal by Rattie, JJ cuts off the pass, Spooner in nice position to finish.
      A playoff type of goal.
      Very solid defensive team effort tonight, Koskinen was the difference (especially in the 1st). He outplayed Fluery.

  • Bills Bills

    Does everyone hate the way the Oilers are playing? Or you just like the wins? Two weeks ago, winning 1-0 or 2-1 would have been a fantasy.

    I had initially asked for Lemaire or Hitchcock 2.0 but I will take the original.

    For the record, when you have Connor, you never have boring hockey.

    The last 2 mins Vegas was doing everything they could and couldn’t get anywhere near the net or the middle of the ice in front of Koskinen. I would normally be extremely nervous for those two mins.

    Double shift Draisaitl with Lucic and Kassian for a few shifts a game. Get the big man into it and get his legs moving.

  • Ohlyr

    Some Outstanding Numbers.
    GGA 2.16 (4th best), SV% 0.928 (7th best), Win% 0.800 (3rd best).
    It’s been a long time since we have had goaltending like this 🙂

  • Odanada

    To my mind, this pretty much proves that the players had tuned Todd out. Hitch has their attention and there’s competition for jobs and it shows.
    They’re much better at coming out of their own end and despite some defensive lapses, the team compete level is a lot higher. Koskinen gives them confidence and even Jesse is finishing checks – very good to see. Solid team defense is great, but I’d like to see more goals if only to get McDavid where he belongs; back atop the points race. Can’t we have both?

  • GK1980

    Good win. Cags good….again. McDavid was flying and Rattie with a solid game.

    Not to be a party pooper but I still think the oil are just barely ha going on I’m these games they have won. They still need to be better especially more secondary scoring and for god sakes more hungry in secondary chances in goalie rebounds.

    • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      They beat Dallas and Vegas in the last three games–two teams above them in the standings and Vegas was on a 5 game winning streak. Any team would be just hanging on. Welcome to the Western Conference.

  • KootenayDan

    I see a much smarter Drai playing solid defense and fewer offensive turnovers but he does get frustrated in faster games. Still our big guns are getting the job done nice to see a glimmer of secondary scoring.

  • camdog

    Play the hot goalie equals wins. That first 5 minutes Vegas came out flying. When you come out that hard of the gate you either score or you leave yourself open to a Connor counter strike. If Koskinen can keep the door closed early it changes the other teams approach to the entire game. In a weak Pacific, where quite frankly if this was soccer they could be all regulated, it’s the great equalizer.

  • XL Lebowski

    The beat the dead horse stuff keeps going with Hall and Eberle. It’s gone on longer than the Gretzky, Messier, Fuhr Ranford and Pronger etc. trade talk. I’m not a Chia fan by any means, but I’d hate to see what would happen if he traded an authentic hall of famer off the oilers roster.

    • Boba The Fett

      The goals will come. When Hitch came in he focused on putting in structure and keeping pucks out of our net. Once he has the team playing responsible defensively he will start his work on the offense. As everyone likes to say you need to build a team from the back end out, this does not apply to just players but also to system play.

  • Nellzo

    I don’t mind that the KLB line isn’t scoring right now. They are preventing goals, wearing down the opposition, creating momentum and generally staying on the right side of the ledger. It’ll come for them.

    Also, as a long time fan it’s nice to be on the other side of the Hitchcock grind game. I remember all too well the multitude of hearbreaking Stars vs Oilers games in the 90s.