Life without Connor is a dark and cold existence. Final Score: 4-1 Stars
When the Oilers faced off against the Stars for the first time last week, the game played out exactly as you’d imagine it would when two Ken Hitchcock systems went head to head. As the game went into overtime with the score tied at zero, I like to imagine that Hitch felt a sense of pride bubble up inside of him as he soaked in the moment of his two most recent teams playing 60 full minutes of scoreless hockey. Mmmm defence. Personally, I could care less if the Oilers only score once in a game provided that they get the win. At this point in the Infinibuild, I think most Oilers fans would be happy to settle into the trap all night if it meant wins going up on the board. Unfortunately, scoring one goal and winning the game only works when you’re able to completely lock things down in your own end and that did not happen tonight.
Before the news broke that Connor wouldn’t be playing tonight due to illness, I was expecting another low-scoring game that could go either way, but with the captain out it felt more like we might have to head out into the streets and look for sacrifices. The Oilers haven’t been scoring a whole lot lately and to have their leading scorer out due to illness is not a good combination. Certainly, some kind of stray animal or intern is worth offering to the Gords for a little bit of secondary offence, right? All I know for sure is that with Connor McDavid sick and out, all expectations for what to expect went out the window. Considering the guy has been in on almost half of the team’s total goals, all I could think about was who would pick up the slack. As it turns out, the answer was not really anyone. That’s not to say there wasn’t effort, I actually thought the Oilers battled hard for most of this hockey game, but they didn’t have the offensive horses to score the goals needed to complete the comeback and get the job done.
Here’s hoping Connor is only out for the one game.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- It’s been 40 games since he last scored, but Jujhar Khaira finally got himself on the board with his first of the season. Khaira made a strong play to the net and fought to knock home his own rebound, solving Khudobin for the first and only time tonight. Garbage time or not, that was a solid goal for a guy that really needed one.
- I thought Leon Draisaitl had a good night tonight considering the extra responsibility that got thrown on his shoulders because of Connor McDavid’s absence. Though he didn’t score, Draisaitl probably deserved to be on the scoresheet for more than the one assist as he logged a truckload of minutes (25:25) and made plays on basically every shift.
- The more Hitchcock plays Mikko Koskinen the more intrigued I get by the goalie situation in Edmonton. Koskinen wasn’t the same lights out monster tonight that we’ve seen over his winning run, but I’d also say that he wasn’t getting a whole lot of help, especially in the third period. Koskinen gave his team a chance to stay in it but he needed more than the one goal, something that just never happened. Koskinen finished the night with 21 saves and a .875 save%.
- I thought Kris Russell had a really nice game tonight. He was moving his feet well, broke up plenty of offensive chances by the Stars, and, as usual, was always willing to sacrifice his body to make a play. I thought he had a strong night.
- Chris Wideman only played 6:36 tonight but he got his first assist with the Oilers.
- I don’t know what it is about having Darnell Nurse’s old man in the building, but ol’ Darryl loves punching faces when his old man is around. Nurse got in a beauty scrap tonight with Devin Shore and you’re going to want to check it out again over at hockey fights.
- At least Tyler Pitlick and Taylor Fedun didn’t score!?
THE FACE PALMERS
- Jason Dickenson opened the scoring for the Stars tonight after he finished off a lucky broken stick passing play that ended up right on his stick. Dickenson was the business end of the tic-tac-toe play that ended up in the back of the net after some very quick puck movement.
- Brett Ritchie put the Stars up by two goals after driving to the net and finishing off the cross-crease pass from Mattias Janmark. Koskinen couldn’t get across in time and Ritchie was able to give his team some insurance. And would you be surprised to find out that was his first goal of the season? You wouldn’t be, would you?
- Jamie Benn put the Stars up by three goals on a perfectly deflected shot-pass from the point. Benn was cruising through the offensive zone and timed his approach to the net perfectly as he arrived just in time to tip the Gavin Bayreuther (yes, that’s a real person) pass into the net.
- Esa Lindell added an empty-net goal late in the third period to nail the coffin shut.
- Connor McDavid is a wizard and I won’t believe otherwise unless someone shows me the receipts, but even the mightiest of sorcerors get sick sometimes. Without Connor McDavid, you really get a chance to see how flawed this roster is and that point was on full display tonight.
- Is it just me that seems to notice that Darnell Nurse gets caught puck watching a lot? Can’t be just me, right? Let me know in the comments.
- Oilers went 0/3 on the powerplay on a night when they were gagging for goals. I know Connor wasn’t playing but you still have to be able to make it work with the man advantage.
- The Oilers’ PK has been really effectively lately but they could only kill off one of the two Dallas chances with the man advantage. The Stars had plenty of good looks at the net on both of their opportunities and it wasn’t overly surprising when Benn got his goal.
- I know some people wonder why I even bother to mention faceoffs but to me, it makes sense to want the puck on your stick as early into the play as possible. Anyway, the Oilers had a tough but not horrible night on the dot, winning 45% of the draws they took.
- It’s been a little while since I’ve had to eat beets and I’m pretty bummed out that I have to dive into a can right now. As always, you can join in the conversation over on my Twitter account.
|10:59||Dallas||Jason Dickinson (5) ASST: Mattias Janmark (6), Brett Ritchie (2)||0-1|
|01:51||Dallas||Brett Ritchie (1) ASST: Mattias Janmark (7)||0-2|
|07:24||Dallas||PPG – Jamie Benn (12) ASST: Gavin Bayreuther (3), Alexander Radulov (13)||0-3|
|14:36||Edmonton||Jujhar Khaira (1) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (17), Chris Wideman (4)||1-3|
|17:46||Dallas||EN – SHG – Esa Lindell (4)||1-4|
Siri who is Patrick Russell? pic.twitter.com/LpHkJUQmzR
— Wanye (@WanyeGretz) December 4, 2018
— Adam (@OilersAdam) December 4, 2018
I miss Connor
— Mark’s Corner (@goodkidmarkcity) December 4, 2018
I’m glad I’m not a beet guy….
— Mike Simpsonite (@WazMagoo) December 4, 2018
I would like to protest this beet cast. I don’t think it is fair that you have to do that when #97 isn’t playing. Maybe without Connor, you do a green bean cast or creamed corn cast??
— Derek Reid (@fiftyn39) December 4, 2018
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, 12/03/2018 – 11:00 pm MT