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Oilers 1, Flames 0 post-game Oil Spills: Keep calm and pick up the win

The last time Edmonton and Calgary met, emotions got high and the Flames got in the Oilers’ heads and it cost them the game. This time, the Oilers kept things calm and grinded out a 1-0 victory.

What happened…

The top line opened the scoring mid-way through the first period. Connor McDavid brought the puck into the zone, flipped it to Leon Draisaitl before getting open in the circle, then Draisaitl fed Chiasson who quickly fired a cross-ice pass to a wide-open McDavid for the gorgeous goal.

The Flames recalled Anthony Peluso from the AHL for this game for this exact reason. Last time, Zack Kassian dropped the mitts and went after Matthew Tkachuk. This time, Peluso was available to answer the bell.

Many were a little skeptical when Mikko Koskinen got the nod for Sunday’s Battle of Alberta after Cam Talbot put in excellent back-to-back starts. Koskinen had himself a hell of a game, stopping all 24 shots Calgary threw at him including some huge stops in high danger areas.

By the numbers…

The Oilers came out quickly and dominated possession in the first period with 21 shot attempts to Calgary’s 13. The Flames brought the momentum back in their favour in the second period controlling shot attempts 20 to 12. The third was a real tight one, as Ken Hitchcock implemented The Trap and the Oilers managed to completely slow the game down. The Flames managed just seven shot attempts in the third at even strength.

Thoughts…

  • I alluded to this at the beginning, but that’s the way the Oilers have to navigate playing the Flames. Their strategy last time was to get into the Oilers’ heads and it worked. Edmonton had a 2-0 lead and the Flames stormed back to win 4-2 after the Tkachuk Turtle Saga. As annoying as that stuff is, it doesn’t help the Oilers to sit in the box and get off their game. On Sunday, there was some chippy stuff and guys like Tkachuk and Sam Bennett tied to do their agitator thing, but the Oilers kept it calm and did what they had to do. They scored their goal, worried about the game, and then proceeded to shut the Flames down. The game isn’t the same as it used to be and teams have to be ready to adapt.
  • The Oilers did an impressive job executing Ken Hitchcock’s trap. It’s been a noticeable change since he took over as the team is much, much stronger defensively than they used to be. The defencemen are making life difficult in the defensive zone, but, I think most importantly, the forwards are coming back on defence faster than they used to. In the past, the defencemen were left on their own a lot, but now the forwards are hanging back and supporting the defensive zone. It makes it much harder for the opposition to set up and generate quality chances. It might not be fun to watch, but picking up wins is fun.
  • Some under-the-radar performances I liked last night… Kevin Gravel and Matt Benning have started to look like a fairly solid third pair. Gravel plays a very calm and easy game which works nicely for Benning. Benning likes to pinch and throw hits, but he sometimes finds himself out of position. With Gravel playing a conservative positional style, it doesn’t lead to as many major noticeable breakdowns. Also, the fourth line of Valentin Zykov, Ryan Spooner, and Ty Rattie was effective last night. They did what a fourth line needs to do, which is give up nothing the other way. The trio was on the ice for just three shot attempts against.
  • I hate to do it, but you have to give the Flames some credit. They were playing the second leg of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights without two key players and they put in a good, 60-minute effort. They’re going to be a challenge for the Oilers all year, but, like I said in my first point, if the Oilers stick to their game, they’re good enough to win these games.


  • Señor Frijoles

    New NHL rule suggestion: Fans that stand up, turn around, and wave their arms when they think the camera is on them should be escorted from their sweet, rinkside seats, taken outside and immediately executed.

  • CRONENBERG

    When the Oilers used to play teams with that “Hitchcock” style defense, I would think the games were so boring. Funny how much more fun they are to watch we we’re on the winning side.

  • Harry2

    I feel like people especially Flamers fans are forgetting that Edm had 2 breakaways and hit 2 or 3 posts it’s not like they scored a goal then sat on their hands all game.

    Could of easily been a 4-0 or 4-2 game

  • Quoteright

    I’m going to say yaaa to the whisperer. Team defence was always the Achilles heal of this team. Seems he’s getting by-in.
    Also, the lack of depth that everyone harped about has a lot to do with the role players not being valued and understanding their roles.
    Listening to ex 80’s Oilers, they all talk about how Greztky made them all feel important and valued no matter how small their role was.
    Belief is the elixir of success, and all the players need to feel the support of their team to fully succeed.
    Also, some cheering never hurts.

  • Heschultzhescores

    It’s still ABC

    A. They are not playing the trap.
    B. There is never a reason to give Calgary any credit.
    C. Calgary sucks, Always has always will.
    Other than that you make a few decent points.

  • tank_06

    Oilers barely beat the flames. That’s with Gio and Backlund out who are the two best shutdown players and top scoring d. As well Frolik, valamaki and stone are injured. 5 NHL players out and Oilers still had to squeak it out. Full health flames better team by a mile. Best in the West actually

  • Fireball

    Good to see them come together and play team defence. Unless you have a bunch of solid shut down Dmen or offensive Dmen it’s the only way you can play. Good to see a system that’s working

    • Hockeytalkguy

      @ spydyr…boy he sure has been SOLID. I was skeptical at the beginning of the year but not now. My goodness it has to be intimidating seeing that large carcass protecting the net.

      • Spydyr

        It does not take much hockey IQ to see Koskinen has been rock solid for almost the entire season. He is literally head and shoulders better than Talbot has been this season.

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          I will be the first to admit when I saw Koskinen in the preseason I wasn’t very thrilled with him, he didnt look good at all. When he started to get some games in though he started to look a lot better and since he started to get into some games he has been very very good. What I do like about Koskinen is when he has one go by him he thinks he should have had, he gets pissed about, when he is digging the pug out of the net, you can see him try and whip it because he doesnt like that it got by him and that means he actually cares about it and it fires him up, and he seems to play even better.

          I said this before roll with Koskinen till he drops a game then throw in Talbot, when Koskinen needs a night off if there are a lot of short games in a spell then throw in Talbot, like the Oil did in this stretch.

          Talbot is a proud guy and I am sure sitting on the bench isnt thrilling the hell out of him but maybe it will fire him up to be better to prove the coaches wrong and make it tough to make them not want to play him. The Oilers need to see what Koskinen can do, Talbots contract is up this year, and so is Koskinen’s so someone is going to come out and be the no1 guy unless the Oilers go goalie shopping and I dont see that happening, so they have to see what shakes out btwn these two

          • Kneedroptalbot

            Dustin Schwartz has done a great job with Mikko Kostkinen, he is playing the angles really well. Also I’ve noticed he is giving up fewer big rebounds.

          • Donnie

            Ya our big Finn might not be the fastest but he gets in position and with his big frame that blocks a lot of shots. Not a fan of Dustin Schwarzt, Talbot always goes down early and its a goal high glove side. This should have been addressed long ago.

  • Oiler Al

    Hope Hitch finds some time during practice to work on the Power Play.Their performance vs Flames was atrocious and that’s being kind.They can barely get the puck into the zone!Not getting draws isn’t helping them either.The entire effort is static, especially Drisaitl.Need changes.

  • slats-west

    Last night was a very interesting game that we started to see more and more of a Hitch-systems
    1. Very tight triangles on the puck lead to sticks taking passes away and putting the puck harmlessly into the corner or out of our zone. They are playing in 5 person units. Amazing how fast.
    2. The D getting into the offense has led to WAY MORE OFFENSIVE ZONE TIME. Another Big Hitch system add. Just look at that Intensity line hold onto the puck vs 4 weeks ago!
    3. The PP needs to be better and the pass up a lot of shots from point. Please stop! Shooting the puck makes the PK forwards not be so aggressive and getting blocked by taking someone’s ankle off does two things. One takes them out of the play, two it gives everyone more time and space to operate. SHOOT THE EFFING PUCK!
    4. Disagree on view of 4th line. The 4th line looked OK but the weak link is Rattie he had 3-4 chances to make a play on odd man rushes and failed. I feel bad for him but he deserves a seat. Cant wait for Cags and/or Reider. More speed to the line up as well.
    5. I would double shift Nuge between Luc and Kass and get him some more minutes. Reason? those wingers are playing better, Nuge is way better than Brodziak and he could use more minutes. I would shy away from McD there as hes already playing enough. I can see a few more goals here.
    6. Nurse is starting to play better and better. He’s reading better and wasnt lost and out of the position. Could be one of the most improved Oilers under Hitch. If he starts to pinch more look out!! He could be very dangerous.

    Overall I agree with all those comments on Teams in and Out. With the exception LA. I hope they continue to suck but they have a lot of talent (especially with a healthy Jonathon Quick!!) there and my fear is they some how stay around.
    Nice to NJD sucking after hot start. For me Hall factor starting to settle in and they will finish last is my prediction. 2W in their last 11G and Hall is a -7 for last two months.

  • Clayton

    Scary that the Oil only beat the Flames 1-0 considering the Flames were playing their second game in two nights and 3rd in 4 nights. They were also missing their #1 Dman (Giordano) and their top 2 Defensive Forwards (Backlund and Frolik). They were also missing two of their other top 6 Dmen from the start of the sesaon (Stone and Valimaki). The Oilers were one puck bounce away from not winning this game. Still, bottom line is a win is a win and the Oilers got 2 points and the Flames didn’t!