Make it a four-game winning streak. Final Score: 6-4 Oilers
Over the last couple of weeks, the Oilers have looked like a much different hockey team since Ken Hitchcock has been behind the bench and I was very curious to see if that would hold up against the Avalanche. On Sunday night, the Oilers flexed their Hitchcockian defensive muscles and kept a very hot Calgary Flames team off the scoreboard and they needed much of the same kind of lockdown tonight if they were going to beat the Avs. Not to mention, I couldn’t help but think it would be nice to get more than a single goal in the game to maybe help the goalie out, but I didn’t necessarily expect to see them put six up on the board. I guess it’ll take time to get used to the ‘one goal this night’ and ‘six goals that night’ adventure that is the Ken Hitchcock era. It’s been emotional, ya know?
Early on, the Avalanche generated all kinds of chances and pressure, and I was actually getting nervous that the Oilers were going to fall into a hole that they couldn’t pull themselves out of. At one point, the shots on net were getting so lopsided that it seemed like only a matter of time before the home side would break through. Fortunately, Mikko Koskinen was a fortress between the pipes yet again and he kept the boys in the game, giving them the chance to settle down and get their legs moving. Once they did get going, the floodgates burst open and the Oilers started putting up goals in bunches, fulfilling my dreams of getting a little run support. But as it turns out, they’d need almost all of that offence to close this thing out as the Avalanche refused to quit and ended up clawing their way back to within two goals. Fortunately, the comeback started late in the night and they weren’t able to get any closer.
While they may not have ended off the game in a way they’d want, giving up some late goals to make the final closer than it should have been, the Oilers should be thrilled to get two big points against a very tough team. It may not have been the perfect finish, but you’ve gotta like the end result.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Kyle Brodziak got the Oilers on the board first after he pulled out his pitching wedge and beat Varlamov on a rebound up high. Nurse made a nice pinch to pick up the puck behind the net and get the initial shot on goal and Brodziak was there to clean up the garbage.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a monster for the Oilers tonight as he finished the night with two big goals and probably could have had more. RNH was a handful in all three zones of the ice and I actually feel like he should have probably finished with more than three points based on how well he played.
- Connor McDavid was absolutely flying today and it never ceases to amaze me how he can do so many things with the puck at high speed. In the second period, McDavid sniped a five-hole goal after picking up a pass (an amazing pass btw) from Draisaitl with speed and quick release to beat the defence and goalie. How about another casual two-point night for the captain?
- Leon Draisaitl scored a big goal tonight to quickly answer the Avalanche getting themselves on the board, but his real magic came in the form of his passing. The backhanded saucer pass to Connor McDavid that led to his goal was an absolute masterpiece. Big props to Leon Draisaitl for signing a stick for a little girl that was holding a sign for him before the game started. For Leon, that’s an easy thing to do since he doesn’t pay for sticks, but that little girl is going to remember the gesture forever. I like that. Well played, sir.
- After Oscar Klefbom got injured, Darnell Nurse took his spot on the powerplay and he took full advantage of it as he blasted home his fourth goal of the season after Nuge set him up on a tee. With the way Darryl can shoot, I always wondered why he wasn’t getting a look with the man advantage but he got that chance tonight and made good on it.
- After getting a shutout against the Flames on Sunday night, it made sense for Ken Hitchcock to reward Koskinen with another start. The dude has been lights out so far this season and I was hoping for more of the same in this game against the Avalanche and that’s exactly what we got. The big man was rock solid tonight and he gave his team a chance to win even when it looked like they were in trouble early, an impressive feat considering how many shots the Avs were throwing at him early. Koskinen finished the night 39 saves and a .908 save%.
- I want to give a shout out to the defensive group as a whole. At times, they got down to four defenceman and everyone had to step up to make it work and all of them banded together to make it happen. Darnell Nurse led the charge with over 30 minutes tonight, and I thought he did a very nice job of stepping his game up to fill the gap left by Klefbom’s absence.
- The Oilers got a big night with the man advantage and they needed both goals they got to close this game out. It had been a while since they’ve been able to score on the powerplay and that made it very nice to see them score a pair.
- How about Jujhar Khaira finding himself with six points in his last six games? That’s a nice run for the bearded one. He’s playing well since getting bumped up to Nuge’s line and I like the flavour he brings into the mix.
- How about the scrap Matt Benning got into against Calvert in the third period? Those boys aren’t heavyweights but they were certainly chuckin’ em. If fights are your thing, you can have another look over at Benning’s fight page on HockeyFights.
- Undefeated in goal challenges in the Hitchcock era. I never thought I’d see the day.
- Nothing makes me happier than making a celebratory drink for myself after the Oilers win. #BoozeNotBeets wincast is coming up in a few minutes and you can join in the conversation over on my Twitter account.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Mikko Rantanen got the Avalanche on the board after he finished off a nice passing play by Colorado’s first line. At this point, Colorado was already down by four goals but was still a hell of a play. Rantanen got another goal in the third period, which was disappointing because I really want Connor to catch him in the points race.
- Colin Wilson got the Avalanche’s second goal on the power play and it actually made me jealous a little bit to see how effectively they were able to move the puck and finish it off with a goal like they expected it to happen. I know the Oilers scored a pair with the PP tonight but that Wilson goal was slick.
- Gabriel Landeskog got the Avalanche’s fourth goal with the net empty, but it was too little too late. To Landeskog’s credit, he displayed some nice hand-eye coordination on the goal. It didn’t matter in the end, but it happened.
- Kris Russell left the game in the second period after getting banged up a little bit but you just know it was going to take an amputation or something to keep him off the ice. I don’t know what happened to him, I just know I’m glad he’s okay.
- Early in the second period, Oscar Klefbom took a shot in the hand that immediately sent him down the tunnel and into the dressing room. He came back in the game for a little bit, but ended up leaving again in the third period. According to Ken Hitchcock’s post-game presser, Klefbom will be out for weeks which is obviously a massive blow for the Oilers’ blue line.
- Oilers finished the night at 38% in the faceoff circle and that is not ideal. Lots of room to improve there, boys.
|13:51||Edmonton||Kyle Brodziak (3) ASST: Darnell Nurse (7)||1-0|
|09:26||Edmonton||PPG – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (9) ASST: Connor McDavid (26), Matt Benning (6)||2-0|
|13:37||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (10) ASST: Milan Lucic (6)||3-0|
|15:14||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (17) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (20), Adam Larsson (9)||4-0|
|16:01||Colorado||Mikko Rantanen (13) ASST: Tyson Barrie (18), Gabriel Landeskog (18)||4-1|
|16:42||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (16) ASST: Zack Kassian (1), Kyle Brodziak (2)||5-1|
|01:41||Colorado||PPG – Colin Wilson (8) ASST: Mikko Rantanen (37), Gabriel Landeskog (19)||5-2|
|03:05||Edmonton||PPG – Darnell Nurse (4) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (19), Leon Draisaitl (21)||6-2|
|16:11||Colorado||Mikko Rantanen (14) ASST: Nathan MacKinnon (26)||6-3|
|18:53||Colorado||Gabriel Landeskog (18) ASST: Mikko Rantanen (38), Nathan MacKinnon (27)||6-4|
big surprise from a hard nosed vet who goes to bed on time
— CommanderShift (@CommanderShift) December 12, 2018
Altitude is powerless vs Connor McDavid!!!
— Rick Weidemann (@RPW_1832) December 12, 2018
Connor McDavid isn’t affected by the altitude in Denver because he isn’t human and oxygen isn’t necessary for life on his planet.
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) December 12, 2018
I took mine off in anticipation. Don’t want to ruin a good pair of pants.
— Sinkevich (@dylansinkevich) December 12, 2018
REAL LIFE PODCAST
Welcome, friends, to another episode of the Real Life Podcast! It’s the podcast where a show outline gets made but rarely matters as the boys often find themselves wandering the forests of their own minds rather than sticking to the plan at hand. This week, the guys jump right in by talking about the Oilers big win last night against the Calgary Flames and how the team really seems to be embracing the Hitchcock style of play.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/11/2018 – 9:30 pm MST