Photo Credit: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Canucks 4, Oilers 2 post-game Oil Spills: Poor penalty kill costs the Oilers in Vancouver

Special teams can make you sink or swim. The Oilers’ penalty kill got torn apart by the Canucks on Sunday night which was ultimately the difference in a frustrating loss.

What happened…

The Oilers grabbed the lead early in the second period. JJ Khaira won a loose puck battle in the offensive zone and fed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with a beautiful no-look, behind-the-back pass in the slot.

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Things went downhill from there. The Canucks would take a 3-1 lead after scoring three power play goals, some of which came on questionable penalties. Caleb Jones was handed a pretty weak holding call and Alex Edler scored nine seconds into the man advantage. Kevin Gravel was given a delay of game penalty despite having only one hand on his stick when the puck went over the glass and Brock Boeser scored the go-ahead goal. Adam Larsson took another delay of game penalty in the third period and Elias Pettersson scored to make it 3-1.

The Oilers turned on the jets with about five minutes left to go in the game. Connor McDavid carried the puck into the zone and found Alex Chiasson alone in the slot. He buried his 15th of the year to bring the game to 3-2, but the Canucks would ice the game on an empty net goal soon after.

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By the numbers…

The Oilers were the better team in the first and third periods but they had a massive letdown in a sluggish second. Of course, it doesn’t help that they had three different penalties that period, but the Canucks carried the play. The Canucks also did a good job playing stingy defence in the third period with the lead as they allowed only two high danger chances in the final frame.

Mike Smith is back on a one-year deal worth $2 million


  • Your special teams need to be special, as corny as that sounds. Edmonton has had a poor penalty kill for a year-and-a-half now and it’s made life extremely difficult for them. They didn’t play a great game last night by any stretch of the imagination but the Canucks didn’t outplay them at even strength. The game really came down to them allowing three goals on five penalty kills.
  • In the same vein, the Oilers power play didn’t really have a chance to do anything last night. Vancouver only took one penalty, which seems a little odd. Connor McDavid took his usual bumps all nights and the refs turned a blind eye. I really, really don’t think that Edmonton deserved to have five infractions while the Canucks had only one. I mean, Elias Pettersson, a rookie, drew a call when he just toppled on to the ice when he got mixed up with Jesse Puljujarvi. We’ve been told countless times that McDavid doesn’t earn calls because he’s still young yet somebody 20 games into their career is given the benefit of the doubt. I hate to complain about reffing, but that wasn’t a great showing last night.
  • Mikko Koskinen didn’t have a great game last night but the team needs to score more than two goals against Vancouver. The Canucks are one of the worst teams in the league at keeping the puck out of the net and the Oilers only managed two goals and six even strength high danger chances last night. The offence looked sluggish and low-energy.
  • In terms of positives, the Caleb Jones and Kevin Gravel pair was insanely effective last night. In 16 minutes of even strength ice time together, the Oilers had 22 shot attempts while conceding just two. That’s amazing. Jones has been impressive in his first two games and Gravel has looked like a very solid and competent defender all year.

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    Hitchcock called out the reffing (non-calls on Connor) after last game. I say FINALLY!!! I hate that it’s seen like whining to demand that the refs call the game by the book, or at least equally not by the book. Connor says nothing, which I understand, but someone has to. The sheer number of infractions Connor has to skate through daily is absurd. They don’t call even a fraction of them. Here’s the issue: If the refs call it by the book, McDavid would draw a penalty ON EVERY SHIFT due to his speed and skill, and gawd knows that can’t happen because it would be unfair. If I am Hitch, I get my video guys to splice together videos of “good” (obvious) penalties that were called, then Connor not getting the call on dozens and dozens of identical plays. Then send it to Carey Fraser (if he’s still head of officiating).

    The rhetoric that we are whining because we are fans and every player endures the same proportion of missed calls is 100% crapola.

  • bwar

    Even vaguely suggesting that McDavid should dive is embarrassing. It should never be on the player to embellish a play in order to draw a penalty. Pettersson did a big old dive job on the Puljujarvi penalty, grabs onto the arm and flops to the ice. I hope I never have to witness that level of poor sportsmanship from McDavid. Keep on playing McDavid and keep on playing hard.

  • Clayton

    Complaining about the reffing only masks the real issue. Oilers have no D, no depth on forward and too many guys playing WAY WAY WAY below their salary and too many young guys that see just happy to be in the show!

  • chezzychez

    It was so refreshing to see the coach come out and calmly stand up for Mcdavid. Hitch tells it how it is and it’s about time someone in the organization called out the constant barrage of hooks, holds and hacks. Obviously you can’t call them all but we should be getting more calls than we are and hitch wasn’t afraid to say so. Todd and Pete should have said something halfway through last season. Connor won’t whine about the refs or the league himself cause he’s a beauty.

    • Randomfan

      Todd was too afraid to say anything. Heck he couldnt even communicate with his own players as per some players. Ken has nothing to lose hence he can speak him mind out and could care less about offending butthurtman. And vancouver media gushing over how their team handled our top line. I wonder if kassian breaks patterson’s fingers next game do they have the similar reaction or they will be calling for heads too.

    • Randomfan

      How about calling obvious penalties? How can we pick and choose? Shouldn’t we have same principles when it comes it calling whats wrong and whats right? Or we just choose what suits us at a certain moment?

  • Clayton

    Blaming the Ref is getting old. Every team complains that their star players don’t get calls. And the penalty differential was really only 2-1 for the Canucks. The Too Many Men and two Delay of Game Penalties were non-discretionary calls that had to be called. The fact there were only 3 referee discretionary penalties called speaks to the type of game and officiating the refs used. The real problem was allowing 3 powerplay goals against!

    • nbandito

      You must be getting old if you couldn’t see that i was more about the non-calls than the calls that were made. The canucks played dirty, and it was blatantly obvious on the broadcast. The penalties should have been even at the worst. Can’t wait to play them again.

      • Randomfan

        So are we concluding that its perfectly ok to wrestle the best player on the ice down to gain an unfair advantage and it should be allowed? So you are saying the reffing in this league is the worst in professional sports and every team should learn to suck it up and move on?

        • Clayton

          Nope. That should be called. But the Canucks could complain about the same thing that was done to Boeser and Petterson all night. Connor is not the only star player in the league that gets hooked, held, tackled and slashed. Every team has the same complaint…Johnny, Sid, Ovi, the list goes on and on.

          • Randomfan

            Exactly. Its not even about connor anymore. As KH mentioned in his comments that this league should allow its stars to showcase their talent and not cut off their wings so players with lesser ability should be able to compete against them.

            And while all this goes on buttman goes and inducts himself in hall of fame. Typical entitlement mentality.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            This will definitely come to light when and if Chris Lee and Rank ever ref a game together…
            I hope it’s not the oilers they are reffing… Those 2 are the worst to my eye.
            Rank, one of the refs last night, has reffed 78% in favour off the home team in his NHL career.

  • Heschultzhescores

    I think the rest of the league is also happy to see a different set of rules for him because they have no answers for him. Seriously, how do you stop a guy that blows around your best Dmen like he was not there. The only way, pretend you didn’t see the clutch the grab or the interference. Conner will raise the bar for speed in the league, but until they catch up in a decade or so he will be treated like he is an alien…which might explain some things

  • Heschultzhescores

    It’s like they know the rules were made for opening the game up. But a guy with Connors speed and skill is held back because the rules make him virtually unstoppable by the opposition so the refs need to put him under the old rules of clutch anf grab. It’s obvious and disgusting.

  • Heschultzhescores

    The only guys who can stop Connor are the refs. The rules were changed for guys like Little Johnny to be allowed to succeed in today’s Wussified hockey league. They don’t know what to do with Conner now that they took all the ways to legally slow a guy like that down. There is only one guy in the league with that extra gear.

  • Odanada

    As Buttman has said over and over: “There’s too much scoring in the game. Fans want low scoring defensive chess matches.” This is why they don’t call all the obstruction on McDavid – they’re trying to limit scoring and make the game more appealing to the fans. McDavis is too good and could create unwanted scoring and excitement.

  • OldOilFan

    Here’s what Connor could consider doing:

    1. If being held, then don’t resist (i.e. stop moving)
    2. If being hacked, then loosen grip on stick (and hope it gets knocked out of his hands)

    Why the above actions? Because they will “reveal” the infractions.

    Refs will then find it harder to ignore.

    Opponents, in turn, will think twice before holding and hacking next time.

      • Fred-65

        I’m glad you didn’t mention Mess in those by gone days. He was worse than any one. Mess was the figure head for the term clutching, grabbing and slashing but I don’t recall any one in Edmonton complain then 🙂

  • OldOilFan

    Connor is a young and proud player, so he will find it difficult to deliberately “ease off” the gas when he’s being held or hacked.

    If he tries “easing off” and has some success with it, then it won’t bother him so much on a personal level.

    It’s not the same as whining or diving. It’s just another skill/tactic to add to his repertoire.

  • OldOilFan

    Hitch “picked his spot” to speak out, brilliantly.

    Refs tend to “hide” their mistakes on penalty calls/non-calls by playing “even up” over the course of the game.

    But the Vancouver game ended 1-5 on penalty calls, giving Hitch the perfect moment to speak about McDavid’s situation. He knew the refs were gonna come under some scrutiny anyway because of that lopsided calls-ratio, so Hitch just gave “all concerned” a little extra to think about. A brilliant stroke…hopefully it works.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Oh please, the Oilers shot the damn puck over the glass twice and also took a too many men penalty.
      3 clear Cut Penalties!!! Maybe they should play a clean game and not beat themselves?

      • Fred-65

        Exactly the puck over the glass and too many men are non discretionary penalties so they were self inflict and what it leaves you with is 2-1 penalties for Vcr. That’s not exactly one sided.

      • Randomfan

        Hey oilers since you guys keep taking dumb penalties i am not going to call the obvious ones against you. Sorry connor but i hope you understand. Is that what you are suggesting?

  • Oiler Al

    Chaisson standing around and Larrson having a wobbly night resulted in issues with the penalty kill.I know he scored a beauty goal , but Chaison was on the ice for 3 Vanc, goals.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Kassian was a beauty on the PK, He gave the best shooter on the ice about 3 seconds to lazer the puck in the top corner.
      I guess he did wave his stick a bit. Not sure why Hitch uses him on the PK??