Maybe 2019 will be better. Final Score: 4-3 Jets
With the year winding down and the Oilers toiling away near the bottom of the Western Conference standings yet again, all any of us could have ever hoped for was one more win to finish up 2018 on a positive note. With the anger from the five-game losing streak, yesterday’s bizarre trades, and Chiarelli’s press conference from this morning still boiling over, I felt like the universe owed us a solid and needed to throw a little luck our way to help brighten the mood a little bit. Besides, with so much venom flowing in Edmonton right now, would it really have been all that surprising if the Oilers were somehow able to pull off the old switcharoo and close out the year with an unexpected win against the Jets? I didn’t think so. So when McNuge opened the scoring late in the first period, I thought we were on way to not only ending the five-game drought but also the NYE winless streak that’s been going on for more than a decade.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, I got too excited too early and ultimately ended up disappointed after watching what was once a lead turn into a deficit in the snap of a finger. I don’t know what it is about the Oilers and giving up quick goals right now, but it’s a trend that’s been punching holes through their dinghy for weeks and one that cannot end soon enough. When you combine tough goals against with a lack of secondary scoring that the Oilers have been suffering all season, then you’re not exactly setting yourself up for success. With another loss now on the board, the fact that the Oilers are crashing towards the bottom of the Western Conference standings is starting to sink in and is absolutely mindblowing. For the second straight year, we’re heading into January with the Oilers on the outside of the playoff picture with seemingly slim hopes that things will get turned around in time to make a difference. Even worse is that the organization is trying to save the season with the exact same people steering the ship into the group. For me, that’s worse than the loss we just watched.
For the last time in 2018, we wrap. Happy New Year, everyone!
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring for the Oilers after he broke into the offensive zone with Connor McDavid and slipped a wrist shot through Hellebuyck after the captain found him with the puck. Nuge finished the night with two points after he was in on Leon Draisaitl’s power play goal as well.
- Leon Draisaitl scored his sixth power play goal of the season midway through the second period after Darnell Nurse set him up on a tee from his favourite spot along the boards. He scored another on the backhand at the halfway mark of the third period after Connor McDavid found him behind the defence and he got it off his stick in a hurry.
- Thank you for another year, Connor McDavid. You’re one of the only reasons to these games on so many occasions and I wanted to end off 2018 with a quick note of appreciation. Thanks for being you, and for adding another couple of assists to the McPile. Please don’t leave us.
- Caleb Jones, I see you. The guy has gotten better and better since being called up and has, all of a sudden, become one of Hitchcock’s most trusted options. I don’t think he’s necessarily ready yet, but I certainly am having a good time watching him figure it out. Jones finished the night with 23:56 which was second to only Darnell Nurse.
- I thought that Petrovic (20:21) and Manning (12:54) both did fine tonight considering this was their first game with the team without so much as a formal practice to help them get into the swing of things. Neither guy leaked chances and neither of them looked out of place, and for the first game with a new team that’s all you can really hope for. Not only that, Petrovic got his first assist as an Oiler on RNH’s first period goal.
- I don’t know why the Oilers only got one power play chance tonight but they scored on it! Not only that, but they were also able to keep the Jets off the board on both of their power play opportunities which won them the special teams battle for the first time in a while.
- Shout out to Joe Gambardella for making his NHL debut tonight and getting out there for 5:27 worth of ice and a memory that will last a lifetime. We tip our caps to you, sir.
- The Oilers’ blue jerseys are so much better than the orange ones and I don’t care what anyone says. Personally, I wish for the Oilers to go back to these as the full-time uni in 2019.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Jacob Trouba tied the game up at one apiece after the Jets were able to cause a turnover in the Oilers zone and get it back for a point shot that made its way through traffic. Matt Benning could have made a better choice with the puck and it ending up costing the team the lead.
- Less than 90 seconds after Trouba got the Jets on the board, Brendan Lemieux gave Winnipeg their first lead of the night after he found a loose puck in the crease that he was able to sneak over the line. Giving up two quick goals has been a serious problem for the Oilers on this losing streak and these two markers by Trouba and Lemieux could be used as a case study. Lemieux scored a second goal late in the third period after he set up in the slot and got his stick on a shot from the point, deflecting it perfectly past Koskinen and into the top corner.
- Only 29 seconds after Leon Draisaitl tied the game at two apiece, Blake Wheeler restored Winnipeg’s lead with a sharp angle shot that made its way through some bodies and in past Koskinen.
- According to Sportsnet, the Oilers are now 0-13-3 on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know what kind of paperwork we need to fill out to get these games removed but I’m going to go ahead and spend some time looking.
- Outshout (36-24) once again. Brutal.
- Tough to win when only three guys on your team can score/contribute. More points for McDraiNuge and not many for anyone else.
- The NHL site had the giveaways listed at 17-12 against the Oilers but I feel like that’s light. Anyone else?
- Mikko Koskinen got the start tonight after imploding against the Canucks on Thursday night, and I was ready to forget about that loss and watch the big man get back to playing the lights out flavour of goaltending we were seeing from him on the winning streak. Unfortunately, Koskinen lost is fourth straight start for the first time all year after he was unable to keep things completely locked down. Personally, I thought the Oilers had a good chance to win this hockey game but couldn’t get that one extra save they needed. Koskinen finished the night with 32 saves and a .889 save%.
- Matt Benning has been struggling lately and I wonder if he’ll stick in the lineup over Petrovic once Russell gets back?
- Second straight New Year’s Eve game against the Jets, second straight #BeetCast. As always, you can join in on the #BeetCast conversation over on my Twitter account.
- We’re nearing the end of 2018 and Peter Chiarelli is still the GM somehow.
|14:50||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (14) ASST: Connor McDavid (36), Alexander Petrovic (2)||0-1|
|04:39||Winnipeg||Jacob Trouba (4) ASST: Josh Morrissey (18), Adam Lowry (6)||1-1|
|06:02||Winnipeg||Brendan Lemieux (2) ASST: Andrew Copp (3), Jack Roslovic (6)||2-1|
|18:03||Edmonton||PPG – Leon Draisaitl (20) ASST: Darnell Nurse (13), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (22)||2-2|
|18:32||Winnipeg||Blake Wheeler (6)||3-2|
|07:23||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (21) ASST: Connor McDavid (37)||3-3|
|14:02||Winnipeg||Brendan Lemieux (3) ASST: Joe Morrow (1), Andrew Copp (4)||4-3|
Frank is the only reason my daughter is even remotely interested in Oilers hockey
— Larissa (@craftyfox81) January 1, 2019
— paul (@goldshark44) January 1, 2019
Ohhhhh Billly… pic.twitter.com/mi3vFCKiSV
— Derek Reid (@fiftyn39) January 1, 2019
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/31/2018 – 10:45 pm MST