Thanks to the Arizona Coyotes for being such kind hosts. Final Score: 3-1 Oilers
If ever there was a golden opportunity for the Oilers to end their losing streak and get back on track, it was tonight against the Arizona Coyotes. Coming into this matchup, the Oilers were winners of six of their last seven games against the Coyotes and I saw that as the perfect chance to get a win and get this train back on the rails. I mean, sure it’s upsetting to be looking at the schedule and hoping for winnable games, but that’s where the Oilers are at right now and I didn’t care what it took to get two points, only that they got the job done. And let’s be honest, if the Oilers couldn’t start things off with a win in Arizona then the outlook doesn’t exactly get much brighter when they roll into California to finish up the road trip. And after putting the lines through the blender at yesterday’s practice, I was curious to see how Hitchcock’s new concoctions would respond. Early results were less than positive.
In the first period, the Oilers barely looked like willing participants let alone a team that was trying to score goals and end a losing streak. They were heavily outshot, too often bailed out by their goaltender, down by a goal, and were being badly outplayed by a Coyotes team that’s supposed to be awful. Needless to say, it was a start that really dampened the mood around here. Fortunately, the boys looked like a different hockey club in the second and third periods as they seemed much more comfortable at both ends of the rink. Over the last 40 minutes, the Oilers defended much better, weren’t cheating on breakouts, kept getting big saves, and when they got into the offensive zone it actually seemed like they had a plan for what they wanted to do. I mean, it also helps when McDavid puts up three more points on the board. At the end of the day, the Oilers’ best players were able to overpower the Coyotes’ defenders and they weren’t able to come up with an answer to people McDrai off the board.
Sure, all of the goals were all scored by Connor and Leon again, but beggars can’t be choosers and I think we’ll all happily take the win at this point.
For the first time in 2019, we wrap.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Leon Draisaitl tied the game up at one when he perfectly deflected Adam Larsson’s point shot through Adin Hill’s five-hole. Larsson got the snapped the puck towards the net quickly and Leon timed it perfectly as he waded into the high slot and used that big ol’ paddle of his to get a tip on it.
- Connor McDavid was electric tonight and there was no better example of that than on his goal when he used his rocket legs to not only catch up to a play that was far ahead of him but finish it off with a perfect deke through Hill’s legs. The captain added the empty-netter in the final minute of the game to seal the deal. McDavid finished the night with another casual three-point performance which gives him 61 on the year. I know I ended off 2018 by saying that I’m grateful for Connor McDavid, and that’s the way I’m going to start 2019 as well. Thank you for all you do, Connor. Thank you.
- Zack Kassian deserves some love for the pass he made on Connor McDavid’s goal that showed the kind of touch the big man has in those hands of his. He set Connor up with a beautiful area pass in the high slot that only the captain could get to and it resulted in the Oilers taking over the lead.
- Clearly, Mikko Koskinen has earned the trust of his coach as he got another chance to get right back in the net and lock things down as we’ve seen him do all season. The last few starts haven’t gone Koskinen’s way, and if there was ever the perfect time for him to regain his form it was here tonight, and he did exactly that. Early on, Koskinen was a rock between the pipes and arguably the only reason that the Oilers found themselves down by only a single goal after the first period was over. Koskinen was great all night as he finished the game with 29 saves and a .967 save%.
- Darnell Nurse was a horse for the Oilers tonight, finishing his night with a team-high 25:07 on the ice, two shots on goal, four hits, and two blocks. That’s a big night for Darryl.
- I liked Jesse Puljujarvi’s game tonight. No, he didn’t score but he was much more involved in plays and on the forecheck than we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks. By my eye, I noticed him around the puck a lot more tonight than I have in a while, and that’s a positive for the young Finn that’s still trying to gain some traction. Puljujarvi finished with 12:48 on the ice, two shots on goal, one hit and a blocked shot.
- Adam Larsson played a heavy game tonight and he was throwing his weight around any chance he got. Not only that, I thought he really did a nice job of calming things down below the goal line, so I was pumped to see him get an assist on Leon Draisaitl’s second-period goal as a cherry on top of the fine work he did in his own zone.
- Oilers finished the night at 55% in the faceoff circle and one of those draws led directly to Leon Draisaitl’s goal. Better to win ’em than lose ’em.
- FINALLY! WIN! win! WIN! win! Win Cast coming up in a couple of minutes. As always, you can join in on the #BoozeNotBeets conversation over on my Twitter account.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Ugly start for the Oilers. Through 20 minutes, they were outshot 16-7, outscored, and looked more like they were hanging on for dear life. Ugly period, and they were fortunate that Koskinen was there to bail them out.
- Brad Richardson opened the scoring for the Coyotes after being the recipient of some nice puck by the Coyotes as they moved around the Oilers’ zone like they were working on a drill at practice. Honestly, I felt bad for Koskinen on the play.
- Nothing doing on the power play tonight (0/3), though the Oilers did get some chances on their first opportunity of the night. Even though the lack of power play goals didn’t burn them tonight, it would have been nice to see the Oilers bury the Coyotes, ya know?
- Who scores first: Tobi Rieder or Milan Lucic? Both guys are cursed imo.
- Speaking of secondary scoring, is that a real thing?
- The Oilers have been outshot a lot lately and that was the case again tonight as the Coyotes bested them 30-24 on the shot clock.
|12:08||Arizona||Brad Richardson (11) ASST: Richard Panik (7), Kevin Connauton (5)||0-1|
|02:49||Edmonton||Leon Draisaitl (22) ASST: Adam Larsson (11), Connor McDavid (38)||1-1|
|13:43||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (22) ASST: Zack Kassian (2), Leon Draisaitl (29)||2-1|
|19:15||Edmonton||EN – Connor McDavid (23)||3-1|
imagine being 35 years old and being on a breakaway in the World Jr's.
— Chevy 🍕🍺 (@ThatTommyCkid) January 3, 2019
Jesse Niinimaki should help Jesse Puljujarvi no?
— Duane (@GordEarl) January 3, 2019
Guaranteed Dany Heatley wouldn’t turn us down a second time!!
— Jerod (@J__Venne) January 3, 2019
We're showcasing Zack Kassian because you can never have enough bottom-paring defencemen.
— Peter Chiarelli (@FakeOilersGM) January 3, 2019
@jsbmbaggedmilk starts the year off with booze.
— Tony (@omegamoose) January 3, 2019
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/02/2018 – 11:00 pm MST