We saw two different teams show up this weekend. On Saturday, a disinterested, slow, and lacking-in-energy Oilers squad got rolled over by the last-place Kings. Then, on Sunday, a quicker, more engaged Oilers team with a bruised ego came out and took out their frustration on the Ducks.
The Oilers put out an ugly effort against the Kings, managing just 16 shots on goal and conceding four goals against far and away the league’s worst offensive club. I don’t feel I need to dive into depth about how bad this game looked because everyone knows by now, though here’s a highlight of Alex Petrovic getting walked by Tyler Toffoli. You know it isn’t good when the team’s twitter account is talking about how easy it looks.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 6, 2019
The only good part of the game was the return of this hilariously tacky Glow Puck. If you were having a hard time following the puck because the game was so painful, the 90s-style glow behind the puck made it a little easier and more interesting.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 6, 2019
To add insult to injury, Drew Doughty got away with giving Connor McDavid an elbow to the face. There was no response from any of the Oilers tough guys as the Kings just skated very easily to their 4-0 victory.
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) January 6, 2019
The Oilers put out a much, much better effort in the Anaheim game than the L.A. game. That said, they were far from perfect like the 4-0 score indicates. Cam Talbot was huge for the Oilers, bailing them out from a slow start with a few huge saves in the first period. Had those gone in, I figure the score might look a lot different.
— Hockey Daily (@HockeyDaily365) January 7, 2019
Another big factor of the Anaheim win was secondary scoring. The Oilers got two of their four goals from players other than McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, and Draisaitl, which hasn’t been happening much over the past month. Jesse Puljujarvi and Kyle Brodziak both score greasy goals in front of the net, which was huge in this win.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 7, 2019
Yet again, though, an opponent got away with taking liberty on McDavid. Hampus Lindholm drilled McDavid from behind into the boards on an incredibly dangerous play, and the ref, who was standing right beside the play, just let it go.
Ref looking right at it. pic.twitter.com/qEkg3tJ6RT
— Phil Landry (esksfans.com) (@esksfans) January 7, 2019
- Ken Hitchcock had a very apt quote after the embarrassing loss to the Kings. To paraphrase, he said that after 21 games of coaching the team he noticed a pattern in which they only play hard after they’ve been embarrassed and their egos are bruised. That obviously isn’t the mentality of a playoff team and it results in a vicious, frustrating cycle we’ve been seeing for a year-and-a-half now. The team will look terrible, then they’ll rebound, and then they’ll get complacent, and it’ll happen again. This kind of play makes it impossible to string wins together and make any serious damage in the standings. It goes without saying, but the effort needs to be there every night. This team doesn’t have anywhere near enough skill to cruise to wins. They have to grind them out.
- It was brutal that the ref just let that Lindholm on McDavid hit slide in the Anaheim game. The league badly needs to do a better job taking care of its players because this was a play that could have resulted in a serious injury. Thankfully, the players on the Oilers actually responded this time as tensions flared. Joseph Gambardella challenged Lindholm, and, later on, Zack Kassian, Darnell Nurse, and Milan Lucic all got in the mix, adding more physicality to the game as retaliation. That’s the response you want to see after this kind of thing happens. The Oilers did a much better job standing up for themselves and their captain against Anaheim than they did against Los Angeles.
- Cam Talbot seems to be working his way back into the No. 1 goalie position. That’s why it’s nice to have two good goalies. There was no way Mikko Koskinen was going to play like a Vezina winner all year. But with two quality goalies, you’re massively upping the chance you have of one playing well at any given time. Remember when there were rumours the team was willing to trade Talbot? Imagine if Koskinen went cold and all the Oilers had to back him up was Al Montoya.