After being without our beloved Oilers for 10 whole days, the boys are back in action for the second time in less than 24 hours as they face off in yet another matinee against the Montreal Canadiens.
After yesterday’s loss to the Flyers, it will be interesting to see what the Oilers have left to give against the Habs. Oddly, the Canadiens also played yesterday so the excuse for being a tired team against a rested squad gets thrown out the window, and it will be up to the Oilers to be the ones that force the tempo. Rather than sitting back and waiting for Montreal to do something, I’d like to see our boys hit the ice like a tornado and send Habs flying around the rink like the cows in Twitter. I’d like to see them bursting with energy and enthusiasm. Can you picture it? Sure you can. Helen Hunt’s performance was exquisite so that covers off my Twister metaphor, and the very scenario I’m talking about almost happened yesterday against the Flyers before a special teams meltdown sunk the ship.
If the Oilers are actually going to finish their weekend with three of four points, they’re going to need to pay a hell of a lot more attention to the details and find a way to execute upon them. Yesterday, we watched the boys perform very well at 5-on-5 but then fall apart with their special teams and that simply cannot happen again. Montreal is too good of a hockey team to be handing out gifts to them on the power play without being able to respond in kind. They have too many guys that can score and limiting their opportunities to do so will be crucial. From the crease outward, the Oilers will need to build upon what they were able to do at even strength yesterday against the Flyers and be disciplined enough to stay out of the penalty box. If the PK is going to continue to struggle then the only option is to play a more disciplined style, something that got away from them yesterday when it mattered most.
For a team that’s battling to keep themselves in the playoff picture, there’s nothing easy about navigating the waters of a back-to-back weekend, especially when you need points as desperately as the Oilers do. Yeah, every team in the NHL goes through weekends just like this one, but the Oilers are in a completely different situation. We’ve been told how much ownership wants them in the playoffs this year and that means basically every game is a must-win at this point. But because of the general deficiencies found in most aspects of their game, the Oilers are in a spot where you never know what’s going to happen with them on a period to period basis. Right now, the rest of the league is watching their every move and other fanbases are enjoying every minute of our pain and suffering.
|LAST 10 GAMES||4-5-1||6-3-1|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||46.23||54.25|
Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)
Lucic – McDavid – Rattie
Rieder – Draisaitl – Chiasson
Khaira – RNH – Kassian
Cave – Brodziak – Puljujarvi
Nurse – Russell
Gravel – Larsson
Manning – Benning
Yesterday during a break, Sportsnet talked about Ken Hitchcock reaching out to other coaches for their opinion on what’s going on with the Oilers and apparently, stopping the line blender was at the top of their list. Does that mean Hitchcock will keep yesterday’s lines together after being mostly effective at even strength? We shall see.
Drouin – Danault – Gallagher
Tatar – Domi – Lehkonen
Hudon – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Agostino – Chaput – Deslauriers
Mete – Weber
Reilly – Petry
Kulak – Benn
Coming into today’s game, the Habs have six players with 30 points or more on their roster and the Oilers will have to be aware of their ability to spread the offence around. You won’t find anyone in contention for the scoring title as we have here with Connor McDavid, Domi leads the team with 45 points right now, but you will see a team that gets contributions from everywhere and that could be an issue.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The Canadiens haven’t played hockey in a long time (by NHL standards) so the biggest concern coming into their two game weekend was how up to speed the team would be after their in-season vacation.
The answer simply was that they seemed fully up to speed. Jesperi Kotkaniemi got the scoring started early, and Phillip Danault added a second goal to continue their strong play. Even with a highly disappointing end result, the Canadiens were far and away the better team on the Bell Centre ice on Saturday. Hockey however is, as Daniel Bryan likes to say, “fickle” and being the better team isn’t a guarantee of a win.
Montreal would win most games playing like they did on Saturday and need to go out Sunday with the same mindset against a dismal Edmonton Oilers team. They were very good at even strength, and against a team like the Oilers an effort like that will give them a good chance of success.
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers want these two points like the citizens of Montreal want unfiltered cigarettes, and they use that passion to grind out a 2-1 win. Koskinen is the hero we needed today.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Smoked. Meat. Sandwiches.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Wanting to get out of the Bell Centre in time for the Super Bowl, the Oilers put in all kinds of extra effort into their cycle game as a means to run time off the clock. Amazingly, the plan worked like a charm as the Oilers not only kept the Habs pinned in their own zone but they also were able to wipe all kinds of time off the clock. No SB commercials were missed in the crafting of this GDB.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 2/03/2019 – 8:00 am MT