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Photo Credit: © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Penguins 3, Oilers 1 post-game Oil Spills: Shut down

The Oilers put up a fair effort against the Penguins last night, but the team’s lack of offensive firepower really showed. Edmonton grabbed an early 1-0 lead and couldn’t rally back after Pittsburgh scored two goals of their own in the second.

What happened?

The Oilers got off to a good start, grabbing a 1-0 lead after Connor McDavid fed Leon Draisaitl on a two-on-one for his 33rd goal of the season. Draisaitl set a new career-high in goals with this one. Another thing to note on this play: It’s great having Oscar Klefbom, far and away Edmonton’s best defender in transition, back on the ice. He starts this play with a great defensive effort and first pass out of the zone on his backhand.

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The Penguins tied the game up in the second period when Bryan Rust scored a short-handed goal with Edmonton’s power play unit just standing around. This was a real backbreaker. The Oilers have a tough time scoring, their power play has been actually quite good as of late, and they had been solid at even strength, then they go ahead and let the Penguins back into the game with a shorty. On this clip, it’s hard to tell which team has the man advantage.

The Penguins grabbed the lead a few minutes later thanks to some more ugly defensive zone work. I hate to be critical of McDavid given he has so much heavy lifting to do, but he just stands there and lets Teddy Bleuger skate right in front of the net for an easy tap-in goal. Any defensive effort on that play and the Penguins don’t score a goal.

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Edmonton’s best chance to tie the game came in the third when Connor McDavid was awarded a penalty shot. We’ve seen this move work many times before in the shootout, but this time, Matt Murray was ready for it. The Penguins would go on to ice the game with an empty-netter with under a minute to go as the Oilers couldn’t manage to get a consistent attack going in Pittsburgh’s end late in the third.

By the numbers…

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The Oilers played very well yesterday at even strength. They beat the Penguins in terms of shot attempts 56 to 44 over the course of the game. A lot of that came in a dominant second period in which Edmonton had 21 shot attempts to Pittsburgh’s nine. One very damning thing, though, is the fact the Penguins still managed to torch Edmonton when it came to high danger chances despite the Oilers being the better team in terms of possession. The Penguins had 16 high danger chances and the Oilers had just nine on the game, and Edmonton managed just one at even strength when down one goal in the third period. That says a lot about where this team is at.

Thoughts…

  • Mark Spector had a controversial tweet last night, saying that both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl needed to be better defensively. I’m of two minds when it comes to this sentiment. At first, I was agitated by Spector calling out the team’s top two players when they’re tasked with so much heavy lifting. I find there’s been a pattern here in which media and fans are critical of the stars (Hemsky, Hall) for the team’s woes rather than the poor depth around the rest of the roster. But then as I watched plays from last night’s game, I realized he isn’t exactly wrong. McDavid’s effort on Pittsburgh’s eventual game-winner was really, really bad. As I said above, he deserves a pass for how much he brings to the team, but we can’t just totally absolve McDavid of any kind of criticism. We had a front-row seat last night to Sidney Crosby and his amazing two-way effort. Late in the game, Crosby was a machine down low, making it hard for the Oilers to break the puck out of their own end. While McDavid is faaaaaaar from an issue on this team, there’s validity behind being critical of areas of his game, especially on nights in which we see just how good Crosby is at both ends. McDavid and Draisaitl were pretty much the only threats offensively for the Oilers last night, but they also gave a lot back on the other side of the ice. They were on the ice for five high danger chances (of Edmonton’s nine total) but they were also on the ice for 10 of Pittsburgh’s 16 high danger chances.
  • As I’ve already stated, this game really pointed out how devoid the Oilers are of offensive firepower. McDavid and Draisaitl accounted for Edmonton’s only goal and five of their nine key chances at even strength. The other three lines combined for four high danger chances and were a non-factor in the third when chasing the lead. There’s no immidiate solution to this. The Oilers simply need more depth offensively because you can’t expect perfection from McDavid and Draisaitl.


  • Oiler Al

    Up front, every single player beyond McD, Drai and Nuge are “at best” 4 th line or AHL players, and that’s being kind to some of them. Why on earth is Rieder still given a roster spot is puzzling?

  • camdog

    You can’t learn on the fly like the Oilers did in the 80’s. You can’t drink red wine or snort coke every night and develop a team into one of the greatest dynasties of all time.

  • bcoil

    Ok guys get of McDavid and Leon’s backs these guys are playing their hearts out and are starting to run fumes because Hitch is running them into the ground..The problem here is management brought in another old school coach who is always denigrating or manipulating his players .This old school crap does not go well with the new generation of players ..Look around the league and you will find the most successful coaches this year are players coaches.This damm management and old boys club who keep wanting to impose old school coaches on our team is who i am mad at .

    • Cam Lewis

      I think McDavid and Leon have done a great job given their circumstances. The issue has been horrendous management failing to augment them with a roster that allows them any margin of error.

      • Oilers_1978

        i am saying that..but only McDavid and Drai alone can not take you anywhere…

        you need supporting cast around these two guys…which is missing…

        no wingers in the team who can complement mcD/drai/nuge.. you have to put mcd-drai or mcd-nuge or nuge-drai…whichever combo you pick it become a one line team…

        no pure nhl d-man after klef…

        more or less iffy goal tending… the list goes on and on…don’t even want to complain about the same old revolving management…

    • IRONman

      97 is not perfect. Every time he touches the puck he is expected to score. Penalty shot was an amazing save. Goalie was watching tape on 97. Nuge needs scoring wingers. Hall and Ebs look pretty good now

  • OnDaWagon

    McDAVID, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins, if you demand to be traded away from here, I for one would not be upset. I firmly believe that no matter who this dysfunctional organization decides to put in place of the bonehead that was hired 4 years ago, by Bobs Bigger Better Burger Boy, it won’t make a major difference, for at least 3 to 4 years.

    GET OUT.
    All three of you.
    GET OUT

  • Rama Lama

    I will give McDavid a pass as he is usually the best player at coming back deep into the play to help out but we can’t expect him to do all the heavy lifting all of the time. This is where his team mates need to help out and provide support and cover………especially Leon who seems to have no legs when it comes to skating back into the defensive zone. He only gets his legs moving when he is playing offence and this is finally getting noticed.

    Our top players gifted with the opportunity to play with McDavid should realize this and provide the appropriate support. Spector is bang on and this should not be characterized as ” running them out of town” .

    • Blueliner44

      I agree with Spector’s comments. If you watch the plays where the top line is scored on, typically “someone” has lost the player they are supposed to check. We are just focused on it now after the goal last night and Kane’s goal vs. the Sharks. It’s been a problem for a while.

  • camdog

    In Detroit they used to say that you wouldn’t win with Yzerman because he didn’t play the game right in his own end. Then came along Scotty Bowman, he fixed the culture problem in Detroit. Now Steve Yzerman is regarded as one of the best hockey minds in all of hockey.

  • Derzie

    McDavid has the tools to be Crosby for the new era. A faster, bigger version.

    Every time time I hear Connor being called the ‘best player in the world’ I cringe. People who say that have a narrow definition of ‘best’. Fastest skater? Yup. Most potential? You bet. Best player? Not yet. If you would pick Connor over Sid to lead a team of men through the playoffs to a Stanley Cup championship, in 2019, you’re being contrary.
    Spector commentary is inflammatory but it draws attention to the difference between the superstars. Sid is ALWAYS on. At both ends of the rink. Every practice. Every game. And would crawl over broken glass to win. And has the skill and playmaking smarts to make it happen. That’s the benchmark for Connor. He will displace Sid but he hasn’t yet.

  • camdog

    RnH has always been regarded as a 2-way type player, but he’s just started to eliminate these mistakes from his game last year. NHL is a hard league, it takes years of expierence to learn how to play the game right. This goes back to Cogliano/Gagner days of the Oilers developmental model – Score first, then we’ll worry about team defence. This is part of the Oilers culture problem that has existed since 2007.

  • Odanada

    McD needs to be paired with someone who watches his back defensively, opens up the ice with physical play and knows enough to head for the net with his stick on the ice.
    Poor Connor is a winner playing for a team that’s not built to win in the 2019 NHL.