The Oilers continued their five-game road trip with a trip through Ontario. They got completely outclassed by a much deeper Maple Leafs team and then salvaged the back-to-back with a better showing against a weak Senators squad.
Edmonton got off to a nice start in Wednesday night’s game in Toronto. Leon Draisaitl had a message for all the fans in Toronto who spent all day suggesting he was only a byproduct of Connor McDavid. Draisaitl got the puck in the neutral zone and plowed through everyone on the Leafs before burying his own rebound past Frederik Andersen. It might have been his nicest goal of the season.
Leon Draisaitl opens the scoring with some slick moves against the Maple Leafs. pic.twitter.com/7m2syq04hA
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 28, 2019
But that’s where the positives stopped. The Leafs turned on the jets in the second period an, in the span of about five minutes, completely guttered the Oilers. I’m not going to post each clip individually because I don’t think anyone needs to re-live that assault in-depth, so instead, I’ll put this here…
— wjd (@willjohndevine) February 28, 2019
Off to Ottawa! The Oilers had a nice opportunity to redeem themselves for a terrible effort in Toronto against a Sens team that had traded away the majority of their roster at the trade deadline. Things got off to a slow start for the Oilers, as Ottawa heavily outshot them in the first period and carried a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. Connor McDavid would finally get the Oilers on the board a few minutes into the second.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 1, 2019
Sam Gagner gave the Oilers the lead minutes before the end of the second, then Colby Cave buried his first goal as an Oiler a few minutes into the third to give the Oilers some insurance. Josh Currie fed Cave with a nice pass and now has three points in six games since his recall. Not bad for an undrafted free agent who spent six years in the minors before finally getting a shot.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 1, 2019
The Oilers played two good periods over their two games in Ontario. They had a very good first period against the Leafs, then got completely dominated in the second. The third period is a wash as the Leafs were defending a massive lead. Then, in Ottawa, the Oilers started slowly, picked it up in the second, and then sat back on their heels in the third period. Being on the second night of a back-to-back, I get the slow start and the defensive shell finish in Ottawa, but the effort against Toronto was disappointing. The Oilers put together a very strong first but completely gave up in the second period as soon as the Leafs put on the pressure. Overall, it was a pretty ugly trip.
- I think a lot of us (myself included) had high expectations for the Leafs game. The Oilers and Leafs rivalry is an intense one, especially given the beef between the fanbases and Toronto’s incessant trolling in regards to McDavid’s supposed unhappiness in Edmonton. All signs pointed towards McDavid having a huge game. He was angry, coming off a two-game suspension, the team had ground out three of four points in his absence, and he was playing in his home town. Ken Hitchcock even had a tongue-in-cheek comment about expecting a Gretzky-in-Toronto type domination before the game. But that didn’t happen. The Oilers got totally outclassed by the Leafs and McDavid wasn’t really a factor. Look, I’m not at all blaming McDavid for the loss, but what that game did indicate is how much the Oilers lack depth. The Leafs, as much as it sucks to say, are the team the Oilers could be if managed properly. They’re loaded with talent and can take over a game within minutes. Even if Auston Matthews is off (he wasn’t noticeable on Wednesday), there’s Mitch Marner or John Tavares or William Nylander there to pick up the slack. Peter Chiarelli sacrificed a lot of skill to build what was supposed to be a tight, gritty, and strong-defensively team, but all he did was rob the Oilers of the potent offensive depth you need to be good in this league. Hopefully, the organization has learned its lesson.
- The Ottawa game had a better result, but it was still a little jarring to watch the Oilers have to scrape one out against far and away the league’s worst team. The Sens are now without Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingle after a deadline fire sale, but they still managed to heavily outshoot the Oilers. If not for Mikko Koskinen’s strong play in the third period (and a questionable call by the refs), the Sens may have pulled out a win. The Sens are a dumpster fire. They’re barely an NHL team after their deadline sales. This is a team anybody should be over to roll over easily. I don’t know. Maybe I’m sour about the spanking in Toronto, but I’m having a hard time drawing too many positives from the win in the second game. Another note, maybe I’m reading too far into it, but it might be telling that Ottawa randomly decided to fire their head coach after losing to the Oilers. Maybe people in Ottawa view the Oilers the same way I just described the Sens.