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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Disappointing Defeats

It happened again. The Edmonton Oilers left two points on the table that they definitely should have had in a loss to the Los Angeles Kings. In a season that has had so many successes, the Oilers have completely laid an egg multiple times against the league’s basement dwellers.

September 20th – Minnesota 3, Edmonton 0
September 27th – Detroit 3, Edmonton 1
November 21st – Los Angeles 5, Edmonton 1

Let me make one thing clear, these losses aren’t the end of the world and there have been far more impressive wins than disappointing defeats. I just find it interesting that a first place club has left six points on the table against teams that are pretty much already out of the race. If they had those six points they’d be in a battle with the Capitals for first place in the entire league.

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I wanted to take a closer look at all three games to see if there were any common trends.

WILD 3 – OILERS 0

This was the game in which Devan Dubnyk had to leave due to an injury and Alex Stalock came in to help preserve the shutout. The Oilers were never even really in the game against the Wild as Eric Staal scored twice in just over a minute midway through the first period and then before the frame finished Brad Hunt scored on the PP and it was good night Irene.

Mike Smith got the start and allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period. The McDavid line was on the ice for the first goal against.

RED WINGS 3 – OILERS 1

Like the game against Minnesota, a couple of quick goals in the first period ended up being the difference for the Wings. Dylan Larkin scored on the power-play at 7:41 of the first and Patrick Nemeth made it 2-0 less than a minute later. Draisaitl scored his 10th of the season to make it a one-goal game in the 3rd period before Filip Hronek sealed it with an empty-net goal.

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Mikko Koskinen took the loss for the Oilers, still his only regulation defeat of the season. McDavid and Draisaitl both played over 26 minutes in the loss.

The Oilers had a horrible start on the road being outshot 13 to 6 in the first period.

KINGS 5 – OILERS 1

Fast forward to last night. The Kings scored 92 seconds into the hockey game and would add two more before the period ended. The Oilers top line was on the ice for all three goals against with the first two being point blank shots on Smith while the third one was a stinker that he needs to control, even if Draisaitl allowed Jeff Carter to cruise right to the front of the net in search of a rebound that should have never even existed.

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WHAT’S THE DEAL?

The story here is bad first periods on the road against teams the Oilers should beat. I may be simplifying things a little too much but to me, it simply looks like a team that thinks they are going to have an easy night against weaker competition. It may be unfair to pile on McDavid and Draisaitl because they’ve been so damn brilliant all season but in the three losses they accomplished absolutely nothing in the first period.

I totally understand why elite players may tend to believe they can get by on skill alone and let up a little bit in other areas of the game against the weaker sisters in the league but it’s still something they need to get figured out. I should also point that nobody else on the entire team had a point in the three losses. McDavid two goals, Draisaitl one assist but nothing in the first period where all three games appeared to be decided.

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THE BOUNCE BACKS

The good news for the Oilers is that they have responded well following these disappointing defeats this season. After being blanked by the Wild they beat the Capitals in overtime with McDavid and Draisaitl taking over in the third period before finishing it in the extra session. The loss to the Red Wings was the first of back-to-back games for the Oilers and they responded with a 4-1 win over Columbus thanks to a pair of goals and three points from Leon Draisaitl.

If the trend continues we should see McDavid and Draisaitl take it to the Golden Knights on Saturday night.

Previously by Dustin Nielson: