This is the Oilers Morning Report, a stats-heavy, opinion-based review of the previous night’s game. We’ve all read the wrap-ups, watched the highlights, and digested the game. Whether it’s gazing to the heavens, begging the Hockey Gods for answers as to why the Edmonton Oilers lost, or looking for more content to bask in the glory of another Oilers victory, that’s what this is here for.
Here is the review for the Edmonton Oilers at Montreal Canadiens game on Thursday 9 January.
The first period was not kind to the Oilers; they didn’t recored their first shot of the game until almost the 12:00 mark and lost the 5v5 possession handedly.
They went 0/1 on the powerplay, and Philip Danault pounced on a pretty awful rebound that Mike Smith kicked right into the slot and onto Danault’s stick.
The Canadiens dominated the High Danger chances (4-1) with the Oilers coming close on a Alex Chiasson-led two-on-one while James Neal nearly had one on a tip from a Connor McDavid pass that went just wide.
By the time the second period was all said and done, the possession numbers had broken closer to even, and though still favouring the Canadiens, you could feel the momentum beginning to shift. That being said, the start to the period was just as cruel to the Oilers as the first was. The Canadiens scored less than 2:00 into the period, and Mike Smith had to be brilliant on a save from Danault at the 3:30 mark.
Out of the first commercial break, the Archibald-Sheahan-Nygard line started the first good cycle for the Oilers in the second period, and Riley Sheahan took advantage of it. This line had far-and-away the best night for the Oilers in terms of 5v5 possession, particularly Joakim Nygard who was buzzing all around the net– though it was Josh Archibald who saw the promotion to McDavid’s line, swapping places with Zack Kassian in the third– and had a some fantastic chances.
A brutal defensive breakdown nearly by Adam Larsson sliding to the puck-carrier and Gaetan Haas losing Nate Thompson and letting him slip behind on a breakaway that froze Mike Smith, but rang it off the post.
The third period saw fortunes shift in the Oilers’ favour in a couple of ways, beginning with McDavid actually drawing a hooking penalty as he flew through the neutral zone, leading to a powerplay goal, converting on only the Oilers’ second man-advantage for the night, before continuing the momentum that they had gathered in the second and completely taking over 5v5 possession.
- The Oilers’ league-best road penalty kill (89.5%) continued to do it’s job, killing off both Canadiens’ powerplay without much issue, while the powerplay went 1-2, pushing their road powerplay to fourth overall (27.9%). Special teams are life.
- Jujhar Khaira is struggling, that’s plain for anbody who’s either watching the game or looking at the advanced counts; sloppy giveaways in the neutral and defensive zone and undisciplined penalties. He was by far one of the worst forwards on the ice with a 31.82 5v5 CF% and 24.15 xGF%. It might be time to rotate him out of the lineup.
- Mike Smith had another solid game, earning a .933 5v5 SV%, facing 37 total shots. Smith has turned his season around (so far); he has a .930 5v5sv% in his four straight starts, and has bailed the team out with timely saves, sporting a decent .820 HDsv% in those four games.
- Connor McDavid had an assist and Leon Draisaitl finished with two, while the four goals were scored by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Josh Archibald, Riley Sheahan, and Alex Chiasson. The secondary scoring is finally coming around; in the last five games– since the NYE Rangers game– eight players not named McDavid, Draisaitl, or Neal have scored, led by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his 3 goals and 5 assists. Others include Archibald (3), Sheahan (2), Darnell Nurse (2), Kailer Yamamoto (2), Alex Chiasson (2), Oscar Klefbom (1), and Haas (1).
The Oilers needed something to start righting the ship; they ended 2019 with a near-historically catastrophic 6-0 collapse against the New York Rangers on New Year’s Eve, and began 2020– and this five-game road trip– with an actual 2-0 collapse against the Buffalo Sabres. It wasn’t looking promising. But suddenly the Oilers have earned seven points in four road games, with a chance to close out the road swing with a crucial victory in the Battle of Alberta.
On to Calgary.
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