That’s a big win, boys. Enjoy your holiday. Final Score: 7-3 Oilers
As I mentioned in this morning’s GDB, this was a massive game for the Edmonton Oilers and I was really hoping that they’d be able to keep themselves motivated without looking ahead at the vacation that’s coming up. Even though there are still 30+ games left in the season, we’re getting to a spot in the playoff hunt where every point matters, and I was really hoping that the boys would be motivated to throw two more points in the bank before wasting away in Cabo (or wherever) for the next 10 days. You guys have heard me say this a million times, but the Oilers really needed to focus on the details in all three zones and make sure that their execution was on point before putting any thought into whatever shenanigans they were going to get up to after the final buzzer sounded. Beach cocktails are fantastic, I leave for Mexico on Wednesday for some time of boozy business so I get the excitement, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a job left to be done. So to see them come up with a lopsided game like this was a wonderful sight to behold before we all go Oilers-less for nearly two weeks.
Much to our collective delight, the Oilers were all business early on in this hockey game as they quickly found themselves with a three-goal lead before the game was even 20 minutes old. As far as starts go, the boys couldn’t have done much better for themselves as they got contributions from throughout their lineup which has been a huge part of their success over these few weeks and a major factor in today’s win. That said, I felt it was going to be important that they not take their foot off the gas as the game progressed as to not allow any of the momentum to swing the Coyotes’ way, and that’s exactly what they did. As hoped, the Oilers kept pushing forward in the middle frame and found a way to extend their lead by a couple more goals, which really put this game out of reach. Even when the Coyotes managed to crack the goose egg with a pair of goals in the middle frame, this game never felt like it was ever going to end with any result other than an Oilers victory which was not necessarily the vibe we had on NYE when a similar situation happened against the New York Rangers.
Heading into the third period with a four-goal lead, the Oilers had about as good of a chance to close this game out as they’ll ever get, but they needed to make sure to stick to their game rather than sit back in a prevention defence. Thankfully, Edmonton didn’t sit back too much and while there were certainly a handful of mistakes that will need to be cleared up, including some pinches and passes that shouldn’t have been made, they did what needed to be done to close the game out in regulation and move themselves up into first place in the Pacific Division. That’s a huge win for the boys as they head off for their bye week.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Josh Archibald opened the scoring for the Oilers with a shorthanded marker that saw him use his speed to beat the Coyotes defender to the puck in the neutral zone before pulling off a nice little deke on the breakaway and sliding the puck through Raanta’s legs.
- Sam Gagner extended the Oilers’ lead to two goals (2-0) after he parked himself near the side of the net and smashed home Riley Sheahan’s centering pass that was right in his wheelhouse. I know he’s been in and out of the lineup a lot this season, but I always seem to find things about Gagner’s game that I like and it has me thinking that he’s the 13th forward this team needs going forward. I mean, not at his current rate but at million bucks. Anyone agree?
- Kailer Yamamoto put a punctuation mark on a fantastic first period after he picked up his third goal of the season (3-0) that just squeaked its way through Raanta and into the back of the net. I love the way Yamamoto forechecks. For a small dude, his puck pursuit is relentless and it’s been fun to watch him give defenders fits with his speed and stick work.
- Connor McDavid added the Oilers’ fourth goal of the afternoon after he caught Raanta cheating away from the post and found a way to sneak a wrister through the small hole that was created. The captain added a second goal a little bit later in the period as he and Josh Archibald executed a perfect 2-on-1 that the Coyotes had absolutely no chance of defending, restoring the team’s four-goal lead. As he always is, McDavid was an absolute pleasure to watch this afternoon and the way he can make plays at high speeds is unlike anything this sport has seen and I can’t help but mention again how lucky we are to have him on this hockey team.
- Adding salt to the wound, Joakim Nygard scored his first goal in ages to give the Oilers a five-goal lead before the second period was even 10-minutes old. For me, there is a lot to like with Nygard’s game, his speed being at the top of the list, but I don’t know how many goals he’ll score at this level with the muffin of a shot he’s got. That said, it worked today and that’s really all that matters.
- Empty net goal! We did it! A huge shout out to Riley Sheahan for finishing his day with a goal and three assists which was his first four-point game of his NHL career. After a slow start to the season, Sheahan has really poured it on over the past month or so and he’s providing the kind of depth scoring that this team will need to be successful down the stretch.
- Mike Smith got the start today as he looks to build upon the strong January he’s been having, and I was looking forward to seeing how he’d handle today’s matinee. Outside of a few weird moments like when he was stickhandling near the hash marks, Smith was rock solid again today and he provided the foundation needed to close out a big win. I know his stats aren’t overly sexy but that doesn’t mean he didn’t play strong game as he finished up his fifth straight win with 27 saves and a .900 save%.
- How about another casual two-point game for Leon Draisaitl? After a tough month of December, the big man is back and he is rolling.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is now on a five-game point streak where he’s put up eight points (4G, 4A). #KeepNugeForever
- Do I like seeing the boys win 57% of the faceoffs? You know I do.
- Another quick shout out to Caleb Jones for locking in a new two-year deal with the Oilers this past week, making what happens on the backend a much more interesting storyline as the season progresses.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Taylor Hall got the Coyotes on the board (5-1) after taking a pass in the high slot that made its way through traffic and beat Mike Smith low. Yeah, yeah, I know the Hall thing is old news but that doesn’t mean I have to like him being back in the Pacific Division as an opponent.
- Christian Dvorak further chipped away at the Oilers’ lead (5-2) with a powerplay goal that came off of one of the worst interference calls that I’ve seen in a very long time. McDavid got called for interference after a Coyote ran into him and Arizona was able to take advantage.
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson got the Coyotes’ third goal of the game (6-3) but all it did was pad his stats as the marker was meaningless at that stage of the game.
- The penalty kill continues to struggle at home as it was on the hook for two goals against in the four chances faced. I don’t know why the PK is so good on the road and struggles at home, but it’s an issue that needs to be resolved. That said, Archibald did score that shorthanded goal so I’ll go ahead and give them a pass for today.
- Oscar Klefbom took a shot to the hand late in the third period and you could tell that it was a problem as he could not even hang onto his stick before eventually finishing his shift and making his way down the tunnel to get checked out. Thankfully, he was able to return to the game for the third period because losing him would have been a MASSIVE blow to this defensive group.
- I missed Antti Raanta when he was gone.
|03:56||Edmonton||SHG – Josh Archibald (6) ASST: Riley Sheahan (3), Kris Russell (7)||0-1|
|14:02||Edmonton||Sam Gagner (2) ASST: Riley Sheahan (4)||0-2|
|16:06||Edmonton||Kailer Yamamoto (3) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (47), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (19)||0-3|
|01:00||Edmonton||PPG – Connor McDavid (26) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (48), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (20)||0-4|
|04:49||Edmonton||Joakim Nygard (3) ASST: Riley Sheahan (5)||0-5|
|05:20||Arizona||Taylor Hall (13) ASST: Conor Garland (11), Niklas Hjalmarsson (2)||1-5|
|09:13||Arizona||PPG – Christian Dvorak (13) ASST: Conor Garland (12), Phil Kessel (20)||2-5|
|16:06||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (27) ASST: Josh Archibald (4), James Neal (9)||2-6|
|11:12||Arizona||PPG – Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6) ASST: Clayton Keller (21), Carl Soderberg (14)||3-6|
|16:14||Edmonton||EN – Riley Sheahan (6) ASST: Josh Archibald (5)||3-7|
— Sami Järvensivu (@LempaalanISO8) January 18, 2020
▔▏┗┛▕▔ we believe
JOSH ARCHIBALD IS THE ANSWER
— 𝗔𝗱𝗮𝗺 (@OilersAdam) January 18, 2020
There was no December pic.twitter.com/ZWLpIFUvR8
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) January 18, 2020
@OilersnationHQ I can’t see the Finns, but I sure heard them.
— Rutabaga Kale Milkshake (@RKM17) January 18, 2020
That's a horseshit call on McDavid. Call the game, not the scoreboard. Embarrassing.
— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) January 18, 2020
— cameronf (@cameron12580316) January 18, 2020
Hide in your shell, tiny turtle. This limited edition design is available here.