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 vs. Chicago Blackhawks game on Tuesday 11 February.
In the first period during the latest Connor McDavid-less era, the Oilers new de facto first line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, and Kailer Yamamoto came out leading a superb offensive rush; the line finished the period strong at 5v5 with a 50 CF% and 74.56 xGF%.
Riley Sheahan led the way in quality chances, finishing the period with a 91.33 xGF%.
The Oilers’ 2nd-ranked home powerplay (31.5%) had two chances against the Blackhawks’ 2nd-ranked road penalty kill (85.2%) with its new complexion, now without James Neal and McDavid, but struggled on their first opportunity, unable to generate a shot and allowing their ninth shorthanded goal against, courtesy of Jonathan Toews. However, their second chance moved the puck much more efficiently, leading to Kailer Yamamoto’s goal.
The Oilers’ top line continued its strong play, with Yamamoto leading the way with a 59.02 xGF%, while Josh Archibald had an impressive 80.05 xGF%. While the pairing of Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson allowed uninspiring CF% of 34.62 and 40.00, respectively, they limited the quality of shots at a fantastic rate, recording a xGF% of 63.50 and 78.94, respectively.
The powerplay did not to miss a beat, converting on their first opportunity of the period (third overall) with Nuge’s goal from the High Danger area.
The Oilers’ 27th-ranked home penalty kill held its own against the Blackhawks’ 21st-ranked road powerplay, limited both opportunities against against.
The Oilers were on their heels at 5v5 as the Blackhawks pushed to tie the game and keep their playoff hopes alive, out-chancing the Oilers in High Danger Chances and flooding the offensive zone. But Mike Smith had a strong game, keeping the Blackhawks’ attack at bay before Draisaitl notched his fourth point of the game when he scored on the empty net. Klefbom and Larsson finished off a strong game with a xGF% of 58.22 and 70.19, respectively.
The Oilers first game out with McDavid out for 2-3 weeks was an important one to prove that they could keep their playoff push going even without their captain. There has often been a narrative that Draisaitl can’t “drive his own line,” while in this game, he registered four points while leading the offensive charge, played shorthanded, and helping Nugent-Hopkins to the best counts on the line (50.00 CF%, 58.3 SCF%, 51.64 xGF%).
Mike Smith had a strong game, battling as always while stopping all 4 of the Blackhawks’ High Danger chances against, while being scored on 2 Medium Danger chances that were tough cross-ice passes, finishing with a .923 5v5 Sv%. He’s slowly taken the starter’s position from Mikko Koskinen.
The special teams made a huge difference, with the powerplay going 2-3 (though they did allow a shorthanded goal) and the penalty kill shutting out the all three of the Blackhawks’ man-advantages.
The test continues.
On to Tampa Bay.