Meaningful games in February are stressful. Final Score: 2-1 Bruins in OT
I’m not going to lie to you guys, I was feeling mighty nervous about tonight’s game seeing as the Oilers are basically missing half of their lineup right now. I mean, they’re literally missing their first line from like two weeks ago, and things haven’t gotten much better ever since. Just yesterday, it was announced that Oscar Klefbom will be on the shelf for the next two or three weeks with a shoulder injury, and it was going to be very interesting to watch how the defensive group was going to be able to handle Boston’s relentless attack. Needless to say, everyone was going to have to be at their best from the crease on out if they were going to have any chance at beating one of the league’s hottest teams. Then again, Boston did just lose to the Detroit Red Wings this past weekend so maybe there was hope after all?
When you’re down six regulars that all play in key positions, you know you’re going to have an uphill battle when going up against the best team in the NHL, and that’s exactly what this game looked like in the early going. While the Oilers were able to hang in there (more or less) on the scoreboard, they definitely had a hard time ducking and countering the punches the Bruins were throwing their way. In the second period, the Oilers looked much more composed and able to manufacture a few offensive chances of their own, stifled only by the strong play of Tuukka Rask. I felt like if the Oilers were able to replicate the way they played in the middle frame in the third that they’d be in line for at least a point as they probably deserved a tie game with the way they played in the middle twenty.
Heading into the third period down by a goal, the Oilers were obviously going to have to open things up a little bit to try and penetrate the Bruins’ stingy defensive work. Early in the final frame, the boys were grinding again and their hard work was rewarded with a powerplay chance that they would cash in on, tying the game on a huge goal from Sam Gagner. As the play progressed towards the final buzzer, both sides had their fair share of chances at both even strength and on the powerplay and it just seemed like this game was destined for overtime. When we finally got to the bonus period, it was anyone’s game and that whoever made the first mistake would end up losing. The bad news was that it was the Oilers that errored on a fine offensive opportunity which gave the Bruins the chance to turn things around and close it out.
While it definitely sucks to lose, you have to admit that it was impressive to see such a depleted Oilers lineup hang in there with the best team in the league. Big point for the boys.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Sam Gagner tied the game up (1-1) with a huge powerplay goal in the opening minutes of the third period after parking himself in the high slot and getting his stick on Ethan Bear’s point shot as it made its way towards Rask.
- Mike Smith was back between the pipes for his 31st start of the season and looking to keep the heater going that he’s been on since the calendar flipped to 2020. Once again, Smith was great between the pipes and provided a strong foundation for the Oilers that allowed them to get the game to OT and add a massive point to their totals. Smith finished the night with 32 saves and a .942 save%.
- I thought Ethan Bear played a great game and looked very steady in his 19:00 minutes. Bear finished the night with an assist, two blocked shots, a takeaway, and two PIMs.
- I liked the way the RNH-Draisaitl-Yamamoto line was, once again, able to generate chances on net in the face of a strong defensive push the other way. Not only was the trio able to gain entry to the zone but they were also getting greasy in the tough areas which was fun to watch.
- Sticking with this line, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins played 29:23 and 28:05 respectively, which is a massive amount of ice time for a forward. Clearly, Dave Tippett was riding his horses tonight and he played the hell out of them.
- Darnell Nurse played a monstrous 28:44 as he did his best to fill in for the injured Oscar Klefbom. Though there were definitely some hiccups, I though Nurse did an admirable job, finishing his night with four shots on goal, five hits, and five blocks.
- A massive shout out goes to the penalty killers for the hero’s work they did when down a man tonight, killing off all seven penalties they took. The refs were calling absolutely everything in this one and the Oilers’ PK did an incredible job of not letting Boston run away with the game.
- On the flip side, it would have been nice to see the PP produce more than the single goal but the one they did get was absolutely massive and secured a seemingly unlikely point.
- It was impressive to see the Oilers go 62% in the faceoff circle against a veteran team like the Bruins. Yeah, you guys know I love faceoff wins.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring for the Bruins with a slick deke on Smith midway through the first period after his line absolutely stuffed the Oilers at their own blue line on a zone exit, turning the puck around quickly for the scoring chance. TBH it was some pretty shocking defending by our boys and all of a sudden, Bergeron found himself in all alone with time to spare.
- David Pastrnak finished things off in OT after David Krejci found him with an area pass for a breakaway that Mike Smith didn’t really have much chance on. The unfortunate part was that the Oilers had a 2-on-1 the other way immediately before the goal but Kailer Yamamoto accidentally bobbled the puck and forfeited the chance. Tough break for the Oilers here.
- The shots were 11-2 for the Bruins after the first period. That’s… uhh… not good. I know there was a significant improvement from there, but it was definitely not the start they wanted.
- Know what else isn’t good? Taking seven penalties against a very dangerous Bruins team that ranks second to only the Oilers in terms of powerplay success is not a great strategy and the guys were lucky they didn’t get burned for it.
- I’m not going to make a big deal of this because the guy had a whale of a game, but I’d much rather see Ethan Bear occupying Klefbom’s spot on the powerplay than Darnell Nurse. Ol’ Darryl had a really tough time handling the puck and it nearly cost them, especially on the Oilers’ fifth PP in the third period when the Bruins ended up with an unnecessary breakaway that would have been the game winner had Smith not come up with a huge stop.
- With the roster as depleted as it is right now, it would have been really nice if Zack Kassian was available to play and provide some energy in a way that only he can. Thinking about it just annoyed me seeing as he’s out because of a needless suspension for kicking Erik Cernak.
- Tonight was game five without Connor McDavid in the lineup and I hated it just as much as the first game. Get well soon, Connor.
|08:28||Boston||Patrice Bergeron (27) ASST: Brad Marchand (52), David Pastrnak (41)||1-0|
|03:42||Edmonton||PPG – Sam Gagner (5) ASST: Ethan Bear (14), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (30)||1-1|
|01:14||Boston||David Pastrnak (43) ASST: David Krejci (27), Torey Krug (32)||2-1|
— VisuallyBetter (@Isuckatpicking) February 20, 2020
The oilers have re activated Barry Stafford and sent Langer to Bakersfield! We need better skate sharpening!
— oldgoalie (@JoaquinGage31) February 20, 2020
Nobody believes this, not even you.
— FatDad69 (@fat_dad69) February 20, 2020
Shoutout to Kailer Yamamoto. The guy took a beating in front of the net from Zdeno Chara. He’s 5’8”. Chara is 6’9”. How can you not love him.
— Adam (@OilersAdam) February 20, 2020
— Double Eh (@Eh_Co) February 20, 2020
— Maysy Man 🇨🇦 (@MaysyMan) February 20, 2020
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