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. Boston Bruins on Wednesday 19 February.
The concern coming into the game was how Caleb Jones would performing playing with Adam Larsson, filling in for the injured Oscar Klefbom. The pair finished the period with a 83.33 CF%, 66.67 SCF%, and 35.95 xGF%, and saw a lot of the David Krejci line, Jake Debrusk, Karson Kuhlman line (2:19 5v5) limiting them to a 0 CF opportunities and 0 scoring chances. The kid looked good, despite the Oilers being outshot 9-2 overall.
The Oilers’ top-ranked home powerplay (32.6%) was unable to convert on its lone opportunity against 8th-ranked road penalty kill (81.2%) in the period, albeit it was a truncated man-advantage due to Kailer Yamamoto taking a double-minor high-sticking penalty.
But the shorthanded units once again did they job, though the Oilers’ 26th-ranked home penalty kill (77.3%) has been strangely poor, shutting all three of the Bruins’ 4th-ranked powerplay (24.7%) chances.
The Oilers evened up the 5v5 possession game, commanding the High Danger areas and forcing Tuukka Rask to make 4 High Danger saves, while Mike Smith was equal to the challenge, making 4 of his own High Danger saves through two periods.
The Jones-Larsson pairing continued to impress, finishing the period with a 77.78 and 62.50 CF%, respectively, and improving their xGF% to 89.41 and 78.20, respectively, and limiting High Danger chances.
But the special teams matchup continued to be the story, as both teams each had two powerplays but neither could convert on either.
The Oilers were dominated again in the third whenever the play was at 5v5, which was less than half the period considering there were five penalties called in the period. This period hinged on powerplay opportunities, with the Oilers getting their seventh man-advantage with just over two minutes left in the third period during a tie game, but could not convert.
This wasn’t a barn-burner of an overtime, but the Oilers really had only one good scoring opportunity, with Kailer Yamamoto bumbling the puck on a two-on-one with Leon Draisaitl, which eventually lead to David Pastrnak’s GWG.
The Oilers had no business in winning this game, from the pre-game narrative of them taking on the top team in league with their rash injuries, to the in-game statistics that showed them being absolutely owned in the first and third periods. But it was the special teams (7/7 on the penalty kill), and a commitment to structure and accountability– not to mention a strong game from Mike Smith who finished with 5 High Danger saves and a .929 5v5 SV%– lead to them to being able to hang with the Bruins, even dominating them at times.
The Bruins are a team that generate the majority of their 5v5 offensive chances by shooting the lights out along the middle of the offensive zone, and the Oilers did the best job they could without one half of their best shutdown defense pairings.
Caleb Jones finished the game with strong 5v5 counts, with a 62.96 CF%, 60.00 SCF%, 71.43 HDCF%, and 71.82 xGF%, so his ascension into the top-4 looks like it could be successfully for him.
With losses to both the Vancouver Canucks (in a shootout) and the Arizona Coyotes, the single OT loss point have the Oilers sit atop the Pacific division, keeping them in a great position heading into the stretch run as the team slowly gets healthy again.
On to Minnesota.