Too little, too late. Final Score: 4-3 Blackhawks
With the important teams in the Pacific Division sitting idle tonight — I mean, LA and San Jose are playing but who cares about them at this point — the Oilers had a massive opportunity to use their game in hand to not only catch the first place Golden Knights but also to put some ground between themselves and those chasing behind. That’s not to say that anyone expected Chicago to lay down, die, and pave the way for an easy two points, but I did feel like the Oilers had a solid chance of pulling out the ‘W’ if they could play at the level we’ve seen from them lately. Despite the Blackhawks sitting in last place in the Central Division, they’re playing some strong hockey of late and the boys were going to have to be at their best if another win was to be in the cards. Obviously, that was a tall order.
In the early going, both teams had their legs moving which produced an equal(ish) share of chances but it was the goalies who were doing their thing and keeping bagels on the scoreboard. From an Oilers perspective, they were generating opportunities but too many of their looks on net came with clean sightlines for Corey Crawford, and that made for some easy saves for the veteran netminder. At the other end, the Blackhawks did a much better job of moving the puck around the zone which gave the Oilers fits, caused their coverage to deteriorate, and resulted in a goal against. Moving into the second period, the Oilers had to do a much better job of defending while also figuring out how to produce scoring chances from higher impact areas of the ice otherwise their night would be in serious Jeopardy. The bad news was that it was the Blackhawks that extended their lead with a trio of second period goals that were caused by the Oilers being caught out of position time and time again, which gave the home side all the time and space they needed to fill the back of the net.
Even when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored to get the visitors on the board and pull the boys back to within two goals, it never really felt like the Oilers were any closer to getting back into the mix. Instead, at the time, that goal felt more like a band-aid on an amputation rather than the start of any kind of comeback. When we finally got to the third period, it seemed like the best-case scenario was that the Oilers might get another goal when really I just hoping for a few more shots on net. So when Edmonton opened the final frame with a pair of goals, pulling themselves back to within one, it felt like a kick to the shin because they were playing so much better than they were in the first two periods. At the end of the day, Chicago was the better team in every way for 50 minutes and it was incredibly frustrating to watch our boys spin their tires with very little to show for it. Their defensive work was poor, they couldn’t connect on more than a pass or two, their offence as non-existent, and it was the kind of game where they got the result they deserved.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- With the score sitting painfully at 3-0 for Chicago, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got the Oilers on the board with a quick wrister from in tight that beat Corey Crawford down low, pulling his team to within two goals. Nuge and Draisaitl ran a nice little give and go down low that dissected the Blackhawks’ coverage and gave RNH a lane to walk in alone for a couple of hacks on net.
- Josh Archibald tied his career high in goals after being the business end of a beautifully executed 2-on-1 that brought the Oilers back to within two goals (4-2) and gave the team some life.
- Moments after Archibald scored the Oilers’ second goal of the night, Kailer Yamamoto added a third with a perfectly placed wrister that went in just inside the bar and bounced out so quickly that it had to be reviewed.
- Was anyone surprised to see Leon Draisaitl added two more points to his totals tonight? You weren’t, were you? No, I didn’t think so.
- Like Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse picked up a pair of assists to go along with his 24:19 in TOI, shot on goal, and four hits.
- Despite the horrible circumstances he was thrown into, Mikko Koskinen did a very nice job in relief of Mike Smith and he did what he could to stop the bleeding and allow the team in front of him to chip away and get back into the game. Koskinen stopped all 10 shots he faced in relief.
- I have to mention the fine work the Oilers put in on the penalty kill again tonight as they killed off both chances the faced.
- I might take shit for this in the comments section but I felt like this was Andreas Athanasiou’s best game since the first he played since the trade. I thought he was moving his feet, making plays, and was only a crossbar away from his second as an Oiler.
- We’re throwing a brunch party on March 15th and you’re all invited to join us! Get the details and tickets right here.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Patrick Kane opened the scoring for the Blackhawks after the Oilers got hemmed in their own zone like chickens with their heads cut off, and it gave the winger all the time and space he needed to drain the opener from a tough angle.
- For the second time, the Oilers got caught out of position in their own zone and the Blackhawks were able to take advantage. This time it was Jonathan Toews that extended the lead to two goals (2-0) with an uncontested wraparound into the open cage after Mike Smith inadvertently slid way out of position. Ugly goal.
- A few minutes after Toews put the Blackhawks up by two, Alex DeBrincat further extended the lead (3-0) after, you guessed it, the Oilers were unable to clear the zone and got burned for their shoddy defensive work. Chicago had all kinds of time and space to create offensively and it wasn’t overly surprising to see them tack the third goal up on the board. DeBrincat added a second goal (4-1) later on in the second period with a wrister through traffic that beat Smith down low and got him hooked.
- I don’t know why completing passes was so difficult tonight but it was a real problem for the Oilers.
- After getting shaken up a little bit at practice this morning from a shot that hit him under the blocker, Mike Smith was back between the pipes for his 36th start of the season as he looks to continue the heater he’s been all for all of 2020 so far. Unfortunately, tonight was not Smith’s night as he allowed four goals on 21 shots and got the hook midway through the second period in favour of Mikko Koskinen. That said, the Oilers really didn’t help their goaltender tonight as they gave Chicago all the time and space they could have ever hoped for. Smith got the hook after making 17 saves on 21 shots, finishing his evening with a .810 save%.
- Connor McDavid’s line got caught with a couple of goals against after they struggled to exit the zone on a few different occasions. The search for the right McWingers continues?
- The NHL site had the giveaways as 12-6 for the Blackhawks but I don’t buy that at all. Edmonton gave up the puck a lot and saying they only had six giveaways seems crazy to me.
- It wasn’t a good night in the faceoff circle for the Oilers as they won only 40% of the draws. That number was on brand, though, as they were chasing the puck around for most of the game.
- Wasn’t it weird seeing Drake Caggiula out there tonight while Brandon Manning was at home trying to pass Double Dragon on his NES Classic?
|14:34||Chicago||Patrick Kane (30) ASST: Dylan Strome (25), Alex Nylander (15)||0-1|
|00:47||Chicago||Jonathan Toews (18) ASST: Dominik Kubalik (16), Adam Boqvist (8)||0-2|
|04:59||Chicago||Alex DeBrincat (17) ASST: Adam Boqvist (9), Duncan Keith (23)||0-3|
|05:59||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (21) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (66), Darnell Nurse (26)||1-3|
|13:02||Chicago||Alex DeBrincat (18) ASST: Olli Maatta (13), Kirby Dach (14)||1-4|
|08:03||Edmonton||Josh Archibald (12) ASST: Zack Kassian (17)||2-4|
|08:52||Edmonton||Kailer Yamamoto (11) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (67), Darnell Nurse (27)||3-4|
Manning has an off brand emulator he bought at an iPhone repair store in a strip mall.
— Arch (@Archaeologuy) March 6, 2020
This game needs more Brett Kissel
— TheTowelBoy (@TheTowelBoy) March 6, 2020
It’s amazing how many wins the oilers have been able to get this year while drawing literally no calls and getting called on the softest little touches
— Kailer Memeamoto (@KailerMemeamoto) March 6, 2020
The train is currently hurtling down the mountainside towards an orphanage.
— John Epler (@eplerjc) March 6, 2020
Just need a quick field goal here. No problem.
— Tyler Collin (@JimTheMonk) March 6, 2020
Can’t have a great comeback without a great deficit!
— Mark Bengert (@bengert_mark) March 6, 2020
How could we not? Get your F**king Phenomenal tee exclusively at NationGear.ca