So, yeah. That wasn’t what any Oilers fan was really hoping for. Edmonton, despite coming out roaring with an early powerplay goal, played terribly.
Chicago took an early too many men penalty and Connor McDavid did Connor McDavid things walking down from the faceoff dot firing home a wrist shot. And then, bad things happened. Chicago put up four goals by the end of the first frame and, well, that was about it.
Sure, Edmonton managed to score three more goals including two in the last four minutes, but it was too little too late. Edmonton got stomped 6-4 and left with their tails tucked between their legs as everyone in the hockey world chuckled at them.
It’s put Edmonton in a precarious position. It’s only a five-game series meaning the Oilers are two losses away from elimination after being named the host city.
Now before we delve back into the game that was Saturday, let’s take a little trip in the OilersNation time machine to April 12th, 2017. It was the first time the Oilers had played a playoff game in 12 years. They were set to play the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Place.
San Jose controlled the first five minutes of the game, and Edmonton didn’t even get their first shot until the 5:22 mark. Edmonton took over the game, however, and built a two-goal lead in thanks to Oscar Klefbom and Milan Lucic.
But in the second period, things turned against the Edmonton Oilers. Joel Ward scored early in that period. Edmonton’s passing wasn’t crisp and their game began to crumble. San Jose outexecuted the Oilers in nearly every facet of the game.
The Sharks won the game in overtime and frankly dominated Edmonton. They outshot the Oilers 44-19.
If you’ve forgotten, Edmonton ended up winning the next two games 2-0 and 1-0 to gain a series lead. Despite a game four 7-0 loss, they beat the Sharks 4-3 in OT in game four and 3-1 in game five. Series over.
They rallied from an ugly, ugly game one and came back to win the series.
There were a lot of things that happened last night that reminded me of that game one against San Jose, and look what an even-less experienced OIlers club was able to do three years ago.
San Jose then, much like Chicago now, was a veteran team with guys who seeped experience, and then some kind-of-sort-of-nobodies to fill out the roster. Chicago now is arguably worse than San Jose then. I think the argument can be made that these Oilers are better than that of three years ago and the truth is there is a lot of series left.
I had my reservations coming into this series about matching up against Chicago and they’re still there. They outworked the Oilers last night and Jonathan Toews put the team on his back much like people expected him too. They’re a veteran team who has pieces from an early 2010 dynasty.
There are reasons to be optimistic, however.
Mikko Koskinen looked solid when he was put in net last night replacing Mike Smith. But defensively, the Oilers were a trainwreck and it was just on the defencemen. The forwards often left guys open in the slot for quick one-timer that Smith didn’t have much chance on. The Oilers struggled to gain offensive zone time and they didn’t have much in the way of even-strength chances.
For Edmonton to have any hope of coming back in this series, which is absolutely possible, those are a few of the most important things that they need to take care of. While they may seem overtly daunting, the Oilers really need to clean up some of the small things in their game and get back to the basics before moving forward.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Dave Tippett adjusts things ahead of Monday night’s game. Going with Koskinen is going to be key, but the Oilers top-six needs to step up their game, too. They got dominated by Chicago at even-strength, while the bottom-six actually fared quite well.
I think Edmonton has a chance to come out with a big statement game Monday night and show that they’re far from being out of this series.
Let’s see what they can do.
On Twitter: @zjlaing