59
Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Five observations from Edmonton vs Chicago Game 3

Despite a two-goal effort from Leon Draisaitl and a passable game in net from Mikko Koskinen, the Oilers drop Game 3 to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 thanks to a late third period goal.

The late deflection off Ethan Bear then Jonathan Toews beat Koskinen, and just like that the Oilers now down 2-1 in the play-in series.

They’re now danger of being eliminated from the postseason.

The Blackhawks scored two goals with less than six minutes in the game to steal what was by all accounts a decent game from the Oilers, and one they most definitely should have won.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Going into Game 3, the Oilers had a lot of positives to build on. The powerplay continues to be dangerous, despite going 1/4 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis is emerging as a fireplug on offence. Mikko Koskinen looked calm and collected between the pipes. Oh yeah, and the 23-year-old from Richmond Hill is having a pretty alright series.

Connor McDavid is the primary reason the Oilers aren’t down 2-0 in this series. Leon Draisaitl had been mostly invisible in the first two games. The defence has been pretty horrendous at times, blowing simple coverages on the PK and at even-strength.

But McDavid has been consistently the best player on the ice. It’s crazy just how much better he is than anyone else, and the fact we’re getting to see him in postseason (kinda) action is just awesome.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Here are five things I noticed in Game 3.

1. Leon Draisaitl has arrived (kind of)

In both Game 1 and Game 2, Leon Draisaitl just didn’t look engaged. He didn’t even manage a shot on goal Monday. Luckily for the team, they have Connor McDavid, whose Game 2 hat-trick propelled them to the win.

In Game 3, the German centreman finally arrived.

Getting on the board halfway through the first period to tie the game at one apiece flipped some momentum the Oilers way.

Oh way, and who assisted that first goal? Tyler Ennis. Quick side note.

His second goal was kind of a lucky break, but Draisaitl put himself in the right spot there to get the bounce.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Draisaitl just looked engaged throughout all of Game 3. That doesn’t mean he played a perfect game — the second Blackhawk goal was caused due to his blown coverage on Jonathan Toews — but he was finally back to causing the type of havoc we’re used to seeing from him.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Could the Edmonton Oilers trade for Marc-Andre Fleury?

His defensive play still leaves a lot to be desired, but usually, that’s excused by the ridiculous numbers he puts up offensively. When the well doesn’t give as much water, those defensive deficiencies are just that much more glaring.

Without Draisaitl playing at his MVP level, he’s not giving his team a chance to even this series up in Game 4.

2. Josh Archibald’s play so far

Since joining McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the top line, Josh Archibald has stepped up and shown that he can play a nice complementary role with the two established threats.

This graph from Charting Hockey shows just how good he’s been on the top line.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Archibald has just over a 73 CF60, the second-best on the Oilers throughout the first two games of the play-in series. Game 3 was a similar story.

He was going hard to the net, drawing penalties and overall doing a lot of the dirty work.

While Archibald will never be the star of that line, he’s done a good job bridging the gap between McDavid and RNH.

Despite his play, Edmonton also tried out Ennis on the top line at times throughout the game and for the majority of the third period. Personally, I think Ennis is the better choice, but Archibald’s play has been a pleasant surprise.

3. Chicago’s young guns

Kirby Dach, Alex Debrincat and Dominik Kubalik are just so much fun to watch.

In the first period, Dach had two prime scoring chances. Kubalik has been dangerous all series. Debrincat is a proven NHL 30-goal scorer. These three might finally be the new blood the Blackhawks organization has been looking for the past couple of years.

If what we’re seeing in this play-in series is consistent with how their careers will play out, I think Chicago’s future might be in better shape than many think.

4. Another note about Tyler Ennis

This one is quick, but Ennis has been one of the best Oilers to watch this series.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Why the Edmonton Oilers should avoid drafting Yaroslav Askarov

He took a scary hit in Game 1 but luckily was okay.

The hit he took from Kirby Dach looked worse. His reaction on the ice said it all, and he was escorted to the dressing room soon after.

Ennis is the type of player these Oilers need right now. Going into Game 4, they’ll either need him back or need to find some way to replace his energy. The hit looked bad, but hopefully, Ennis is okay.

5. Parade to the penalty box

The Oilers are taking too many penalties.

Kailer Yamamoto was Game 3’s most egregious offender, taking two penalties that were both avoidable. Archibald also took an unnecessary interference call that led to a dangerous-looking Blackhawks powerplay.

The Oilers took six penalties and were lucky to only give up one powerplay goal. That might be due more so to an anemic looking powerplay that couldn’t convert more than their penalty kill stepping up though.

I’ll actually partially credit those penalties for the Oilers’ loss. When you spend 12 minutes down a man, you don’t give your stars a chance to shine.

The referees these playoffs have been pretty liberal with the whistle, but if that’s the way the game has been called, the Oilers need to adjust.

Notes from around the hubs

  • I feel like I keep saying how good the Carolina Hurricanes look, but yeah, they look like just a really deep, competitive and entertaining squad. Their domination of the New York Rangers.
  • Is anyone watching the Islanders-Panthers series? No? Okay cool.
  • Oilers legend Milan Lucic stepped up big for the Calgary Flames in Game 3. That’s a mean man who’s feeling himself now.
  • If the Montreal Canadiens beat Pittsburgh, it might be the first time they’ve actually tried to not draft a Quebecois (I say this as a French-Canadian who grew up a Habs fan.)
  • Good tweet from Dimitri Filipovic

Twitter @Matthew_Coyte