Too many passengers. Final Score: 3-2 Blackhawks
From the moment I woke up this morning, I was nervous about today’s game. Not only were we staring down the first must-win matchup of the season — a place that can be tough on the heart to begin with — but we also don’t know which Oilers team was going to show up. In games one and three, the boys looked about as flat as they possibly could be and that lack of fire left them trailing in a series that everyone (myself included) expected them to win quite handily. That said, this is also a squad that’s gotten itself into trouble when playing down to their competition and it’s been incredibly annoying to see that trend continue in this series. To me, it’s not like the Blackhawks are playing all that well as much as the Oilers have found new ways to shoot themselves in the foot, and that obviously couldn’t happen again today.
To make sure we avoided an encore performance of Wednesday’s disappointment, the biggest keys that I could think of revolved around getting a good start, being engaged from the opening faceoff, and exercising the discipline needed to stay out of the box. Early on, the Oilers got the exact start they wanted as Josh Archibald scored his first goal of the series less than a minute into the opening frame to give his side the lead, but the good times didn’t last very long as Brendan Saad was able to find the equalizer a few minutes later after the Oilers got trapped in their own end. Unfortunately, the bad times continued a few minutes later after another yard sale in the defensive zone resulted in Matthew Highmore parking himself in front of the net, perfectly set up to deflect Duncan Keith’s point shot past Koskinen. Thankfully, the Oilers looked significantly better to start the second period and were rewarded with the tying goal after RNH found a loose puck near the side of the net and buried it just as a powerplay expired.
Heading into the third period with the game tied at two, the Oilers had about as good of a chance to extend the series as any of us could have hoped to see, but they needed to crank up the desperation in all three zones if they were ever going to close out the game. But as we’ve seen all series long, the Oilers got outplayed when they needed a pushback the most and they allowed Chicago the space needed to reclaim a lead that they would not give up. At the end of the day, the Oilers didn’t play nearly well enough through four games and they got the result they deserve as Chicago routinely outworked them at every turn and ground out the goals that we simply did not get for ourselves or match. Even though Edmonton fired more shots on net than they had over the past couple of nights, they were still far too sloppy in their own end, undisciplined when it mattered most, and it ended up costing them in the end.
All-in-all, the Oilers were about as disappointing as we ever could have imagined and it wasn’t exactly surprising to see them get bounced out. I’m so bummed out that I don’t even know what else to say.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Only 45 seconds into the opening period, Josh Archibald opened the scoring (1-0) for the Oilers after he took a beautiful cross-ice pass from Connor McDavid and smashed it home high over Crawford’s glove hand. Archibald had yet to score in this series and I couldn’t think of a better time for him to pick up his first.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tied the game up at two per side (2-2) after he picked up a loose puck right near the front of the net and buried it just as a powerplay was expiring. James Neal hacked at the puck near the goal line and it bounced right to RNH who made no mistake of cashing in his second goal of the series.
- After another bummer of a game on Wednesday, I was expecting Connor McDavid to go supernova and single-handedly carry his team into game five by himself if he had to, but it was just not meant to be. The reality is that he is the best player in the world but he need help from more than a couple of players on any given night. McDavid finished the game with two assists.
- I know he didn’t score tonight but I liked the game that Andreas Athanasiou played up alongside Draisaitl and Yamamoto. There’s no doubt that he needs some polish on his game, but I also feel like he’s playing some of his best hockey as an Oiler over these past few games.
- Oilers killed off both penalties they ran into, finished the night 2/2 on the PK.
- The boys fired a lot more shots on net (45-29) but many of them came from long distance and were easily steered away by Crawford. The intent was 1000% correct but the execution needed work.
- I liked Gaetan Haas’ game in his first outing of the series. He finished with four shots on net in 10:37 worth of ice time.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Brendan Saad tied the game up at one apiece (1-1) on a wrap-around after the Oilers gave the puck away and weren’t able to clear the zone. This was the kind of goal that’s been punishing them all series long and the kind of mistake that they should have easily been able to avoid. That said, I’m pretty sure the puck was deflected by Kris Russell into his own net, which was another dose of bad luck that this team just didn’t need right now.
- Shortly after the Blackhawks tied the game at one, Matthew Highmore gave his team the lead (2-1) after deflecting Duncan Keith’s point shot past Koskinen from right in the slot. Leading up to the goal, the Oilers looked like they were in full panic mode in their own zone and it was really upsetting to watch the collapse in coverage, especially in the first half of the opening period.
- Dominik Kubalik restored the Blackhawks’ lead midway through the third period (3-2) after taking a centring pass from Jonathan Toews and roofing it over Koskinen’s blocker. Personally, I think this was a stoppable shot but the Oilers didn’t get the save they needed and Chicago reclaimed the lead midway through the third period.
- I’m so disappointed with the Oilers’ lack of intensity to start this game. I don’t know how it’s possible that the fanbase was more amped up for the start of this game than the team was, but that’s exactly what happened and it could not have been more frustrating to watch.
- I don’t know what kind of upgrades that OEG got done on the 50/50 servers yesterday but they did not work at all this morning. In fact, there were plenty of people raging about their inability to buy tickets which was something that I did not expect to find as funny as I did, but that’s what happened.
- Oilers struck out on the powerplay when they needed one most, finishing the night at 0/5 on elimination night.
- Speaking of lack of intensity, I’m disappointed with the way Zack Kassian has played throughout this series as he appears to be content to just float along rather than making an impact with his body or on the scoreboard. Outside of a couple of shifts in the third period, he was dreadful all series long.
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes after a disappointing finish to game three, and I was looking for him to shut the door and provide the kind of stability that he had brought to the table all season long. And while he wasn’t perfect by any means, he did make plenty of big stops through the game that kept the Oilers in the mix and gave them a chance. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make the saves he needed to extend the series and our boys are going home early. Koskinen finished the night with 26 saves and a .897 save%.
- The Oilers needed a big game from Leon Draisaitl but he got shutout on the board when the team needed him the most.
- Oilers won only 46% of the draws.
- It only took 10 years, multiple trades, and a global pandemic, but Taylor Hall has finally won a playoff series in Edmonton. I know, I know it’s the play-in rounds. Relax.
The dog gave you a gambling problem.
— Sam Fels, But Who's Buyin? (@FelsGate) August 7, 2020
Move closer to the mountains.
— KGY (@KGYEG) August 7, 2020
— Spank Yeg (@Spank_YEG) August 7, 2020
My dogs have trained me to do all my screaming internally.
— Walker1508 (@walker1508) August 8, 2020
— algdubldubl (@a_lg_dubldubl) August 8, 2020
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