That was not fun. Zero. None. No bueno. Final Score: 5-1 Canadiens
Even though the Oilers went 2-2-0 against the Habs last year, my memory kept telling me that this is a team our boys often compete strongly against (14-6 over their last 20GP) and that’s what I was looking for again tonight. As I wrote in this morning’s GDB, Carey Price posts the worst numbers of his career when playing against the Oilers — 3-9-1 with a 3.65 GAA and a .861 save% (before tonight) — and that’s a trend that I desperately wanted to continue, especially since there are nine games between these two clubs on the schedule and getting in his head now could only pay dividends down the line. To me, I wanted to plant an evil seed in his brain with a big win now and lovingly nourishing it as the season goes along will result in a tree being grown in the rent-free apartment the Oilers have been living in. But as we all know, what happened in the past doesn’t mean a whole lot when it comes to what happens on game day, and squeezing two points out of the Canadiens wasn’t going to be easy.
As we’ve preached a lot on this website over the years, the most important thing the Oilers could do for themselves was to get a quick start to try and set Montreal back on their heels, maybe popping an early goal if they’re lucky. In the early going, however, it was the Canadiens that were quick on the puck, making plays, and causing all kinds of havoc in the Oilers zone. The fact that the boys were only down by a goal after 20 minutes was a blessing, and while things improved slightly as the frame went on, the Oilers were not playing anywhere near the level they needed to be. In the second period, the effort was better but the results were not, which left the door wide open for the Canadiens to keep the hammer down and extend their lead to a point where we all stopped caring about tonight’s outcome and rather to look ahead at Monday’s rematch. I mean, when the third period started and they were down by four goals, I’ll admit that it was hard to get excited about the idea of a comeback when there were probably going to be beets waiting for me when the final buzzer sounded, ya know?
As it turns out, in spite of everything I wrote above, playing largely sloppy hockey for 60 minutes combined with Carey Price standing on his head can be about as devastating of a combination as one can imagine.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- The game is over now.
- Slater Koekkoek denied Carey Price’s shutout bid with a wrister from the boards that he banked in off the goaltender’s helmet to get his team on the board (5-1) and mark his first goal with the Edmonton Oilers.
- This will probably get old by the time the season ends, but I love Kailer Yamamoto’s tenacity and relentlessness on the puck. Out of all of the forwards, I’d argue that Yamamoto was consistently noticeable and that’s been the case in all three games so far.
- Congratulations to Zack Kassian on becoming a dad again! At least there was some positive news to come out of this Saturday.
- Leon Draisaitl led the team with six shots and goal and must be frustrated as he had some really nice looks on net that Price was able to fight away.
- I thought Tyson Barrie was one of the best defenders for Edmonton tonight — a low bar in this one, I know — and clearly Dave Tippett must have too, moving him up in the pairings and keeping him out for a team-leading 23:43.
- Joakim Nygard made his season debut tonight, slotting in the fourth line, left-wing spot. One thing that was noticeable despite his limited playing time (10:33 TOI) was the speed he brings to the lineup. I feel like because of the injuries he sustained in his first year in North America, we only got a small taste of what he’s capable of.
- Oilers won 60% of the faceoffs, which always makes me happy but maybe not tonight.
- I love me a 5pm start, ya know?
THE FACE PALMERS
- Would you believe that it was Jeff Petry that opened the scoring for Montreal (1-0) after somehow giving himself a hand-pass from behind the net that ended up on his own stick in the slot with only an empty net left to stop him? You probably would believe that, wouldn’t you? Would you believe that Petry added a second goal (3-0) in the middle frame that extended the lead to a field goal? *sigh*
- Early in the second period, Tomas Tatar extended the Habs’ lead (2-0) with a perfect one-timer shot after Darnell Nurse went to throw a big hit and missed, allowing an odd-man rush against that was executed perfectly. Tatar added another goal (5-0) in the third period after he was sprung on a breakaway as a result of another bad pinch that the Habs were able to use to their advantage.
- Jake Evans scored a shorthanded goal to give the Habs four on the night (4-0) only moments after Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins were robbed on a chance moments earlier at the end. How often do we see a good chance at one end get denied only to have the other side cash in their opportunity when the play goes the other way?
- The Oilers had a really rough start to this hockey game and it was painful to watch the Habs basically granted the time and space to do whatever they wanted with the puck, and I honestly think that set the tone for the rest of the night. Cycle in the zone? No problem. Firing range towards the net? Get after it.
- I thought the McNuge line looked frustrated tonight — McDavid had two shots, RNH had four shots — but they just couldn’t get anything going in a sustained way.
- For any of us that were worried about Mikko Koskinen getting enough starts this season, Mike Smith’s injury before even playing a game certainly eliminates the problem for now as the big Finn led his team out for the third straight night. And unlike what he did on Thursday night, Koskinen was unable to stand tall in net for his team, stopping plenty of grade-A chances early on but unable to keep the door closed from there. That’s not to say that he’s solely to blame for this loss, he didn’t get much help for long stretches, but this was not Koskinen’s night by any means, stopping 31 of 36 shots which was good for a .861 save%.
- Ethan Bear struggled a little bit and his TOI reflected it, as he was moved off the top pairing with Nurse and limited to only 16:48, which was a season-low.
- The powerplay could not get anything going in any of its three chances, and it was frustrating to need a goal so badly and not be able to grab on with the man advantage. Such is life, I suppose.
- The penalty kill couldn’t be perfect forever, killing off only one of two opportunities they faced.
- Remember all the stuff I wrote about Carey Price at the beginning of this article? Whoops. Price was ridiculous between the pipes, finishing the night with 34 saves and a .971 save%.
- Jujhar Khaira was loaned to the taxi squad before the game started, and it bums me to see how things have gone over the last couple of years because I think we all had such high hopes for him after the 2017-18 season, and truly felt that he’d keep progressing into something more.
- I’m really starting to get uncomfortable with how often I agree with Kevin Bieksa.
"When one sneaks out in polite company" pic.twitter.com/QHydjIgHiR
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) January 17, 2021
Shea Weber (pronounced ˈveɪbər’)
— Cam Lewis (@cooom) January 17, 2021
It’s possible for the Oilers to be playing poorly AND Koskinen to be playing poorly.
In fact, that would be a reasonable description/explanation for being down 4 goals after not even two periods.
— Oilers Nerd Alert (@OilersNerdAlert) January 17, 2021
— Maysy Man 🇨🇦 (@MaysyMan) January 17, 2021
-10 at the moment https://t.co/hfi47FEIaZ
— Erik Sabrowski (@ErikSabrowski) January 17, 2021
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