Sacré Bleu. Final Score: 3-1 Canadiens
After the gong show that went down on Saturday, I truly had a hard time believing that the Oilers wouldn’t find a way to be better in tonight’s rematch. I mean, how could they not? From start to finish, the Oilers lost because they were sloppy, ill-prepared, generally seemed unaware of where they were supposed to be on the ice, and basically granted the Canadiens with more than their fair share of quality chances on net, many of which ended up behind Koskinen. It was tough to watch. Needless to say, without a drastic improvement in all three zones, the boys were destined to hang another ‘L’ on the board, and that’s something that simply could not happen even though it’s still early in the new season. Not only do the boys need the points but I also thought that our collective sanity needed a break based on some of the comments I’m reading here and on social media.
If Saturday taught us anything, it’s that a scattered start and shoddy defensive play can set you behind before you even get the chance to get going, so I was looking for the Oilers flip that script by playing with energy and pace from the moment the puck dropped. Thankfully, the boys looked much better in the early going — I know it was a low bar to clear but it’s still true — and I was encouraged by the improvement, but unfortunately, their efforts still weren’t enough to grind out a goal and grab the lead they desperately needed. Even with a bouquet of powerplay minutes handed to them like a gift bag at a child’s birthday, the Oilers just couldn’t beat Jake Allen, which opened the door for Montreal to score first and eventually salt the wound by extending their lead. Slowly but surely, the Oilers’ inability to score left them in the rearview mirror by a growing margin. By the time Devin Shore scored to get our boys on the board, it was too little too late and we now find ourselves trailing behind the pack leaders in the North Division.
When it came to the overall effort, I actually thought that the Oilers did okay for the most part, but when it came to executing plays in the offensive zone, it’s a territory that can certainly use some work… maybe even a miracle.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Devin Shore scored his first goal as an Oiler (3-1) while killing a penalty late in the third period after intercepting a pass, finding some space, and ripping a perfectly placed shot past Allen low to the blocker side.
- Back between the pipes for a fourth straight start, Mikko Koskinen, along with the rest of the team, was looking to rebound after a tough outing on night one of this two-game set. That’s not to say that I hang Saturday’s loss on Kostco, I’d argue that most of the team looked off for sizeable chunks of the night, but it was another game where it would have been really nice to be able to get another save or two from the tender. Outside of the first goal to Romanov, I thought that Koskinen was one of the better players for the Oilers and I say that knowing I’ll probably get roasted in the comments section. Koskinen finished with 31 saves and a .912 save%.
- I want to give Jesse Puljujarvi a quick shout out for getting some business done in minimal minutes (12:33). I know the people that rag on him point to his line being outscored at even strength, which is a problem that they have sort out for sure, but I find Jesse to be a lot more assertive of himself on the ice than when we last saw him a couple of years back. Just me?
- Kris Russell made his season debut in favour of Caleb Jones, and I thought he played the way we’d all expect him to after watching him for the last four years with the club. He was hard on pucks, skated well, and is always willing to sacrifice his body in the name of defence, which is something all of his teammates should be able to rally behind. I bet Russell stays in on Wednesday rather than Jones.
- I really like the speed that Joakim Nygard brings to the lineup but I don’t know how much we could ever expect him to score? The dude reminds me of a different flavour of Luis Mendoza, able to stop
- Yay for winning 56% of the faceoffs! Boo for doing nothing with them.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Would you be surprised to hear that Alexander Romanov scored his first NHL goal (1-0) against the Edmonton Oilers on a shot that definitely should have been saved? You wouldn’t be surprised, would you? Second time it’s happened so far this season.
- Shea Weber extended the Canadiens’ lead to two goals (2-0) after he was able to collect his own rebound and bank it in off Koskinen’s back as he was trying to get up. For some reason, the ref originally called it as no-goal, but after a smart coach’s challenge by Claude Juliens, the call on the ice was reversed and the
- Why not throw a shorthanded marker against in the mix (3-0)? Artturi Lehkonen put the Habs up by three after intercepting a pass and burying a shortie past Koskinen on the glove hand side.
- With four minutes left in the second period, the Oilers had only one shot on goal in the frame. Abysmal stat but it’s true.
- I’m also starting to think that the Oilers may actually need us to yell at them to shoot the puck on the powerplay. It’s a working theory right now, but I think there might be something to this because the team has struggled mightily with the man advantage, squandering seven chances (0/7) in spectacular fashion, which would have been unthinkable only a year ago.
- While the penalty kill was better than the powerplay, they still gave up one goal on five chances against.
- Outshot 34-26 after opening up a sizeable lead on the shot clock after 20 minutes. I guess it’s more fun to try and pass the puck in the net.
- Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins, and Puljujarvi were the only forwards with more than one shot on goal and that’s not nearly good enough.
- You don’t see this very often but Leon Draisaitl was a giveaway machine tonight with many of his passes being sent out into the universe to no one in particular.
- Dave Tippett took Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones out of the lineup after the young defencemen struggled on night one of this mini-series, and it was surprising to see both guys get put on time out at the same time. Pulling Ethan Bear, specifically, was a surprise to me as he’s been mostly steady over the last year+ but clearly, the coach felt like a message needed to be sent.
- Speaking of the lineup, why does Dave Tippett hate putting Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl, and Yamamoto together so much? Is it bad to have a line that plays that well together?
Nail Yakupov hasn’t been in the NHL for 4 years and still has more points than Sam Bennett #CofRed
— Dylan (@brotherbear49) January 18, 2021
Take a drink every time Chiasson misses an High Danger shot on the PP
— Nicklaus Good (@NicklausGood) January 19, 2021
I think Koskinen owes Gallagher a beer.
— TheTowelBoy (@TheTowelBoy) January 19, 2021
Someone mapped the shooting button to the passing button
— Nicolas Joly (@ncjoly1) January 19, 2021
— Larry Fisherman (@KrisMP93) January 19, 2021
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