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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The day after: Sometimes boring works

Welcome to the day after where we dive into what’s happening with the Oilers the day after a game. Here’s last night’s post-game article. 

Sometimes, boring hockey works. Last night’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs was far from sexy hockey, but in the end, it got the job done.

Edmonton was obviously lucky to snag a 1-0 lead early in the game with the Leafs scoring on themselves. And from there one it was pretty much a snooze fest.

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But that’s because the Oilers had the ultimate “back to basics” kind of game. After being outshot and out-attempted in the first frame, they bounced back with a solid second period shutting the door on the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was a big period for the Oilers as it seemed to turn the tide against a good Leafs team.

And in the third, Edmonton got the power play monkey off their back.

There were a lot of expectations that it was going to be a high-scoring game and how could you not think that? It’s Connor McDavid vs. Auston Matthews and Leon Draisaitl vs. John Tavares. We’re talking about some of the most offensively gifted players in the league, and that’s without getting into some of the supporting cast around these superstars.

Instead, it was a slow-moving game reminiscent of something from a decade ago. Nonetheless, the fact the Oilers were able to rally and score a powerplay goal as the eventual game-winner was huge.

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You could hear in the voices of Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto in their post-gamers there was a sense of relief — a monkey off the back, you could say.

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Edmonton’s playoff odds jumped from 37 percent up to 42 percent according to a model by Micah Blake McCurdy, so it’s not like this game was insignificant by any stretch of the term. The Leafs, meanwhile, fall from 81 percent to 76 percent. We’ll be keeping an eye on this the rest of the year.

The Oilers come out with two points and the Leafs none. The more regulation wins for the Oilers the better in what will continue to be a very tight hockey season.

Edmonton will hang around in Toronto for the next couple days with their next game another 5 p.m. start against the Leafs on Friday, followed by a Sunday night game in Winnipeg.

Backhanders…

  • Jesse Puljujarvi notched his first point in the NHL in two years and a day last night. After the game was over, he was credited with an assist on Draisaitl’s power play game winner. He’s looked better and better each and every night. If I’m Dave Tippett, I’d bump him up to the first line alongside McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins and drop Kassian to the third.
  • Speaking of Kassian, Edmonton is in for some trouble if he doesn’t fix his game. He’s struggled to start the season and is only in the first year of a four year deal paying him $3.2-million. He needs to be better.
  • The Oilers powerplay scored, and it happened with Puljujarvi on the ice. Humble brag, but I’ve been banging the drum of him getting more PP time and look what happened. It was only 43 seconds worth of time there, but he got an assist. That’s going to help with his confidence.
  • Darnell Nurse took a shockingly bad penalty early in the game nearly decapitating Mitch Marner at the side of the net. He’s got to settle his game down and stop trying to do too much. He overcommitted hard in the corner on Marner and the much more agile Marner made him pay by being able to drive the net.
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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]

 

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