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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: defensive woes still apparent for high-scoring Oilers

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. 

It’s hard to pick apart a game where your team scores eight goals and wins the game, but after last night’s barn-burner that’s exactly what’s happening today.

The Oilers offensive firepower was on full display with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combining for 11 points. Their ineptitude defensively was just as apparent.

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Edmonton gave up five goals and while you could probably say some of it was due to rookie Stuart Skinner getting his first start, the Oilers simply didn’t do enough in front of him in the defensive zone. This isn’t a new trend in the 2020-21 NHL season for the Oilers, either.

While they scored and put the game away, twice Edmonton allowed pairs of Ottawa goals at crucial times. In the first period up 5-1 already, the Oilers allowed two goals against in a 1:30 span making it a two-goal lead heading into the first intermission.

And in the third frame, up 8-3, Edmonton once again gave up two quick ones as Tim Stutzle unleashed a beautiful snipe, and 40-odd seconds later Auston Watson scored for the Sens.

Thankfully, the Oilers built themselves a solid lead and Ottawa was never a major threat to get back into it, but nonetheless, there was more than a fair share of sloppy play. Like I said, it’s nothing new either. Edmonton has consistently struggled to play with the lead this season allowing opposing North Division teams to sneak back into games and steal points they had no right in stealing.

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If Edmonton has any hope of making the playoffs, their play in their own zone really needs to get cleaned up — and fast. It’s a season where a few bad games can put your team behind. The Oilers head into the next four games with three of them against this Ottawa team and I doubt they’ll be able to put up eight points again, but you never know.

This is a gritty Ottawa team filled with young players, but also a mix of veterans, too, that have something to prove. I’d expect them to come out angry in the next couple games and give Edmonton a tough ride. The Oilers need to be ready for that and need to expect some tough games.

Backhanders…

  • Did you think I was going to go a full article without diving into McDavid and Draisaitl’s game? What an unreal performance by these two last night. They took the game over quickly and made their names known all night. They’re already running away with the scoring title race after last night’s massive performance, and I think there’s a favourable chance they score 100 points in this 56-game season.
  • Stuart Skinner had a shaky performance last night. He looked nervous and was fighting the puck in the first frame, but his game settled down as the game wore on. It’s great to see the Edmonton-native get a win in his first game, it must’ve been a dream come true. I would strongly consider giving him another shot Tuesday night in another favourable matchup against the Sens.
  • Tyson Barrie, too, looked to really come into his own last night with his best performance of the season. He scored a goal and an assist and started to really look comfortable out there. He was walking the point well, and unleashed a few big shots on the powerplay. He got called out a few nights ago and this was a solid bounceback performance. The Oilers need him to be good.
  • Ethan Bear didn’t dress last night for the Oilers and was out for precautionary reasons. He crashed into the boards Saturday against the Leafs. Hopefully it’s nothing too major, because he has been a huge part of the Oilers blueline this season.

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]