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Photo Credit: © Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: The Oilers remain perfect against the Ottawa Senators in 2021

Yet again, the Edmonton Oilers have pulled out a win against the Ottawa Senators.

It wasn’t the dominating, commanding win we’ve seen from the team in this match-up in the past, but Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s offence and a strong showing from Mikko Koskinen led the Oilers to their eighth win in eight games over Ottawa.

Wednesday’s win ultimately came down to the McDrai show. The rest of the Oilers didn’t generate much offensively as the Sens put together a gutsy, gritty effort, but there was no way this young, inexperienced team could stop McDavid and Draisaitl.

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Draisaitl scored a goal from an impossible angle. I have no idea how you’re supposed to defend that. It was insane.

And then Connor McDavid went ahead and did this after the Oilers controlled the puck in Ottawa’s zone for over two minutes. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an Oilers team move the puck around another team’s zone with that much control at even-strength before.

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Games like these are a firm reminder of just how good these two players are and how lucky we are to have them.

Dave Tippet spoke after the game about the McDrai effect and how his two superstars ultimately gave the Oilers the edge in a tight game…

“Ottawa works,” Tippett said.” You know they’re going to work. If you’re not willing to work, you’re going to be behind. I liked our lines tonight… and you know you have to work. Ultimately, mcdavid and draisaitl made a couple real good plays to give us an advantage.”

McDavid echoed Tippett’s sentiments about the Senators, who, despite their record, aren’t simply an automatic win…

“Ottawa is a fiesty group,” McDavid said. “They’ve been battling all season long and they compete hard, they work hard and they make it hard on you for sure. I really liked our start, but i didn’t like our second period much. Giving up a third period goal is something we don’t like.”

The Oilers will now have a chance on Thursday night to sweep their nine-game season series with the Senators. You know that Ottawa doesn’t want that to happen so they’re going to come out hard to earn a win. The Oilers are going to have to put together a full, 60-minute effort to get this done, and getting something from the rest of the lineup beyond McDavid and Draisaitl would help too.

Backhanders…

  • With the win, the Oilers now have a 24-14-2 record, which puts them in second in the North Division, though Winnipeg is only one point back with a game in hand. Edmonton is seven points behind Toronto for first place and they’re also seven points up on Montreal, who sits in fourth. The Habs have four games in hand against the Oilers so they could feasibly make up those seven points in the standings. The Oilers and Habs play each other four more times this season and it’ll be key for Edmonton to do well in that head-to-head to keep Montreal in fourth. The goal here, I figure, is to avoid facing the Leafs in the first round.
  • As mentioned earlier, the Oilers have faced Ottawa eight times this season and they’ve come out with eight wins. Sweeping a team in a nine-game season series would certainly be a unique and impressive feat for the Oilers. While the Sens are a rebuilding team, they’ve improved as the year has gone along and I don’t really consider them to be an automatic win at this stage as they might have been earlier in the season. It’s sort of funny to see fans of other Canadian teams criticize the Oilers’ record against the Sens given that nobody else in the division has dominated them the way Edmonton has. For example, Ottawa has beaten Calgary five times in seven meetings this season and they’ve beaten Montreal four times in seven meetings. A better head-to-head against an “automatic” win team for Montreal and Calgary and they could be where Edmonton is in the standings right now.
  • Elsewhere in the league, the Buffalo Sabres might also end up taking a season series sweep. They’re 0-6 against the New York Islanders and have two more games left against them and they’re 0-4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins with four more head-to-heads left.
  • With four-point performances, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl continue to extend their wide lead in the league scoring race. McDavid has 68 points, a whopping 17 points clear of the next, non-Draisaitl skater. Draisaitl has 61 points, 10 clear of Patrick Kane. The hat-trick also pulls Draisaitl right into the Rocket Richard race. Auston Matthews leads the way with 28 goals while McDavid and Draisaitl are a bit back with 23 and 22 respectively.