That was a frustrating game to watch but it resulted in a loss that probably wasn’t unexpected.
Thursday night’s game against the Flames was a prime example of a scheduled loss. The Oilers were coming off of a win on Wednesday on the road in Winnipeg and had to travel to play a Flames team in Edmonton who had been off since Monday. It was a rested team going against a tired team and the result wasn’t surprising.
Credit to the Flames, they played like a team still desperately fighting for a playoff spot. They won races and puck battles, completely outplayed the Oilers in the second period, and then did a strong job at slamming the door in the third. You can see on the shot chart below when Edmonton’s fatigue set in and when the Flames started to tilt the ice.
The Flames went up 1-0 early in the first but James Neal scored on his former club to knot things up at 1-1 shortly after. In the second, things started to move in Calgary’s favour. Elias Lindholm scored to make the score 2-1 and the Flames killed off all three of Edmonton’s power-play opportunities. Halfway through the third, Dillon Dube scored an insurance goal to put things to bed. Despite a flurry at the end of the game, the Oilers weren’t able to get another puck past Jacob Markstrom.
Ethan Bear said after the game that the Oilers weren’t able to match the intensity that Calgary brought to the table…
“They’re a desperate team over there, and we played a game yesterday with travel. You could tell they had a little more jump than us,” Bear said. “These are playoff style games. When you’re playing a team that’s fighting for their lives, we have to match that intensity.”
Head coach Dave Tippett agreed that fatigue was a factor and that the Oilers will be back on track when the teams meet again on Saturday night…
“You could tell fatigue was a factor in our game,” Tippett said. “We just weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. We’ll get a rest day (Friday) and get back at it Saturday.”
The big story of the night was that Connor McDavid was held without a point, putting his pursuit of 100 points on pause. McDavid had racked up a whopping 15 points in his last five games putting him at 84 points on the season. The last time he was held without a point in a game, ironically, was back on April 10 against Calgary.
- With the win, the Flames managed to keep their very, very slim playoff hopes alive. They’ve played one more game than Montreal, the team they’re chasing, and they’re four points back in the standings. The Flames and Habs don’t play each other again this season so Calgary has virtually zero room for error to catch them with just seven games remaining.
- Saturday night will be the final Battle of Alberta in the 2021 regular season. The Oilers have won five meetings and the Flames have won four. If Calgary wins tomorrow on Hockey Night in Canada, they’ll earn a split in the season series. Expect a better effort from a more rested Oilers team on Saturday. Surely they want to play a role in burying their provincial rivals and also win the season series.
- Leon Draisaitl had himself a difficult night as he was on the ice for all three of Calgary’s goals and he missed the net on multiple prime opportunities. Draisaitl looked gassed out there but Dave Tippett kept going back to him, as he played a season-high 28:49. Asking Draisaitl to log that much time on the second leg of a back-to-back is a bit much, and the result shouldn’t be a surprise.
- As I said above, McDavid didn’t score a point on Thursday night, so he’s at 84 points on the season, 16 shy of 100, with eight games to go. That means that McDavid has to operate at a two-point-per-game pace in order to reach the century mark. Edmonton has one game left against Calgary, four in a row against Vancouver, two on the road in Montreal, and one final game at home against the Canucks to finish things off.
- Also worth mentioning is this incredible stop from Mike Smith late in the second period that should certainly be in consideration for the save of the season…
take a bow, mike smith. what a save! pic.twitter.com/I8CPjGHeBd
— zach laing (@zjlaing) April 30, 2021