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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: The slog is finished, the playoffs are next

The Oilers dropped their final game of the season by a score of 4-1 to the Canucks.

The result here, of course, doesn’t matter at all. The Oilers clinched a playoff spot quite some time ago, they’re locked into second place in the Canadian Division, and Connor McDavid scored his 100th point of the season last weekend. So, really, these last three games this week have been about one thing — getting through the slog without getting injured.

Mission accomplished. Though Ryan McLeod sat out due to illness and Kailer Yamamoto didn’t play because he was banged up and is listed as day-to-day, nobody got injured in the Oilers’ finale against the Canucks, which is the real win here.

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The Oilers got things started off in the first period when Adam Larsson, right in the middle of contract negotiations, wired a one-timer bomb past Thatcher Demko from the point. The Oilers had a wealth of quality chances in the second period but Demko stood on his head and ultimately kept this one from becoming a blowout in Edmonton’s favour.

A couple of minutes into the second period, Bo Horvat got the Canucks on the board with a short-handed goal. In the third, the Canucks took control of the game, burying three unanswered to ultimately walk away with the 4-1 victory. You can see on the shot attempt chart where the Oilers sort of mailed it in and the Canucks took control…

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After the game, head coach Dave Tippett said that getting through without an injury was a win for the Oilers…

“That game was a win if nobody got hurt,” Tippett said. “And nobody got hurt so we’re taking a win. Other than that, it was a game that had no meaning to it from our side. We got through it fine.”

Tippett also talked about how the team has gradually improved over the course of the season and how their focus is now shifted to Game 1 against Winnipeg on Wednesday…

“We started slow and we continued to build all the way through,” Tippett said. “We improved our game as the year went on. Up to maybe a week or so before these games didn’t mean too much, I thought our team was playing solid. We have a lot to work with here. We’ll have a good day away tomorrow and then a couple good practices to get ready for game one.”

Backhanders…

  • The Oilers picked up back-to-back overtime wins in Montreal but ultimately dropped their finale to Vancouver. All told, they finished the season with a 35-19-2 record, good for 11th in the league. Edmonton’s .643 points percentage would have them on pace for 105 points over a normal, 82-game season. This season’s points percentage is the seventh-best in Oilers history and best since the 1980s dynasty, narrowly edging out the 2016-17 team.
  • Slater Koekkoek returned to the lineup after missing three months due to a broken collarbone. Koekkoek had a solid game, playing 17:18 without being on the ice for a goal against and posting a positive shot attempt differential. Having Koekkoek back in the mix gives Tippett yet another veteran option on the blueline.
  • Connor McDavid had an assist on Larsson’s goal, so he finished the season with 105 points in 56 games. McDavid had 105 points and the Oilers scored 183 goals, meaning McDavid was involved in 57.38 percent of the team’s goals. That’s a new NHL record, breaking one held by Mario Lemieux during the 1988-89 season when he had a point on 57.35 percent of the Penguins’ goals.