The Edmonton Oilers 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars Tuesday was a classic DeVito game from top to bottom – one of those nights when what can go wrong, does go wrong. They’ve been few and far between this season, but I fully expected to see Danny foaming at the mouth this morning after that kind of lameness in the Lone Star State. Like clockwork, there he was.
A DeVito isn’t just a garden variety loss. This was a game in which the distinctly mediocre Stars looked considerably better than they are. The Stars limited the Oilers to 22 shots, and I don’t recall Jake Oettinger being forced to make what I’d call a Grade A save. The Oilers were a perimeter team. Of the 22 shots, just 12 came from forwards. They gave up the first goal for the eighth time in the last nine games – not a long-term recipe for success.
On special teams, the Oilers didn’t get the chances they deserved to unleash the best power play in the league because the zebras too often looked the other way. They were held off the sheet on the two chances they did get. The Stars, meanwhile, got five cracks at the Oilers’ usually reliable PK and converted twice. Along the way to the Oilers dropping to 13-5-0, Connor McDavid had his 17-game points streak end.
The crowning touch, what made Tuesday a true DeVito, was losing defenceman Duncan Keith with what appears to be a back injury on an innocent looking play during the second period. This, on top of already being without injured Darnell Nurse (broken finger) and Slater Koekkoek (ankle) as they take on the Arizona Coyotes, a 4-13-2 team the Oilers should beat for fun, tonight.
The table is set for a rare Double DeVito, but there’s no chance of that happening, right? Right?
WHAT THEY SAY
Stuart Skinner was solid again against the Stars, but he didn’t get much help. It’ll be Mikko Koskinen with the start tonight. The real question mark is the left side of the blueline. With Nurse, Keith, and Koekkoek out, it’ll be raw rookie Philip Broberg, Kris Russell, and William Lagesson.
“The three guys that were on our left-side defence last week are not here right now. So, that’s a challenge,” understated coach Dave Tippet post-game. Veterans Russell, Tyson Barrie, and Cody Ceci will be leaned on heavily, especially five-on-five, where the Oilers have too often been so-so.
“Five-on-five we didn’t play that bad, but we took too many penalties and they got momentum with goals off those penalties and it changed the course of the game,” said Ceci. “Before we knew it, we were chasing the game again.”
There’s no doubt McDavid will shrug off having his points streak snapped (25 games dating back to last season). It’s not a focus for him. Likewise, bet the farm that Leon Draisaitl will rebound from a frustrating game in which it seemed he was whistled for even looking at anybody the wrong way while getting mugged repeatedly.
Under normal circumstances, I’d write-off the loss in Dallas as a blip, a one-off DeVito, but the left side of Tippett’s defence gives me more than a little cause for pause. You?
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Oilers are three points back of the Calgary Flames atop the Pacific Division as they face the Coyotes. Best they get their act together tonight — Arizona has put together a 3-0-1 roll in their last four games after a terrible start.
“We have to get back to playing a solid game,” Tippett said. “There are stretches in our game that we play very well, but we’d like to put a 60-minute game together, play really solid. That will be our goal this whole trip.”
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Previously by Robin Brownlee
- Off the Top of My Head
- About Stuart Skinner
- Don’t Lose the Plot
- Off the Top of My Head
- Different This Time
- Start Me Up