Pain. Final Score: 3-1 Hurricanes
Seeing as the Oilers came into the game on a four-game losing streak, I can’t be the only one that wasn’t overly excited to see the Hurricanes on the schedule. Not only are they a very strong hockey club that would be tough to beat, you knew that Ethan Bear’s first trip back was going to cause a circus on social media and the noise would get even worse if the boys tacked another loss on the board. Needless to say, anything other than a full 60 worth of effort was going to be a major issue and I don’t think that’s too much to ask either. The good news is that the boys had their legs moving right from the opening draw, even putting together a few consecutive shifts of pressure in the offensive zone. It wasn’t a perfect start, but I thought it was something to build on. The bad news, of course, was that the boys weren’t able to get anything done with the pressure — or even shots on net for that matter — and that gave Carolina an opening to get on the board first with a power play goal. Despite falling behind for what feels like the 1000th time, I thought the Oilers actually did a pretty good job of responding with a handful of shifts to close out the period that could have easily produced a goal or two had the entire roster not been cursed right now, and I was hopeful that maintaining that level of play would pay off eventually.
Moving into the second, I thought the Oilers absolutely needed to be the next team to score and that was only going to happen if they kept the hammer down and stopped trying to force plays through that weren’t there. Instead, what we got was a choppy start to the frame that saw both clubs hacking away without really getting too much done. But as the period wore on, the Hurricanes were able to crank things up and manufacture an array of quality chances to score, making their 2-0 goal seem almost like a train wreck that we all saw coming but couldn’t do anything to stop. Thankfully, the Oilers were able to respond with a goal by RNH only a few minutes later to keep themselves in the fight and with a chance to come back, but even so, we did not get the period we needed from the boys at all. In fact, I’d say they were lucky to make it to the intermission down by only one. With time running out to even up the score, the Oilers needed to raise their desperation level by a factor of 10 because they were not playing anywhere close to the level they needed to if they were going to get anything out of this hockey game. And while I wouldn’t say they had a bad finish by any means, it was certainly fair to say that they didn’t generate nearly enough in the offensive zone nor were they able to shut the door in their own end, which is a devastating combination no matter how you slice it.
At the end of the day, the Oilers got the result they deserved and we’ve come to a point where they really need to look in the mirror and figure out how to stop the bleeding. It’s either they take it upon themselves to dig deep and turn things around or else we’re dangering close to erasing all of the goodwill that came with the 9-1 start back in October.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins pulled the Oilers back to within a single goal (2-1) with a quick snapshot inside the post after Jesse Puljujarvi hit him with a stretch pass that put him in alone on a chance he buried cleanly. As much as it’s been nice to see Nuge turning himself into an orchard this year, the team really needs him to score some goals and I was pumped to see him get on the board with one of his patented wristers.
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for his 16th start of the season and looking for a better result than he got in his last two appearances. Unfortunately, Koskinen wasn’t able to get the win we were looking for but that wasn’t for a lack of effort nor quality goaltending from the big Finn. Had it not been for Kostco, especially in the second period, this game could have easily been out of reach long before the final buzzer sounded and I wanted to give him some props for the effort. Bust his balls all you want for the third goal, but there is no doubt in my mind that he was one of the best Oilers tonight. Koskinen finished the night with 28 saves and a .903 save%.
- Hell of a pass by @Jesse Puljujarvi on Nuge’s goal to send him in all alone.
- Markus Niemelainen was credited with 10 hits and while I understand that means the Oilers didn’t have the puck a whole lot while he was out there, I do appreciate his willingness to throw his body around.
- You love hearing about faceoffs and I love telling you about them, and that’s why I’m thrilled to report that the Oilers won 51% of the draws.
- Shout to the fans in attendance that gave Ethan Bear a big cheer when he showed up on the jumbotron during the anthem and also when he hit the ice for his first shift. At least he didn’t score!
THE FACE PALMERS
- The Oilers have given up the first goal in 14 of their last 17 games. Brutal.
- Sebastian Aho opened the scoring (1-0) with a powerplay goal after he was able to take a couple of whacks at a loose puck that was laying just outside the crease. Koskinen was able to make the initial save but the rebounds were too much. Aho added a second goal in the third period (3-1) after Koskinen bobbled the puck behind the net and had it kick off his skate right to the front of the net with nothing but an open net in the way.
- Nino Niederreiter extended the lead (2-0) with a wrister from the slot that was deflected by Nurse and made its way through Mikko Koskinen. I know the puck was tipped on the way to the net but we really needed a safe there, though the Hurricanes were all over the Oilers both before and after this puck went in.
- The Oilers were getting caved in at the end of the second period and it was almost a miracle that they didn’t fall behind by more than a single goal.
- I don’t have the exact number for how many times the Oilers passed up a quality chance to shoot the puck but whatever the number is is way too high.
- The NHL site has the Oilers listed with only nine giveaways but I think that number is charitable to say the least.
- Make that five games in a row where Kailer Yamamoto doesn’t have a shot on net.
- The penalty kill continues to struggle a little bit (1/2) as they were once again tagged with the first goal of the game and forced the team to chase again.
- The Oilers really needed their power play to come through with a goal for them but I guess that wasn’t in the cards as they went 0/2 with the man advantage. Man, I miss when the PP was basically a coinflip early in the year.
- The Oilers got ruined in the Corskis, losing the shots on goal battle by a 31-23 margin.
- Looking at the fancies, the Oilers weren’t good by eye or by spreadsheet as they finished with a 42.5 CF% and a 41.53 xGF%.
- Make it 10 straight games without a goal from the fourth line.
— ❤️⛏Merry Eclogite ⛏💚 (@geology24_7) December 12, 2021
Connor Bedard on comparisons to Connor McDavid:
“I mean I'm young and McDavid’s two points per game in the show.”
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) December 12, 2021
— Wendo (@WendolynLamchop) December 12, 2021
@ oilers I am at your house I am in your kitchen I am pushing your glass off your counter like a cat
— Kennedy (@kennedystrash) December 12, 2021
— Taryn 🦊 (@tarynor) December 12, 2021
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