That one hurts. Final Score: 6-5 Devils in OT
I don’t know about you fine folks, but I am a huge fan of a Saturday matinee. Not only does a morning game give me an excuse to crack a morning NationBeer — we all know that hockey is better with beers — but it also affords us all the rest of our day to heap praise on the boys when they win or recover from the anger that comes with a loss. Either way, it’s always nice to wake up and get a little chunk of business out of the way. As for matching up against the Devils, I absolutely felt like this was a game that the Oilers needed to win because they were coming into this thing as healthy as they’ve been all season and New Jersey is generally a dumpster fire at best, making these two points extremely important. Though, after the wild, goaltending is optional start that saw the Devils take the lead three separate times, I will readily admit that I lost all confidence in trying to predict how this thing would turn out. By no means were the Oilers out of it, but would they be able to settle down defensively and get the goaltending they needed to complete the comeback?
Moving into the second period, the Oilers desperately needed to lock things down in their own zone because they were giving the Devils all the time and space they needed to create offensive chances. I thought that if they could improve defensively that the offensive chances would follow, and thankfully, that’s what happened through the middle frame as the Oilers were able to calm things down a bit which eventually led to their third tying goal of the game. By no means are we talking about a perfect period, but I do think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that didn’t think it was an upgrade over what happened early on. With the game tied and 20 minutes left to play, the Oilers were in a pretty good spot to get at least a point out of this thing provided that they didn’t start the period with another goal against, and while they weren’t able to keep NJ off the board, they were able to respond with a pair of quick goals to wrestle the lead away for the first time. Yet, just when it looked like the Oilers were actually going to pull this thing off in spite of themselves, the Devils were able to pop in two straight goals to both get the game to overtime and close out the win.
At the end of the day, the Oilers blew a game they should have won and it’s incredibly frustrating to watch them piss away all of the points they banked back in October, especially when the losses are coming to teams in the bottom half of the standings. I know they got a point out of this game, but that’s not nearly good enough for a team that’s supposed to be taking steps forward instead of spinning its wheels. I mean, when you score five goals you probably win, no? Ugh.
Like 2021, we wrap.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Just over a minute after the Devils opened the scoring, Connor McDavid tied things up (1-1) after taking a beautiful cross-ice pass from Ryan McLeod and lifting the puck up and over Blackwood as he was trying to slide across the crease. McDavid added a second goal on a breakaway midway through the second period to tie the game up (3-3) for a third time after being fed with a beautiful stretch pass by Duncan Keith that put him in alone.
- Kailer Yamamoto tied the game up for a second time (2-2) after getting his stick on Slater Koekkoek’s point shot and deflecting it through the goaltender’s legs. Yamamoto added a second goal in the third period (5-4) to give the Oilers their first lead of the day after Draisaitl found him at the side of the net for a tap-in. Somehow, the play was reviewed for nine minutes before it was determined that the sequence was actually unchallengeable. So stupid. Either way, this was easily one of Yamamoto’s best games in a while as he finished the night with two goals, an assist, and three shots on goal.
- Just under two minutes after the Devils reclaimed their lead, Devin Shore tied the game up again (4-4) after crashing towards the net and lifting Ryan McLeod’s centering pass up and over Blackwood. It was the exact kind of garbage goal I’ve been looking for and it made me incredibly happy to see the Oilers get a greasy one.
- Darnell Nurse got back into the lineup with another huge effort as he had four shots on goal, two hits, two PIMs, and two blocks to go along with 29:09 in TOI.
- I was pretty rough on Duncan Keith after the game against St. Louis so it’s only fair to give him props for what I thought was a very strong performance by the veteran.
- I absolutely loved the McLeod brothers’ interview in the second intermission. It’s always fun when brothers get to play against each other for the first time and it’s even better that our McLeod won the matchup in terms of points and overall performance.
- At least we won 55% of the faceoffs? Anybody?
THE FACE PALMERS
- The Oilers have given up the first goal in nine of their last 10 games, and 18 of their last 22. Absolutely gross.
- Jack Hughes opened the scoring (1-0) with a blast from the boards only 1:38 into the game after the Oilers gound themselves down by a man on what was undoubtedly a weak call, in my opinion. After piling up the chances in the bonus period, Hughes ended up cashing in the winner on an absolute softie that Mike Smith needs to stop every single time. Brutal finish.
- Only 17 seconds after McDavid tied the game, Nico Hischier restored the Devils’ lead after picking up a loose puck behind the goal line and banking it in off a flailing Mike Smith. Just a total yardsale out there.
- Midway through the first period, Dawson Mercer gave the Devils their third lead (3-2) after he slipped behind Tyson Barrie and picked up the area pass before ripping a shot up and over Mike Smith.
- Janne Kuokkanen gave the Devils their fourth lead of the game (4-3) after teeing off on a one-timer from the high slot that beat Mike Smith up and over the glove hand. Leading up to the goal, the Oilers got caught with a bad pinch by Koekkoek that set New Jersey running the other way with an odd-man rush that they made no mistake of converting. Brutal start to the third period.
- With only 31 seconds left on the clock, Yegor Sharangovich tied the game (5-5) with a deflection from the slot that may have changed directions a couple of times before finally making its way into the net and sending the game to OT. Awful.
- Mike Smith was back between the pipes for a second straight start and I was looking for him to settle in a little bit after getting his first at-bat in more than two months on Wednesday against the Blues. The bad news was that the game did not start out well for the veteran netminder as some shoddy defending, bad luck, and being out of position resulted in him allowing three goals on the first nine shots of the game. The good news is that Smith was able to settle in a little bit as the game wore on and looked much more comfortable through the final 40 minutes, making the saves his team needed to battle their way back. That was where the good news ended, though, as the Devils were able to respond with two straight goals to complete their own comeback and erase what was a strong offensive game by the Oilers. Smith finished with 35 saves and a .854 save%. Can anyone explain to me why the Oilers didn’t send Smith to Bakersfield for a conditioning stint after he missed nearly three months?
- What the hell was that nine-minute challenge about? The refs wasted so much time just to come back and say that the play was unchallengeable and their explanation as to why made me think they really have no idea what they’re doing out there.
- The Oilers were absolutely disastrous in their own end early on and I can’t even begin to express how disappointing that was to watch, especially when you consider that this was yet another example of the team playing down to their competition.
- Edmonton lost the special teams battle against a team as they were shut out on the power play and gave up a goal while shorthanded. I don’t know how they got only one power play chance throughout the game — I guess it would have been two had Yamo not scored — but that’s the way she goes in this league, I guess.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the game in the third period but we didn’t get an explanation about what happened, and I’m hoping that whatever kept him out is only a minor issue instead of another regular ending up on the shelf.
- RIP Betty White.
HOT NEW YEARS EVE GOAL SCORING ACTION
— TheTowelBoy (@TheTowelBoy) December 31, 2021
— Spiced Oil (@Spiced_Oil) December 31, 2021
You just said that you wanted more team toughness, and that these penalties would happen on your podcast yesterday
— Troy (@Yellowbug_X2) December 31, 2021
— landyn (@landyncarr) December 31, 2021
The more I watch hockey, the more I realize I know nothing about hockey rules
— StephyKei (@stephylee0526) December 31, 2021
— Wendo (@WendolynLamchop) December 31, 2021
— Kennedy (@kennedystrash) December 31, 2021
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