Special teams matter. Final Score: 3-2 Senators in OT
This morning in the GDB, I wrote that this game against the Sens was one that the Oilers should win but that they would have to put in a full 60 minutes if they were actually going to make it happen, so I was pumped to see the boys come out firing early. With a couple of high-quality chances in the opening few shifts, I thought the Oilers were buzzing early on and it was almost unfortunate that they weren’t able to cash anything in, but as it turned out, those misses were not without consequence. As we soon saw, the downside of not scoring on those early opportunities was that the Senators were able to settle into their game, produce chances of their own, and eventually open the scoring on a lucky bounce. Despite being undermanned, there is no doubt that the Senators are a hard-working team and that dedication to the hard hat lifestyle was starting to stress me out. The good news is that Connor McDavid was able to tie the game almost immediately, but I think the lesson to take away here is that the Oilers need to find a way to bury their chances against a scrappy Senators team that wasn’t about to roll over and die.
Heading into the second period with the game knotted at one, the Oilers needed to keep pushing forward for offensive chances — captain obvious says I nailed this btw — but they also needed to tighten up defensively to try and eliminate what Ottawa was able to generate the other way. As much as it was nice to watch the boys pushing for offence, it wasn’t nearly as fun to see the Senators getting so many looks on the net from dangerous scoring areas because the Oilers couldn’t put two passes together. Nor was it a good time to see the Sens restore their lead in the final minutes of the second period because the PK can’t seem to stop much of anything these days, but that’s another story entirely. From where I blog, the Oilers were handling the puck like it was a live grenade and those continuous bobbles allowed the Senators to make things happen a bunch of times when they really shouldn’t have been able to. So when the third period started and the boys were down by a goal, the concern for me wasn’t so much that they were trailing by one but rather if they could sharpen up enough to do anything about it. Thankfully, Darnell Nurse was able to tie the game and send it to overtime to secure a point, but getting the game there was anything but pretty.
In the bonus period, the Oilers looked gassed and sloppy as they were repeatedly passing to no one in particular which gave the Senators plenty of attack time to try and make something happen. Even though Edmonton had a few looks of their own, their inability to create with confidence proved costly as it was the turnovers that ultimately sunk the ship. I mean, I don’t know that I’ve seen the Oilers look so disjointed in OT before, and it was rough to watch them struggle to put anything together until the Sens were finally able to close it out.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Only 45 seconds after the Sens opened the scoring, Connor McDavid tied the game (1-1) with a quick half-slapper from the high slot that beat Matt Murray through the wickets after Bouchard made a beautiful stretch pass to send him into the zone with plenty of time and space. Personally, I think Matt Murray would love to have that one back, but as an Oilers fan, I couldn’t be happier to celebrate his mediocrity.
- Midway through the third period, Darnell Nurse tied the game up (2-2) on the back of a beautiful passing play with Zach Hyman and Derek Ryan that allowed him to pump the puck into what was essentially an empty net.
- Zach Hyman point streak!
- Evan Bouchard had a big night on the back end as he finished with 26:44 in TOI to go along with an assist, four shots on goal, one hit, and one blocked shot.
- After picking up wins in his last three starts, Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes against the Senators for his 24th start of the season and tasked with avenging the loss in round one of the season series between these two clubs. Unfortunately, it was simply not meant to be as the team in front of him didn’t play that well and he was unable to bail them out when it mattered the most. Even though I didn’t like the OT goal against at all and I know he’ll take shit for it, I also don’t think Kostco got much help from the boys in front of him all night either, and that’s why I’m going to leave him in the bright side section for this wrap up. Koskinen finished the night with 28 saves and a .903 save%.
- I will take some solace in announcing that we won the Corskis and outshot the enemy by a 39-31 total.
- Diving into the spreadsheets, the Oilers finished the night with a 52.48 CF% and a 55.37 xGF%.
- How many of you expected to see a scrap between William Lagesson and Tim Stutzle? None of you. That’s the answer. Thankfully, our friends at HockeyFights have it up for you to enjoy again and again.
- Do me a favour and check out the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never and let me know what you think! Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Thomas Chabot opened the scoring for the Senators (1-0) after his shot popped straight up in the air and took a friendly bounce over Mikko Koskinen and into the net. It was a weird one and the exact kind of lucky bounce we never seem to have go our way.
- Nick Paul restored Ottawa’s lead (2-1) on the power play after he picked up a loose puck in the slot and ripped a backhander up and over Mikko Koskinen. TBH it was a hell of a shot by Paul but that doesn’t change the fact that it was incredibly annoying.
- I don’t know exactly how many times the Oilers got caught with passing to no one in particular, but they were coughing the puck up far too often for my liking. The NHL site had the giveaways listed at only seven for Edmonton but I don’t buy that number at all.
- What is the deal with Dave Tippett’s OT usage? Tonight just looked weird.
- The Oilers’ PK continues to struggle as they were once again tagged with one goal on two shorthanded situations. I don’t know what it’s going to take to fix this issue, but the boys need to right the ship as quick as humanly possible.
- Just as bad was the fact that the Oilers went 0-for-3 on the power play in a game when they desperately needed the offence. I don’t know what’s going on with the PP right now but it doesn’t look anything like the coin flip we saw from them earlier in the year.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a brutal OT period and was turning the puck over like it was a Christmas raffle.
- Zack Kassian was invisible tonight and it wasn’t really surprising to see him stapled to the bench at the end of the game.
- I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Leon Draisaitl struggle to handle the puck the way he did before. It was weird and almost like he hadn’t played a game in weeks or something.
- The faceoff fans among us will be disappointed to learn that the Oilers finished the night at 48% on the dot. It’s not horrible, but it’s not good either.
- Normally, I don’t put too much weight into the hitting numbers but seeing that the Sens outhit the Oilers 41-35 was a little bit annoying because I find that our boys are easy to play against far too often.
Oilers senators is the battle of the century. Let’s see what happens here
— heatdaddy (@DanyAllstar15) February 1, 2022
Whoa whoa whoa, let’s pump the brakes here.
— Tim Plamondon (He/Him) (@TimPlamondon) February 1, 2022
suns out. mctufts out. pic.twitter.com/mF6TkyFYJy
— Kennedy (@kennedystrash) February 1, 2022
Didn’t have that on tonight’s bingo card
— Kerry Busey (@K_Low09) February 1, 2022
I could live to be 150 and still never guess William Lagesson and Tim Stützle would scrap
— Ryan (@IAmByks) February 1, 2022