Anyone else miss the all-star break? Final Score: 4-0 Golden Knights
I can’t be the only one that was almost annoyed that the Oilers had six days off between games, right? I mean, the boys were rolling heading into the break, and I was hopeful that having this week off wouldn’t affect their blossoming swagger all that much. The good news is that the start of the game was pretty damned good for our boys despite their not being rewarded with a goal for their efforts. The hustle was there, but the goals were not and it had me worried about what that meant for a team that’s been struggling to score. Right from the jump, the Oilers were moving their feet, grinding out shifts in the offensive zone, firing shots on net, and looked poised to grab an early lead until one missed assignment gave Vegas the lane they needed to strike first. A bad read led to a costly error, ya know? But even though that goal didn’t sink their spirits, I don’t think anyone would say they were happy with being forced to chase the game once again. Not ideal to say the least.
Heading into the second period, the Oilers needed to keep doing what they were doing because the hustle was there but the execution was not. As much as it was nice to see them doubling Vegas up on the shot clock, they needed to do a better job of getting some traffic in front of the net and making life difficult for the goaltender rather than peppering him with pucks when no one is around. We’ve been talking about it a lot over the last few weeks, but the Oilers needed to do a better job of getting greasy and finding themselves in the tough areas of the ice to look for garbage. Instead, what we got was a delayed start that saw the Oilers spinning their wheels in the early moments while Vegas wasted no time in generating the chances they needed to extend the lead with a little bit of insurance. Even when they settled in, the Oilers struggled to get much going for themselves offensively and it almost looked like they were second guessing themselves on the attack. Unlike what we saw against Washington, they looked like they weren’t feeling good about their ability to score.
Down by three goals with 20 minutes to play, all I was looking for was the Oilers to finish off strong and maybe even win the period. Seeing as they weren’t exactly shooting the lights out, I had a hard time believing that a comeback was in the cards, but if they could at least play out the clock with some energy then maybe there would be something to build upon ahead of tomorrow’s matchup with the Blackhawks. I wasn’t looking for much, but just enough to show that the boys were pissed off about the way things were going, and I don’t think that was too much to ask. Instead, what we got was another dose of sloppiness and sluggishness that looked more like the boys were just wrapping up an extended run of games rather than a team that was coming back from a mini vacay. Either way, let’s hope the Oilers just needed this game to shake of some rust because they don’t have much time to get their acts together as they’re right back at it 24 hours from now against Chicago.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Even though the score sucks, the Oilers really did have a strong start to the hockey game and if they can replicate those first few minutes more often than they don’t then I truly believe that the goals will come.
- I like the chemistry that seems to be building between Nuge and Hyman. Those two guys play together in all situations so it’s nice to see them gelling more and more as the season moves along.
- The penalty kill was only called upon once but they were able to handle the lone shorthanded situation they faced.
- Diving into the spreadsheets, the Oilers finished the night with a 55.56 CF% and a 51.63 xGF%.
- The NHL site had the hits listed as 36-12 for the Oilers, if you’re into that kind of thing.
- Keith and Ceci were the Oilers’ most stable pairing by my eye.
- Do me a favour and check out the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never and let me know what you think! Subscribe to my podcast for FREE on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts.
- Oh, and sign up for the new ON Newsletter! It’s a weekly thing I’m doing and I’ll have some giveaways, etc happening in there.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Not a great start to the second half of the season, if I do say so myself.
- Brett Howden opened the scoring (1-0) after connecting on a stretch pass from Shea Theodore that gave him all kinds of time to make a play, and he used that space to rip a quick snapshot through Smith’s five-hole and into the back of the net. It was a nice play and all, but I also think it was a stoppable shot so I’d be curious to hear your take in the comments.
- @William Karlsson extended Vegas’ lead (2-0) with a shorthanded goal after the Golden Knights blocked Tyson Barrie’s point shot at the other end, sending them the other way with an odd-man that they made no mistake of converting.
- Alex Pietrangelo tacked on the third-straight Vegas goal (3-0) on a misplay in the Oilers’ zone that gave the Golden Knights yet another odd-man rush against. This was the second straight goal that Barrie got caught on as the last man back and it was a tough look for a guy that’s supposed to be relied upon as a veteran defender.
- Reilly Smith (4-0) threw a handful of sand in our eyes with an early third period goal after he found a loose puck in the circle and lifted it up and over a crouching Mike Smith. Sloppy defending and the inability to get a save make for a stinky gumbo, my friends.
- Vegas did a very good job of keeping the Oilers to the outside and limiting their ability to get the puck towards the middle of the ice. It was incredibly annoying, if I’m being honest.
- Laurent Brossoit got a 28-shot shutout win because of course he did.
- The Golden Knights blocked a tonne of shots — the NHL site has them listed at 26 blocks — it was giving the Oilers all kinds of problems in terms of even getting pucks through to the goaltender.
- McDavid and Draisaitl were quiet and they did not get the kind of support needed to lift the team up when that happens.
- Special teams matter and the Oilers didn’t get anything done with theirs on a night when they really needed the boost. Not only did the Oilers go 0-for-3 on the power play, but they also gave up a shorthanded goal against that ended up being a backbreaker.
- For the first time since January 6th against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mike Smith was back between the pipes for only the seventh time this season, and if I’m being honest, he looked like a guy that’s missed as much time as he has. And I’m not here to pile on Smith and say that he was terrible, but I will say again that I’m confused why the Oilers didn’t try to get him down to Bakersfield for a game or two to try and shake off the rust. Maybe Koskinen being in COVID protocol makes that impossible, but even so, it didn’t seem like the plan even before the news came down that Kostco would miss some time. To make matters worse, Smith looked like he hurt himself again in the second period, and while he was able to finish, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of lower-body injury announcement to follow. Smith finished the night with 24 saves and a .857 save%.
- Tyson Barrie had a rough night on the defensive side of the puck and it cost the Oilers the second and third goal against.
- I also didn’t think Evan Bouchard had a very good night in his own zone, and even though he’s tremendously skilled on offence, this was one of those games that reminds us that he’s still a young guy with a whole lot to learn.
- Jesse Puljujarvi may never score again and I’m thinking of heading out into the Edmonton night to find the sacrifice needed to appease the Hockey Gords and resolve this situation.
- I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that the Oilers won only 48% of the faceoffs. That’s not bad by any means, but certainly not good either.
— Marc Mageau (@Mags4747) February 9, 2022
Spike Smith pic.twitter.com/6oQ3iejlSW
— scott kosman™ 😷💉💉💉 (@humantorch) February 9, 2022
Psych Smith pic.twitter.com/e5rWNeLhuK
— GB&Q (@GBandQ1) February 9, 2022
I am respectfully asking for one (1) Brendan Perlini in the line up
— Kennedy (@kennedystrash) February 9, 2022
— Joshua 💣 (@BouchBombs) February 9, 2022
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