That was the opposite of fun. Final Score: 5-1 Wild
I don’t know about you fine folks that are reading this now, but I’ve hated the Minnesota Wild for yeeeeears. From the moment they came into the league and started playing that horrible trap style of game to this current season where our boys can’t seem to find a solution to figuring them out, the Wild are one of those teams that annoy me from the moment I see their logo on our schedule. And to be honest, seeing Minnesota grab an early lead because of a horrible giveaway by Keith in his own end didn’t exactly make me feel much better. As if games against this team aren’t annoying enough but to spot them a goal that was 2000% avoidable was like a swift kick to the shin. The good news is that the Oilers didn’t allow that mistake to interfere with their giddy-up too much because they battled pretty hard through the rest of the period, and had it not been for the obvious annoyance that they couldn’t get anything past Talbot, I probably would have graded it as a decent enough road period. The problem, of course, is that the Wild are not a team you want to be down to and that was the exact situation we found ourselves in as we made our way into the break.
Down a goal heading into the second period, the Oilers needed to up their urgency levels and play with some desperation because there was absolutely no way the Stars could get the next goal. Getting back into the game was going to be hard enough with a one-goal deficit and any lead beyond that would basically be like the Oilers wearing an anchor around their necks. Then, only minutes into the frame, the Wild extended their lead after a costly coverage mistake, and in the blink of an eye, the Oilers were down by a pair and found themselves in danger. Clearly believing his team needed a shakeup, Jay Woodcroft pulled out the line blender to try and find a spark but there wasn’t a whole lot going right for the Oilers at either end of the ice whereas the Wild just got better and better as the game wore on. Not only did the Wild get stronger and harder on pucks with each passing shift, but their goal scoring also woke up and used it to tag the boys with two more towards the end of the period to basically put this game out of reach. I mean, as much as I would have loved to see a four-goal comeback in the third period, I wasn’t exactly holding my breath for it to happen, ya know?
Down by four goals with a period to play, the only thing I really cared about was that everyone made it through the rest of the game without incident. Sure, it would have been nice to break the shutout and maybe make things interesting on the scoreboard, but based on the way things were going, I was ready to flush this game and move on. I don’t know what it is about the Wild that the Oilers just can’t figure out, but this was the worst we’ve seen the boys play in quite a while and that was a tough pill to swallow when you couple it with what else was happening around the division. As if the stretch drive hasn’t been stressful enough on its own, now we have to spend the next two days hoping that the teams we need to lose will actually do that for a change. I hate that losses like this one mean that we’re probably going to need some help from other teams in the division over this last handful of games, and it’s incredibly frustrating that we weren’t able to avoid the series sweep or pick up at least a point. Either way, we can mark this down as six straight losses to the Wild and it’s a stat that could not make me any more unhappy.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- The game is over now.
- Leon Draisaitl got the Oilers on the board (5-1) with a power play goal after he fired a wrister from the circle that made its way through a screen and beat Talbot on the glove-hand side. Draisaitl’s goal also happened to be a new club record as he recorded his 21st power play goal of the season.
- I very much enjoy that the Oilers’ PK is starting to improve as the year winds down, and that was the case again as they were able to kill off all three of Minnesota’s chances with the man advantage.
- Are we excited about finishing at 1-for-3 on the power play? I suppose we should be because this Bright Side section is looking mighty bare.
- At least the Oilers won the Corskis, outshooting the Wild by a 28-23 final total.
- Word from the spreadsheets was basically a chef’s kiss as the Oilers finished with a 65.79 CF% and a 31.70 xGF%
- After plenty of patience from you the reader, you’ve finally arrived at that special point in the Wrap Up where I tell you that the Oilers won 50% of the faceoffs.
- The magic number is still 13.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Freddie Gaudreau opened the scoring (1-0) with a goal from in tight after Duncan Keith gave the puck up in his own zone after blindly throwing a clearing attempt right up the middle. This Wild team is simply way too good to be coughing up freebies like that, and this was certainly not the start the boys wanted.
- Kevin Fiala gave the Wild some insurance (2-0) with a quick snapshot from the slot that beat Koskinen down low after he was able to shake RNH in the offensive zone and find some open space between the circles. Fiala added a second goal (3-0) midway through the period from a sharp angle after yet another horrendous giveaway from the Keith-Bouchard pairing that could almost be described as a pass directly to their competitors. Fiala has been an Oilers killer this season and I’ve honestly had enough of it.
- Up next, it was Ryan Hartman’s turn to throw some sand in our eyes as he added the fourth straight Minnesota goal (4-0) after Kaprisov found him all alone behind the Oilers’ defence with enough time and space to make a play. Hartman added a second goal early in the third period (5-0) after outmuscling Barrie in front of the net, picking up the loose puck, and tucking it around an outstretched Koskinen.
- Duncan Keith was awful.
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes and looking to build upon what was a very strong outing against the Avalanche, and just like we’ve seen over the past while, Kostco showed up ready to play and had to make some big saves early on. From there, however, things did not go well for the big Finn as the team in front of him seemingly forgot how to play defence or that it was even a requirement at the NHL level. Even though I know a bunch of people will shit on Koskinen for allowing five goals, I’m not going to do that because I can’t think of many of them where I would be pointing my finger at him. That said, Koskinen wasn’t exactly lights out either and that’s a big problem. Koskinen finished the night with 18 saves and a .783 save%.
- I thought we were friends, Cam Talbot? Why would you do this to us? Whatever happened to Once an Oiler, Always an Oiler?
- Jesse Puljujarvi may never score again and it breaks my heart that I can’t find a sacrifice powerful enough to end this snake bite.
Right? We're not even playing the Flames!
— Radley Mahinay (@RadleyMahinay) April 13, 2022
Best Oiler tonight has been Luke Gazdic.
— Todd F (@TB_Fink) April 13, 2022
— Norris Mironov (@CynicalOilerFan) April 13, 2022
BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER
Leon Draisaitl hitting 50 goals for a second time, Mike Smith shutting up the haters, and the standings are as tight as one could possibly imagine. All this and more on a new episode of Better Lait Than Never. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts.