Thanks, Mike. Final Score: 4-3 Kings
Wouldn’t it be funny to know how many manhours were lost today in the time leading up to puck drop? I don’t know about you fine folks, but I found it mighty difficult to focus on anything work-related today and I have a job that focuses specifically on this hockey team. Add in the fact that the game didn’t start until 8 pm and you’ve got the makings of a long day of procrastination, ya know? So when I heard Rogers Place ready to explode in the moments leading up to puck drop, I knew the wait was worth it and that the stage was set to make some memories. Unfortunately, the Oilers didn’t seem to get the memo. It was almost like Kings read all the horrible stuff we’ve been saying about them over the last couple of days because it was the visiting side that ran the show for most of the first period. To make matters worse, the Kings were able to spot themselves a pair of goals that came as a result of some hard work and hustle, putting the Oilers in an early hole that none of us probably expected. The good news is that Connor McDavid was able to get his team on the board in the late stages of the period to halve the lead and give his team a chance.
Heading into the second period, the Oilers needed to do a much better job of limiting the Kings’ secondary chances because it was clear that they planned to shoot from the parking lot. As we heard on the broadcast, LA had a run of 21 straight games where they outshot their opponents and that told me the Oilers needed to find a way to a) eliminate bonus opportunities and b) get some consistent pressure going in the offensive zone to avoid the problem altogether. At the very least, the Oilers needed to get greasier in front of Quick because he was clearly in a zone where he was going to stop anything he could see. And just as we hoped, the Oilers hit the ice with all kinds of energy and that early jump resulted in a charcuterie board of shots on goal and power play chances that they would need to tie the game not once but twice. Quite frankly, the boys gave us the kind of period we had hoped for in the opener and it was the exact kind of response we needed to not only erase the lead but give themselves a chance to win.
Heading into the third period, the Oilers needed to keep their foot on the gas because they were showing how they could neutralize the Kings when their legs were moving. The problem, of course, is that Todd McLellan’s crew wasn’t about to just roll over and die after getting their teeth kicked in the second period, and the Oilers needed to be ready to handle the inevitable storm that was coming their way. Unsurprisingly, the Kings cranked up the pressure in an attempt to restore their lead for the third time and the Oilers struggled mightily to halt their attack or gain any traction of their own. Even so, the game remained tied despite the chaos, which kept hope alive that they would be able to weather the storm and land a well-timed counterpunch. Unfortunately, those dreams were dashed after an all-time Mike Smith blunder basically gifted the Kings with the game winner after his team battled their way back two separate times. To say that this was a dishearting loss would be an understatement, but the only thing you can do is shake it off and bounce back in game two.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- In the dying moments of the first period, Connor McDavid got his team on the board (2-1) with an end-to-end rush that saw him carve through the Kings’ defence before sniping a wrister past Quick down low. Down by two, this was a massive goal by the captain and he was clearly fired up about it when the puck went in.
- Kailer Yamamoto tied the game (2-2) with a power play goal after Duncan Keith hit him with a perfect shot-pass that Yamo was able to deflect up and over a flailing Quick.
- Leon Draisaitl tied the game for the second time (3-3) with a second power play goal after McDavid found him in his office near the faceoff dot with enough time to outwait Quick and rifle a shot past him. The pass may have hit a stick on its way from McDavid to Draisaitl but even that wasn’t enough to stop the magic.
- Can I just say how much I love it when Zach Hyman grabs the puck in the offensive zone and refuses to give it up? It’s so much fun to watch him do his thing. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone work as hard as consistently as Hyman does. Dude is relentless.
- Darnell Nurse was back! Even though I expected him to play tonight, the way the Oilers were playing mind games with us over the last couple of days had me second guessing myself. Gotta love the playoff gamesmanship.
- You’ve gotta love seeing the Oilers come through with two goals on the power play because they were getting more than their share of chances be they legitimate or not.
- Not to be outdone, the Oilers’ PK came up huge with a quartet of massive kills at key moments of the game.
- At least we won the Corskis after outshooting the Kings by a 39-35 margin.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Trevor Moore opened the scoring (1-0) with a snipe from the slot after Iafallo found him with a pass he was able to tee off on. I hate to say it but it was a well-executed play by the Kings, and it put the Oilers in a hole.
- Alex Iafallo extended LA’s lead (2-0) after a weird play behind the Oilers goal line that had Smith moving from post to post with the obvious problem being that he got caught in transition, giving what was basically a wide-open cage to shoot at.
- Only 1:19 after Yamamoto tied the game, Brendan Lemieux restored the lead (3-2) with a wrister from the high slot that I’m sure Smith would like to have back. I know the shot came from a tricky spot but… you know. The timing blew.
- Philip Danault restored the Kings’ lead for a third time (4-3) with a lucky bounce off his after a horrendous Mike Smith giveaway resulted in the Kings getting an array of shots before finally getting the goal.
- The Oilers were way too sloppy in their own zone and it was a bummer to see them coughing the puck up as often as they did to give the Kings more chances than they probably deserved. If they can tighten up some of those jumpy attempts at breakouts and missed passes then they’re going to be fine.
- Mike Smith was back between the pipes and tasked with giving the Oilers a chance to open the series with a win, and in the early going, it was clear the team would need him because the Kings were shooting from everywhere. Early on, I thought Smith was solid and made a bunch of quality saves that kept the game close, and while I’m sure he would want the Lemieux goal back, he didn’t let the issue derail his concentration. That was until the third period when his horrific giveaway in front of his own net gave the Kings the chance they needed to restore their lead and ultimately win the game. Hell, even Kelly Hrudey thinks he should apologize because of how dumb this was. Smith finished the night with 31 saves and a .886 save%.
- The spreadsheet society offers good news after the Oilers finished with an impressive 47.73 CF% and a 48.30 xGF%.
- I hate to say it but the Oilers won only 49% of the faceoffs. I know, I’m bummed about it too.
Intermission Listening: My podcast brought you the song of the summer.
— x – Baggedmilk, Oily Playoff Boy (@jsbmbaggedmilk) April 29, 2022
My heart is beating so fast
— X – Playoff Kennedy (@kennedystrash) May 3, 2022
If I be Oiler I would jus score more than other team instead of other way round
— Oilers Nerd Alert (@OilersNerdAlert) May 3, 2022
— Colin Critch 🇺🇦 (@ColinCritch) May 3, 2022
If Leon Draisaitl doesn’t make your nipples hard then your nipples don’t work
— Aime (@aimeok) May 3, 2022
Jesus Christ this is fun we should try to make the playoffs every year
— Ryan (@IAmByks) May 3, 2022
I am truly sorry. As a Mike Smith I apologize on his behalf.
— Michael (@MASmith_13) May 3, 2022
BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER
How can you not be excited about what’s going on with the Edmonton Oilers right now? With the playoffs upon us, I dove into what’s working, what I’m excited about, and how Jay Woodcroft has turned this team around in a way I didn’t think was possible. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts.