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GDB +8.0 Wrap Up: Oilers not near good enough in Game 1, fall 9-6 to Flames in 80s throwback

I know it’s been over 30 years since the last playoff BOA but I didn’t expect them to throw it back like this. Final Score: 9-6 Flames.

Did anyone else have a hard time focusing on anything other than the Battle of Alberta today? I mean, if you could estimate how many man-hours of productivity were lost in our province today, what would that number even look like? Regardless of what did or did not get done at workplaces across Alberta, we absolutely knew where the focus was once the puck dropped. And from an Oilers perspective, the most important thing they could do for themselves was to set the tone with a quick start and plenty of shots on net. As much as Markstrom was solid for the Flames against Dallas, they hardly shot at him nor did they get much traffic in his kitchen and that’s something the Oilers needed to have as a top priority in their game plan. Unfortunately, what we got was the complete opposite of that as the Oilers found themselves down by a field goal before the game was even 10 minutes old. As far as bad starts go, this one was an all-timer. Thankfully, Connor McDavid was able to get one back near the midway point, but I don’t think there’s anyone who cheers for our side of this battle who felt very good about the way things went in that period.

Heading into the second period, I don’t think there was much that the Oilers didn’t have to improve on if they had any hopes of getting themselves back into this hockey game. From being smarter with the puck to getting more shots on net to finding life on the power play, the list of opportunities was endless, and if a comeback was to be had then the Oilers needed to check some items off. I mean, we’ve seen this team score two goals in a hurry before so a comeback wasn’t impossible but they obviously were going to need a much better effort. So when the Flames restored their three-goal lead in the opening minute of the frame, you had to wonder if the Oilers were ever going to be able to settle down. Unlike the confident crew that we saw in games six and seven against the Kings, Edmonton was barely able to string multiple shifts together let alone claw their way back into the game. Yeah, we can absolutely be critical of the goaltending and special teams, but I can’t be the only one that wondered how the hell we were supposed to get close when the boys had only eight shots at the midway point of the game. If I’m being honest, when the score got to 5-1 and eventually 6-2, I had already started looking ahead to Friday night and the last thing I would have expected was the Oilers to rattle off three straight goals and pull themselves to within one.

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Down by a single goal with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers needed to bring more of the energy and urgency they had to wrap up the period than the sloppiness and puck watching that plagued them early in periods one and two. So when the Oilers managed to tie the game in the opening 90 seconds, I actually started to believe that they were going to pull this thing off. Despite the odds, I thought we were in store for one of the greatest and funniest comebacks ever. Instead, we got yet another dose of the Oilers coughing the puck up in their own zone without being able to get the key saves needed to cover up the mistakes. As much as the comeback attempt was fun, the reality is that this game was about as sloppy as it gets for the Oilers and it was that laundry list of errors that was a major contributor to this loss. With lack of execution combined with the inability to get a save when we needed it, the Oilers ultimately got the result they deserved and were incredibly lucky to have this finish as closely as it did. At the end of the day, you can’t give up eight even-strength goals and expect to win, and that’s exactly what happened here in Game 1. Needless to say, Edmonton has a lot to clean up ahead of Friday’s rematch and I’ll be expecting a much better effort from the crease on out.

The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • There aren’t many lessons to take away from this hockey game but one that I’m going to hang onto is that Jacob Markstrom is beatable.
  • Nearing the midway point of the first period, Connor McDavid got the Oilers on the board (3-1) after picking up a puck near the crease and dangling Markstrom until he didn’t know what was happening. With four points on the night, the Captain did his job. Now, if everyone else could also get on board.
  • Evan Bouchard got his first goal of the playoffs (5-2) after McDavid found him walking in from the line with plenty of time to beat Markstrom with a well-placed wrister.
  • Zach Hyman cut the Flames’ lead back down to three (6-3) with a wrister from the sideboards that caught Markstrom cheating. The goal also marked Hyman’s first against Calgary as a member of the Oilers. Just under five minutes later, Hyman added a second goal (6-4) on the back of one of his signature second efforts as he was buzzing around the net before walking out front and ripping a shot through Markstrom.
  • Leon Draisaitl pulled the Oilers to within one (6-5) with a snapshot that made its way through the goaltender after he was able to hustle up ice for an odd-man rush with McDavid.
  • Kailer Yamamoto tied the game (6-6) right on the doorstep after McDavid’s deke attempt kicked out as a rebound right to Yamo’s stick. Once it got there, Yamamoto basically had a wide-open net to shoot at.
  • At least we won 53% of the faceoffs, amirite?

THE FACE PALMERS

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  • That was the Gigli of starts for the
  • Does it get any worse than a first-shot goal to start off the game? No. It doesn’t. That’s what happened when Elias Lindholm opened the scoring only 26 seconds into the opening period.
  • To make matters worse, Andrew Mangiapane extended the lead (2-0) only 25 seconds later after a defensive collapse in their zone allowed the puck to kick out in front of the net to a wide-open Mangiapage.
  • Just over five minutes later, Brett Ritchie put the Flames up by three after his shot from the slot squeaked through Smith to end his night only 6:50 into the hockey game.
  • Blake Coleman restored Calgary’s three-goal lead (4-1) after picking up a loose puck near the crease and lifting it up and over a sprawling Koskinen. Coleman added a second goal midway through the second (5-1) after getting his stick on Hanifin’s point shot as he was flying through the slot.
  • Shortly after Bouchard’s goal, Matthew Tkachuk restored the four-goal lead (6-2) after he was able to bat a puck out of the air and past Mikko Koskinen. Tkachuk gave the Flames a late two-goal lead (7-5) with a shot through the five-hole after a Draisaitl giveaway at the blue line gave him an uncontested breakaway. The real mystery is why he was on the ice in the first place as he was supposed to still be with Kane in the box for their coincidental minors. According to Elliotte Friedman, the rule is that the team is allowed to decide who comes out first (Tkachuk or Kylington) but that seems like a garbage rule to me. Tkachuk completed the hat trick (9-6) with an empty netter.
  • Just over a minute after Yamamoto tied the game, Rasmus Andersson restored Calgary’s lead (7-6) after a defensive breakdown led to him having a clear lane to the net that he made no mistake on. Ideally, Koskinen could have given us a save here but it’s not like it wasn’t a crazy good chance on goal.
  • The Oilers’ power play was incredibly ineffective and I cannot believe the man advantage was an issue for Edmonton in what ended as a 9-6game. The Oilers went 0-for-4 on the power play on a night when we desperately needed one.
  • The penalty kill wasn’t much better, allowing one goal on the three chances they faced.
  • The Archibald-Nuge-Ryan line was horrific. Just awful.
  • Mike Smith got yanked after allowing three goals on nine shots. I know the team in front of him didn’t help much, but what else do you need to say? He needed to match his counterpart at the other end of the ice and didn’t come close. Smith finished with only seven saves and a .700 save%.
  • Unfortunately, Mikko Koskinen didn’t fair better as he gave up five goals on 37 shots in relief. Koskinen finished with 32 saves and a .865 save%.
  • Oilers outshot 48-28. Not nearly good enough.
  • Looking at the spreadsheets, the Oilers finished the game with a horrific 36.17 CF% and a 33.31 xGF%.
  • The NHL site had the giveaways listed at 20 for the Oilers but that still seems mighty generous to me.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER

On the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never, I ran through the incredible environment at Rogers Place during Game 7 and walked through how excited I am about the Battle of Alberta. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts from!