A Must Win for the Oilers and What’s Next in Toronto?
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
28 days ago
The Oilers have not lost back-to-back games very often. In fact, you need to go back 72 days to find the last time it happened. They dropped games to Columbus and Boston but since then, they’ve been one of the most consistent teams in the league.
They lost six times since then and followed it up with a victory every single time, outsourcing their opponents 28-16 in the process.
They’ll be looking to do the same tonight as they trail 2-1 in their series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Obviously, going down 3-1 would be a big blow for the Oilers, that goes without saying, and it would be especially tough to come back from because the Oilers would have to win twice on the road.
The bottom line: tonight is a must-win in my eyes.
The Oilers had far too many passengers in game two of their series. Warren Foegele was really the only player in the lineup who seemed mildly interested in playing playoff hockey. Everyone else just kind of floated through that hockey game, especially in the second period. That absolutely can’t happen tonight.
This is on the star players and the leaders of this team. Yesterday on Oilersnation Everyday, I asked former Oilers defenseman Shawn Belle about the team’s lack of motivation in game three. Some people wanted to throw the blame on Head Coach Jay Woodcroft, saying it’s on the coach to get his players revved up before a game. Shawn said that’s not the case at all.
“If you look at the Colorado Avalanche last year, do you think at any point Jared Bednar went into that room and said ‘hey boys, can you try today?’ Hell no. You had Nathan MacKinnon breathing down your neck” said Belle.
Tonight, the Oilers need Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to lead the charge.
The Oiler’s dynamic duo was held off the scoresheet for the first time in these playoffs and while they need to produce, I also think they need to set the tone with effort and physicality. If they’re forechecking hard and playing a desperate style of hockey, there’s no reason why the rest of the team can’t follow suit.
I know that might be a bit of a cliche, old-school hockey way of looking at things but I really do believe it. Especially on home ice, if #97 and #29 are flying early, the crowd will react accordingly and make Rogers Place a less-than-enjoyable place for the Golden Knights to be.
The stars need to be the stars, Stuart Skinner needs to be solid, and the Oilers need far fewer passengers.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman, and Evander Kane have all been wildly inconsistent, or just flat-out invisible, during these playoffs. The Oilers need more support from those players. It’s the tenth game of these playoffs and it’s time to wake up. It’s time for the Oilers to start looking like the best team in the NHL again.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Apr 18, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) looks up at the scoreboard during the first period of game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Last night, we saw a pair of statement victories in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Carolina Hurricanes pushed the pedal to the floor and beat the life out of the New Jersey Devils. They’ll now have a chance to wrap up their series on home ice and I think they do it.
The Dallas Stars are right back in their series against the Seattle Kraken and Jake Oettinger might be starting to find his game. That will be trouble for the Kraken.
All eyes will be on the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight as they look to keep their season alive. If they lose, the changes will be seismic according to NHL Insider Frank Seravalli.
He was on Oilersnation Everyday today and said that if they’re eliminated by the Panthers, that no one is safe. That doesn’t just apply to Head Coach Sheldon Keefe and General Manager Kyle Dubas either. Frank said that the organization will have to have a “real, serious conversation” with their star forward.
He’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season and if the Leafs don’t think they can find common ground for an extension, then it would make sense for them to explore the possibility of trading him.
There could be a domino effect to these moves as well.“I think there is a sneaking suspicion that if Kyle Dubas isn’t back that Auston Matthews might not want to be. If he wants the sun, the moon, and the stars, he’ll get it on the open market and that’s his leverage” said Seravalli.
The season could end tonight in Toronto, but the offseason may be even more dramatic.
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