Photo credit:© Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
At Random: Take the Points
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers will play far better games and still not get the two points they took from the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-1 win at the United Center Tuesday, but even with an eight-game win streak on the go, they don’t have the luxury or the option of throwing them back.
I’m not onside with the crowd that says “never critique a win” because that’s too much of a free pass given what we saw against the overmatched and depleted Blackhawks, but I’m fine with the “take and points and go” and the “start the car” folks. In the course of an 82-game season they can’t all be works of art, so you take the deuce and jump the charter for Detroit to face the Red Wings.
The shortcomings, and there were many against a hard-working Chicago line-up that was without Connor Bedard, Nick Foligno and Seth Jones, were obvious. The Oilers managed just 15 shots at Petr Mrazek, their lowest total since 2014-15. Even factoring in the two goals that were called back, the Oilers didn’t push the pace or lean on the Blackhawks nearly enough.
At the bottom line, this was a far closer game than it should have been and easily could have gone the other way had Stuart Skinner not dug in after Jason Dickenson put Chicago up 1-0. This wasn’t the beatdown many expected, but it ended with two points, and at this point in the season, that’s better than looking for a silver lining after a great effort that produces nothing.
THE WAY I SEE IT
I thought coach Kris Knoblauch’s assessment of the outcome was on the money. “We were just good enough to get a win. Not a Picasso, by any means,” he said. “They’re all good wins. It’s an 82-game schedule. It’s hard to get up and play beautifully every game.” I expected the Oilers to win this game by four or five goals. Obviously, the Blackhawks begged to differ. They put in the work and played with purpose. Brett Kulak touched on that.
“You could easily sit here in each intermission thinking, ‘We should be smoking these guys. Blowing them out by five goals.’ We just kind of kind of stuck to our process,” he said. “We stayed the course. We didn’t get too out of control mentally. We just played our game throughout, and Stu gave us a great game.”
With Skinner, Captain Obvious tells us that he can’t play every game the rest of the season, but given how he’s performed during this winning streak, what’s the number? Like many of you, I spend a fair amount of time projecting how many games Skinner should play and when – much of that spit-balling seems to be based on a ceiling of about 55 games. Why not 60?
The assumption is fatigue was a factor when he struggled during the playoffs last season. That’s a good reason for not riding him too hard now. Fair enough. He played 50 games in the regular season and a dozen more in the playoffs. Skinner sits at 28 games with 47 games left to play. We’ll likely see Calvin Pickard against Detroit Thursday and that’s fine.
Still, I ask. Is Skinner, who is 13-2-0 with a .929 save percentage and a 1.93 GAA in his last 15 starts and only now entering the prime years of his career at age 25, capable of playing 60 games without being used up? Fair question, no?
Like I said, I don’t know the number – and neither do you – but it makes for healthy debate.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Everybody has had a go at the ridiculously lengthy review that resulted in what looked like the 3-1 goal being taken off the board, with Connor McDavid providing the money take: “If it takes you 15 minutes to determine if it’s offside or not, it probably doesn’t matter . . . “
A tip of the cap, though, to Sam, who wrote: “The Hyman hat-trick is having three goals overturned in a game.” Solid.
THE OILERS TRADE DEADLINE PLANS
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