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Back Home and Feeling Good

Edmonton Oilers
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
22 days ago
Well, it has been an absolute adventure for the crew that ventured out to Dallas for the first two games of the Western Conference Final.
We began our journey home on Sunday morning. It was supposed to be a simple path home. A quick flight to Nashville from Dallas, a four-hour layover, and then a quick direct flight back to YEG.
That didn’t happen.
The four-hour layover turned into a six-hour layover and then eventually turned into a cancelled flight. That led to a roughly four-hour wait at the airport to try get all of our bags, the ones with all the recording equipment, and the end result was a wild path back home on Monday so that we could have a hope of making it back for puck drop.
A 3:30 am wake-up call in Nashville, a quick flight to Atlanta, a few more scares with delays and now we find ourselves in the Vancouver airport. A nice 13 hours after waking up this morning, we are one more layover and a quick 90-minute flight away from landing in Edmonton one hour before puck drop.
Maybe it’s all the time I’ve been spending in airports, or maybe it’s just the perspective that comes with being almost 48 hours removed from Game 2, but I’m sitting here feeling pretty darn good about the spot that the Oilers are in.
Yes, dropping Game 2 was a missed opportunity but the realistic expectation was to go out to Dallas and grab a split and the team did exactly that. Winning both would have really put the Stars on their heels and while again, it’s disappointing the Oilers didn’t do that, they can still put a lot of pressure on the Stars by taking care of business at Rogers Place tonight.
They always say that you’re never in trouble until you lose at home. Well, the Stars have lost at home and now Edmonton needs to hold serve in front of its home crowd.

THE GOOD

After the Oilers’ overtime win in Game 1, Jay Downton turned to me and said, “if this is the Oilers team we’re going to get all series, I’m not worried.”
Even after watching Game 2, I think I still agree with him.
The Oilers are proving themselves to be the better defensive team in this matchup. I think they’ve done an excellent job of making Stuart Skinner’s life relatively easy compared to what he faced in Vancouver and in return, the Edmonton-born netminder has stopped all the pucks he’s supposed to. 
It’s a beautiful system. The Oilers are keeping Dallas on the outside and limiting their high-danger chances. The Oilers lead 28-21 in HDCF attempts at 5v5 in this series, and Skinner is being the goalie he was back in January and February.
If that keeps up, it’s hard not to see the Oilers as the favourites the rest of the way.
Their penalty kill has continued to be elite and they have gotten bailed out by a couple of timely goalposts, but that happens. I’m still very impressed with how the Oilers have looked in their own end.

THE DISAPPOINTMENT

The Oilers’ only goal in Game 2 was a Connor Brown goal that was assisted by Cody Ceci.
While I love the depth scoring, it would have been nice if the usual suspects had been able to produce a drop of offence in that game. If the big guns had found the back of the net once, that game would have gone to overtime and who knows where we’re sitting right now.
I don’t mean to be overly critical of the Oilers star players either. They were one of the biggest reasons why the team won the series opener. I’m just pointing out the unfortunate timing. This series is different if everything clicked at once in Game 2.
The Oilers do need to be a little bit sharper in the offensive zone, though. There were too many times when the team double-clutched looks in the offensive zone or refused to just throw pucks towards the net and look for greasy chances.
Look at some of the Dallas goals. They’ve funnelled pucks towards the net and got bounces. I’d like to see a bit more from the Oilers in that regard.
Either way, the first two games of this Western Conference Final have been encouraging. The Oilers can beat this Dallas team and similar to the Vancouver series, if Edmonton brings their A+ game, the Stars won’t have much of a shot.

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