Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
There are games where it’s probably best to turn your eyes away from the ugly details of what-why-how it happened and skip right to the bottom line. The Edmonton Oilers’ 7-5 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Rogers Place Tuesday is one of those. Take the points. On to the next one.
There really isn’t any other way to describe an effort in which the Oilers came out like a house on fire and took a 3-0 lead in the first five minutes, coughed up leads of 4-1 and 5-4 and then finally beat the decidedly dreadful Red Wings on a lucky goal by Warren Foegele, who scored for the first time in a month.
With deference to a tried-and-true reference made by coach Jay Woodcraft post-game, these two points are the equivalent of every other two points in the win column. Style points don’t count when it’s time to add up the numbers. In that regard, the Oilers today are 33-23-4 for 70 points, which has them third in the Pacific Division and seventh in the Western Conference.
The feeling going in was that if the Oilers started fast, the Red Wings would fold and go quietly. When Devin Shore, Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman made it 3-0 in the opening 4:35 of the game, the rout was surely on, no? Well, no. There was considerable deviation in the way Woodcroft drew things up after that.
WHAT THEY SAID
Mar 15, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane (91) tries to screen Detroit Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“Not a Picasso by any stretch,” understated Woodcroft. “What I liked was even though it wasn’t a perfect night our team found a way to grind it out when things weren’t going our way in the third period. We found a way to make a difference and get the two points. There are things to clean up in our game, for sure, but I was impressed with our players finding a way to win a game.”
No, a masterpiece it wasn’t. This was more a case of grabbing a five-gallon bucket and a push broom to paint the barn. It gets the job done just fine — if you don’t look too closely. A two-goal game from @Evander Kane and sticking with it after the fast-start plan went sideways was enough to get the points despite a wobble in the crease from @Mikko Koskinen.
“Part of the game plan was to come out hard, and I think we’ve done that on this homestand,” Woodcroft said. “We accomplished that, but then there was a little bit of a lull, and what was at the root of that lull was a lot of self-inflicted errors — passing through people, turnovers at the offensive blue line, just things that we didn’t demonstrate in the first five minutes. In the end, it’s a credit to our players for finding a way to win when it got tense there.”
The bottom line is the Oilers have won three straight games and are 10-5-1 under Woodcroft as the Buffalo Sabres come calling Thursday. They’ve got two games in hand on the team directly ahead of them, Los Angeles, and on the team right behind them, Las Vegas, with the trade deadline looming Monday. Simply put, these points will come in handy.
With 10 goals and 17 points in 21 games with the Oilers, Kane has some fans buzzing about what a new contract might look like. He put it best. “If I’d rather be sitting up here talking about how well we played but didn’t get the win, I’d be lying to you,” he said. “It was a good two points. We needed them, and we’ll take them.”