G7+ Game Notes: Oilers Expect to Bounce Back After Game 1 Loss

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 month ago
Since Kris Knoblauch arrived as head coach the Edmonton Oilers have responded well after a subpar performance, and they will need to continue that trend tonight in Vancouver.
— After losing Game 2 to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime, Edmonton responded by winning 6-1 in Game 3. Late in the season, after an ugly 5-0 loss in Dallas, they defeated Colorado 6-2 a few days later. They were able to do it many other times as well. They weren’t undefeated in the next game following a poor performance, but they often responded well, and that will have to happen tonight.
— There were long stretches in Game 1 the Oilers played well. Vancouver had one shot on goal, albeit a breakaway by Connor Garland, in the first 12 minutes. In the first nine minutes of the third, Vancouver had one shot within 40 feet and two outside 40. Edmonton hadn’t given them much, but then Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hit the goal post on a wide-open net and 45 seconds later, JT Miller made it 4-3, and the Oilers crumbled in the final 10 minutes of the game.
— I’ve always found it interesting how many analysts and fans will rip a goalie, defender or forward for a weak goal or bad turnover that leads to a goal but never have the same vitriol when a forward misses a clear goal. If RNH scores, the game is 5-2 and likely over. Is missing an open net different from making an errant pass in the defensive zone? Both are a lack of execution, yet they are never criticized the same. Odd.
— The Oilers need to be more physical on the Canucks’ forwards. Darnell Nurse, Brett Kulak and Cody Ceci combined for zero hits in Game 1 at 5×5. Vincent Desharnais and Mattias Ekholm each had one. Evan Bouchard’s two hits matched the rest of the Oilers’ D corps. I know hits aren’t the most accurate stat from game to game, but when I re-watched the game, the Oilers’ blueliners didn’t make the smaller Canucks forwards pay. If Edmonton had the puck a lot, I’d understand the lack of hits, but they didn’t control the puck throughout the game.
— Zach Hyman had three shots on goal 5×5. The other 11 forwards combined for four. The forwards had seven shots on goal in 48 minutes of 5×5 play. Not good enough, especially when Arturs Silovs wasn’t sharp. Vancouver has done a good job limiting shots in the playoffs, but the Oilers led the NHL in shot attempts in the regular season. They have the skill and size to get pucks on net and get traffic in front. Kevin Woodley outlined before the series began how Silovs struggles with shots through traffic. We saw that on Mattias Ekholm’s goal. Silovs played it horribly, and the Oilers not only need to get more shots on goal tonight, but they also need to ensure they have traffic in front of the Canucks goalie.
— Connor McDavid didn’t register a shot on goal in Game 1. It was the first time in 55 playoff games he didn’t have at least one shot on goal. He’s only had one shot on goal three times, and two of those came in the opening round vs. L.A. this year. McDavid has a nagging injury. We’ve seen him mishandle the puck at times with no one pressuring him, and that, combined with his lack of shots, tells me his injury is impacting his puck handling and shooting skills.
— Leon Draisaitl didn’t skate yesterday and was deemed day-to-day by head coach Kris Knoblauch. The Oilers ran the following lines in practice:
Foegele – McDavid – Hyman
RNH – Gagner – Kane
Holloway – McLeod – Perry
Janmark – Ryan – Brown
The fact Sam Gagner was taking rushes in Draisaitl’s spot tells me they expect Draisaitl to play. I’d be surprised if Gagner would come out of the press box and play on the second line. Draisaitl played injured in 2022 and played great with a high ankle sprain. He didn’t practice or take morning skates but played in games. My sense is we will see him play tonight.
— The Oilers blew a three-goal lead and lost Game 1. That was the 66th time in NHL history a team has done that in a seven-game series. The previous 64 teams went 15-49 in their series. The Dallas Stars and Oilers both blew three-goal leads and will try to become the 16th and/or 17th teams to win a series. Here are the 15 teams who were able to win a series despite blowing a three-goal lead in one of their losses.

— Edmonton, Chicago, Pittsburgh and New Jersey have each done it twice. Interestingly, eight teams did it in the first round, four in the second round, two in the third round, and one, the 1987 Oilers, did it in the Stanley Cup Final. Those are the same number of teams who win each round. (That is a side note stat that might only interest me).
— The Oilers were the first team to ever do it. They led Calgary 4-1 before Eddy Beers made it 4-2 with 1:22 remaining in the second period. The Flames scored the next three goals with Steve Bozak scoring with 1:33 left in the game to go ahead 5-4. Wayne Gretzky actually tied the game at the 19:15 mark, before Carey Wilson won the game in overtime. The Oilers bounced back to win Game 3 and Game 4, before winning the series in seven. They went on to win the Stanley Cup.
— They are also the only team to do it in the Stanley Cup Final. After winning games one and two, the Oilers jumped out to a 3-0 lead only 21:49 into Game 3 in Philadelphia. The Flyers scored twice in the final nine minutes of the second period, before scoring three goals in the third to win 5-3. Edmonton responded with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 and eventually won in seven games.
The Oilers will need another bounce-back effort tonight if they want to become the 16th team to win a series after blowing a three-goal lead. If they do, they will become the first franchise to do it three times.

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