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G75 Game Notes: One Bad Loss Shouldn’t Ruin the Oilers

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Photo credit:© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
29 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers’ season isn’t over due to one bad loss in Dallas. They aren’t destined for a first-round exit. However, Wednesday’s loss was a stark reminder of how quickly things can unravel if the Oilers aren’t focused.
— On the Stars’ first goal, Leon Draisaitl had complete control of the puck as he exited the zone, but his pass, which wasn’t to a dangerous spot, got knocked down by Sam Steel and moments later the Stars led 1-0. Draisaitl must make a better play in that moment, and he knows it. Later in the game, Draisaitl had control once again, this time deep in the Oilers’ zone, and while standing still he tried a cross ice pass that was knocked down by the Stars and within seconds they led 4-0. Draisaitl makes many jaw-dropping passes, but in the playoffs those two plays can’t be made. Period. I don’t expect him to complete every pass, but if a pass is intercepted, it can’t be in a dangerous place that allows the opposition to score within three seconds. It simply can’t happen. I’m sure he knows it, but it was an example of bad puck and game management.
— When it was 2-0, Darnell Nurse made an ill-advised pinch (more of a forecheck as he was in the corner) which led to the Stars having a 4-on-1 and they scored to make it 3-0. There was no reason for him to take that risk. When Nurse plays patient and smart he is a very effective defender, but he has a penchant for making high-risk decisions. He didn’t try them for the first three months under Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey, and he excelled, but over the past few months, the high-risk, low-percentage plays have surfaced too frequently in his game.
— It isn’t just Draisaitl and Nurse, but they are leaders, and we’ve seen these types of plays surface in their games. It was a game where, despite playing well for long stretches, they made a few glaring gaffes which allowed goals in quick succession. You can’t get rattled after one goal. You need to refocus and try to swing momentum back in your favour. The Oilers lost two games to Vegas last season in round two when they allowed the Golden Knights to score consecutive goals in under 90 seconds. We’ve seen them self-destruct either by a glaring error, or not limiting goals in a short period of time. Both happened on Wednesday to a very good Dallas team. It hasn’t been the norm this season, but they need to ensure they can control their emotions and decision making at the most crucial time of the season…the upcoming playoffs.
— One bad loss won’t derail the Oilers season. The Oilers won their first Stanley Cup in 1984, but on February 12th they got demolished 11-0 in Hartford. It was their fifth-consecutive loss on a five-game road trip where they were outscored 33-9. In 2022, the Avalanche finished the season 1-5-1 and allowed 28 goals in their final seven games, before regrouping and dominating the 2022 playoffs. Good teams can play poorly at times. It is all how you respond.
— Since Kris Knoblauch arrived the Oilers have played well against the other seven playoff-bound teams in the Western Conference. Here is their record against them since November 12th.
LA: 3-1
WGP: 2-0
NSH: 1-0
VGK: 1-1
COL: 0-0-1
DAL: 1-2
VAN: 0-0
They are 8-4-1 with two games remaining v. Colorado and one each against Vegas and Vancouver. Wednesday’s loss shouldn’t have the Oilers feeling they can’t compete. Instead, they should watch the film and be reminded of what it takes to win. Edmonton did a lot of good things in that game, but eventually some glaring errors by two of their leaders cost them. There will always be wrong decisions. Hockey is a game of mistakes, but when your mistakes end up in the back of your net within five seconds, you will lose. On a scale of one to 10, you need your errors to be more in the two, three and four range, rather than eights, nines or tens.
— This is the second of three meetings between the Oilers and Avalanche. Artturi Lehkonen scored with one second remaining in overtime during Colorado’s 3-2 win. It was a fast-paced, high-energy games with lots of scoring chances. The Avs outshot the Oilers 43-34, but Stuart Skinner and Alexander Georgiev played well. We will see both goalies again tonight. Skinner had the night off Wednesday in Dallas, while Georgiev watched the Avalanche defeat Minnesota last night.
— This is the sixth set of back-to-back games for the Avalanche. They are 3-2-2 in the first game and 4-2 on the second night.
November 24th, win in Minnesota. November 25th defeated Calgary.
December 2nd, OTL in Anaheim. December 3rd lost in LA.
December 16th, lost in Winnipeg. December 17th defeated San Jose.
January 15th lost in Montreal. January 16th won in Ottawa.
February 5th OTL at New York Rangers. February 6th lost in New Jersey.
March 12th won in Calgary. March 13th won in Vancouver.
April 4th won in Minnesota. Tonight…???
— Skinner is 8-3-2 when he has three days between starts under Kris Knoblauch. He is 31-9-4 overall, so more rest hasn’t led to more wins. He has a .750P% overall and he has a .692P% when he has three days rest.
— The Oilers have been shutout three times this season. They lost 5-0 at home to the Rangers on October 26th, and defeated Calgary 5-2 in their next games. They were blanked 4-0 in LA on February 10th, and then crushed Detroit 8-4 three days later in Edmonton. The Avalanche have allowed four or more goals in 32 of their 76 games, but only three times in their last 14 games.
— The Oilers hit three posts/crossbars in Dallas and now have hit 73. That ranks fifth in the NHL, and first in the Western Conference. Only Florida (92), Toronto (87), Carolina (83) and Buffalo (80) have hit more iron. Connor McDavid leads the Oilers with 16, followed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (13) and Evan Bouchard (10). Auston Matthews leads the NHL with 18, Mikko Rantanen has 17 and McDavid is third with 16.
— Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon each picked up three points last night and now Kucherov leads the scoring race with 133 points, MacKinnon is second with 130 and McDavid his third with 126. McDavid has eight games remaining while Kucherov and MacKinnon have six.

THE BOA VIEWING PARTY AT GRETA

GAME DAY, hosted by Oilersnation at Greta Bar YEG, is on April 6th! Join the Oilersnation crew at our favourite Game Day Watch Party spot, Greta, on Saturday, April 6th, 2024, for the next BOA. Doors open at 7 pm. Tickets are $20, with proceeds going to support The Logan Hunter Memorial Fund – an organization dedicated to supporting the community in the memory and spirit of Logan Hunter, #18 from the Humboldt Broncos. Good food, a great cause and a guaranteed good time. Get your tickets at nationgear.ca before they sell out!

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