Game Notes Flyers @ Oilers: Hold A Lead

Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
The Edmonton Oilers have really taken the “a 3-0 lead is the worst in hockey” expression to heart recently. They led 3-0 and 4-1 v. the Rangers before losing in a shootout on Friday, and they had a 3-0 lead 27 minutes into the game in Denver on Sunday, before losing 6-5 in OT. They had a two-goal lead entering the third period in both games and blew it.
— Those two losses are inexcusable. They had control at various stages of each game and couldn’t hold the lead. Prior to Friday the Oilers were 19-1-3 when leading after 20 minutes. They have blown a two-goal lead in the third period five times now: Sunday in Colorado, Friday v. the Rangers, January 7th v. the Avalanche, December 15th v. the Blues, and November 3rd v. the Devils. The Oilers started the third period with a two-goal lead in all those games except v. the Blues. They led 2-1 before Kailer Yamamoto made it 3-1 with 9:36 remaining, but then the Blues scored twice to tie it and then win in a shootout. The Devils loss was the Oilers only regulation loss when leading after 40 minutes.
— You might think 19-1-5 is decent when leading after 40, but the Oilers’ .760 winning% is 26th in the NHL when leading after 40. Only Pittsburgh has lost more games when leading after 40. They are 18-4-4 (I count OT/SO losses as losses). The Oilers have lost six times, which is tied for second most with Colorado (25-3-3), San Jose (12-2-4), and the Islanders (19-3-3). They have blown a lead in 24% of games when leading after 40 minutes. They need to learn how to keep attacking, while also playing smart defensively.
— The Oilers can’t change the past, but they need to learn from it. Last season the Oilers had the fifth-best W% (.921) when leading after 40 minutes. They were 35-2-1. They were 21-1 under Woodcroft. They’ve shown they can do it. No excuses. Just do it. Play smart. Play disciplined. Outwork the opposition in crunch time.
— The great part of sports is how much emotion it pulls out of people. Many fans love the emotional rollercoaster their favourite sports team can provide. Some days it is euphoria, and other days it is a gut-wrenching disappointment. It is great. It is why we all love sports. But don’t let your emotional anger blind your rational thinking. Many in Oilersnation were livid when Dylan Holloway and Vincent Desharnais were sent down. Many wanted one of Jesse Puljujarvi, Mattias Janmark or Kailer Yamamoto to go down. One of the main arguments was having no extra skaters. Carrying a 20-man roster would be worse than a 21-man roster. Valid point when players are healthy, however, because Vincent Desharnais has an illness, keeping him up wouldn’t have allowed the Oilers to dress 18 skaters on Friday and Saturday.
— Had they waived one of the three aforementioned players, Desharnais would have been on the roster, but unavailable to play. And when Klim Kostin got sick, the Oilers still would have only had 17 skaters. Desharnais didn’t play in either AHL game this weekend, so he wouldn’t have played Sunday in Colorado, and after an emergency recall of Devin Shore, with Kostin and Desharnais sick, and Evander Kane injured, Edmonton still would have only dressed 17 skaters. It isn’t ideal, but 17 skaters weren’t the reason why the Oilers lost either game. Now that he’s healthy, the Oilers have recalled Desharnais and I expect him to play against the Flyers.
— Dylan Holloway scored in the first period on Saturday in the American Hockey League, but then he injured his shoulder in the second period. It occurred on a routine body check.
Very unfortunate for Holloway. Getting him some big minutes was only going to help him. Injuries are impossible to predict, but let’s pretend Puljujarvi or Yamamoto were sent down instead as many hoped. If either one of them were injured in the AHL and placed on LTIR, then their dead cap space ($1.85m for Puljujarvi, $1.95m for Yamamoto) would still count against the cap. That would make the Oilers cap situation even worse. I was told Holloway will be out a month, which ruins their strategy of getting him valuable playing time which was going to boost his confidence and then recall him.
— If Desharnais is feeling better they could recall him on an emergency basis (they played 19 players last game) and dress 11-7 again. It doesn’t sound like Evander Kane will be ready to go. He was playing banged up due to this collision/hit with Moritz Seider.
It sounds like he aggravated it v. the Rangers and could miss a game or two this week. Injuries to the ribs and/or core can be very painful, and difficult to play through. Any contact with that area can reaggravate the issue. Kane’s rib injury is very painful.
— Edmonton has an opportunity to get back on track this week as they face three teams below them in the standings. Philadelphia defeated Calgary 4-3 yesterday and beat the Oilers 2-1 in a shootout 12 days ago. Then they are in Pittsburgh on Thursday and Columbus on Saturday. Edmonton needs to regain the defensive play it had heading into the All-Star break.
— The Oilers’ depth forwards have played very well in this three-game OT/SO losing skid at 5×5. Warren Foegele (2-1-3) and Mattias Janmark (1-2-3) have three points, Derek Ryan has two goals, Jesse Puljujarvi has two assists. Ryan McLeod has an assist while Klim Kostin and Devin Shore do as well. Each has only one game played, and they’ve all outscored the opposition when on the ice. The Oilers are +14 at 5×5 without McDavid and Draisaitl on the ice this season, but they are +17 since January 1st. The Oilers’ depth forwards have been very good for the past 19 games, and if that continues down the stretch, Edmonton should gain home-ice advantage in the first round and possibly the second. They just need to reverse their recent trend of blowing second period leads and McDavid and Draisaitl need to limit their goals against 5×5.
— McDavid outscored opponents 64-48 at 5×5 in 2021 and 73-50 last season. He’s at 50-48 this year. Draisaitl outscored the opposition 55-33 in 2021 and 67-57 last year. He’s at 46-50 this season. McDavid was +39 the past two years, while Draisaitl was +32. They can be, and need to be, better than +2 and -4 respectively this season.
—  McDavid needs one point to become the fifth fastest player in NHL history to record 800 career points, following Wayne Gretzky (352 GP), Mario Lemieux (410), Mike Bossy (525), and Peter Stastny (531). Tonight will be McDavid’s 545th game.
—  McDavid will become the fastest active player to 800 career points surpassing Sidney Crosby (571 GP). Alex Ovechkin (658), Evgeni Malkin (680), Steven Stamkos (779), and Patrick Kane (786) were the next fastest. McDavid will be 100+ games faster than Ovechkin, Malkin, and Stamkos and 200 quicker than Kane. Leon Draisaitl needs to maintain a 1.43 points/game in his next 70 games, and he could move into fourth place just ahead of Evgeni Malkin.


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