GDB Wrap Up 49.0: Lethargic Oilers cough up extra point in 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing2 months ago
A point is a point, I guess.
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Coming into the game the Oilers were massive favourites and boy, did Columbus betters come out happy. You see, these Blue Jackets are a team who are firmly entrenched in the race for Connor Bedard. They’re not a team that is supposed to be winning many hockey games and to be fair, they’re not. The problem tonight was the players clearly knew just how lowly these Blue Jackets were and boy, did they underestimate them. The Oilers played down to their level all night long and it cost them the game. As far as poor performances go, this was one near the top.
Respect where it’s due because the Blue Jackets players and coaches are going to go out there every night and try to steal a win. They almost did it Monday night against the Calgary Flames, and they were hungry to play underdogs once again. Edmonton’s had this issue for years when it comes to playing down to opponents, and it came back out tonight. After big wins against the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks at the start of the Oilers’ six-game winning streak, I’d really thought as though it was something they had worked out of their game here. It was far from the case.
Columbus was the first to get on the boards when Boone Jenner beat out Connor McDavid for positioning in front of the net tipping a shot home in the first frame. While Derek Ryan capitalized on a partial breakaway halfway through the second period and Zach Hyman tipped home a shot on the powerplay to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead, Columbus stuck with it. Rookie Kirill Marchenko stuck with a puck in the Oilers’ crease banging home a loose puck and Edmonton couldn’t score late in regulation, nor in overtime.
The lethargy continued and it was Kent Johnson’s whose long shot beat Stuart Skinner.
The good, I suppose, was that Skinner appeared to be one of few Oilers who were really invested in the game. He made some brilliant saves early in the second that kept the Oilers in the game. Jesse Puljujarvi and Dylan Holloway were arguably the Oilers’ best skaters, but a few big names had some rough nights. Leon Draisaitl fought the puck all night long and the Oilers’ top pair of Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci had a fair share of struggles that included far too many unforced icing calls.
Edmonton has a really, really soft schedule ahead here. They play Chicago Saturday night ahead of the All-Star break, then they play five other non-playoff teams including the Detroit Red Wings twice, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens. It’s a weird stretch given the All-Star break splitting things up, but performances like they had tonight are far from acceptable. The Oilers have a chance here to go on a run and really solidify themselves in the playoff race and have a chance to push for the division title.
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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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