Oilers race to two-goal lead in Buffalo but lose 3-2 because of missed opportunities and costly mistakes

4 months ago
It’s only 4 PM MT, but we’re already hours out from the Oilers’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, and my anger has yet to subside. Even though it was an early puck drop, Edmonton got the quick start they needed, including a pair of goals that set them up for success, but they couldn’t find a way to close the game out. Instead, they got almost flatter as the game wore on and missed some major opportunities to put this thing to bed, leaving the door open for Buffalo to score two straight and push the game to extra time.


Is anyone else having a hard time understanding what’s going on with the power play? A far cry from the lethal PP1 unit we’ve gotten used to watching, the Oilers struggled to generate much of anything on the three chances they got on the man advantage. Even though getting shutout happens from time to time, the bigger problem was that the Oilers generated next to nothing despite six full minutes on the power play.
It’s almost like they need to come up with a few fresh ideas because the Sabres were the latest opponent that basically eliminated the cross-ice pass to Draisaitl for the one-timer. And yet, even though that play wasn’t working for them, the boys kept going back to the well to try and force it through anyway. To their credit, the Sabres didn’t give the Oilers a lane to make that play. The problem, as I see it, is that the Oilers didn’t recognize that their cross-ice pass was closed off and also that they didn’t seem to have much of a Plan B.


Outside of the power play chances that the Oilers couldn’t convert, they also missed out on plenty of quality chances to score. Yes, we absolutely have to give Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen credit for the performance he put down for the Sabres between the pipes, but it’s hard to ignore some of the opportunities that the Oilers missed because of overpassing/overthinking.
I’m thinking specifically of the handful of odd-man rushes the boys got over the course of 60 minutes that didn’t even result in a shot on goal. There was a 3-on-1 where they’d didn’t get a shot, and at least a trio of 3-on-2s that suffered the same result. As much as I love a beautiful passing play, it’s equally as nice to see the Oilers fire shots on net and work to clean up any garbage that’s left over.
Seeing how well the opposing goaltender was playing, I just thought the Oilers would have been better served trying to simplify their game rather than trying to beat him by passing the puck into the net. From my side of the computer screen, that makes two games in a row where the Oilers tried to get too cute on offence and couldn’t get more than two goals on the board. When the boys shoot, crash the net, and grind for goals, they’re a whole lot more effective than when they try to get everyone done on the rush. Today’s game was just the latest example.


After seeing the newly reformed line of Leon Draisaitl, Ryan McLeod, and Warren Foegele pick up a goal only 29 seconds into the first period, it should be enough to convince Kris Knoblauch to keep that trio together forever. It seems like every time they play together, that trio finds a way of making things happen.
With speed to burn on the wings and Leon Draisaitl making magic down the middle, the mix on this line is giving the opposition fits, and I hope they get more than a few games to see if they can build upon the obvious chemistry. I personally believe that the Oilers are a better team when McDavid and Draisaitl are on separate lines, but the only way that happens is if Knobby can give each guy some wingers they can work with.
In McLeod and Foegele, Draisaitl has two wingers who seem to understand how to play with him and where they should be to try and be successful. Despite only scoring one goal at even strength, they easily could have had two or three with a little bit of luck. If these three can keep producing chances, I see no reason why the coaches shouldn’t give them some leash to see what they can do.


-Stuart Skinner was back in the crease for his 46th appearance of the season and tasked with preventing Thursday’s loss to the Blue Jackets from turning into a streak. And while I would say that Stu was solid in this morning’s outing, the reality is that he still got outduelled by Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen down at the other end. On any other day, Skinner’s 25 saves and .926 save% would probably be enough to win. The problem, of course, is that Luukkonen stopped 30 of 32 for a .938 save% down at the other end. If anything, this was a problem with a lack of finish way more so than anything that happened in net.
-How about the shorthanded goal that Warren Foegele scored on the beautiful passing play between him and Ryan McLeod? I don’t know how it’s possible that those two ended up on a shorthanded 2-on-0, but that’s exactly what happened, and the duo executed the opportunity beautifully. I thought both McLeod and Foegele were arguably the Oilers’ best forwards today, and it was very nice to see them both get rewarded with multi-point games for their efforts.
-Are you suprised to find out the tying goal by Jacob Bryson was his first goal in 68 games? You’re not, are you? No, I didn’t think so.
-How about that goal review in OT after everyone had already left the ice? I don’t normally like having a single frame show that a play was offside, but that review gave the Oilers some extra life that I certainly didn’t expect. Unfortunately, having the OT winner come back only to lose for a second time in the shootout wasn’t exactly ideal. If anything, I think watching the Oilers lose once was painful enough. I really didn’t need an encore.
-I couldn’t be happier to report that the Oilers finished the game at 79.6% in the faceoff circle. Let’s be honest, that’s a beautiful number.


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