Oilers need to be much better in Game Two

Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 month ago
The Oilers wasted a poor effort in Game one.
Usually, you waste a good effort and lose, but last night, the Oilers weren’t sharp, yet they somehow had a three-goal lead — and blew it.
After Zach Hyman made it 4-1 with 26:49 remaining, the Oilers were in a great position to steal the game. They hadn’t played very well to that point and really weren’t deserving of a three-goal lead, but they had it. They just needed to take advantage of a good situation, and they didn’t.
Instead, they sat back after Hyman’s second goal of the game, and for the next 22:43, they didn’t register one shot on goal. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins did have a great look and hit the post instead of depositing the puck into the wide-open net, but other than that they generated nothing for over 22 minutes. Had RNH scored, they likely would have won, but he didn’t.
The passive approach cost them as Vancouver scored four goals between the Oilers registering a shot, and they lost.
The only positive for the Oilers was their penalty kill. It was excellent again killing off all three Vancouver power plays. They did it by being aggressive, and it is odd how the team was never able to gain momentum after those kills. Being aggressive and on their toes worked on the PK, but they were unable to carry that over to 5×5 play.
But it is only one game. The Oilers can play better, and they know it.
The Oilers’ forwards combined for seven shots on goal in 48:20 of 5×5 time. Zach Hyman had three shots, so the other 11 forwards combined for four shots. Two of the Oilers’ three goals at 5×5, Mattias Ekholm’s and Hyman’s, were bad goals allowed by Arturs Silovs. The forwards can generate a lot more 5×5, and I suspect they will tomorrow night.
Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci can be better. They were on the ice for three goals against at 5×5, and one at 4×4. Here are the goals.
This isn’t on Nurse or Ceci.
“Draisaitl lost the draw and then lost his man (Lindholm). RNH got picked and was slow getting to the point, this caused two guys (RNH and Draisaitl) going out to defend one Dman, which left Nurse to play a two-on-one down low,” wrote former NHL defenceman Sean Brown via text.
This video doesn’t include earlier, where Ceci had the puck deep in the left corner, and didn’t get it out. It would have been a hard out, but the puck stayed in, then Hyman lost a board battle, which is rare, and the Canucks got a lucky bounce in off of Skinner’s stick.
Nurse needed to get the puck out when he was a few feet from the blue line. Coaches call that the kill zone because not getting pucks out when that close to the blue line often comes back to haunt you. On the shot pass, Nurse was actually in the shooting lane, and Miller made a great deflection, but if that puck gets out the play is dead.
This play starts with the Oilers forwards McDavid and RNH, turning the puck over deep in Vancouver’s end. Three forwards are deep, and the Canucks move it up quickly. Garland comes in with speed, but Nurse pushes him wide and Garland shoots from the bottom of the circle. As a D-man, you will give up that shot all day, and usually, Stuart Skinner will stop it. Skinner kept the Oilers in the game early stopping Garland on a breakaway and making multiple point-blank saves, but he’d want that shot back.


It is common in today’s world to want to blame one or two players for a loss, but last night was a complete team lose. The Oilers had a lead, but it was due to two weak goals, and a Ceci shot that ricocheted in off a Canucks defender. The early PP goal was a well-deserved goal. The Canucks set the Oilers up to steal a game where they hadn’t played great but had a three-goal lead. The Oilers didn’t take advantage of it.
They stopped attacking. They didn’t generate any chances when they knew Vancouver would be pressing and taking a few risks. They didn’t get pucks out. They didn’t get a timely save.
Edmonton can look at this as a wakeup call and a reminder that nothing comes easy in the playoffs.
They just made this series a bit more difficult for themselves because they gave a game away.
I don’t expect them to panic. They need to refocus and match the tenacity, desperation and hunger of the Canucks tomorrow, just like Florida did with Boston in game two of their series.
The playoffs are all about how you respond, and tomorrow is another test for the Oilers to show they have what it takes to go deep in the playoffs.


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