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Oilers win season series against the Flames with 4-2 victory at the Saddledome

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baggedmilk
28 days ago
There’s nothing better than spending a Saturday night watching the Oilers take on the Flames surrounded by your closest Internet friends, and that’s exactly what we did last night at Greta. It’s always great to get together and watch the boys play, but it’s even better when they come up with a 4-2 win over their provincial rivals. 

CALVIN PICKARD SHINES

I want to give Calvin Pickard some love for his performance between the pipes. From start to finish, the guy was fantastic. Over and above the routine saves you’d expect him to make, there were times when the Oilers got pinned in their own zone for minutes or more, and had it not been for Pickard, then there’s no way we’re talking about a win.
I know some fans aren’t overly keen on his scrambled goaltending style, but there’s little doubt it can be effective when he’s on top of his game. Last night, Pickard stopped 33 shots for a .943 save percentage in a fantastic rebound effort after dropping a 5-0 decision in Dallas on Wednesday. That loss to the Stars wasn’t even Pickard’s fault, but you’ve got to respect the way he bounced back in a big way and gave his team a chance to win.
Without him, the Oilers wouldn’t have won that game. Without Pickard locking in that victory, we’re probably not talking about being within striking distance of the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division. He may not get as much credit as he probably deserves around here, but Calvin Pickard is consistently giving the Oilers more solid starts than stinkers, and I wonder when was the last time we could say that for our backup.

A NIGHT FOR NUGE

Before last night’s game against the Flames, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had gone five games without registering a point. Not great. The last time RNH got on the board was March 26th against the Winnipeg Jets, when he scored a goal and picked up an assist. The point is that my guy needed a big offensive night in the worst possible way, and I’m pumped to see him get one.
Nuge had a goal called off against the Blues on Monday that should definitely have counted, but even so, our man has been fighting it on the offensive side of his game for the last little while. After putting up 104 points last season, most of us expected a drop-off in production, but no one knew exactly what that would look like.
I imagine that Nugent-Hopkins has been putting a ton of pressure on himself to follow up on what he did a year ago. Even though he’s having a decent season, it’s still a significant drop from where he was. I know we’re talking about a pair of PP points and an empty-netter, but maybe this is a dose of confidence he needs. The defensive side of his game has been solid this whole time, and having Nuge’s goal-scoring touch heat up a bit would be a blessing for the playoff run.

THANK YOU, NATION

Last night, we made our way to Greta to throw a BOA viewing party, get together, and raise some money for the Logan Hunter Memorial Fund. As always, getting a group of amazing Nation Citizens together to watch a game, have a few cocktails, and raise some money for a great cause was fantastic. Unsurprisingly, you incredible people bought all of the tickets we had available, packed the bar, and set the tone for what was an amazing night.
From the moment I walked in, the vibes were excellent. It’s so much fun to walk into Greta and see all of the Nation Gear, jerseys, and, most importantly, a room full of people excited to have a good time. Even though we’ve thrown hundreds of these events at this point, I always feel incredibly grateful for the Nation’s support and that we’re still getting together after all these years.
In the end, the boys won the hockey game, which is always a bonus for party nights, but the most fantastic part of the night still goes out to all of you. It’s always fun for me to sit back and watch people join in on the event for chances to win prizes, and last night was no different. Thank you to everyone who spent their Saturday night with us and helped us raise money for a fantastic cause. Thank you, Nation.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

-Only six more games left until showtime. Stay hydrated, everyone.
-Toss two more assists on the pile for Connor McDavid who is now sitting with 99 helpers on the year with plenty of time to hit 100 and actually fly past it. If I were to critique his night a little bit, I think he passed up a few opportunities to shoot the puck in favour of finding a teammate at times when a goal really would have gone a long way.
-As I was watching the game, I couldn’t help but think of how wild it is that the Oilers were able to clinch their playoff spot on Friday night, given how crazy the start of the season was. October and the first half of November were a total disaster for this hockey team, and it’s truly amazing to think back on how they’ve been able to climb out of the league’s basement and into a position where they’re playing for home-ice advantage in the postseason.
-Evan Bouchard picked up his 7th game-winning goal of the season on his 17th of the campaign. With only one more year left on his contract that pays him $3.9 million, I can already hear the Brinks trucks backing up to his house.
-Did anyone else pee a little bit when Zach Hyman took a deflected shot to the ankle and lay on the ice for a few minutes before he was able to shake it off? Wrap that man in bubble wrap.
-I really, really disliked the handful of times the Oilers passed up chances to shoot the puck in favour of passing to someone else. They had at least four or five clean looks on Markstrom that were negated by their refusal to be selfish. Sometimes, somebody needs to shoot the puck.
It was a weird night on special teams, as both clubs each had six power play opportunities (of varying lengths). In almost poetic fashion, the Oilers and Flames each picked up a pair of power play goals while killing off four penalties. It was a strange coincidence, but I appreciate the Hockey Gords for it anyway.
-Make it six straight games the Oilers have won at the Saddledome. You love to see it.
-I love Nation parties, I love Nation Gear, and I love faceoff wins. Thankfully, the Oilers won 55.4% of them, and we can all continue with our weekend knowing that the boys had a job well done.

THE NATIONGEAR PLAYOFF LINE

The playoffs are near and it’s time to OIL UP! Nation Gear is ready to GEAR YOU UP for Edmonton’s playoff run. SHOP the EXCLUSIVE ‘Oil Up’ playoff merch and MORE at nationgear.ca

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