Random Thoughts: Back home for Game 3 and it did not go well for the Oilers

1 year ago
The Edmonton Oilers made their way back home for the first time since Game 5 against the L.A. Kings, and I was very curious about how the boys would perform after being away for so long. Unfortunately, I was also at Rogers Place for last night’s drubbing and that meant I have a few thoughts I’d love your help in breaking down.


Depending on when the Oilers flew to Los Angeles for Game 6 of their first round series against the Kings, the boys probably spent close to two weeks on the road and that had me worried before the game about what kind of effort we’d get. Essentially, my thinking was that we’ve seen countless instances where teams in this league and others come home after a long road trip and lay an egg in the first game back, but I certainly didn’t expect things to go that poorly. I thought that maybe we’d get one of those games where the first period was rough but that the boys would get better as the night wore on, and as we all know, that pushback just never came. Instead, we got an Oilers team that was as sloppy as they were in Game 1 without the benefit of a four-goal night from Leon Draisaitl, something they desperately need to remedy ahead of Wednesday night’s rematch. Just me?


For the most part, I don’t think anyone was ready to play last night apart from maybe Warren Foegele. From start to finish, I thought Foegele was the most noticeable forward — obviously, he scored the only goal but I’m talking purely about his effort on a shift-by-shift basis — and I don’t have to explain why that’s a problem. Yes, we absolutely need our depth players to step up and chip in, but we can’t expect to come back in this series with only a guy or two in the bottom six rolling on all cylinders. In only 10:47 of TOI, Foegele finished the game with a goal, two shots on net, two PIMS, and six hits, which was tied for the team lead. Needless to say, we need more people banging and crashing like McLovin did last night, and a whole lot fewer passengers.


Listen, pal, I’m going to give you a little bit of tough love here because I think it has to come from me. What the hell is going on? Through nine post-season games, you’ve been mostly a non-event and that is the last thing any of us expected after watching you put up 104 points through the regular season. Yeah, I know you’ve hit more than your share of posts and that the six assists certainly count, but if the Oilers are going to climb back into this series and ultimately win, you need to find a way to contribute. I don’t know whether there’s something going on health-wise or if you’re just snakebitten like never before, but I need you to dial it in and get more engaged because we need you. I don’t know if that means dropping the mitts to get the heart pumping or if it means firing shots on net any time the puck touches your stick, but this run will not go on for a long time if you’re being outscored by Warren Foegele, Derek Ryan, and Klim Kostin. You play the most minutes of any of them, and now it’s time to earn them.


I saw some folks on Twitter today wondering whether it was time to turn the net over to Jack Campbell after he played pretty well in relief of Stuart Skinner last night, but I have a hard time believing that’s the way Woody will go. All season long, Skinner has been the guy that’s bailed us out of tight jams, and I would be absolutely stunned if Jay Woodcroft goes away from him now. If anything, I’m happy that Jack Campbell has been so effective in relief in his two appearances, but I still don’t think it’s the time to make that switch just yet. What do you folks think?


Before I get started here, I am absolutely not blaming the referees for last night’s loss. I’m not. Gord knows the Oilers made more than their share of errors that wound up in the back of the net. What I am saying, however, is that it was completely ridiculous how that game was officiated and how many calls were missed either on purpose or because of sheer incompetence. I’m talking about the missed high stick on Kailer Yamamoto in the first period that led directly to the Golden Knights’ tying goal, the missed call on Ryan McLeod shortly after that led to their second, and the missed knee on Zach Hyman that happened right in front of an official. Up to that point, the Oilers were actually playing with a lot of jump, and having those calls go against them proved to be incredibly costly and ultimately changed the course of the game. Even though I generally believe that the calls will even out over the course of a series, it’s pretty hard to stomach the fact that there were countless things missed on one side and a handful of ticky-tack calls going the other way. By no means am I a tinfoil hat guy here and think that the NHL just wants Vegas to win, but I do think it’s fair to wonder how the officiating has been so terrible throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs and no one at the NHL seems to care about it.


As much as the referees were annoying and their missed calls were completely ridiculous, the reality is that the Oilers beat themselves last night with their seemingly endless array of sloppy plays and poor puck management. After lighting Vegas up on Saturday night, I had no idea why the Oilers got away from the simple style of play that made them so successful in that game and instead replaced the game plan with Hail Mary attempts and east/west puck movement. Rather than firing pucks on net with bodies out front, the Oilers tried to get super cute on offence and it didn’t make any sense to me. When the Oilers are at their best, they’re moving the puck quickly, firing pucks on net, and trying to clean up the garbage, but that wasn’t at all what we got on Monday at Rogers Place. Play simple, play smart, and you’ve got this.


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