Random Thoughts: The Oilers came alive in Game 5

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
After the miraculous comeback in Game 4 to tie things up at two games each, the Oilers had the chance to take their first lead of the series last night at Rogers Place and I want to talk about it. I was lucky enough to be at the game, and I’d love to have your thoughts on a couple of different things I noticed.


We all know about the points Leon Draisaitl is putting up so far in the playoffs — the guy has a ridiculous 10 points in five games (6G, 4A) — but the thing that I want to talk about is how he’s basically doing whatever he wants with the puck. I don’t care what zone on the ice we’re talking about, whenever Leon has the puck on his stick, the Kings have no real answer other than to hook, slash, interfere, and pray that he loses it. And what’s most amazing to me is the fact that the guy has been able to elevate his game in the playoffs like this every time we’ve made the post-season. We all know that Leon is a superstar no matter when he’s on the ice, but what I never would have expected was for him to take his game to a level even higher than that. What’s above superstar? Mega Superstar? Megaman? I’ll think about it, and get back to you.


When Evan Bouchard teed off on a shot from the point that wound up in the back of the net via Zach Hyman’s face, it was almost hard to celebrate the goal because I was thinking about our sweet king’s face. For a moment, in my head, all I could imagine was Hyman going down with a broken jaw or something because I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like to have a puck hit his bare face. Thankfully, Bouch didn’t get all he could on that shot and the situation seemed to have worked out okay — is getting hit in the face with a slapshot ever really okay? — but it’s hard to ignore how lucky we got that we didn’t lose one of our most important pieces as a result. Maybe Hyman has leather skin? I dunno.


How about the way the Oilers’ depth scorers have stepped up in key moments of this series? In Game 2, we got goals from Derek Ryan and Klim Kostin, and last night, it was Nick Bjugstad and Brett Kulak that came up with a trio of goals that were officially crucial for locking in that win. The thing that’s even more wonderful about these goals going in is that we’re getting clutch goals in key moments from guys that aren’t usually expected to fill that role. Not to say these boys are incapable of scoring, that’s not what I’m saying, but rather my point is that the Oilers are finding different ways to win games without solely relying on Connor and Leon to make it happen, and having this kind of output from down in the lineup can only help us moving forward.


Last night, in my opinion, was the best offensive game Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has played all series despite the lack of results. I know he picked up another assist on Bjugstad’s second goal, but it has to be frustrating for him to finish the night with three quality shots on goal (and two posts) and nothing going in for him. It’s almost like the guy needs to get a lucky one to regain some of that offensive jam that was flowing so nicely for him during the regular season because we’re obviously going to need him to pick it up going forward. To be honest, I’d be more worried about him if the chances weren’t coming, but that doesn’t also mean that we don’t need him to cash one of them in. No better time than Saturday, Nuge.


As much as last night’s win was a lot of fun for all of us, it’s also important to remember that there’s still plenty of work left to be done to close out this series. As I’m sure you’ll remember from last year, the Kings were the ones that were up 3-2 in the series with the chance to close in Game 6 and couldn’t get it done. The Oilers ultimately won two straight to take the series and move on to the second round, but this time around, what I’m hoping is that the boys will be able to get the job done on Saturday. As much as I loved being at Game 7 last May, I’d much rather have this thing put to bed. And until that happens, you won’t see me celebrating anything other than enjoying what was a very fun game to watch.


Now that the Oilers have a 3-2 series lead with a chance to move on, waiting for Saturday night is going to be extremely painful.


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