Random Thoughts: Oilers roll in Game 4, the series gets spicy, and a clueless ruling by the NHL DoPS

11 months ago
I was at Rogers Place for last night’s game and being in the barn gave me a few random thoughts that I could use your help in figuring out.


In games one and three, I felt that the Oilers got away from playing a simple game, and the result was giving up the puck more often than they usually would. Instead of moving the puck up ice and getting shots on net, they were trying to force cute passing plays through the middle of the ice that never seemed to work. Last night, the boys got back to basics and it worked out beautiful. They were skating, moving the puck north/south, firing pucks on net, and crashing the crease to look for some garbage. While that style of play isn’t nearly as sexy as the highlight reel goals that can come from a pretty passing play, it’s hard to argue that the Vegas Golden Knights have a really hard time handling the Oilers when they play this way.


After watching the play live and seeing the replay countless times, I cannot figure out what kind of brain worms led Alex Pietrangelo to give Draisaitl a chop the way he did. Not only was Draisaitl away from the puck after missing the empty-netter, but Pietrangelo had to basically coast about 30 feet just to deliver the slash. I know the Oilers have been targeting Pietrangelo with physical play any chance they get and that Kane got him pretty good before this happened, but I cannot wrap my head around a guy that’s been around as long as this doing something so shockingly dumb. And the fact that he only got a one-game suspension for what was basically assault on a player nowhere near the puck is completely ridiculous.


Can someone please explain to me how the actions of Darnell Nurse and Alex Pietrangelo were deemed the same by the NHL Department of Safety in terms of the punishment handed out? I mean, seriously… how did both of these players get suspended one game for what happened last night? One player fought another guy that was ready and willing while the other literally assaulted someone like an axe murderer. Ridiculous. If you think about it, the Oilers actually got a harsher punishment for a consensual fight since Jay Woodcroft was also fined $10,000 as part of the Nurse thing. To put it lightly, this is yet another embarrassing decision by an NHL Department of Player Safety that doesn’t really seem to care about the safety of its players. Club a guy like a lunatic? No problem. One game, which is hardly a deterrent to prevent anyone else from pulling this kind of crap.


In Tuesday’s Random Thoughts article after Game 3, I wrote about how Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had to find a way to contribute if the Oilers were going to battle their way back into the series and ultimately go on to win. As we all knew, Nuge hadn’t hit the back of the net yet in the postseason, but last night, my boy came through with a patented RNH snipe from right in the slot. It was one of his patented low-blocker shots that seem to give goalies fits, and as the puck went in, you could almost see the relief wash over his face. My favourite part about the goal, though, was seeing Connor McDavid fly in to cheer him on because he honestly looked happier about the goal than Nuge did. And now that Nuge is on the board, I’m hoping the weight of the world lifts up off his shoulders and he can get back to chipping in with clutch goals just as he had all season.


After getting yanked on Monday in Game 3, Stuart Skinner turned in a wonderful performance last night as he backstopped the boys to a 4-1 win. While he wasn’t as busy as his counterpart, Skinner made plenty of high quality saves throughout the game and provided the foundation his teammates needed to get the job done. From start to finish, Skinner was calm between the pipes, managed the puck well, and cut down his angles effective, which must make him look huge in there for the opposition. Either way, I wanted to give the guy a shoutout for bouncing back in a huge way, stopping 25 of 26 shots and finishing with a .962 save%.


Over and above knowing that Mattias Ekholm will have to play extra minutes tomorrow as a result of the Nurse suspension, I can’t stop thinking about that goal he scored last night. That clapper from the circle that he put into the top corner was a bullet, and the thing I like most about the goal was that we’ve seen him do this before. It’s a funny little wedge shot that launches straight up with all kinds of pace and I absolutely love it. Big Viking Daddy rules, and I cannot wait to keep finding reasons to love him as our future moves along together.


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