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Random Thoughts: We’re gonna want to flush that one

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
6 months ago
After waking up and thinking about what happened last night in Game 1, I’m having a hard time putting my finger on what the biggest problem was since there were so many we can talk about. Maybe together we can shed some light on what happened here.

DISASTROUS START

I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around what the hell happened in the first six minutes of last night’s game. As far as bad starts go, I have a hard time remembering one where the boys looked this bad. I mean, everyone and their dog could have told you that the Flames were going to come out buzzing, and rather than match their intensity, the Oilers seemed content to sit and watch them do their thing. There was no pushback, there was no urgency, nothing. I know we talk about the Oilers and slow starts often over the years, but this one was crazy to me. How can you not be fired up for Game 1 of the second round? How can you let your provincial rivals walk all over you like that? Why wasn’t anybody getting pissed off? Regardless of what the reasons or excuses are, there is no way in hell that Edmonton can start games like that and expect to survive.

THE POWER PLAY

Of all the things that could have gone wrong in Game 1, I certainly didn’t expect the power play looking awful to be one of them. On a night when the Oilers desperately needed the PP to come through, the boys ended the game at 0-for-4 with the man advantage and I’ll be very intrigued to see what kind of adjustments Woodcroft makes ahead of Friday night’s rematch. Seeing as the Flames were incredibly aggressive on the kill, the Oilers will need to figure out how to make that work in their favour because they couldn’t get anything going in Game 1 beyond fluttery shots from the outside. As we saw, the Flames are going to take penalties in this series and the Oilers have to find a way to take advantage of their inability to stay disciplined. That said, of all the areas I’d expect to bounce back as the series wears on, finding success on the power play would be one of them and we’ll need it to be.

NEED A SAVE, BOYS

Listen, I’m not here to dump on @Mike Smith and @Mikko Koskinen because I know the team in front of them looked like garbage, but at some point, we need our goalies to come up with a key save or two. To put it mildly, I would suggest that Smith would want two of the three goals he allowed back and that’s a tough spot to be in when all three of them came before the first period was even 10 minutes old. It’s tough to win when you’re down by three in the first few minutes, ya know? As for Koskinen, he oddly had the highest save% of any goalie in this hockey game but couldn’t come up with a key save at the right time when we needed it. As an example, when the Oilers came roaring back from four goals down to tie the game a 6-6 early in the third period, we needed Kostco to find a way to keep the dream alive. I mean, the third period was the only frame where the Oilers actually outshot the Flames, and to have them get three goals anyway? Boys, we could have stolen a game we didn’t deserve, and that’s a real bummer to me that we couldn’t make it happen.

NO MORE ARCHIBALD-NUGE-RYAN PLEASE

After last night, I really can’t see much reason to keep Archibald, Nugent-Hopkins, and Ryan together as a trio. As shown in Michael Parkatti’s numbers above, that line has repeatedly gotten its head kicked in throughout the playoffs and I don’t know how much more Woodcroft has to see before he bails on that trio. I mean, if that line is supposed to be a shutdown line then what exactly are they shutting down? By no means was RNH lights out when he was moved, but both the eye test and the numbers seem to suggest he’s much more effective when not playing with those other two. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to blame anyone here but rather to point out that this line hasn’t been working and needs a change. If the Oilers are going to bounce back in this series, they’re going to need more than Connor McDavid going and I think that means reshuffling the deck when it comes to the top six.

SO WHAT’S THE BRIGHT SIDE?

If we’re looking to wrap up this article with a silver lining, I’d have to say it would be that Markstrom looked human in net for the Flames and that the Oilers will be able to score on him provided they get more than eight shots through 30 minutes. While I’d absolutely expect him to bounce back after a horrific effort by his own standards, the takeaway the Oilers should have here is that they can beat the guy six times at even-strength when working together as a unit. If there is anything at all to carry forward to Friday night — Gord knows there’s much to throw away — knowing that you can score on the opposing goalie has to be one of them.

BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER

On the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never, I ran through the incredible environment at Rogers Place during Game 7 and walked through how excited I am about the Battle of Alberta. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts from!

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