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Photo credit:Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
6 months ago
If you go back far enough, odds are you’ll be able to find a third period that stinks as bad as the 20 minutes the Edmonton Oilers produced at the Xcel Energy Center Tuesday on the way to a 7-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild. I really can’t think of one off the top of my head.
So inept defensively and without passion or push-back were the Oilers in the final frame coach Jay Woodcroft uncomfortably produced a memorable example of unmitigated understatement in his post-game comments just to cover his team’s thoroughly paddled backside.
The Oilers took the lead three times in the first 40 minutes, then got outscored 5-1 in the third period on 11 shots. They wasted a terrific second period by Jack Campbell, leaving him to twist in the third as Minnesota came at him. The period included a too-many-men penalty, the Oilers third of the game. You have to go back a stretch to find the last time that happened.
There was plenty of blame to go around, but Evan Bouchard was the poster boy for this mess. Mats Zuccarello’s 4-3 goal came after he gave away the puck behind the net. Bouchard made a bad pinch on the 6-4 goal by Ryan Hartman, then he took a casual skate as Marcus Foligno went by to hit an empty net with the 7-4 goal. 

NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Oct 24, 2023; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild right wing Ryan Hartman (38) celebrates his hat trick against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Being without injured captain Connor McDavid for a game or two is difficult enough, but that wasn’t the problem in St. Paul. Playing without any passion or purpose defensively was. That has been a recurring theme for the Oilers during a 1-4-1 start to the season – after much talk about focusing on playing better in their own end.
When you score four goals on the road and don’t even get a sniff of two points, you’re doing it wrong. Minnesota dominated the net-front and teed-off from the slot at will. The Oilers have allowed 27 goals in six games and they’re minus-10 as they return to Rogers Place to face the New York Rangers Thursday.
“Our players displayed some character and guts there through the first 40,” offered Woodcroft. “Obviously, the third period, you give up that many goals, it’s far from ideal. Lots to clean up there. And I thought there were moments in the game that we could have handled better.
“And not just defensively. Certainly defensively, but we had a five-on-three power play early where we could have converted at a better clip. I felt that was an important juncture in the game. We’re up 2-1 end of the first period. We win a faceoff clean. We can execute a whole lot better in that situation as well . . . in the end, we didn’t get the result. It’s a results-driven business.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Yes, results. Warren Foegele scored twice and made something happen on several shifts. Evander Kane had a goal and two points and was as engaged as he’s been this season. On the flipside, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had nothing going and he was minus-4. Bouchard was minus-3 even with a goal and two assists.
More of the same against the Rangers on a night the team honors Charlie Huddy and Doug Weight and it’ll be no cigar again with the Calgary Flames on deck for the 2023 Heritage Classic Sunday at Commonwealth Stadium. That’s not exactly shaping up as an epic meeting of powerhouses at premium prices, is it?

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