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The Day After 10.0: ‘Death by 1000 cuts,’ as Oilers continue horrific season-opening skid with loss to Nashville
By Zach Laing3 months ago
Summarizing the Edmonton Oilers’ start to the season daily isn’t exactly the easiest task.
Weak goaltending has plummeted the gall of the team, shaky defence has caused confounding errors, and a shockingly absent offence has offered the Oilers eight of 10 games to start the season.
On Saturday afternoon, all three played their parts in the Oilers’ 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators.
Connor McDavid, however, offered up what he saw wrong.
“It’s just death by 1000 cuts,” he said. “That’s what it feels like. One mistake, and it cost us, another little mistake, and it kind of just snowballs.”
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
Edmonton started strong Saturday with a good first 10 minutes, earning them a power play, where the Oilers’ second unit got them on the board thanks to a Darnell Nurse shot. One mistake that followed a minute later saw Filip Forsberg wrap one around the back of the net and past Jack Campbell.
“That’s not a good sign for our group, the shift after a goal,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “Whether you score it or give it up, it’s an important one. I thought we lost a lot of puck battles today. I didn’t like that.
“Our puck play wasn’t good enough today. To a man, not good enough from everybody.”
Damning words, but we’ve heard that already this year. Woodcroft’s comments would summarize the rest of the game for the Oilers, who fell to 1-5-1 on home ice.
The loss yesterday now marks the Oilers’ second-worst start at home regarding standings points earned through their first seven home games. The only worse season came in 2013-14, when the Oilers went 1-6, finishing the year with a .409 points percentage and the third-fewest standings points.
In the modern era, there have been 52 teams that have won just one game through their first 10 games of the season. Of them, 11 made the playoffs, six were bounced in the first round of the post-season, and one would make it to the conference finals: the 2003-04 San Jose Sharks, who fell in six games to the Calgary Flames.
The Oilers are far from the team we see on the ice right now, and as I’ve continued to hammer home in these Day After articles, there are lots of good signs that suggest they can get out of being knee-deep in the muck. The mathematical law of averages says the Oilers are unlikely to shoot 8.08 percent in all situations and will likely get back to the ~11 percent mark they carried for the three years prior. It also suggests that their .864 team save percentage, similarly, will get closer to the .905 mark they had over the three years prior.
That being said, none of these things will improve back to the marks they should be if the Oilers don’t fix the flaws in their game.
“We know how good we can be, and we know what’s causing us to be in this spot,” said Zach Hyman. “There’s no magic pill; we just have to go out there and fix it. That’s the frustrating part: we haven’t fixed those errors that continue to come up in our game.
“We have the recipe, we know what to do. We just have to go out and do it.”
Edmonton will have a chance to do so on the road, as they are set to embark on a three-game road trip through next week. It will take them to Vancouver Monday night, San Jose Thursday, and Seattle Saturday.
They will look to quell the Canucks’ electric start to the season and hope on Thursday they can find a way to get two points against the Sharks, who haven’t won a single game all season. The Kraken, meanwhile, have had a tepid start to their campaign, and Edmonton will hope to jump on them.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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