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The Day After +12.0: The Edmonton Oilers season is over

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Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
9 months ago
The sun has risen in Edmonton this morning.
The sky is a bright blue and the sound of construction permeates through the air. Ah yes, spring in downtown Edmonton.
The only problem? It comes with the stench of another season by the Oilers wasted down the drain.
It all came to an end on Sunday night when the Vegas Golden Knights came to town and walked out with a 5-2 win. The Golden Knights found the back of the Oilers net just 24 seconds into the game to give themselves a 1-0 lead, but Connor McDavid responded with a goal 31 seconds later.
Another from Warren Foegele found the net 2:43 into the first period and all of a sudden it felt like the Oilers were off to the races. They had the chances to continue to extend the lead, but couldn’t finish and managed to weather whatever storm the Golden Knights brought.
But in the second, the Oilers’ game got away from them. Vegas pushed hard to start the frame and Jack Eichel’s line took over the game. A natural hat trick from Jonathan Marchessault was enough to end Edmonton’s season, and the Oilers had no response.
Well, to be fair, their response was to continue to pepper Adin Hill, Vegas’ third-string goaltender that started the year down the depth chart with the San Jose Sharks. The only problem for Edmonton was they couldn’t find a way to get one past Hill. None of the Oilers’ 22 scoring chances found its way into the back of the net in the second or third period, and they just couldn’t get a bounce.
Even late into the third period defencemen Mattias Ekholm and Darnell Nurse had great scoring chances stepping down from the point, but the puck went wide both times.
That’s just hockey.
It’s tough to sit here today and think about what could’ve been. The Oilers really shot themselves in the foot in this series with some really simple mistakes. It all starts behind the bench, where for maybe the first time I’m having any kind of negative questions about his performance behind the bench. To make it clear, because I know how reactive Oilers fans can be about this stuff — this in no way shape or form me calling for Woodcroft’s job here.
But it is time ask some questions namely: what the hell happened?

THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY

The Oilers are a better team than Vegas is. Separated by only two standings points, Edmonton got the better of them in the regular season going 3-0-1 playing good hockey. So what gives, and why couldn’t the Oilers do it again in the playoffs against them?
Multiple factors. In one sense, the Oilers got PDO’d. At 5x,5 Vegas shot 12.1 percent and had a .933 team save percentage for a 105.4 PDO. Edmonton shot just 6.67 percent and had a .879 save percentage for a 94.6 PDO. I don’t think Stuart Skinner cost the Oilers this series, but the defensive play helped him zero.
Jack Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault and Ivan Barbashev were a problem. As I wrote about Saturday morning, the Oilers had matched Ryan McLeod against Eichel in games one and two and had a lot of success. In games three through six, the Oilers went away from it entirely and last night, matched up Leon Drasisatl and his wingers, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto, against Eichel.
Well, Eichel and his linemates ran show. In 6:34 5×5 TOI last night when the Eichel line was out against the Draisaitl line, Vegas controlled: 80 percent of the shot attempts (12-3), 100 percent of the scoring chances (9-0), 91.34 percent of the expected goal share (.51-0.05) and outscored Edmonton 2-0. Abysmal.
We already had seen Draisaitl get caved in against Eichel in this series, and yet, the Oilers went from a bad matchup (Nick Bjugstad) to an also bad matchup in Draisaitl. It’s not that Draisaitl’s a bad player by any means, but utilizing him as your key matchup to shut down another teams top offensive threat is a massive oversight. That’s not what he’s made for.
Instead, the Oilers could’ve, and should’ve ran the McLeod line or even the McDavid line, for heaven’s sake.
In games one and two, Barbashev had three goals, Eichel had a goal and an assist and Marchessault went pointless. In games three through six, Barbashev had three assists, Eichel had two goals and seven points and Marchessault had five goals and eight points.
This one stings and it’s going to for a while.
There’s already talk this morning about what the offseason could entail for the Oilers, and there appears to be a good chance we see Steve Staios take over as the general manager from Ken Holland. The latter, according to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, would hold onto his president of hockey ops title. He also reported Bob Nicholson could step down as chairman of OEG — and that’s not even getting into talk of actual on-ice changes.
Buckle up folks. It’s going to be an interesting offseason.

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 zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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