The Day After 21.0: The Kids Are All Right
Photo credit:© Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis6 months ago
Things were looking bleak for the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon.
They went into the intermission down by a score of 3-0 to the New York Rangers, staring down the barrel of going winless on their three-game swing and falling under .500 for the first time this season.
Yet another matinee letdown? Not so fast!
After not scoring a goal for roughly 115 minutes, the Oilers finally broke through Igor Shesterkin when Evan Bouchard sniped a shot past last year’s Vezina Trophy winner. It was the first goal of the season for the sophomore who had recently been labelled a Shin Pad Assasin. Bouchard then went ahead and added another goal on a clapper from the point to make the score 3-2.
A few minutes later, the Oilers tied the game when Dylan Holloway beat Shesterkin for the first goal of his NHL career. Leon Draisaitl wound up scoring the game-winner with a couple of minutes left on the clock, but it was Edmonton’s young players who gave the team a much-needed spark.
“Once one went in, everything was going in,” Bouchard said. ”It was good for the team, a good character win. It’s one we have to remember.”
As Bouchard said, the floodgates opened for the Oilers once they finally got on the board and ended the scoring drought that had plagued them for five straight periods of play. The hope now is that the depth scoring can continue and the team can string a few wins together.
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
- Evan Bouchard found himself as one of the players taking the blame for Edmonton’s ho-hum to start the season. Following last year’s breakout performance in which he scored 43 points in 81 games, expectations have risen for Bouchard. Coming into the game against New York, Bouchard had just six points and was well negative in terms of on-ice goal differential. The underlying shot numbers suggested that he was doing better than the boxcar results indicated, but the eye test also wasn’t doing much in Bouchard’s favour. Mistakes in the defensive zone and shots getting blocked from the point are errors that stand out and can sometimes overshadow the quiet things that a player does well. A game like this is a reminder that Bouchard is a player who moves things in the right direction for the Oilers. Remember, this is a 23-year-old defender still on his entry-level contract. Mistakes are a part of development. You’re better off dealing with them in October and November so they aren’t made in March and April.
- The Bouchard and Philip Broberg pairing did well in this game. Broberg had a tough moment early in the game in which he was beaten in front of the net by Alexis Lafreniere, who gained position right in the crease and buried an easy goal. After that, Broberg settled in and played quite well. He logged 10:13 at even-strength and was on the ice for only five shot attempts and two high-danger chances against, a strong result for his first NHL game of the season. There was some risk in playing two inexperienced defenders together but the way Bouchard and Broberg moved the puck up the ice was a breath of fresh air. It’ll be interesting to see if this pair sticks.
- Dylan Holloway did nice work screening Igor Shesterkin on Bouchard’s power-play goal and earned himself some shifts on the third line with Ryan McLeod and Warren Foegele in the third period. He capitalized and scored the first goal of his NHL career, a beautiful shot that beat Shesterkin clean. Holloway has shown flashes of serious speed and skill in his rookie season and it was nice to see him finally convert. The Oilers badly need to find depth scoring in Evander Kane’s absence and giving Holloway a larger opportunity could spark something. A McLeod, Foegele, and Holloway trio has a ridiculous amount of speed and could be what the Oilers need right now.
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