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The Day After 37.0: Lackluster Oilers nearly choke against bruised Blackhawks

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Photo credit:Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
Have you ever watched your favourite team win a hockey game, but you can’t help but feel like it was a loss?
That was watching the Edmonton Oilers take on the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
Sure, they won the game 2-1, but the score was not indicative of the result. It’s not often you play one of your worst games of the season and still manage to walk away with the win, but for an Oilers squad taking on a Blackhawks club with $33.85-million in payroll on the injured reserve, they’ll take it.
They don’t ask how, just how many, I guess.
“I thought we had a couple of calls not go our way, and I thought we did a good job of just staying in it,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid. “We kind of just found a way tonight. They’re obviously banged up, young lineup, excited lineup, sometimes those are the toughest games to play. A little bit scrambly, a little all over the place. I thought they played well.”

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Things didn’t start off great for the Oilers; as just 5:52 into the game, they were already facing a deficit. That’s in thanks to Jason Dickinson, who corralled a puck in the neutral zone for a 2-on-1, before toe-dragging around a sprawling Darnell Nurse to wire one home.
No sweat, though. Leon Draisaitl got one back two minutes later, when Ryan McLeod feed him some sauce that found it’s way past a helpless Petr Mrazek. McDavid would extend the Oilers’ lead with the eventual game-winner 1:32 into the second, sneaking behind the Blackhawk’s blueline for a clean shot at the net.
He made no mistake.
And he made no mistake in a firey post-game press conference, where he was highly critical of an offside review that kept an Oilers goal off the board. It happened early in the third period when Draisatil toed the Blackhawks’ blueline to bring a puck bounced off the boards into the offensive zone.
While he found McDavid across the ice, who took little time to complete the tac in tic-tac-toe finding Zach Hyman for the goal, Chicago got more than a few seconds to eventually decide to challenge.
“If it takes you 15 minutes to determine if it’s offside or not, it probably doesn’t matter,” said McDavid after the game. “I talked to the linesman after; ultimately, it’s not their call, I guess. Obviously, they said it came down from the league.
“You zoom in, you zoom in, you keep zooming in until you can’t zoom in anymore, I guess it’s offside. These are calls that change games, and ultimately, it didn’t go our way. That was a big call; it would’ve really hurt them.
“I thought it should’ve been onside. It’s kind of possession too, right? The argument of possession, that whole debate can start again. It was such a close one. You’d like to see it. I think the NHL uses the analogy ‘dead wrong’… They want it to be clear and obvious, right? That one’s certainly not clean and obvious.”
No harm no foul in it all, but McDavid’s displeasure with video review isn’t anything new. In Dec. 2022, he was outspoken about a review that pulled back a goal when McDavid apparently put himself offside. Who knows what’s what anymore.
What’s known, however, is that the Oilers should feel lucky to walk out of Chicago with two points in hand. And while yes, the winning streak extends to eight, many elements of that game will want to be learning lessons. Above all else: don’t underestimate anybody.
That will ring true for the Oilers through the rest of the month, one where they can gain more ground in the playoff picture. They travel to Detroit for a Thursday night game, before a Saturday night stop in Montreal. That will be a fun one.
Then, three games against the Maple Leafs, Kraken and Flames that will undoubtedly be competitive, before a stretch to close out the month and head into the All-Star break with games against Columbus, Chicago and Nashville.
There’s a legitimate chance the Oilers could win six of these eight, and that would be massive for them, considering the LA Kings have gone 3-4-3 in their last 10 games, while the Vegas Golden Knights are 3-7 over that same stretch. Quickly, the Oilers could find themselves in possession of one of the divisional playoff spots.

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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