The Day After 50.0: The Oilers can’t get out of their own way in tough loss to St. Louis Blues

Photo credit:Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
You could say this Thursday night game between the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues is one where the former would just burn the tape.
But on a night where the Oilers played as undisciplined as they had all year, giving St. Louis eight power play chances while coughing up two-man advantage goals, this is the farthest from one they should forget. In fact, this is one the team should burn into their minds. A 6-3 loss like this is unacceptable for this club.
Things started off fine for the Oilers, despite allowing the first goal of the game to Robert Thomas a little over 10 minutes into the game. Both Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were able to get on the board, giving the Oilers the opportunity to enter the second period in the driver’s seat.
Well, they steered it right into the danger zone, allowing four straight goals to the Blues, all the while taking eight straight penalties from the early second through the end of the game.
“It makes it really hard when you take that many penalties,” said a clearly frustrated Derek Ryan after the game. “It takes you out of a rhythm. Our PK has been struggling a little bit too, so it’s hard when you keep putting us back out there again, and again, and again.”
This game felt like one the October Oilers would’ve had, not these February Oilers.


While you could argue until you’re red in the face about the validity of the eight straight penalties, a penalty is a penalty is a penalty. The Oilers, much like every other team, is at the liberty of referees and an entire system that could use an overhaul, but that’s a story for another day.
It’s not like there was one play, or one goal, or one defensive breakdown — and believe me, there were many — that cost the Oilers last night. Instead, it was death by 1000 cuts. 1000 small, painful cuts.
“We’re very frustrated with the calls that went against us,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch after the game. “It puts us in a difficult position to win the game, especially when you’re behind and needing goals, and here we’re spending time killing penalties.
“As a team, we got to put aside no matter how much we disagree with the call — and there’s been a lot of calls our team has disagreed with — but we have to put it aside and play hockey.”
In the grand scheme of things a mid-February game doesn’t mean much, but when you’re an Edmonton Oilers club that lit itself aflame at the start of the year with a terrible start, every point counts. And last night, the Oilers watched two slip away.
While the Blues are a Central Division team, they’re also one who holds the second spot in the Western Conference Wild Card race. With their win, and a 2-1 win for the LA Kings, both teams trail the Oilers by three points. Edmonton has one game in hand against the Kings, and three against the Blues, but what good are they if the Oilers just waste them away?
That, quite obviously, is a pessimistic way to view the situation where, on the other hand, you laugh and smile and remember the Oilers are 13-3 and the NHL’s best team since the calendar year flipped.
Regardless of where you come out on the subject, Edmonton’s penalty kill hasn’t looked itself as of late, and undisciplined nights like last simply won’t cut it. Other concerning trends, like slow starts to the game and an inability to show up until late in games, are worth noting and paying attention to.
It doesn’t get easier, as the Oilers square off Saturday afternoon with a dangerous Dallas Stars team.
Updated: Links and context (2/16/2024)

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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