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The Day After 53.0: Give me more of the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins, please and thank you

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
Make no mistake about it, I want seven games of the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins in June.
Getting both teams through the playoffs and to that point is a longer shot than not, but boy — how could you not watch last night’s 6-5 game and fantasize about more?
It truly had it all.
Big goals, like any of the Bruins’ that helped them get a 4-1 lead, or any of the Oilers’ four in the final 25 minutes of regulation that pushed this one to overtime.
Big saves, like Stuart Skinner shutting the door on James Van Riemsdyk, streaking out of the penalty box in overtime with the game on his stick.
Fights, like Corey Perry dropping the mitts with Parker Wotherspoon, effectively changing the tune after the Oilers allowed two goals in the first 4:40 of the second period.
And above all else, heartbreak — at least for the Edmonton Oilers.

THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY


“You’re happy you battled back from 4-1 against a really good team, to come back twice and earn a point says a lot about our team when we face adversity,” said Oilers forward Zach Hyman after the game. “At the same time, you don’t want to put yourself in that position.”
Since the Oilers have gotten back from the NHL’s All-Star break, they’ve posted a 4-3-1 record, for a .536 points percentage. Right at the league average mark, it’s nothing to be overly concerned about.
What is concerning, however, is the manner in which those games have been. Edmonton’s found themselves down and nearly out of the game. It’s happened against the Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks, LA Kings, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Arizona Coyotes and last night, the Bruins.
If you’re counting at home, that’s every game the Oilers have played since returning from the break.
“Since we’ve been back, I think we’ve put ourselves in this position too often, and we have to learn to play consistently throughout the whole game again,” Hyman continued.
The Oilers’ ability to put themselves in these bad spots is far from ideal, given the fact that during the 16-game winning streak they rode into the All-Star break, they were doing the opposite. They were playing consistently through whole games. They were getting leads and burying teams. Sure, they mounted the odd comeback here or there, but it was never like it’s been over these last 15 days.
What didn’t help the Oilers’ cause Wednesday night was the lack of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, down and out due to an illness. Edmonton’s jack-of-all-trades Swiss army knife is a crucial piece of this team, and it was seen in last night’s overtime frame.
Edmonton opened up the extra frame riding the end of a late regulation power play, and had Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Zach Hyman and Evan Bouchard out to start the frame. After the first stoppage, Hyman would be replaced by Evander Kane, and while the Oilers got a few great looks, they couldn’t beat Jeremy Swayman.
Skinner has his aforementioned big save against Van Riemsdyk, and play returned to the 3-on-3 format we’ve grown to love. Kane would stay out on the ice, while Ryan McLeod would join him. But this duo couldn’t handle the Bruins’ trio of Pavel Zacha, Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy, as the latter danced around a flailing McLeod and Kane, scoring the game winner.
Nugent-Hopkins may not have fared any better on the slick play, but the truth of the matter is the Oilers are so used to him being that next man over the boards. Being such a solid defensive player — and a much more mature one that McLeod — who knows what could’ve been made of it.
And while that’s a spot the Oilers undoubtedly missed Nugent-Hopkins, where he was missed was in the offence department. Warren Foegele, who climbed the lineup alongside McDavid and Hyman, made the most of his 18:54 of ice time, scoring two goals and taking five shots on goal.
“I think foegy played awesome. He’s a guy who when he gets an opportunity to move up in the lineup, he makes the most of it,” said Hyman. “He’s someone who is fun to play with. He works so hard, drives the net, he makes plays. I think he’s pretty underrated, in my opinion.
“He’s a phenomenal player, and he can create offence at 5v5 and that’s really hard to do in this league. He’s a great player for us.”
High praise for Foegele, no doubt, who has seemed to be at his best when playing in the Oilers’ top six. On the season at 5v5, he’s scored 11 goals and 26 points in 53 games, the fourth most on the team behind Draisaitl, Hyman and McDavid, in that order.
What’s interesting, too, is who else has points on his goals. Draisatil and Hyman have three assists on Foegele goals, while Kane, Darnell Nurse and Ryan McLeod each have two. Not only that, but he’s also helped set up five of Draisaitl’s goals, and four of McLeod’s.
Foegele’s clearly a player who has thrived playing in the Oilers’ top-six this season, and as fans and pundits clamour about which high flying winger the team should acquire at the deadline, one has to wonder if they already have an ideal fit. Foegele isn’t the flashiest of players, but what he carries is an excellent two way game.
Dogged in the defensive zone, he brings with him an excellent shot, a plethora of volume with it, solid skating, and an ability to put up points in the top-six. That can’t be said of many, and he’s making his impact felt every time he’s elevated up the lineup.
Maybe it’s time for him to get another extended look there, allowing the Oilers to continue to evaluate what their best options might be come trade deadline time.
Edmonton will continue a five-game homestand on Friday night as the Minnesota Wild come to town, before hosting the Calgary Flames Saturday night.

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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