The Day After 55.0: ‘A step behind,’ and ‘undisciplined’ Edmonton Oilers drop Saturday night stinker to Calgary Flames

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
Earth to the Edmonton Oilers, earth to the Edmonton Oilers: you’re wasting away in front of our eyes.
After a great effort, no results game Friday night, the Oilers showed how ready they were to turn the tide against the Calgary Flames Saturday night by coughing up three goals in the first 15 minutes, and losing 6-3.
But don’t worry — they made up for it by trying to egg the Flames on in the game’s final minutes. That’s where you win these kind of games, after all.
The game showed all the signs of a group frustrated, culminating in a second-period penalty by Leon Draisaitl, hauling down Flames winger Martin Pospisil, after getting a few prior whacks at him.
“Undisciplined, stupid, stupid penalty on my behalf,” said the self-critical center. “Certainly didn’t help our team tonight in that way. (I) take full ownership of that.”


And with last night’s loss seeing their losing skid hit three games, he’s not the only one showing that frustration. While the Oilers and Flames jabbed back and forth all night amid play and after the whistle, those moments boiled over more than once.
Like in the second period, when Mattias Janmark and Blake Coleman dropped the gloves in a spirited tilt. That scrap came five minutes after Connor McDavid was levelled by Coleman in the Oilers zone, still managing to make a pass up the ice that found its way to Zach Hyman, who had made it a 3-2 game.
Or later that period when Corey Perry and MacKenzie Weegar “fought,” which was really just the latter punching the former through the crowd.
Or with 3:15 left, when Dylan Holloway wanted some of Coleman’s skin. Or, lastly, when Darnell Nurse and Evander Kane both tried to get Nazem Kadri to drop the gloves.
“There’s a little bit of negativity, there is frustration right now, but nothing like there has been before,” said head coach Kris Knoblauch in a post-game press conference, reassuring members of the media his team would find its way. “The comment about Leon: Leon is a leader on our team, and a lot of guys look up to him.
“He’s been showing his frustration, but his work ethic has been there and he’s been doing things well. Is he playing at the top of his game? No, but it’s still pretty good.
“Just like him, just like a lot of guys, or almost everyone, we can all be a little bit better.”
The recent stretch from the Oilers is far from ideal, to say the least. Edmonton has squandered opportunities to close a three-point gap to catch the Vegas Golden Knights, even with games in hand. But in the same breath, it’s not like they’ve fared better, sharing an identical 4-5-1 over the last 10 games.
The point of concern? The LA Kings, 7-2-1 in their last 10, now tied in standing points with the Oilers.
It represents a small portion of Edmonton’s season, all part of the ebbs and flows of an 82-game schedule, Oilers forward Zach Hyman said Saturday night.
“Would you like to play perfect every 10 games, or every stretch? Sure,” he said. “Are you going to? Probably not.
“At the same time, we’re getting closer to playoffs and we’re still fighting for a spot. We have to learn we can’t just flip it on and think we’re going to win every game in the third period. We have to start on time, you have to play the right way throughout the entire game. We know how to do that, we’ve proven it this year, so just a matter of getting back to work and sticking with it.”
Easier said than done amid torrid stretches like this.
“Good teams put together long winning streaks, and their losing streaks are really short,” Knoblauch said. “Not any Stanley Cup champion, or successful team has not had a lull during the season.
“It’s always happened, but good teams are able to shorten these and I think we’re getting to the point where it’s long enough. We have to improve.”
How that’s done, he added, comes from the coaching staff coaching up the players. Things that haven’t been mentioned for a while need to be addressed, in his eyes, while the start of the game, and  need to improve.
“We need to come out a lot better at the start of the game. That’s having attention to detail and being ready to play right from the start,” he said. “And maybe a little more urgency in the defensive zone.
“You give teams a little more space, and time, a lot of skilled players are going to make plays. I think we’re just a step behind. I think we have good intentions, it’s not like we’re taking shortcuts, I think we’re just a little bit lethargic, a little bit slow to close plays. It’s just leading to them getting a little more room and space to make those.”
Edmonton needs to do it quickly, as Monday night might be one of their most important games of the season playing host to the LA Kings — that same team who could jump them in the standings as they kick-off a three-game, Western Canada swing.

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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