The Day After 58.0: Edmonton Oilers send message to management in 4-2 win over Philadelphia Flyers
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing9 months ago
It’s time to pull the trigger, Ken. Make a move.
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Enough is enough. If there was ever a game where the Edmonton Oilers players sent a message upstairs, it was last night. In what was one of the uglier games we’ve seen this year, it took a Herculean effort from Connor McDavid to will the Oilers to victory beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2.
I mean look, the Oilers started the game well. They had four shots in the first five minutes and came out ready to go. The only problem? By the end of the second, they only took six more. That’s right, folks. 10 shots through two periods.
After the early Oilers flurry the Flyers started to take the game over, it was Flyers forward Noah Cates whose soft wrap-around beat Stuart Skinner and opened the scoring in the game. It really felt like it took the wind out of the sails early for the Oilers. While a Tyson Barrie blast from the point with seconds left in the first tied the game at 1, it was far from enough.
How were the vibes after the first period? Oh, they were great. Oilers commentator Bob Stauffer, sitting on the Sportsnet panel, laid into the organization’s management.
“I think the Edmonton Oilers look right now like a team waiting for something to happen from management,” he said. “There’s a lack of energy there. Frankly, there’s some parts of their game that haven’t been great as of late we know that.
“The first goal against, obviously Stuart Skinner would like to have back. Then they get bailed out because they actually put the puck to the net on the powerplay. They’re lucky to be at 1-1.
“Sometimes you just get a feel. My feel is they’re waiting for something to happen here… I’m around these guys, both home and away… and I’m here to tell you I can sense it, I can feel it. The impetus is Ken Holland is well compensated. That management team is privileged to have the roles they have, and there should be some traction. I don’t want to be the guy who overpromises and underdelivers, but the time is now.”
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The second period to follow was much like the first: awful. It was earmarked by one of the worst individual plays I’ve seen this year when Cody Ceci, with nobody near him, threw a grenade across the defensive zone to rookie Philip Broberg, who had two Flyers pinch down on him quick. The puck gets turned over, and Owen Tippett capitalizes. Categorically, it’s the perfect example of what the Oilers are lacking right now.
They don’t have a certified, top-of-the-line puck-moving defenceman on their defence. Tyson Barrie’s strengths lie there, no doubt, but he’s far from the best. Evan Bouchard’s strengths lie there too, but he’s still cutting his teeth in his second season at 23 years old. The Oilers leadership is helping push for a true puck-mover, something the club has identified as a “key acquisition” ahead of the deadline.
We could sit here and say that the Oilers’ poor play early was a message sender. It was, for sure, but so was McDavid putting the team on his back in the third period with points on all three of the Oilers’ third-period points. A massive stop by Stuart Skinner helped, too.
Down 2-1, he found Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the back door, who quickly completed a pass to Draisaitl who scored on the tic-tac-toe. Then McDavid himself scored moments after snatching the souls of a few Flyers. It wasn’t pretty, but he found a loose puck and banked it in near the side of the net. 3-2 Oilers lead.
Icing on the cake? A long, short-handed flip of a loose puck with 1:25 to go to win the game.
Connor can do it on his own, and while the Oilers supporting case has been doing a better job of outscoring the opposition, there are nights like last where it’s a nearly unbearable watch — until, of course, Connor does Connor.
The pressure is mounting on the Oilers front office. The team is now 3-1-4 out of the All-Star break. 10 out of 16 points for a .625 points percentage. Not terrible, but not great, either. We’re nine days out from the deadline. The time to move is now, and some guy named Erik Karlsson might want to come to town.
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 email@example.com.
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