The Day After +7.0: Edmonton Oilers supporting cast fail in 6-4 game one loss to Vegas Golden Knights

Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that overreacting to the first game of a series involving the Edmonton Oilers is often the way to go about things.
After all, when the Oilers dropped game one against the LA Kings in 2022, they managed to come back and win it in seven.
In the next round, the Oilers dropped game one to the Calgary Flames, but won the next four games in a row to win the series.
Even this year the Oilers dropped game one against the Kings in their first-round series again. If I’m not mistaken, they won that series in six games.
Was last night’s affair that saw the Oilers fall in game one to the Vegas Golden Knights 6-4 concerning? Sure. A four-goal performance from a guy like Leon Draisaitl should be enough to put you over the top when it comes to the playoffs, but hey, what can you do?
It’s never great to put yourself down 1-0 in the playoffs, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s that we can never say never when it comes to these Oilers.
There’s more than enough to talk about from this game, so let’s break it down into some notes…

Slow start, strong finish

It didn’t take long after puck drop to get a feel for this game. While Leon Draisaitl opened up the scoring just 3:56 into the game with his first of four goals, the Golden Knights responded 40 seconds later with a goal of their own. The first period would end 3-2 thanks to Draisaitl’s second with 11 seconds to go, but you could already sense where this one was heading.
Vegas outshot the Oilers 14-8 in the first frame, and dominated the pace of play in this game. After a back-and-forth second that saw no scoring, some optimism crept in thanks to as strong end of the period. Edmonton opened the third on the powerplay and Draisaitl made quick work completing his hat trick.
Another quick response saw the Golden Knights score two quick ones to regain their lead, and that was a tough blow. While score effects would play part of a strong third period by the Oilers, I liked their game as a whole. They pushed hard, got some good looks, but just couldn’t find the back of the net.
Vegas had some puck-like on their side last night scoring four goals at 5×5, despite having just 2.28 xGF. That means based on the scoring chances and quality of their shots, they really should’ve only scored two goals.

Desharnais’ tough night

Another tough night for Vincent Desharnais in these playoffs. He struggled against the Golden Knights, who like the Kings did earlier in these playoffs, capitalized on his mistakes. On Vegas’ first goal, he carries the puck behind the net and tries to skate with it to the middle of the ice, but isn’t able to pass the goal line before coughing the puck up.
On Mark Stone’s powerplay goal in the second, Desharnais leaves the Vegas forward in front of the net, instead going for the player higher up in the slot. Not a smart move, and Stone was able to deflect a pass in.
The biggest issue for me on these is that they’re simple plays to make to avoid this from happening. On the first one, take the puck into the corner and pin it there if you have to. On the second, just cover Stone.
Instead, these self-inflicted wounds piled up costing the Oilers in the long run. I’d like to see a lot longer leash for Philip Broberg, whose skating ability can help him get out of defensive zone jams like what resulted in Vegas’ first goal.
We saw a bit of it last night as Desharnais took just two shifts in the third to Broberg’s four, but that was more likely than not just score-related.


Draisaitl on X-Games mode

Four goals on five shots? Come on, that’s just not fair. Even Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy recognized it.
It’s really quite the tear he’s on once again here. As noted by Connor Halley, who hosts Oilersnation After Dark, Draisaitl’s 11 goals are two back of the 13 both Nathan MacKinnon and Evander Kane scored in last year’s playoffs.
Yes, you read that right.
He’s continuing to find spots on the ice where he’s able to shoot from and that’s all the signs of an elite, elite talent. I doubt he slows down anytime soon.

Let’s get him some help

As great as it is to sit and talk about Draisaitl having another world-class performance, and Connor McDavid continuing to find ways to be productive, we need to talk, once again, about the lack of support for them.
In the playoffs so far at 5×5, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored 0.59 points per hour, Kane has scored 0.92 and Zach Hyman has 1.55. Those numbers are far cries from the 2.14, 1.96 and 2.37 they each had in the regular season, respectively.
I wrote about how this was becoming an issue back in the first playoff round, but we’ve yet to see these guys do much of anything at 5×5 in the playoffs. The Oilers relied on them all season to provide supplementary offence and chip in and they did so with ease as both Nugent-Hopkins and Hyman set multiple career highs in scoring.
Now? Nothing. Their dip in scoring at 5×5 is noticeable.
Let’s see how this team rebounds in game two 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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