The Day After: Oilers extend their winning streak with 6-1 pummelling of the Buffalo Sabres
Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
By baggedmilk1 year ago
That’s how you do it, baby. Oilers were dominant in a 6-1 win over the Sabres.
If there’s one thing I’ve been saying countless times over the past few days, it’s that the Oilers needed to find a way to run the table this week against the Red Wings, Sabres, and Devils. Seeing as the playoff race is as tight as it is and only going to get more stressful as the days go on, collecting points against the garbage teams is what the good playoff teams do and it’s a goal the Oilers need to set for themselves every single time the opportunity arises. Rather than playing down to their opponent as we saw against the Red Wings, the boys need to expect more from themselves and find a way to flex on these playoff-less shlubs rather than letting them hang around and compete when they shouldn’t be able to. Even though the Sabres have been playing better lately, I consider them to be a team that shouldn’t be standing in our way. They’re a team the Oilers needed to beat, but it was going to take more than a half-assed effort to make it happen.
From the moment the puck dropped, the Oilers looked like they weren’t about to let the Sabres come into their house and start rearranging the furniture if you know what I mean. Instead, the Oilers had all kinds of energy and the Sabres had a real hard time dealing with the pressure. Rather than playing down to their competition, what we got was an Oilers team that was clearly in no mood to have another bottom dweller walk into Rogers Place and dictate the play, and right from the jump, it was the home side that tilted the ice in their favour. Unlike what we got against the Red Wings, there was no dip in the boys’ play after grabbing the lead nor was there any periods where it felt like the tides were starting to turn in Buffalo’s favour. Sure, there was the odd shift when the Sabres were able to get something going, but for the most part, the Oilers handled their business and gave the fans at Rogers Place more than a few reasons to get the wave going. Not only did they extend their winning streak to four games, but they also put in the kind of performance that’s going to help get them into the playoffs.
That’s two more points in the bank, boys. LFG.
- @Mike Smith was back between the pipes for his 16th start of the season, and I’ll be the first to admit that I was incredibly nervous about the way it would play out given the importance of the points at hand. And to his credit, Smith showed up ready to play and made the saves he needed to make, and I thought it was an incredibly important performance for a guy that needed one. Even though I know the Sabres weren’t able to come up with all that many grade-A chances, the optimist in me is hoping it’s the kind of soft-start win that can help to build his confidence. If the Oilers are going to play him — it seems to be the plan, I suppose — we need him to be a contributor. Smith finished with 27 saves and a .964 save%
- How about the heater @Kailer Yamamoto is on right now? Our guy has four goals in his last six games and this hot streak couldn’t come at a better time. We need Yams to kick in some offence and to see him playing with confidence has been a lot of fun.
- Speaking of heaters, @Connor McDavid now finds himself on a four-game scoring streak, and I don’t know that I love anything quite as much as the run he tends to go on near the end of every regular season. When this guy heats up you better get the funk out of the way because there’s not much you can do about what he wants to get done. The unfortunate news, however, was that our brave captain took yet another stick to the mouth after Hinostroza missed his stick check and popped him in his newly repaired grill.
- @Leon Draisaitl hit the 40th goal plateau for the third time in the last four seasons, and I can’t even begin to think about how lucky we are to have this guy on our team seeing as he was the third pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. I know I’ve said it a bunch of times at this point but I don’t think we thank the Panthers and Sabres enough for letting this absolute specimin slide to us at third overall.
- @Darnell Nurse had another monster night on the back end, finishing his night with a goal, five shots on net, one hit, in 22:07 of TOI.
- How about @Devin Shore putting up three points over the last two games? Like a fourth line sniper, Shore picked up a big shorthanded marker in the third period of last night’s game to really nail the coffin shut, and all of a sudden, the guy is starting to chip in with some points on this mini heater he’s on.
- I’ve gotta say that I was pretty happy to see @Tyson Barrie score his first goal since November 20th — that’s 35 games if you’re wondering — and I hope it was the kind of slump buster he needed to gain a little confidence. As for the goal, it was a beautifully executed power play goal that saw Foegele hit a streaking Barrie with a cross-ice pass to the wheelhouse.
- How about a perfect special teams night that saw the Oilers go 1-for-3 on the powerplay and shut the Sabres out on their lone chance with the man advantage. Add in the shortie by Shore and I can’t think of a better night.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Even when expressing pride in what the Buffalo Sabres are building, Don Granato has been careful to manage expectations.Under the spotlight last week with Jack Eichel back in Buffalo and when skating outdoors in the Heritage Classic, the Sabres earned consecutive wins that showed this latest rebuild has a stronger foundation than those of the past.The camaraderie on and off the ice – most notably Dylan Cozens finishing a check in response to Auston Matthews’ vicious cross-check on Rasmus Dahlin – and the continued improvement of the young core had fans envisioning what this group can accomplish in the future.A 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night in Rogers Place was the latest reminder that franchise-altering change takes time and patience.“We didn’t skate,” Granato said after the loss. “Everything we did was slow. Even when we had the puck and we had time and space, we didn’t take the ice aggressively. … Even in non-competitive areas we didn’t look like ourselves.”
BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER
On the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never, I run through all of the reasons why the Oilers are going to make the playoffs, what they should do at the deadline, and why Mike Smith scares the shit out of me. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts.
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