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The Day After: It wasn’t just bad goaltending

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Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
7 months ago
At the very least, the Oilers didn’t allow the fans at the Saddledome who were chanting ‘we want 10!’ to get their wish.
But, of course, whenever you’re hearing that chant, something has gone very, very wrong.
The Flames won the fourth and final installment of the 2021-22 regular-season Battle of Alberta on Saturday night with a wild 9-5 victory. The two teams split this season’s head-to-head, with the Oilers winning the two games in Edmonton and the Flames winning the two games in Calgary.
Mikko Koskinen started the game and didn’t fare well, as he allowed five goals on 12 shots before getting yanked five minutes into the second period. Mike Smith came into the game in relief and allowed four goals on 22 shots, an improvement over Koskinen but still nowhere near good.
It’s easy to sit here and point and laugh about Ken Holland’s quote from right after the trade deadline in which he said he was comfortable with the team’s goaltending tandem, but the Oilers didn’t do Koskinen and Smith any favours on Saturday night. They completely mailed it in defensively and left their goalies out to dry.
Things were especially bad in the third period, as the Flames had 21 even-strength shot attempts to Edmonton’s seven and Calgary had eight high-danger chances while the Oilers had just two.
After the game, Zach Hyman said that the team was responsible for the ugly loss, not just the two goalies who were tagged for nine goals combined…
“We played bad, we played poorly,” Hyman said. “I think it was nine even-strength goals against, right? What did we have, three powerplay goals? So nine-to-two at even-strength. The media is probably going to blame our goalies, but you can’t blame our goalies. We hung them out to dry.
Head coach Jay Woodcroft offered the same sentiment, saying that the team completely collapsed at five-on-five…
“[Our even-stength play] clearly wasn’t good enough,” Woodcroft said. “We went away from script, we went away from what our gameplan was, and we paid the price for it. Nine even-strength goals — not good enough.
We’re a team. We’re all in this together and there were a ton of breakdowns that lead to those goals against. The bottom line is to a man, all of us weren’t good enough tonight.”

What they’re saying…

“Let’s get one thing out of the way: neither team was especially good defensively, though the Flames were a little bit better than the Oilers in that respect. This was a throwback game in every sense of the word, basically river hockey with the goalies on both teams hung out to dry. The Flames had the excuse of this being their second game in as many nights, but they’ve been fairly clunky defensively for the past few games, too.
But the Flames being a little bit better defensively (and Markstrom being better than Edmonton’s goalies) was a big thing here. The Flames only allowed two goals at even strength, and at five-on-five they generated a ton off winning defensive zone battles, face-offs, and timely saves.” – Ryan Pike, FlamesNation

The out-of-town scoreboard…

Long story short, the Oilers lost and everybody else won.
The Blackhawks blew a 3-0 lead to the Golden Knights as Vegas stormed back with a four-goal third period before Evgenii Dadonov, the unwanted one, scored to win the game in overtime.
The Kings went into Seattle and picked up an easy 4-2 victory over the Kraken. L.A. will play their next game against Seattle as well. Even the Canucks wound up in the win column, taking down the Stars by a score of 4-1.
The Oilers are now four points back of the Kings with only one game in hand. The two teams play each other two more times this season and Edmonton needs those wins if they want to hop the Kings in the standings. The Golden Knights are now only one point back of the Oilers but Edmonton has two games in hand.
The Flames are also 11 points up on the Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division, so losing Saturday’s game was pretty much the nail in the coffin for Edmonton’s faint chance of catching Calgary.
We’ll finish off with a positive. Leon Draisaitl’s hat-trick has him at 47 goals for the season, which is tied for the Rocket Richard Trophy race lead with Auston Matthews…

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