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The Day After: The vultures are circling…

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Photo credit:Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
10 months ago
The pressure is on and the pressure is being felt. In Edmonton, the vultures are circling.
On the ice, the Oilers put together an all-around awful performance. Another loss, this one 4-1 to the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden.
Just 15 seconds in, Mikko Koskinen did his worst Mike Smith impression and flipped the puck over the glass. Four minutes later he inexplicably played a puck behind the net allowing the Rangers to get an early 1-0 lead.
From there, it gave the Rangers all the life they needed to dominate the Oilers the rest of the game. By the end of 60, the Oilers were hanging their heads suffering another embarrassing loss.
While the Oilers took an L on the ice, they took another in the post-game presser when head coach Dave Tippett not only threw his goaltender under the bus, but backed up over top of him.
“I thought we did a lot of things well tonight,” said Tippett. “Our goaltender wasn’t very good and we didn’t find enough pucks at the net to get us back in the game.”
While the Oilers may have done things well on paper — firing more shots and dominating the expected goal share — the Oilers did it all while chasing. All while making costly breakdowns in their own zone. All the while not looking like a team that cared. At no point in the game did Edmonton feel like a real threat.
And at no point in Tippett’s almost three-year tenure would he have said the same things about Mike Smith, who has made as many gaffes as his counterpart in net.
It’s hard to imagine things continue this way much longer. Doubly so considering issues of tough losses and poor play are seeping into the Oilers locker room.
“I definitely think it’s affecting the mood of players,” said Oilers defenceman Cody Ceci after the loss. “When you start getting down on yourself, you get frustrated with teammates and whatnot.
We got to do our best to get over that. I think a win will go a long way for this group. we started the year off real well, so we know we can do it. We just need to get back to that.”
The problem? It’s hard to see when the Oilers could win another game. They play the Leafs on the road Wednesday, then will return home to Edmonton. A Saturday game against the New York Islanders has been postponed, but the Ottawa Senators will then roll into town for a Monday night skirmish.
There’s no better time than now for change in any form.

Backhanders…

  • One of the lone bright spots last night? Ryan McLeod and Tyler Benson. They had instant chemistry on a line together and should get many more looks moving forward. They played together in Bakersfield and combined for a beautiful goal, the Oilers lone of the game.
  • Undoubtedly the first goal of the game was on Koskinen, but I think the issue lies deeper than just that for this club. Goal two was a defensive breakdown that allowed Barclay Goodrow access to the slot where he scored from. Goal three was a trickler on the powerplay he’d want back, and there’s not much he could do on the fourth goal where it bounced in off Tyson Barrie’s skates. Koskinen is far from the only player deserving of harsh criticism.

What they’re saying…

Rangers stifle Oilers to take top spot in NHL standings
Add one more high-scoring team under the Rangers’ win column.
With a handful of lineup staples making their return from COVID-19 protocol, the Blueshirts contained the Oilers for 60 minutes and took a convincing 4-1 victory at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The win was the Rangers’ third in a row and tied them for the most points in the league as they gear up for their longest road trip of the season.
Ryan Strome led the Rangers with three points, assisting on the first two goals before his centering pass in the third period ricocheted off Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie’s skate and in for the 4-1 score at 14:11. It was Strome’s first three-point night of the season and the 11th of his career.
Ryan Lindgren returned to the Rangers lineup and registered a secondary assist in his first game back after missing the previous three due to COVID-19 protocols. Reunited with Adam Fox on the blue line, Lindgren also posted two shots, three hits and a blocked shot in 16:22.
Rookie defenseman Nils Lundkvist was edged out by Zac Jones, who drew into the lineup for the second game in a row after making his season debut against the Lightning on Sunday. This time Jones forged the third defensive pairing with Libor Hajek instead of Lundkvist. – Mollie Walker, New York Post

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@oilersnation.com.

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