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The Day After: The Edmonton Oilers are in serious trouble

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
11 months ago
Two weeks ago they were the talk of the town. The supposed cream of the crop.
Today? They’re a laughing stock.
It was two weeks ago the Edmonton Oilers were sitting atop the league in points percentage and held a stellar 16-5 record at the start of the month.
Today? That same team is barely sitting in a wildcard playoff spot after dropping six straight games.
On a day mired by the news of Zach Hyman being injured, Ryan McLeod entering COVID-19 protocols, and head coach Dave Tippett being kept off the bench due to precautionary measures, the Edmonton Oilers lost — again — dropping their season record to 16-11.
They fell 5-1 to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs in a game where the Oilers didn’t really seem to have much chance. Their best play came in the first half of the game, but they double-clutched pucks and couldn’t beat Jack Campbell.
In the back half of the second, the Leafs took over finding the back of the net twice building a 3-0 lead.
The answers? Nobody seems to have them.
“I think the most frustrating part of the whole thing, is the last three/four games we’ve played in stretches better than the other team has but we just gave up grade a, a+’s (against),” said Oilers forward Colton Sceviour, who scored the club’s lone goal and the first from the bottom-six in nine games. “I think that’s probably the thing we need to get out of our game most. Some of those chances… we can’t afford to give up. We’re creating enough to win.”
But Edmonton is struggling to do what counts: score. Over this six game losing streak, even the big guns have cooled down. McDavid has *just* five points. Draisaitl has four. Still good production by the normal sense of the term, but down from what they’re used to doing.
They’ve both also been held off the scoresheet in games, too. McDavid has three pointless games. Draisaitl has four pointless games.
Those two, however, are far from the problem.
Edmonton continues to see their bottom-six caved in night in and night out. Here’s a wild statistic for you, courtesy of former OilersNation writer Jonathan Willis.
When we’ve reached a point that Lennart Petrell was better in the Oilers bottom-six than what is currently there, it’s quite telling about how bad this problem is.
Edmonton is going to keep banging the drum, they’re going to keep pushing, at least that’s what Oilers associate coach Jim Playfair said.
“It’s pretty evident our special teams carried us through a lot of situations that crept into our five-on-five play,” he said, adding “especially now the special teams are off and our five on five isn’t sustaining us throughout the 60 minutes.
“The work we have to put in is continuing to develop our five on five play, try to push the game and not get frustrated when things don’t go our way. Ultimately, we’ve got to find two points.”

Backhanders…

  • There wasn’t a lot to like in the Oilers game, but I thought Warren Foegele was a bright spot. He had four shots on the Oilers’ top line alongside McDavid and Puljujarvi and they were good. At five-on-five, they controlled 75 percent of the shot attempts and 74.57 percent of the expected goals. Let’s keep them together, shall we?
  • The COVID-19 situation around the league is dire. At least a dozen players and staff members entered protocols Tuesday and more are expected to be placed there Wednesday. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Tuesday night the league could revert back to regulations that were around last year to try and mitigate the spread of the virus.

What they’re saying…

Matthews scores 19th, 20th, as Maple Leafs trounce struggling Oilers
EDMONTON — As COVID-19 makes a determined resurgence and upends teams throughout the National Hockey League, Auston Matthews continues to go about his daily business for the Maple Leafs.
And if you haven’t been paying attention — though we’re guessing you have — that’s filling the net for Toronto.On Tuesday at Rogers Place, Matthews ran his point streak to 10 games with a goal in the first period, starting the Leafs on the way to a 5-1 victory against the reeling Edmonton Oilers.Matthews added another goal in the third period, giving him 13 in his past 10 games, and 20 for the season. Those helped send the Oilers, who did not have ex-Leaf Zach Hyman (shoulder), to their sixth loss in a row.Goalie Jack Campbell had his fingerprints on the victory, for good reason. The Leafs haven’t been steady defensively in recent games, and Tuesday was no different, especially in the second period when Campbell made 15 saves.
Campbell kept his teammates in it and didn’t allow a goal until Colton Sceviour got a good bounce at 5:26 of the third period.
At times, Campbell was treated to the “Souuuuuup!” chant he gets whenever he plays well in Toronto, which is often. And Leafs fans in the crowd kept a “Go Leafs go!” chant going throughout the game. – Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun

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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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