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The Oilers’ key to beating the Flames is Jacob Markstrom

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
6 months ago
We could go on and on about how things sucked for the Oilers Wednesday night.
They lost 9-6 allowing way too many goals, and while they did put up six, it wasn’t enough on a night where it should be.
We can dwell on it as much as we want, but at the end of the day, the Oilers are still very much alive in this series. The Oilers lost game one against LA before coming back to win the series. Calgary’s obviously a tougher matchup, but the series is far from over.
If the Edmonton Oilers want to come out on top, they have one player they can exploit: Jacob Markstrom, a goaltender who, in the eye of voters, had a potentially Vezina winning season.
But truth be told, Markstrom has struggled mightily since turning down an Oilers contract offer and signing with the Flames. In 14 games between the regular season and last night’s game, he’s posted a 7-7 record, a .877 save percentage, a 3.6 GAA all the while allowing a staggering 16.45 more goals than expected.
That last statistic is the important one, and it shows just how much Markstrom has struggled against Edmonton in the last two years. In his whole time in the regular season with the Flames, he’s saved 22.1 goals above average.
For Edmonton, they need to take advantage of it. Let’s quickly look at each Oilers goal from last night:
  • McDavid’s 3-1 goal: Barrie gained the zone with speed. Kane won a puck battle behind the net, it popped out to McDavid who moved laterally to open up Markstrom.
  • Bouchard’s 5-2 goal: Draisaitl gains the line, and throws a puck across to McDavid. He attacks down the wall spinning around Dube before finding Bouchard walking down into the high slot while forcing Markstrom to move laterally.
  • Hyman’s 6-3 goal: Drives down the wall, stops and fires a shot high glove side.
  • Hyman’s 6-4 goal: Hyman wins a puck battle behind the net, and goes right before turning back the other way around the net. Gets to his strong side, and picks the top corner.
  • Draisaitl’s 6-5 goal: McDavid flips a puck through the neutral zone, he and Draisaitl attack with speed, and Leon finds the top corner.
  • Yamamoto’s 6-6 goal: Oilers win a draw, McDavid drives low to the net. He tries to tuck it far side, but the puck bounces back to the center of the ice, and Yamamoto bangs it in.
The keys to each of these goals? The Oilers attacked with speed and opened Markstrom up laterally. These are general tips and tricks to beat any goaltender, mind you, but the Flames were overwhelmed by the Oilers’ attack in each one of these scenarios.
Come Friday night, while the Oilers need to focus on their own zone first, they also can’t be shy in attacking with speed off the rush. It’ll pay off against a big, slow but heavy Flames defence.

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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