The Oilers blew their chance at a 1-0 series lead, but we must move on

1 month ago
I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating it was to be at Rogers Arena last night to watch the Oilers cough up a 4-1 lead with three unanswered goals in the third period. Arguably, it was one of the most horrifying losses I’ve ever seen in person, and I can’t even begin to express how disappointing it was to watch the boys drown without so much as an ounce of pushback.


Not only were the Oilers getting shelled over the final 40 minutes — they were outshot 19 to eight over that time — but they really couldn’t do anything to stop or counter the Canucks’ attack. From my spot in the stands, it honestly seemed like Edmonton was content to sit back and try to close out the win without pushing for any further offence. For whatever reason, they stopped moving their feet and their ability to make plays seemingly stopped at the same time. If you you were to put together a class on how to piss away a three-goal lead, last night’s performance would be one of the key talking points.
From the beginning of the third period to the end of the game, the Oilers were the second-best team on the ice by a sizeable margin, and I wish I could say it was surprising to watch them lose the way they did. I wish I could say that we didn’t see that collapse coming despite our boys being completely unable to generate any kind of counterpunch to deal with the pressure. Instead of looking like the favourites that most pundits picked to win the series, the Oilers looked like they were just happy to be there, and that’s a tough scene for a team that’s supposed to have learned their lessons from years past on their way to the Stanley Cup.


Listen, I’m going to start this off by saying that I absolutely believe in Stuart Skinner. I believe in him 100%, in fact, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Yet, even though I believe in the guy and his ability to rebound after a tough start, it wouldn’t be honest for me to say anything other than acknowledge how he blew it in Game 1 against the Canucks.
Up by two goals with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers had the chance to steal the first game of the series even though they weren’t necessarily playing at their best. I mean, they only registered eight shots over the final two periods, and most of those final 40 minutes were spent chasing the game. Even so, the boys had a two-goal lead with only a period to play, and they managed to give up three straight goals without having any kind of answer about how to stop the bleeding.
Needless to say, it’s pretty tough to win games when your starting goaltender finishes the night with a .792 save%. Even though I will absolutely defend Stu to the death that not all five goals were his fault, there were at least two of them that he absolutely needed to stop, including the game winner. That fifth goal by Garland was as bad as it gets in the playoffs, and it’s infuriating that we couldn’t get a save down the stretch when it mattered the most.
Those moments like the Garland rush in the third period are the ones when you need your goaltender to stand tall for his teammates, but Stu just wasn’t able to do that on Wednesday. Instead, the Oilers gave up an array of flimsy goals because of shoddy goaltending and lacklustre defending that ultimately cost them a Game 1. Even though I truly believe that Skinner is going to rebound on Friday, it’s tough to look at last night’s effort and think it was anything other than a blown opportunity.


If you’re reading this article this morning, there’s a pretty good chance you’re as annoyed as I am about the way things went down. That’s why I want to finish up here with a reminder that this is going to be a long series, and that losing the first game doesn’t mean squat. Of course we wanted to see the Oilers close out Game 1 after building themselves a three-goal lead, but that’s not the way things went nor does it mean we’re throwing in the towel.
Listen, I get how annoying it was to watch the Oilers piss this game away — it was pretty awful being in the arena as it was happening — but the job isn’t done and no one has ever won a series with only one win. If anything, I hope last night’s loss motivates our boys to pull their shit together. The boys looked fine for the first 20 minutes, but then it seemed like they were hanging the mission accomplished banner. That can’t happen in the playoffs, and I would (and will) bet that our side is better on Friday night. Gord knows we’ll need them to be.


-Arguably the worst news of the night was when Leon Draisaitl left the bench for what was described by Kris Knoblauch as cramping and equipment issues. I don’t know if I buy the explanation since Leon wasn’t moving around too well in the third period, but we’ll have to hope it really is nothing to be too concerned about.
-The Oilers went nearly 23 minutes (22:46) without a shot on goal. That’s pathetic, if I’m being honest, and I honestly can’t think of a kinder way to say it.
-The Nurse/Ceci pair needs to be a whole lot better if the Oilers are going to win this series. Even with the goal that Ceci scored in the second period, both players finished with a team-low -3 rating, and I’m using that stat knowing full well that it’s not the greatest measure of on-ice results. Even so, going -3 on a night is a tough seen when we need that pairing to stay stable.
-On a better note, Mattias Ekholm was solid in Game 1 and I wish there was a way he could play all 60 minutes. The big man finished with a goal, two shots on goal, one hit, and a +2 rating in 23:42 of TOI.
-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ snake bite is real. He had a glorious opportunity to put the Oilers up 5-2 but ended up hitting the post. The Canucks scored basically right after that happened, and it kicked off our march into sadness. I hate it.
-Walking around downtown Vancouver last night was not very fun, I can tell you that much. There were cars full of dudes yelling at us, we were getting chirped with wrong names, and the Oilers essentially robbed us of what would have been a fantastic night behind enemy lines. Instead, we had to take our lumps like we were the ones to give up four straight goals.
-Looking at the special teams, at least the Oilers maintained their run of being perfect on the PK after they killed off three of three shorthanded situations they faced. On the power play, Edmonton was only granted a single chance with the man advantage and they found a way to cash in that opportunity.
-I can’t even celebrate faceoff wins because the Oilers won only 36,5% of the draws they took. Nowhere near good enough, and it wasn’t particularly close.


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