The Oilers’ first period and sloppy puck management sunk them, fall 5-4 to Kings in OT

9 days ago
The Oilers kicked off their first-round matchup with the Kings on a high note on Monday, dominating the game to the tune of a 7-4 final score, and the boys were looking to do it again last night in Game 2. Unfortunately, the Game 1 success did not carry over into Wednesday’s rematch, as poor puck management and lacklustre goaltending led to the Oilers falling 5-4 in overtime.


Listen, I’m starting this morning’s article with Stuart Skinner because I have to. That’s not to suggest I don’t still believe in Stu because I do, but it’s pretty damned hard to win hockey games when your starting goalie allows five goals on 26 shots and finishes with a .808 save%. That said, I completely understand that there were some weird bounces last night that were 100% bad luck, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need another save or two.
Again, I know there have been some weird bounces and unlucky moments for Skinner through the first two games, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need better than a .892 and .808 save percentage. If the Oilers are going to get through even this round, we’ll need a save or two at key moments of the game. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how much speed and skill this team has up front. The good news is that I believe Skinner will be that guy, and I think he’ll take the lessons from Wednesday’s loss and apply them in the games that are yet to come, but that hope doesn’t make last night’s performance any less painful.
Stuart Skinner is a better goalie than we saw in Game 2, and it’s unfortunate that the night ended the way it did because his counterpart really wasn’t that much better. Even so, that one extra saves makes all the difference and the Oilers simply did not get the ones they needed in the rematch. Of course, there’s still a lot of hockey left to be played and we’ll have to see how Skinner fares in what will likely be two raucous games down in LA over the weekend.


Even though all three of Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl, and Foegele scored in Game 1, there were a bunch of us who were left wanting by what they were able to do at 5-on-5. That’s not to say they were horrible or anything — they definitely were not — but I wouldn’t say they were overly dangerous either. Despite the speed and skill on that line, the Kings kept them fairly quiet.
Kris Knoblauch understandably kept his line combos together for Game 2, and I wanted to see this trio find a way to make some noise. I wanted to see them buzzing in the Kings’ zone, and I wanted it to happen every time on the ice. On Wednesday night, that line was shut out for the second straight game at even strength, and that won’t work if Edmonton gets through this series. So far, all three of these players have goals, but none of them have come at even strength, and that won’t work in the long run.


I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that our former friend, Cam Talbot, got absolutely shelled between the pipes on Monday night. It didn’t take long for Oilers fans to kick off the ‘Tal-bot, Tal-bot’ chant, and the exact same thing happened last night for Game 2. Right from the moment the teams walked on the ice, the crowd was all over Talbot and looking to make his night miserable.
Unfortunately, what we didn’t expect is that that the Oilers would give up three goals in the first period and essentially gifted the Kings most of the offence they needed to close out the win. From my side of the computer screen, that made Dadbot incredibly lucky. He was fortunate that Edmonton had such a poor opening period because the rest of the game was all Oilers, and it sucks very badly to have to write that those three first period goals were basically what he needed to cover up another bad night.
I know I just wrote three paragraphs about how Stu needed to be better, and it’s absolutely true, but let’s not pretend like our old pal was all that much better. For the second straight game, Talbot looked anything but confident between the pipes, and I’m hoping that a big part of Friday’s game plan will be to test him more than the 31 shots he faced on Wednesday. Yes, 31 shots is usually a decent number in that department, but way too many of those pucks came from the perimeter rather than in key scoring zones.


-How can you ever pull Dylan Holloway out of the lineup again? In only 9:42 of TOI, Holloway scored a pair of goals to go along with three hits and a +2 rating. How much more productive can you ask the kid to be?
The Oilers were pretty bad in the first period, and I don’t think that’s unfair. I also don’t think it’s unfair to say that this bad start essentially wrecked the Oilers’ night, as they were forced to play catchup all game instead of controlling the play at all. That’s not going to fly at Crypto.com Arena because Kings fans will be all over the Oilers if they need anything more than a shift or two to get going.
-Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci both had some tough breaks on Monday, as both guys had bad doses of luck that resulted in goals against. On night two, however, the pair seemed to be much more settled in. That said, there were still moments of struggle for a pair that really needs to be better for us. I don’t know what’s going on with Nurse and Ceci right now, but there are times when they’re handling the puck like a live grenade, which is nothing close to what we know they are capable of.
-I thought Evander Kane played very well in Game 1, and he gave us more of the same on Wednesday along with his linemates. Even though he only played 15:36 in TOI, Kane (and his linemates) was noticeable basically every time he was on the ice. He threw hits, he mixed it up without crossing the line, and he did basically everything we needed him to do apart from score. In fact, I would go so far as to say that his line of McLeod, Perry, and Kane was arguable one of the most consistent of the night.
-The special teams were a huge factor for the Oilers in Game 1, and I was very much wondering if they would be as impactful on night two. On the power play, the Oilers went 1-for-3 with the man advantage, while the PK handled 2-of-2 shorthanded situations they faced. As predicted, the Kings were just as annoying as we knew they’d be, and the Oilers should almost be granted sainthood for their ability to deal with as much as they did. That said, the refs also missed about 85% of the penalties that should have been called, so I can’t tell if I should be celebrating these results or complaining that Edmonton got so few power plays.
-Unsurprisingly, Rogers Place was absolutely bumpin’ last night to kick off the game. Being lucky enough to be in the building made me feel like running through a wall for this team, and I was incredibly hopeful that the boys would feel the same way. It didn’t work out this time around, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still love the way this fanbase comes together for the playoffs.
-I posted the clip above, but can someone please help me understand why that wasn’t too many men on the ice? How did the refs miss that? Then again, they missed a lot of garbage tactics by the Kings, so I really don’t know why I’m surprised.
-Keep it locked on the website and our social media accounts over the next few days as Tyler, Liam, Jay, and I will be making our way to Los Angeles to cover the series for games three and four. We’ll have live shows, podcasts, social interactions, and anything else we can think of while we’re doing there, and we’d love to see your participation from home.
-Surely, by now, you know how much I love faceoff wins, and in Game 2, the Oilers won 50.8% of them.


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