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Three Key Things: A tale of two goaltenders, Darnell Nurse, and the end of the streak

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baggedmilk
2 months ago
The Oilers had the chance to tie a franchise record ninth consecutive winning streak last night at Rogers Place in their rematch versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, and based on every metric other than the score, you’d think they would have made that happen. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be, as an outstanding goaltending effort by Andrei Vasilevskiy ruined what was a primarily strong effort from the Edmonton Oilers. Final score: 7-4 Lightning.

A TALE OF TWO GOALTENDERS

How could we talk about last night’s hockey game without starting with the goaltending? At one end of the ice, there was a performance befitting of a guy who has won a Vezina and Conn Smyth Trophy. On the other end, our guy Stu couldn’t match his counterpart or even come within a five-dollar cab ride. How else would you describe it? I’m not trying to pile on Skinner here, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that he allowed five goals on only 22 shots while Andrei Vasilevskiy stood on his head with a 51-save performance and basically handed his team the win. I say this out of pure jealousy, but Andrei Vasilevskiy has been and will continue to be annoying until the day he retires.

DARNELL NURSE IS PLAYING HIS BEST HOCKEY

I know that no matter what he does on the ice, some people will complain about Darnell Nurse’s $9.25 million cap hit. No matter what, he’s overpaid, and that’s all that matters. I get it to a point — I too think he’d be a much different story at $7 million over where he is now — but there’s little doubt in my mind that he’s playing some of the best hockey of his career. Nurse has five goals and 10 points while averaging over 22 minutes per night through 27 games, and I would love nothing more than to see him keep playing like this for the rest of the year. Even though it’s almost impossible to talk about Nurse around here without his paycheques coming into question, I wanted to give the guy some love for what he’s doing on the ice because he’s been fantastic.

THE START HURT

It only took 1:07 for the Lightning to land a power play chance and the opening goal by Stamkos, which is certainly not the start we would have wanted. To make matters worse, Tampa Bay extended their lead only a few minutes later on another scramble play that saw Tyler Motte find the loose puck and chip it over the outstretched Skinner. Needless to say, finding yourself down by a pair of goals after only four shots at the midway point of the first period is never ideal, but that was the unfortunate situation the Oilers found themselves in after a couple of costly errors. The boys got away with that stuff against Chicago, but it was never going to happen against a team with as much skill as the Lightning. They may not be the same team as the one that won Stanley Cups, but they can absolutely ruin your night if given the chance. In hindsight, the start wasn’t nearly as bad as the finish, but the Hockey Gords demanded a night with brutal bookends, and that’s precisely what we got.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • I cannot believe the Oilers’ winning streak ended on an effort like that. A fantastic effort by the skaters got completely wasted, and the result was incredibly frustrating.
  • Connor McDavid’s point streak has now hit 11 games with 27 points (7G, 20A), and despite the results of last night’s hockey game, the captain is doing everything he possibly can to drag his team to victory.
  • The Evan Bouchard point streak hits 13 games with his shot/assist on Zach Hyman’s power play goal in the second period, giving him 20 points (5G, 15A) over this incredible heater.
  • I can’t even enjoy the fact that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins quietly put together a three-point night. My guy has 10 points in his last 5 games played, and I really wanted to pump his tires for it, but that doesn’t seem as fun after a loss like this.
  • Is anyone else turning into a big James Hamblin person? I’m a big Hamblin guy, I think. At least, I’m getting there. Despite playing only 7:43 in TOI, it always feels like he’s involved in some kind of productive sequence. Maybe it’s just because I like that 4th line as much as I do, but the hometown kid is really starting to grow on me.
  • Looking at the special teams, the Oilers had an okay night after finishing at 2-for-4 on the man advantage while also killing off one of the two shorthanded situations they faced.
  • I bet Warren Foegele would score 30 goals per year if he didn’t only have three fingers per hand. I just made that last part up, but you could kinda see it, right?
  • Want to hear about the faceoffs? Of course you do. That’s why I’m here to tell you that the Oilers won 53.8% of the faceoffs.
  • Diving into the spreadsheet machine, the Oilers dominated the possession game as shown by the 61.39 CF% and 67.92 xGF%. The final shot count ended up at 55 for the Oilers and only 24 for the Lightning.
  • The Oilers had 23 shots(!!!) in the second period. Absolute domination.

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