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Three Key Things: Clutch goals from Evan Bouchard, Corey Perry scores again, and the Oilers can’t stop puck watching

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baggedmilk
2 months ago
Nothing like a little Saturday afternoon dance with the Dallas Stars to get your weekend going, amirite? How about when you toss in the fact that the Oilers closed out a 4-3 win in OT? It was a magical afternoon in Dallas if I do say so myself.

EVAN BOUCHARD SCORES TWO MASSIVE GOALS

I could not be happier with Evan Bouchard’s offensive game. Yeah, it seems likely that there are always going to be speed bumps on the defensive side of the puck, but at the other end of the ice, the guy is a stud. Bouchard came up clutch at key moments against the Stars, tying the game with his first goal and winning it with the second. In a game when where mistakes were ending up in the back of the net, Bouchard picked his spots beautifully on the Oilers’ first and fourth goals.
With neither Connor McDavid nor Leon Draisaitl finding the back of the net in Dallas, it was incredibly important that someone else stepped up to fill that void, and it was Bouchard picking up his 13th and 14th goals of the year — new career highs in that department for Edmonton’s dad — who closed out the win. Now with 50 points through only 51 games, Evan Bouchard is poised to sail past Sheldon Souray (53) and Chris Pronger (57) for the most points by a defenceman in the salary cap era.

COREY PERRY HAS GOALS IN BACK-TO-BACK GAMES

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t overly keen on seeing Corey Perry alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the first line, but it didn’t take long before he made me look like a dummy once again. Not only did Perry look pretty comfortable alongside the Dynamic Duo, but he actually picked up his first multi-point game with the Oilers. I don’t know that having him up on the first line is any kind of long-term solution, but this trio certainly worked today.
Even though no one is expecting Perry to be the guy who scored 50 and won the Hart Trophy, what’s clear through his first stretch of games with the Oilers is that his hands are still pretty good, and so is his processor. Slower than you’d probably want to be beside Connor McDavid, Perry still found a way to be in the right spot more often than not, and that hockey IQ led him to score his second goal in as many games from basically the same spot.

PUCK WATCHING IS HURTING THE OILERS LATELY

I can’t be the only one to notice how often the Oilers have gotten caught puck-watching, can I? On Dallas’ first two goals, they had a man find a soft spot in coverage, with no one on the Oilers seemingly noticing until the puck was in the back of the net. It’s like their controllers temporarily disconnect in the defensive zone, leaving their opponent to move the puck around as they please.
Who knows where this disconnect came from, but this issue where the boys lose their man in coverage has happened way too often over the last week. I know that those two early lapses didn’t end up costing them the win, but those are details that have to get cleaned up in short order. I think Knoblauch and Coffey should make the boys wear shock collars, and they get a healthy zap any time they’re not keeping their head on a swivel. It’s frustrating to watch because they’re so much better than that.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

  • I should probably have the first period as its own ‘thing’ because of how frustrating it was, but a quick recap is probably enough. The first was a 20-minute segment where the Oilers dominated most of the frame but could not find a way to get the puck in the back of the net. They had a few golden chances in tight — Connor hit the post from just outside the crease — and a chance with the man advantage but just could not get the play over the finish line. Then, in the final minute before the intermission, the Oilers’ world started to implode around them as the Stars pinned the visitors in their own end until a penalty finally stopped the clock. Overall it was a great start by the Oil, but a lot of us were rightfully concerned that those early missed chances would come back to bite them, especially when Mason Marchment opened the scoring early in the second.
  • Shortly after the Stars opened the scoring, Evan Bouchard temporarily tied the game with his 13th goal of the season — a new career high — on a beautiful wrist shot that Oettinger got a piece of but couldn’t keep from slipping past him.
  • You love to see Derek Ryan come up with a clutch shorthanded goal on the perfectly executed 2-on-1 with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to give his team the lead, but you’d love it even more if the Oilers didn’t cough up their advantage only 20 seconds later.
  • He may not have scored but Leon Draisaitl quietly picked up a pair of assists, including the primary apple on Bouchard’s game winner.
  • I’ll admit that I was concerned when I saw that Calvin Pickard was getting the start against the highest scoring team in the NHL. It’s not that I’m not on Team Pickard, but the Stars a different animal than the opponents he usually faces, and I think it was fair that Oilers fans everywhere were cautiously optimistic at best. But as he’s done all season, Pickard stepped up and got the job done even though there were at least a goal or two that he’d probably want back. Even so, Pickard was called upon multiple times to make some massive saves on his way to finishing the afternoon with 24 stops and a .889 save%.
  • Shout out to Warren Foegele for playing in his 400th NHL game!
  • Another game, another two power play goals allowed as the Oilers continue to struggle when down a man since coming back from the bye week. Make it seven goals against on the PK over their last four games. This penalty killing issue is getting out of control now.
  • On the flip side, the Oilers’ power play went 1/4 on Saturday afternoon, and had it not been for the game winner in OT, we watched a pretty grim scene with the boys were on the man advantage. I feel like a broken record talking about how the power play is broken, but the game against Dallas was another example of a problem that’s been making us all scratches our heads.
  • When is it going to be the Oilers’ turn to pick up a guy in free agency that just got bought out only to have him go off in his first year with the new club? Yeah, I’m talking about Matt Duchene. He had 21 goals with the Predators through 71 games last season. He already has 22 in 53 games played with the Stars. I want that kind of production at a discounted rate.
  • The Oilers haven’t lost back-to-back games since December. Amazing.
  • No article of mine can ever finish without me letting you know that the Oilers won 50.7% of the faceoffs. Great success.

THE BRUNCH FOR BEN

Oilersnation invites you to the most magical event this season – The second Annual Brunch for Ben on Saturday March 2, 2024! This special event welcomes attendees of all ages to enjoy an afternoon of fun and excitement at Greta Bar YEG, where you can take part in an endless amount of arcade games, family friendly activities and, of course, cheering on Edmonton as they take on Seattle. Join us on March 2nd for a memorable experience where every ticket purchased contributes to making a positive impact on the Ben Stelter Foundation. Get your tickets now at nationgear.ca!

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