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Three Key Things: Connor McDavid shines in game 600, starting slow, and the Oilers find a way

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
5 months ago
Oilers versus Kings has been a spicy matchup over the last two years, and I was expecting more of the same last night at Crypto.com Arena when these teams met up for the first of four meetings on the season. And even though it didn’t start off so great, the Oilers were able to claw their way out of a two-goal hole on their way to securing a 3-2 shootout win.

CONNOR McDAVID PLAYS HIS 600th GAME

I wanted to give a big shout out to Connor McDavid for playing in his 600th NHL game, and for being reason enough to tune in every single night. McDavid has been fantastic for the Oilers since the moment he pulled on the uniform for the first time, and I feel very fortunate that we’ve been able to watch him do his thing since being drafted first overall back in 2015. Last night against the Kings, the captain was a factor any time he was on the ice, and it looked like he was going to do what he could to single-handedly drag his team back into the game after their slow start. The guy is playing some fantastic hockey right now, and it’s a lot of fun to watch him be a factor in so many different ways over the course of a night. It was no surprise to see McDavid’s goal and primary assist lead the way in the Oilers’ comeback that saw them erase the two-goal deficit before ultimately winning in the shootout. In the 600 games played since making the show, Connor McDavid has already amassed an incredible 316 goals and 581 assists for 897 points, including his multi-point performance against the Kings.

LUCKY TO OVERCOME THAT SLOW START

You’d think the Oilers would be fired up about their first matchup of the year against the Los Angeles Kings, given the history between these two clubs over the past two seasons. You’d think they’d realize the opportunity of a head-to-head against a team they’re chasing in the Pacific Division. You’d think. Instead, the Oilers apparently forgot they were playing because they sleepwalked through the first period of last night’s game like they had no interest in winning. Not only did the boys find themselves down by a pair after 20 minutes, but they could only muster a measly two shots on goal at the other end over that same timeframe. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that it’s pretty hard to win in this league when you only test the opposing goalie twice in a period. Yeah, we can complain about the refs and what they missed, but the reality is that the Oilers started the night as the second best team on the ice by a sizeable margin.

RESILIENCY SAVES THE DAY

Coupled with a strong performance by Stuart Skinner, the Oilers showed a brand of resilience that has been served them well over the last couple of weeks. Even though they were down by a pair of goals after the first period, the boys actually got stronger as the game wore on rather than folding up shop and looking ahead at tomorrow. Put another way, if this team had been down by a pair of goals like that back in October, the score would have ended up as a 6-1 loss rather than the 3-2 shootout win we got last night. Frankly, nothing tightens the sweatpants quite like a good comeback win, but to do it against a rival like the Kings makes the whole experience that much more satisfying. The Oilers refused to die and they kept fighting until LA couldn’t keep the dam from bursting any longer, and if that’s not the perfect way to wrap up round one of the season series then I don’t know what is.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

  • Make it TWO games over .500! The Oilers are now 14-6 in the Kris Knoblauch era.
  • Stuart Skinner was back between the pipes for his 25th appearance of the season, and looking to improve the Oilers’ win streak four games. And while things didn’t look great early on as the team in front of him was slow to get going, Skinner stood tall in the crease and kept his team in the fight until they could finally get their legs going. From start to finish, Stu was fantastic and it was great to see him get rewarded for the way he shut the door over the final 40 minutes. Skinner finished the night with 26 saves and a .929 save%.
  • Cam Talbot was so heartbroken about leaving Edmonton that he dated the Flames and Kings just to get back at us.
  • Another night, another Evan Bouchard point after he picked up his 26th assist of the season on McDavid’s second period power play goal.
  • Raphael Lavoie was recalled this afternoon on an emergency basis after Evander Kane was unable to go, and I couldn’t have imagined a better time for him to make his first real impact at the NHL level. Lavoie has been having a strong season with the Condors, and I thought he played well despite getting only 5:26 worth of TOI.
  • You knew that special teams were going to be an important story in this first matchup of the season series versus the Kings, and that was certainly the case as the Oilers went 1-for-4 with the man advantage while killing off 3-of-4 shorthanded situations they faced.
  • The Oilers were outshot by the Kings to the tune of a 28-26 margin. What’s funny about that is that the Oilers were that close after having only two shots on goal through the first 20 minutes.
  • As for the underlying numbers, Edmonton finished the night faring pretty well with a 50.00 CF% and 65.04 xGF.
  • If you asked 100 people about the refs from last night’s game like it’s a Family Feud question, I bet you that not one of them would have been able to tell you what counts as a penalty anymore.
  • The NHL site has the Oilers list with 16 blocked shots, but I would swear it was more than that with the way the boys were throwing themselves in front of pucks down the stretch.
  • After waiting through more than a 1000 words of questionable analysis, you’re finally at the part of the article when I tell you that the Oilers won 49.1% of the faceoffs. Not great, not at all horrible.

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