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Three Key Things: Connor McDavid’s five-point night, Nuge was huge, and a special teams win

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baggedmilk
1 month ago
After sweeping their three-game road trip through California with wins in San Jose, LA, and Anaheim, the Oilers are back home for a rematch against the Philadelphia Flyers as they look to avenge that 4-1 loss from back in October. If you remember, that game was about as bad as it got for the Oilers during their early-season slump, but last night was a different story as the Oilers were able to weather any storms that came their way before ultimately closing out a 5-2 win.

CONNOR MCDAVID AT 903

Connor McDavid’s 14th goal of the season and 899th point was a masterpiece. After rushing the puck into the offensive zone with speed, Connor McDavid danced around a stumbling Travis Sanheim before beating Carter Hart through the five-hole to give his team the lead. It was the kind of highlight reel goal that we’re so spoiled to see on a regular basis that the only reaction I could muster was to laugh. His 900th point came on a beautiful blind pass from the corner that connected with Zach Hyman in front of the net with all kinds of time to make a play. And since two points weren’t fun enough, McDavid added three more assists to give himself a five-point night to not only hit the 900-point mark but fly past it. From the first day he entered this league, Connor McDavid has figured out new and creative ways to make the opposition look foolish and last night’s game was yet another chapter in the incredible story that is his career so far.

I WANT TO TALK ABOUT NUGE

After putting 104 points up on the board in 2022-23, none of us really knew what to expect from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a follow-up. Prior to last season, Nuge’s career high was 69 points (nice) and I didn’t know whether to think he was setting a new bar for himself, or if he was bound to slide backward in a real way. Yet, through 35 games, RNH is playing at a slightly better than a point-per-game pace and quietly putting together what could be the second best season of his career. With two goals and an assist against the Flyers, Nugent-Hopkins collected his sixth three+ point night of the season. In his last 13 games played, Nugent-Hopkins has amassed 18 points (6G, 12A), and barely anyone is talking about it. He’s a silent assassin, and I am here for it. And even though a lot of people will attribute his success to playing alongside Connor McDavid, the reality is that he’s getting the job done as one-third of the best line in hockey.

SPECIAL TEAMS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

On a night when the Oilers needed their power play to come through, they got a big goal from Nugent-Hopkins at the end of the second period for their first in the last 23 attempts. While 1-for-4 on the night with the man advantage is nothing to write home about, I do like that the boys were able to get the job done at least once to snap their cold spell. At the other end of the ice, the Oilers’ PK was fantastic, handled all four shorthanded situations they faced with relative ease, and was ultimately a major reason the Oilers were able to win the game. Even though I’d argue that it’s starting to be an issue how many penalties the Oilers are taking, the good news is that the PK is dialled in and up for the task when called upon.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • Make it six goals in his last seven games for Leon Draisaitl as the big man continues to heat up at the best possible time for this playoff push. If he can get back to scoring goals at the rate we know he can, other teams better plan their defensive strategies accordingly because he’s going to be a handful.
  • I’m going to laugh out loud when Zach Hyman gets 50 goals this season. The heater he is on right now is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I hope he never ever walks away from the table.
  • Warren Foegele has been all over the place lately, and it’s been fun to watch him buzz around the sheet like it’s his last day on earth.
  • When you’ve got Carter Hart at the other end of the ice, you need your goaltender to step up in a big way and that’s exactly what Stuart Skinner did against the Flyers. From the moment the puck dropped until the final buzzer, Skinner was rock solid between the pipes and gave the Oilers the ability to weather any storm that came their way. He was calm, looked big in the crease, and did a fantastic job of covering up any mistakes by his teammates in front of him. A fantastic performance by Stuart Skinner that saw him finish the night with 35 saves and a .946 save%.
  • I wonder if there’s someone in the world that made bank betting on Marc Staal to score an anytime goal? I forgot he existed until that puck went in the net.
  • Call me crazy but Vincent Desharnais just keeps getting better by the game. I know he’ll never be a Norris contender or anything like that, but he’s giving the Oilers steady minutes on the back end on a cheap deal and they could use a hell of a lot more of that.
  • No post-game article from me is ever complete without letting you know that the Oilers won 52.4% of the faceoffs.
  • The Flyers have only one three games this season when allowing the first goal of the game. Crazy stat.
  • I wanted to thank Tom Kostiuk for hooking me up with these very cool custom coasters over the holidays. If you’re looking for gifts with a homemade feel, getting in touch with Tom is the way to go to make that happen.

THE #NATIONVACATION TO ARIZONA

Oilersnation is headed to the desert! Escape to Arizona on our next Oilersnation Vacation presented by Alberta Blue Cross from Feb 18-20th, 2024! Join the party for just $1,999/person (double occupancy rooms). Your ticket includes roundtrip flights from Edmonton, two-night stay in a popular hotel, transportation to the airport and premium hockey game tickets! Limited spots are available so don’t hesitate to get your ticket now!

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