Three Key Things: Depth goals, special teams pain, and another chat about goaltending

6 months ago
After wrapping up their mini homestand with wins over the Islanders and Kraken, the Oilers were looking for their fourth straight victory against a Tampa Bay Lightning squad that’s struggled to keep pucks out of their own net in the absence of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Unfortunately, this was another one of those games where the Oilers handily outplayed their opposition, but they couldn’t get the saves/luck/special teams needed to close out the win. Final Score: 6-4 Lightning


In his last three starts ahead of this afternoon’s game against Tampa, Stuart Skinner finished with a save% above .914, which is precisely where the Oilers need him to be if they have any chance of climbing out of this early-season hole. Unfortunately, today was not like the prior three. Combined with some really bad luck (think the bounce off Ekholm), Stu just couldn’t give us as many saves as we needed, and while I don’t think all five goals he allowed were his fault, they were absolutely his problem. That said, he will probably take way more heat for this game than he should, but that’s what happens after a collapse like that. Skinner finished the afternoon with 18 saves and a .783 save%.


Looking at the special teams, the Oilers finished at 0/5 on the power play while handling only 2/4 shorthanded situations. Generally speaking, if you lose the special teams battle this badly, the result is probably not going to go your way, and that’s exactly what happened. The boys couldn’t get a goal or a kill when we needed them most, and it sucks that our special teams contributed to a loss in what was otherwise a strong effort. I don’t know what’s going on with the Oilers’ power play, but they had more than their share of opportunities to put this game to bed and could not get the job done. At the other end of the rink, Tampa handled their business on the man advantage and that two goal swing ended up being the difference.


As much as I love a goal from the Oilers’ star players, there’s something about depth scoring that really gets the blood pumping, ya know? So, to get two goals from Derek Ryan and one James Hamblin to grab two separate leads and set the overall tone was magical to watch. We’ve gotten so used to seeing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl carrying the mail that we forget how beautiful it can be to get key contributions from throughout the lineup. Obviously, the depth scoring still needs to be more consistent — it would be nice if we could have a few goals like Ryan/Hamblin’s more often than a lunar cycle — but I’m not about to complain given that these boys were the only ones to get going.


  • Mark this down as the fourth game in a row where the Oilers have scored four+ goals. The problem, of course, is that they gave up six. Damned math.
  • How about the Derek Ryan shortie that game early in the first period to grab the Oilers a 1-0 lead? Frankly, the penalty kill has been rock solid over the last handful of games, and to see Ryan put the boys up by a goal on a shorthanded breakaway was the cherry on what has been a tasty little PK sundae.
  • How can you not love seeing James Hamblin score his first NHL goal? Not only did that goal put the Oilers up by a pair (2-0) but the joy on his face was wonderful to see. I love seeing guys score their first NHL goal.
  • I know they don’t often make the highlight reels, but garbage goals that come as a result of hard working/hacking away are just as beautiful to me as anything you’d get from the Dynamic Duo. For years now, I’ve been begging the Oilers to play a simple game — get traffic, get shots, hack away for the rebounds — and to see the bottom six come up with some ugly ones made me happy because of what it takes to make them go.
  • Simply put, Tampa Bay’s best players were vastly superior to our best players. In aggregate, the Lightning got seven points from their best players (Kucherov, Point, Stamkos), whereas the Oilers got two from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I know they can’t be expected to score every single game, but we absolutely needed more from our top six.
  • It another night, another game where we’re talking about both sides of the Evan Bouchard coin as a couple of his defensive lapses were directly responsible for goals against only to have him come up with a goal at the other end in the third period to temporarily regain the lead. I know he’s never going to be a defensive stud, but man if I didn’t wish he could crank up the urgency in the defensive zone.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has five points (1G, 4A) in his last five games, but I think he desperately needs a goal because his sights are off by a half turn right now. He’s had some really nice looks over the last few games, but he just can’t seem to pick his spot as he normally would. I’m hopeful, the chances are there.
  • Connor Brown played his 10th game of the year, triggering the $3.25 million bonus on his contract.
  • Shout out to the Oilers and to Sportsnet for keeping Ben Stelter’s story alive and putting initiatives in motion to raise money for the Ben Stelter Foundation.
  • I don’t want to say that there were shenanigans with a few of the power plays the Lightning got, but they got at least two calls that were absolutely not penalties. Unless they’ve changed the rules and I haven’t been paying attention, I’m pretty sure the NHL is still a contact sport.
  • Outshooting the opponent 43 to 24 and losing 6-4 is a nightmare.
  • You know I love me some faceoffs, and that’s why I’m so upset to share that the Oilers won only 42.4% of the draws.


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