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Three Key Things: Evan Bouchard’s heater, goals waived off, and Calvin Pickard must hate Bakersfield

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baggedmilk
2 months ago
Does anyone else get nervous when you see an afternoon game on the Oilers’ schedule? There’s something about playing hockey in the daylight hours that throws this franchise a curveball, and that always has us wondering what kind of effort we’re going to get. Thankfully, the boys came to play with another strong performance led by their captain, and the winning streak continues after a 4-1 win over the Devils.

CALVIN PICKARD, WE SPEAK YOUR NAME

Calvin Pickard hadn’t played since the Oilers’ last loss, so I was a little bit surprised to see that his next piece of work would come today against the New Jersey Devils. Clearly up for the challenge, Pickard was a rock between the pipes and looked nothing like a guy who hadn’t played in two and a half weeks. Instead, he was fantastic from start to finish and gave the Oilers the kind of goaltending they needed to get the job done, locking in his first win at the NHL level since January 28th, 2022. Even though I know the idea of recalling Jack Campbell is getting thrown around in the media, performances like this one from Pickard may alter that plan. While I don’t think Calvin Pickard is the long-term solution in net for this hockey team, I can absolutely say with confidence that I trust him to take the occasional start more than I would if it was Soup in that same spot. Pickard finished the afternoon with 26 saves and a .963 save%.

THE EVAN BOUCHARD HEATER CONTINUES

Make it an 11-game point streak for Evan Bouchard after he picked up a huge power play goal with a blast from the point at the 14:20 mark of the second period. Dad has 16 points (5G, 11A) over this incredible run he’s on, and it’s honestly hilarious to think that anyone ever doubted that he’d be able to handle the power play duties left to him after Tyson Barrie got traded. Don’t get me wrong, the Oilers’ PP was fantastic with Barrie working the blue line but it’s taken a sizeable step forward now that Dad’s big shot is an option back there. Not only can Bouchard move the puck just as well as Barrie can, but his ability to hammer the puck is on a different level entirely and gives the Oilers yet another option on the man advantage. Now with the longest point streak since 1985 on his resume, I can’t wait to see where this run goes for Evan Bouchard because his confidence on the offensive side of the game could not be higher.

GOALS GETTING WAIVED OFF

How could we talk about this game without mentioning the two goals the Oilers could have had that were ultimately waived off? First up was what would have been Connor Brown’s first goal as an Oiler which was reversed on a challenge by Lindy Ruff. This one was pretty obvious after seeing the replay that showed some contact with the goalie, but for multiple reasons, this non-goal was a painful one. Connor Brown couldn’t buy a goal to save his life. Up next was the puck that crossed the line in the second period after a scramble broke out in the crease, and I think the ref just plain lost sight of it despite it laying in the crease. You could argue that the Oilers put six pucks in the net, and it always sucks to lose on an “over” bet because of goals getting waived off, you know?

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • The Oilers are now 12-12-1 on the season, which puts them at .500 for the first time all season.
  • Derek Ryan opened the scoring on the back of a nifty little pass by Sam Gagner that gave him an open look on Schmid that he was able to sneak through the pad and crease.
  • With the goal and assist on the day, Connor McDavid extended his personal point streak to nine games where he’s amassed an incredible 23 points (6G, 17A). McDavid is SOOO back and we’re incredibly lucky to watch him carve this league up like he’s hiding some kind of personal Game Genie. On another note, McDavid was very feisty today. He was throwing his body around, being sneaky dirty, and I cannot express to you enough how much I love watching him play that way.
  • Evander Kane added the empty netter to put the Oilers up by three, lock in the win, and give himself 12 goals on the year.
  • Connor Brown’s first goal as an Oiler was called off for goalie interference after New Jersey challenged the play and requested a second look. Dude can’t buy one to save his life.
  • Wandering through the spreadsheet factory, I see that the Oilers were on the wrong side of the shot attempts as noted by the 46.15 CF%, but were way up in expected goals with the 59.82 xGF%.
  • I will also celebrate special teams wins, especially on days when the Oilers go 4/4 on the PK (28/29 last 8GP) and 1/3 on the power play. Having the PP and PK both cooking at the same time is such a blessing.
  • The Oilers improved their record of 64-83-23 in games that start at 3 pm (local time) or earlier. One step at a time, friends.
  • You’ve waited long enough. It’s finally that special place in the article where I tell you that the Oilers won only 49.2% of the faceoffs. Not horrible, but room for improvement.
  • The Oilers blocked 22 shots compared to 11 by the Devils. Clearly, the boys are playing for each other because you don’t come up with those kinds of numbers if you’re not willing to grind for your teammates.
  • I don’t want to spend much time on the referees, but they were dreadful. Whether it was falling for Jack Hughes’ constant diving or missing blatant infractions right in front of their faces, the officials were 12/10 bad and it sucks that these are apparently the best guys we can get for this job.
  • Shout out to the Oilers for giving kids a chance to participate in today’s NextGen game day experience. I love the concept, and I specifically loved the kid that was doing the in-arena goal calls. He nailed it.

BRING ON THE TEAM SPIRIT!

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