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Three Key Things: Evander Kane’s hatty, the two sides of Evan Bouchard, and the line blender

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baggedmilk
6 months ago
The Oilers knocked off the Kraken in a 4-1 win on Saturday night in Seattle, and only four days later, it was time for the rematch at Rogers Place. And just when we thought we’d be hanging another loss on the board, a natural hat trick from Evander Kane pulled the Oilers to overtime and gave us a game winner soon after. Final score: 4-3 Oilers in OT

EVANDER KANE NATURALLY HATTY

You could argue that Evander Kane has been the Oilers’ most consistent forward since he was demoted to the third line against the Winnipeg Jets. In the 10 games since that demotion, Kane responded with seven goals for 13 points, including three straight to tie and eventually win the game. It was the kind of finish to a game that we’ve been begging for all year, and Evander Kane was the business end of the hammer that allowed the comeback to happen. After a tough season last year that was derailed by his wrist injury, Kane looks much more like the power forward we need him to be, and if he can keep playing at a high level, then that would be a massive step toward erasing the team’s deficit through the first 12 games.

THE TWO SIDES OF EVAN BOUCHARD

Last night was weird for Evan Bouchard, and I say that knowing that he picked up another three assists. On at least two of the goals against, he had an opportunity to make a play with the puck but didn’t respond to the moment with nearly enough urgency. That was two goals against where a little hustle from him in the defensive zone — he is supposed to be a defenceman, after all — he would have directly eliminated two goals against. I know Dad is an offensive d-man and can be an adventure in his own end, but I’m frustrated most because he could be such a stud if he could match what he does at one end with what he does at the other. At the same time, I also appreciate what he can do on the offensive side of the puck so incredibly much because d-men like him are pretty rare. You look at the plays he made on Kane’s second and third goals and marvel at his poise with the puck on his stick, but when he’s near his own net, his controller seems to disconnect. At the end of the day, we’ll probably live by the sword and die by the sword when it comes to Evan Bouchard, and last night’s game gave us a healthy dose of both sides of his game.

THE BLENDER WAS BACK

It only took four and a half periods, but the line blender was back, and the Dynamic Duo was together once again. After saying the team needed some stability after Monday’s win over the Islanders, Kris Knoblauch mixed up the lines in pursuit of a spark to get his team going. And he got the desired results early on as McDavid and Draisaitl connected on the first goal of the game. Unfortunately, the new combos also seemed to inspire the Kraken because they followed up Connor’s game opener with three uncontested markers that put them in a hole that was almost too deep to overcome. That’s not to say that I blame Knobby for moving pieces around, we’ve seen it countless times over the years from every coach we’ve had, but it was interesting given his post-game messaging from only two days ago. Again, I’m not complaining about Knobby wanting to go to the nuclear deterrent — having McDavid and Draisaitl has to feel like Christmas morning for the guy — but I honestly didn’t think we’d be back here on night two of his tenure.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • After a goal drought that felt like an eternity for the best player on earth, Connor McDavid now has goals in back-to-back games. McDavid has been buzzing over the last handful of games, and he’s looking more like himself with each passing shift, punctuated by a beautiful goal on a backhand deke that had Joey Daccord lost and helpless. I don’t have to express to anyone reading this now how important it is for the Oilers’ season hopes to have him up and running on all cylinders.
  • Make it another casual two-point night for Leon Draisaitl as he now has registered six in his last two games. Is Leon back too? It would be great if he was, and it’s really starting to look like it’s happening.
  • We’ve been hard on Stuart Skinner so far this season. His numbers haven’t been great, too many goals that he’d like to have back, and when you needed a save at key moments, we weren’t sure we could count on one. But through the last three games, Skinner has been fantastic between the pipes, and he’s given his team a chance to win with the type of goaltending we all expect from him as the starter. Skinner finished the night with 32 saves and a .914 save%.
  • Adam Erne through a really dirty elbow on Pierre-Edouard Bellmare in the third period, and I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t get a phone call from the Department of Player Safety.
  • Cody Ceci is clearly feeling inspired by Paul Coffey behind the bench because he was flying all over the ice, even finding himself on a partial breakaway in the first period. I think he was so surprised to be in that situation that he almost forgot where he was.
  • You’ve gotta give some love to the penalty killers as they handled all five shorthanded situations they faced. I know that some of Seattle’s power plays were shortened for varying reasons, but you’ve gotta give credit when it’s due and the PK deserves some love right now.
  • How lucky were the Oilers in the first period when the Kraken couldn’t cash in on any of their grade-A chances from in tight? There had to be three or four plays that I was sure were going to be goals, but some kind of Jonas Brothers Miracle
  • I love faceoffs, and the Oilers won 50% of them. I’m pleased with that.
  • The Jonas Brothers were at the Oilers game, and Oilers Twitter was fired up about it. They never went to watch Jay Woodcroft, so I guess we’ll call this one advantage Knoblauch.

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