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Three Key Things: More Connor McDavid magic, Cody Ceci scored for real, and the penalty kill stinks again

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baggedmilk
1 month ago
Win or end up on a losing streak. Those were the options for the Edmonton Oilers ahead of last night’s meeting with a Detroit Red Wings team coming into Rogers Place fresh off a comeback win in their last outing. And for a moment or five, it looked like Detroit was about to pull off the comeback for a second straight night until a five-goal outburst in the third period lifted the Oilers to an 8-4 win.

CONNOR McDAVID IS INEVITABLE

With a remarkable six-assist night, Connor McDavid has now scored at least one point in 19 straight games played at Rogers Place. Over this remarkable run, McDavid has amassed a mind-blowing 45 points (13G, 32A) and pulled himself within 15 points of the NHL leader. I know 15 points seems like a lot, but is that ever the case when you’re Connor McDavid with games in hand? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t be against him. Either way, this was another performance by the Oilers’ captain for the ages.
Just when you think Connor McDavid has shown us all of his tricks, he puts up a career-best six assists in a game that he dominated from start to finish. This was the second time he’s had six points in a game, but the first where all of them were helpers without any goals. The last Oiler to accomplish the feat was actually Leon Draisaitl back on January 31, 2021, against the Ottawa Senators when he picked up three on the power play and three more at even strength.

CODY CECI… FINALLY

After 127 games played over the course of two seasons, Cody Ceci scored his first goal since the one he got on October 15th, 2022, against the Calgary Flames. But last night, Ceci threw a shot on net from the top of the circle that made its way through a falling Nugent-Hopkins before deflecting off Moritz Seider’s skate and into the back of the net. It wasn’t the prettiest goal you’ll ever see, but you can be sure it was pretty damned beautiful to Cody Ceci.
It was the exact kind of friendly bounce you love to see for a guy who hadn’t scored in forever and seems to be on everyone’s trade board around here. Even though I’d absolutely agree that Ceci is fighting above his weight class in the top four, it’s not his fault that it’s where he has to play in the lineup Holland built. Frankly, the Oilers could do a lot worse at the $3.25 million price point, and I wanted to give Ceci some flowers for the goal and also to say that he’s pretty underrated around here.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PENALTY KILL?

With the pair of goals the Oilers gave up in their three shorthanded situations, Edmonton’s PK has allowed five power play goals in its last seven attempts. As much as the penalty kill was an asset during the 16-game heater we all enjoyed, the boys have been slipping since the calendar flipped to February, and it’s a real problem right now.
During the second intermission, Stauffer talked about a pre-game meeting Knoblauch had with the team about what was making the penalty kill so effective before this current slide. Still, I think they might need another one after another tough night in the books. Since Friday night against Anaheim, the Oilers have given up five power play goals on six PK attempts, and I don’t think it takes a data scientist to tell you those are the kind of numbers that will lose you hockey games.
Fortunately, the boys were able to outscore their special teams issues, but I can’t imagine anyone at Oilers HQ is happy with this most recent speed bump. Thankfully, we’ve seen this team play well when down a man this season, and that has me hopeful that this PK black hole is only a temporary issue.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring with a wrister from the left circle that beat Ville Husso and gave the Oilers their first goal since the Kane empty-netter against Anaheim. The Oilers needed to find a way to get on the board early after getting shut out by the Kings on Saturday night, and that made Leon’s opener at the 9-minute mark that much more important.
  • Evan Bouchard restored the Oilers’ two-goal lead after a pretty passing play in Detroit’s end resulted with Dad being all by himself in front of the net with enough time to shop for John Deere tractors. Once RNH got the puck to him, Bouchard made no mistake with his quick wrister that beat Lyon high on the blocker side.
  • This morning in the Game Notes, Gregor wrote about how Ryan Nugent-Hopkins needed an even strength goal in the worst way — it had been 13 games without one — so to have him get two against the Red Wings was further evidence of Gregor being in control of the Universe. Gregor’s sorcery aside, I was pumped to see Nuge pick up a pair of big goals and an assist for a little bit of an offensive outburst that his confidence could surely use right about now.
  • After giving up three against LA on Saturday, you knew that Stuart Skinner was going to be fired up for a bounce back performance back at home in his 36th start of the season. And even though the stats won’t reflect it, I thought Stu was one of the best Oilers and it’s not particularly close. Even with the four goals against, Skinner made some massive saves at times when his teammates were standing around and watching, and there’s no way this win was possible had he not been there to cover up a long list worth of mistakes. Skinner finished the night with 34 saves and a .895 save%.
  • Evan Bouchard just keeps delivering offence, finishing last night’s game with a goal and two assists to go along with five shots on goal in only 18:56 of TOI.
  • Quick hat tip to Darnell Nurse for picking up a pair of primary assists to go along with his 23:13 in TOI, two shots on goal, two hits, and a +1 rating.
  • Kris Knoblauch quickly reunited his defensive pairings, and I am very appreciative of the switch. I don’t mean to be a dick, but Vinny Desharnais isn’t ready for the kind of lift he’d need to make alongside Darnell Nurse against the other team’s best. Given the current depth on the right side, there really isn’t a whole lot else that can be done outside of the standard pairs we’ve had the whole time.
  • How is it possible that the Oilers didn’t get a single power play chance? I’m not saying the Red Wings were dirty or anything like that, but I am saying it’s basically impossible that they made it through 60 minutes of NHL action without cheating even once.
  • Am I 12/10 happy that the Oilers finished the night at 60.7% in the faceoff circle? Yes. Yes, I am.

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