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Oilers’ Second Period Struggles, Foegele’s Contract Year, and Stuart Skinner’s Performance

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baggedmilk
1 month ago
The Oilers finished off their road trip with a pair of wins over the Stars and Coyotes, but the task didn’t get any easier as the Boston Bruins stopped by Rogers Place for the first of two meetings in the season series. And while there is no doubt it was a fantastic game to watch, the Oilers couldn’t outscore their mistakes and dropped a 6-5 decision in overtime, marking their first at Rogers Place since December 16th against the Florida Panthers.

WHY IS THE SECOND PERIOD A DISASTER?

Can someone please explain what the hell is happening with the Oilers during the second period? It’s like the first intermission lulls the entire team into a walking slumber like some snake charmer, and the evil spell can only be broken by Keanu Reeves or the next intermission. So far, John Wick hasn’t shown up to save us.
The Oilers have been outscored 16-5 in the second period in their last six games after Brad Marchand, Trent Frederic, and Jake DeBrusk tagged the Oilers for three straight goals before Warren Foegele stepped in with another one for the home side to narrow the gap to two. After thinking about this problem for the evening, I can’t even begin to understand why this keeps happening.
Being outscored threefold in the middle frame is the kind of stat that stuns you when you read it because no one can explain why the Oilers can’t keep the puck out of their net, specifically in this period. I know that line changes are longer because of swapping sides of the ice, but I’m going to need a better excuse than that.
Against the Bruins, it was a couple of goals that Skinner probably should have stopped, but as a larger problem, the boys have got to stop snoozing their way through 1/3 of the game. It’s hard enough to win in the NHL without basically gifting the opposition 20 minutes to do as much damage as possible. This isn’t a Mr. Beast video.

WARREN FOEGELE WAS THE BEST OILER

One of the lone bright sides from losing to the Bruins was watching Contract Year Warren Foegele get to work. For my money, Foegele was easily the Oilers’ most dangerous forward on a shift-by-shirt basis. Elevated to the first line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out due to illness, he was relentless on the puck and chipped with a pair of goals that kept the Oilers in the game.
Over and above the goals, Foegele fired five shots on net, picked up a hit, and added in a +3 rating in 18:54 worth of TOI. As far as making the most of his chance to get more ice time, McLovin held up his end of the bargain in no uncertain terms. For my money, Foegele was the most dangerous Oiler by a sizeable margin for the first 40 minutes until everyone else started to get on his level.
If anything, I’d keep Foegele on the top line next game even if Nugent-Hopkins comes back in the lineup because it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t earned the chance. Foegele also tied his career-high in goals with 13, giving him plenty of runway left to keep the good times rolling and add to his totals.
From where I blog, it’s almost impossible to think that Foegele hasn’t played his way out of Edmonton’s budget for next year with the way he’s been playing so far in 2023-24. Depending on what he’s looking for, I’m guessing there’d be a list of suitors for a guy with wheels like that who can chip in with offence every few games or so.

SKINNER’S STRUGGLE STREAK

It wasn’t Stu’s night again, huh? I’m not trying to drag the guy or anything, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out that last night’s 30-save, .833 save% evening was the fifth consecutive start when he’s wrapped up under .900. I don’t want to make a big deal out of this mini-slump he’s on, but there were at least a couple of those goals that he’d definitely want back.
This stretch marks the worst five-game run of the season — he’s had a save% of .880, .895, .828, .880, .833 in those starts — for Skinner who didn’t even have numbers like these back in October when things were really bad. Looking at his game log, it was like almost like the 2-1 loss to Vegas derailed his vibes even though, coincidentally, that start was the best he’s had since January.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

-At least the comeback was fun? I mean, it’s not every day that you can come back from a three-goal deficit to force overtime and earn a point that looked all but lost earlier in the game. Am I reaching? I feel like I’m reaching. Even so, it’s hard to deny that the third period was a good time while it lasted.
Props to Corey Perry for getting in a scrap with Parker Wotherspoon in the second period to try and get the boys going after they allowed a pair of quick goals to fall behind 3-1. What we didn’t know at the time was that his scrap just might have been the catalyst for what was an outstanding comeback. I know DeBrusk scored another goal after the Perry fight, but you have to admit that the scrap brought some energy into the building and the team seemed to find their legs as a result.
-I’m going to praise Mattias Janmark endlessly for scoring goals in back-to-back games just because it annoys Tyler Yaremchuk. If you listen to Oilersnation Radio, you know that Tyler has banished Janmark to fictional jail a few times now for not being able to score, but what now, Tyler? What now?
-Another game, another night when the Oilers’ PK let us all down. What was once a point of strength during our extended heater has turned into a disaster only weeks later. At 1/2 on the night, Edmonton’s penalty kill’s streak of sadness continues.
-I’m a HUGE fan of when Louie interviews Jake DeBrusk whenever the Bruins are in town. It’s some of the most wholesome hockey content you can find on TV. I’m not so much a fan of when the cute bit they did in the pre-game interview with the goal coupon that Jake wrote when he was a kid ended up coming true.
-Yes, I am going to tell you that the Oilers won only 47.9% of the faceoffs but that doesn’t make me happy about it.

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