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Three Key Things: Oilers scoring woes, special teams struggles, and City and Colour

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baggedmilk
10 days ago
Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks wasn’t the prettiest win the Oilers ever collected, but the job got done, and that’s ultimately what matters. Against the Los Angeles Kings, however, Edmonton needed to be a whole lot better if their plan was to turn one win into two. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t go as written, as the Oilers dropped round two of the season series by a 4-0 score.

TOUGH TO WIN WITH NO GOALS

As much as saying it’s impossible to win without goals is the most obvious thing I can possibly say, the Oilers have only been able to score one goal in the two games they’ve lost since returning from the All-Star break. In the 120 minutes of hockey played in those losses, the only goal the Oilers could muster came on a shorthanded 2-on-0 against Adin Hill, and I don’t think I have to explain to anyone reading this why that stat is a problem.
Hockey is weird sometimes, and it doesn’t make any sense to me how a team as talented as the Oilers can go so cold in the scoring department sometimes. Despite having some quality chances and looks, the boys couldn’t get anything past David Rittich, which is a sentence I’m not used to writing when that dude is in net. And clearly, the Oilers were feeling the frustration, too, as evidenced by the clip of McDavid slamming his stick on the boards after a missed opportunity.

SPECIAL TEAMS PROBLEMS

On special teams, the Oilers finished the night at Crypto.com Arena at 0-for-4 with the man advantage and killed off only 1-of-2 shorthanded situations they faced. Over the last couple of months, the Oilers have been remarkably good on the PK and last night’s game makes it two in a row where they’ve been unable to shut the door when down a man. After going nearly 90% on the kill through the 16-game heater, the boys have now given up three goals on their last four attempts.
On the power play, the Oilers had four opportunities to chip away at LA’s lead and they just could not make it happen. For whatever reason, the PP is ice cold on the road right now and last night’s lack of success brought them down to to 18.4% away from Rogers Place, which is a far cry from the 26.4% success rate they have overall. With the Pacific Division standings as tight as they are right now, this special teams issue needs to get resolved in short order.

SKIPPING THE GAME WAS A GREAT CHOICE

I went to City and Colour last night at Rogers Place, and Dallas Green put on a hell of a show. I saw him as part of Alexisonfire back in June when they opened up for blink-182, but this was the first time I had seen his side project, and that band did not disappoint. The songs were great, the vibes at the arena were fantastic, and if you’re ever looking for a night of soulful slow jams, then seeing City and Colour needs to be on your list.
I bought the tickets for me missus originally, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a fantastic time at that concert. And as I kept checking the score in the hockey game from my seat, it quickly became apparent that skipping the hockey game for the concert was the right choice. Why am I mentioning this? There are very few times when I’m happy to PVR a game and watch it at 1.5x speed, but I’m pretty sure getting through a 4-0 loss is the exact reason such functionality was invented.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

  • Cody Ceci and Brett Kulak were the two defencemen on the Oilers who weren’t on the ice for a goal against during the loss. It’s worth noting since those two are the ones that most often come up in trade talks.
  • After getting the night off against Anaheim, Stuart Skinner was back between the pipes for his 35th start of the season. Stu was tasked with backstopping the Oilers into a new win streak, and with the rested Kings on deck, the job was going to be anything but easy. As expected, the Kings were buzzing around the crease and made life difficult for the goalie, but I also think it’s fair to say that this wasn’t Stu’s best night. By no means am I blaming Skinner for the loss — far from it — but he wasn’t quite as sharp as we saw when he was burning through 12 straight wins. Skinner finished the night with 22 saves and a .880 save%.
  • Pulling the goalie with with 5:37 left in the third period was a bold choice by Kris Knoblauch, and I respect the balls it takes to make such a call. Obviously, with a loss on deck, it doesn’t really matter if an empty-netter makes the whole a little bit deeper, but I was surprised to see Knobby get so aggressive down the stretch.
  • Interested in the possession numbers? I’ve got you. Against the Kings the Oilers tried to put a lot of pucks on net as noted by the 58.82 CF%, but struggled to generated quality chances as shown by the 43.20 xGF%.
  • No post game article from me is ever complete without letting you know that the Oilers won 51.7% of the faceoffs. At least there were some silver linings, you know?
  • According to my pal Reid Wilkins, last night was the first time the Oilers have trailed by three goals since December 16th in the 5-1 loss to Florida.

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