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Three Key Things: Power play dominance, Stuart Skinner shines, and the Oilers extend their lead instead of giving it away

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baggedmilk
6 months ago
We all know how the Oilers play in afternoon games under the best of circumstances, and I’d be lying if I said today’s matchup against the red hot Capitals was giving me any kind of warm and fuzzies. The good news is that the boys looked like they didn’t care that they were playing in the daylight hours, and turned into what was arguably their best performance of the year. Final score: 5-0 Oilers.

EXTENDING THE LEAD INSTEAD OF GIVING IT UP

If we’re being honest, how many of us got nervous when we saw the Oilers jump out to a two-goal lead in the first period? Pumping two quick goals home would be the exact start you’d want to have under normal circumstances, but seeing as the Oilers coughed up two two-goal leads on this very road trip, you can’t blame anyone for feeling like it wasn’t nearly enough. So to have the boys not only maintain the lead but extend it with a field goal was a welcomed reprieve. I know it’s only one game, but watching the Oilers pull away rather than crumbling with the opportunity has to be something to build on.

POWER PLAY BRILLIANCE

When the Oilers are at their best, the power play is as lethal as any in the National Hockey League, but we haven’t seen that a whole bunch to this point. Today, however, we got a dose of what the Edmonton Oilers’ power play is capable of doing. From the blast by Bouchard that beat the goalie clean to the ridiculous Sedin-like play that McDrai executed for the second goal to Draisaitl cleaning up the garbage on number three, this was undoubtedly the best PP performance we’ve seen all season. It’s going to take more than a single game to definitively say the PP heater has arrived, but if today’s results were any indication, the power play could be coming back at a time when we need it the most.

STUART SKINNER SHINES

After getting the hook on Wednesday after allowing four goals on 14 shots — not all of them were his fault, but were his problem — Stuart Skinner was back between the pipes and looking to snap this nasty losing streak. And from start to finish, Stu gave us exactly what we needed. No matter the situation, Skinner was big in the net, kept his rebounds under control, and provided his teammates with the kind of goaltending needed for the boys to have a chance. I think we always know that Stu can give us performances like the one we watched today, and I hope the result helps to build up his confidence so that we can see them more often. Skinner finished the afternoon with 25 saves and his first shutout of the season.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

  • Evander Kane stays red hot with yet another goal that came as a result of hard work and hustle in front of the net. The thing I liked most about Kane’s goal was that it was a greasy one that never would have happened had he not been willing to put himself in the tough areas, and I think that’s a small detail that some of his teammates should adopt in their own games.
  • Holy hell did Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ever need the goal he batted out of the air late in the first period. My dude has had all kinds of chances over the last few games, but just couldn’t get anything to go, and it has to feel good to finally sink one as pretty as that. Nuge wasn’t done with the goal, however, as he added a pair of assists to give him his first three-point game since early in the season.
  • How about a casual four-point game for Connor McDavid. It’s been a minute since McDavid has done McDavid things, but over the last couple of weeks, he’s starting to look more like himself and we should all be thrilled to have him back.
  • The blast by Evan Bouchard on the power play that made it 3-0 was the exact reason I love this guy. On the offensive side of the puck, Dad is nails more often than not and I would love nothing more than to see some of that confidence bleed into his defensive game as well. I know he’ll never be a shutdown guy, but even a half turn worth of extra defending would go a long way.
  • I thought Vinny Desharnais had a very strong game on the blue line. Instead of trying to do too much with the 19:51 in TOI he played, Desharnais did a really nice job of making simple plays that are befitting of his skillset, and it really worked for him against the Caps. This was a very good game for Vinny.
  • Not that I blame him at all, but it is funny to me that Koach Knobby preached patience with his lines after his first game behind the bench only to spin the blender basically every night since. I mean, I get it but that doesn’t make it any less funny.
  • The Oilers had a rare instance of winning the special teams battle against the Hurricanes on Wednesday, and I was looking forward to seeing if they could follow that small silver lining up with another. On the power play, the boys finished at 3/4 with the man advantage while killing off all five shorthanded situations they faced.
  • You know how much I love faceoffs, and that’s why I’m thrilled to report that the Oilers won 56.6% of the draws.
  • The Oilers are often accused of not shooting the puck enough, but that was not a problem against Washington as they outshot the Caps by a 35-25 margin.
  • Want me to check in on the spreadsheets? No problem. The Oil finished today’s game with a 64.63 CF% and an 56.32 xGF%.
  • What’s the plan with Philip Broberg? The guy was a healthy scratch today, played just over five minutes against the Hurricanes, and doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction regardless of who is behind the bench. Trade chip? Thoughts?

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