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Three Key Things: Sam Gagner tried his best but couldn’t save us from a 4-3 loss to the Stars

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baggedmilk
6 months ago
Despite the way that Sunday’s win over the Calgary Flames really changed the vibes around here, the reality is that the Oilers still have plenty of work to do to erase the cold start they’ve had to the season. And with the Stars in town for the second half of a back-to-back set, the Oilers had the opportunity to build upon the Heritage Classic and get a little streak going. Unfortunately, the boys couldn’t turn the Sam Gagner comeback game into anything more than an exciting third period, falling 4-3 to a Stars team that was hanging on for dear life by the end.

WELCOME BACK, SAM

There’s no way I was the only one that got a little bit emotional seeing Sam Gagner back in an Oilers uniform, can I? Now in his third tour of duty with the team that drafted him, Gagner is one of those players we all love regardless of where he was playing, and now that he’s back again, it feels like this is where he was always meant to be. Now 34 years old with over 1000 games under his belt, Gagner has the chance to come to Edmonton in a depth role, chip in with a little bit of offence, and, most importantly, help everyone in that room understand what it means to be an Oiler. Even though no one expects him to be a top-six guy or anything close to that, what I love most about Gagner being back is that he’ll be another veteran voice in the room who helps build a culture of wanting to be here and wanting to win here. And in his first game back, Gagner was buzzing, and while the PAIR OF GOALS he scored didn’t cue the comeback we hoped would come, you could tell he was fired up to be back with the boys.
In 13 minutes of TOI, Gagner finished his first game back with two goals, five shots, three hits, and a +2 rating.

THE POWER PLAY IS POWERLESS

Everybody knows that the Oilers have been the best power play team in the NHL over the last handful of seasons, which makes what’s happening right now all the more puzzling. Outside of the pair of posts by Evan Bouchard, the Oilers struggled to make things happen against a very stingy Dallas team whose PK has been rock solid all season. Despite having four opportunities with the man advantage, the usually lethal Edmonton power play couldn’t cash in on anything. The guys almost look like they’re skating through sand when up a man over the last handful of games, and I cannot wait until they find a way to work through whatever the hell is messing with their mojo.

CONNOR BROWN DOWN

Connor Brown left the game in the second period after looking like he popped a muscle or something while doing crossovers in his own end. He did return near the end of the frame for a little twirl but clearly didn’t like what he felt as he returned to the dressing room immediately. He looked like he was in pain, and it also looked like it was ghosts that hurt him, too. I don’t know what to make of this whole thing, but it’s tough news for a guy just starting to settle in on the ice. Oddly, Brown’s injury happened in the ninth game of the year, one before the $3.25 million performance bonus gets added to next year’s salary cap.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • After being demoted to the third line, Evander Kane has been red hot with a run of seven points (3G, 4A) in his last four games. I know some people were rattled when he complained about his ice-time to Scott Oake during the intermission, but it seems like whatever step that was in the process he needed to do to get himself going was precisely what the doctor ordered.
  • Is Connor McDavid okay? I don’t think he is. More specifically, I don’t think he’s playing anywhere close to 100% right now. I know he’s still better than everyone else on the ice — the guy works this league like he’s Neo in the Matrix — but there’s something off with him by a quarter turn.
  • I haven’t seen Leon Draisaitl suffer with that kind of snakebite in quite some time, and to see him miss as many Grade-A chances as he did against the Stars was wild for him. Needs a little bit of luck, I think.
  • Stuart Skinner was back between the pipes for his third straight start, looking to build a quality run after a slow start to the year. Last night, however, was not his night. While I won’t be one of the people hanging the loss on his shoulders — some of the giveaways that led to Dallas’ offence were brutal — but he certainly could have come up with another save or two to earn at least a point over the 4-3 finish we ended up at. Skinner finished with 23 saves and a .852 save%.
  • At the other end of the ice, Scott Wedgewood stood on his head for the Stars, and was yet another example of a backup goaltender looking like a perennial Vezina Trophy candidate against the Oilers.
  • Evan B0uchard hit the post three times. Given the final score, I have the right to be upset about it.
  • Warren Foegele may never score a breakaway goal again in his life. I would love it if he did, but I fear he may be cursed.
  • You’ve waited patiently until this very important moment of the article when I tell you that the Oilers won 60.3% of the faceoffs.
  • If I’m being honest, I missed the navy blue jerseys. I don’t think they look very good on TV, but those alternates are damned sharp in person.

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