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Three Key Things: Self inflicted wounds, special teams struggles, and Corey Perry’s first goal as an Oiler

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baggedmilk
2 months ago
I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that the Oilers’ win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday was anything but a masterpiece, but the good thing about sports is that how you play doesn’t matter if you collect the two points. The bad news comes when the Oilers play poorly and can’t outscore their problems, exactly what happened in last night’s 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

SELF INFLICTED WOUNDS

What can you say about a 20-minute segment when your favourite hockey team gives up four unanswered goals to cough up their lead and end up in a hole that would take a field goal to climb out of? All I could come up with is that the second period of last night’s hockey game was the worst the Oilers have played since early December, and to see them look so helpless in all three zones was very discouraging.
There were goals against at even strength, on the power play, and it would have been as likely for the Oilers to keep the puck out of the net if they laid down and cried. The point is that anything that could go wrong did go wrong, and there was absolutely nothing the Oilers could do to stop it from happening. If ever there was an indication that time travel is real, it might be what happened in the second period because that felt so much like how things went in October that it’s crazy.
The bigger problem was that the Oilers didn’t have answers to any of the Blues’ questions. No challenge was too small to fail, no problem couldn’t be made bigger, and we all watched the game tailspin out of control in real time. It was the kind of period that lost them the game before knowing how the third would play out, and I wouldn’t mind if we don’t see another one of those stretches again.

THE SPECIAL TEAMS ARE SO CONFUSING

Leon Draisaitl got the Oilers on the board with a power play goal from near the goal line that not only tied the game at one apiece but also redeemed the PP1 unit after their first horrible swing and miss, which may have been the worst attempt with the man advantage that we’ve seen all season. I know it’s weird to complain about a power play that was 1-for-3 on the night, but it’s genuinely wild how night and day Edmonton’s first two power-play chances looked as they played out.
What is the deal with the Oilers’ power play on the road, anyway? Sometimes it almost looks like they forget what they’re doing when wearing clothes different from the ones they wear at Rogers Place. None of this makes any sense, and the fact that the Oilers gave us a goal and shocking ineffectiveness in the same evening was genuinely maddening. Both sides of the coin, you know?
Yet, despite the power play looking off by a quarter turn, those struggles pale in comparison to what is happening with the penalty kill. If we put aside the fact that the Oilers were as undisciplined as they were — the refs were also horrible, but they still took way too many penalties — combined with the brutal PK numbers over the last week, and you have the recipe for a stinking gumbo full of hardship and sadness.
Sure, the Oilers killed off six St. Louis power plays, and that may seem like a good thing, but they also allowed two goals against, which puts them at seven total PK goals allowed over the last four games. No matter what happens at the other end of the rink, winning in the NHL is pretty tough when you’re a) in the penalty box for most of a period and b) allowing goals 25% of the time when you’re down a man.

COREY PERRY GETS HIS FIRST GOAL AS AN OILER

When Perry came to town as a free agent, we knew that he would be a rat on the ice who’s incredibly annoying to play against, but we also needed him to chip in with a goal or two occasionally. With an assist in the bank from a few nights ago, Perry popped his first as an Oiler in his sixth game with the club, and it looked for a moment like that goal was going to be a big one.
Unfortunately, Perry’s goal didn’t matter in the end, but I was still excited to see him get one. At 38 years old,  Perry is obviously not the player he was when he won the Stanley Cup or the Hart Trophy, but I legitimately have hopes that he’ll be able to contribute positively down the stretch. Perry picked up his first goal as an Oiler by putting himself in front of the net and taking advantage of the opportunity when the puck showed up, which is the exact kind of greasy goal I’ve been clamouring for lately.

BONUS THING: WHO SCORES FIRST?

A few games ago, I asked who you fine folks would score first between Cody Ceci, Corey Perry, and Connor Brown, and last night, we filled out our bracket. After Cody Ceci picked up his first of the year against the Red Wings on Tuesday, Corey Perry scored his first as an Oiler (5th of the season) in the third period against the Blues, which leaves only Connor Brown as the soldier without a kill this season. At $775K in 2023-34, you can live with the fact that the guy hasn’t scored, but when you factor in the bonus, this Brown contract is probably going to force the Oilers to move someone off the roster with next to no payoff.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

  • The Oilers picked up seven consecutive minor penalties last night. Seven. Straight. Penalties. Have you ever seen that before? I haven’t.
  • After going a stretch of 13 games with only a single goal to his name, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ first period marker gives him three in his last two games for what I hope is the confidence boost he needs to catch fire a little bit. The guy has been an apple tree all season, but his goal scoring hasn’t quite been at the level we need from him, and that makes this two-game stretch an important jumpstart for what I hope is a more productive end to the season.
  • Stuart Skinner was back in the crease for start #37, and I was looking for him to keep the train running with his steady brand of goaltending that we’ve seen from him over the last couple of months. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be against the Blues. That’s not to say that Skinner played poorly — I thought he was fine for the most part — but it’s tough to sell a game when you give up five goals and finish with a .828 save%.
  • Another day, another multi-point night for Connor McDavid after he threw three more assists on the pile as the encore to his six-point night against the Red Wings. He’s going to win the Art Ross Trophy, isn’t he?
  • Looking at the fancies, the Oilers dominated the possession game as noted by the 58.89 CF% and 66.86 xGF%. But as we know, the underlying numbers don’t always account for Jordan Binnington playing out of his mind or the boys getting tagged to spend 16 minutes shorthanded.
  • Worst of all, the Oilers only won 41.9% of the faceoffs. A travesty. Heartbreaking. Awful.

THE BRUNCH FOR BEN

Oilersnation invites you to the most magical event this season – The second Annual Brunch for Ben on Saturday March 2, 2024! This special event welcomes attendees of all ages to enjoy an afternoon of fun and excitement at Greta Bar YEG, where you can take part in an endless amount of arcade games, family friendly activities and, of course, cheering on Edmonton as they take on Seattle. Join us on March 2nd for a memorable experience where every ticket purchased contributes to making a positive impact on the Ben Stelter Foundation. Get your tickets now at nationgear.ca!

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