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Three Key Things: So many Connors, Oilers one point out of a playoff spot, and Sam Gagner shines

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baggedmilk
2 months ago
As much as the story from last night’s game was McDavid vs. Bedard, I only cared about the Oilers scoring more goals than the Blackhawks. That’s it. I didn’t care who scored them, I just wanted the guys in orange and blue to get more of them. Thankfully, our wishes went precisely as planned as the Oilers were able to extend their winning streak with a convincing — and sometimes sloppy — 4-1 victory.

McDAVID VS. BEDARD

How could I not talk about Connor McDavid facing off against Connor Bedard for the first time since every outlet was doing it? And since the hype was real coming into the matchup, I was curious to see how both guys would respond to the league-wide eyeballs that were sure to be watching. Up first, Bedard opened the scoring with what can only be described as a ridiculous shot from the high slot that beat Skinner in the perfect spot over his glove hand. In response, Connor McDavid did what Connor McDavid always does and gave the Oilers a chance to score nearly every shift he had. Ultimately, both players put on a show and did what they could to live up to the billing. Fortunately for Oilers fans, the highlight reel Bedard goal wasn’t enough to outshine the two-point night from Connor McDavid, as the home side climbed out of the early hole and cruised to another puck line victory.

I LOVE YOU, SAM GAGNER

Sam Gagner doesn’t play a lot when he’s in the lineup, but he is making the most of the minutes he gets. Now with four goals and seven points through 14 games, Gagner is giving the Oilers depth scoring on a value contract, and I can’t think of a player in the league that I love this for more than our guy Sam. I could watch him celebrate goals in an Oilers jersey all day, and it’s extra enjoyable when the goal he scores is a game winner, as he got in the first period. I love Sam Gagner’s third tour of duty so much, you know? It was a mistake to trade him to Detroit as part of the Athanasiou deal, and this season’s success is the Universe righting a wrong somehow.

ONE POINT OUT OF A PLAYOFF SPOT

I swear it was only a few weeks ago that the Oilers were in second last place in the NHL, so to see them only one point out of a playoff spot is pretty amazing. There’s not much that an eight-game win streak won’t solve, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find many people who saw the turnaround happen this quickly. It’s almost like we’re watching a completely different team. If I’m being honest, I didn’t think the Oilers would be back in the playoff mix until later in the season, but I’ll also admit that I never saw an eight-game heater coming either. Either way, with a playoff spot now locked in our sights, the tricky part will be to keep the ball rolling and continue chipping away at the teams they’re chasing in the standings.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • He was the forgotten first overall pick in the Connor vs. Connor conversation, which made it pretty funny to me that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the one who tied the game at one apiece late in the first period.
  • Zach Hyman is the gift that keeps on giving. All the guy does is show up, bust his ass, and score goals from the greasy areas of the ice, and in a city like this one, it’s the kind of stuff that turns you into a legend forever.
  • Shout out to Nikita Zaitsev for the beautiful deflection that beat his own goaltender late in the second period. Leon Draisaitl may have gotten credit for the goal, but we all know Zaitsev was the star of the moment.
  • The Evan Bouchard point streak was extended to 12 games with an assist on RNH’s first period goal and Zach Hyman’s power play marker in the third, giving him 18 points (5G, 13A) over this incredible heater.
  • Stuart Skinner has been so good during this win streak, and I couldn’t be happier for the guy, as you knew how much struggling must have weighed on him earlier in the year. And while he wasn’t quite as busy as his counterpart at the other end, Stu still made the saves he needed to make to not only rebound from the early deficit but to ultimately lock in the win. Either way, Skinner handled the task at hand with ease and finished the night with 22 saves and a .957 save%.
  • The Oilers continue their special teams streak, winning last night’s battle with one goal on two PP chances while also killing off both penalties they took. Obviously, special teams success is a big part of this current run and you love to see it.
  • The NHL site had the Oilers’ giveaways listed at 18, but I feel like that number is generous, especially early on in the night. Frankly, the boys coughed up the puck far too much, and they were honestly lucky that Chicago is too bad to take advantage of the turnovers.
  • Love shots on goal? Then you’re likely happy to know that the Oilers outshot the Blackhawks by a 29-23 margin.
  • Last but certainly not least, we’ve finally landed at the point in the article where I tell you that the Oilers won 53.8% of the faceoffs. Great success.
  • There were four Connors in this hockey game. Four. Connor McDavid, Connor Bedard, Connor Brown, and Connor Murphy. We are all Connor.

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