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Three Key Things: Special teams sunk the ship, blocked shots, and Leon Draisaitl

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baggedmilk
5 months ago
After losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers to wrap up the homestand, the Oilers looked to get back in the win column in the first of three road games before the Christmas break. Unfortunately, that plan got sewered by a disastrous 12-minute stretch in the second period that saw the Islanders cash in three straight goals that set the table for w to extend the losing streak.

SPECIAL TEAMS DISASTER

The special teams are always an important factor in whether the Oilers win or lose, and last night they were a total disaster. Not only did the Oilers give up two power play goals in the second period, but they followed those turds up with a shorthanded goal against after a horrific giveaway in the offensive zone. To put it lightly, there was room for improvement. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen the Oilers fail so badly with both special teams units directly contributing to the loss. It was shocking, really, and I don’t even know what to say beyond just complaining about the problem — it’s not like refs didn’t call things fairly evenly. I guess there’s not much to say other than acknowledge what happened, immediately forget about it and hope for better results against the Devils on Thursday.
The Oilers finished at 0-for-4 on the man advantage while the PK went 2-for-4 when down a man. Nowhere near good enough.

THE ISLES BLOCK SO MANY SHOTS

According to the NHL site, the New York Islanders blocked 22 shots on goal. Frankly, I think that number is way too light for what actually happened. Any chance they could, the Isles skaters were throwing their bodies in front of pucks and that willingness to sacrifice really was the cherry on top of a terrific performance by Ilya Sorokin behind them. I know that the analytics community would tell you that blocking a lot of shots is a symptom of poor possession numbers  — I would also agree in most cases — but it was hard to ignore how many shots/chances were completely erased by a leg/arm/body in the lane.

LEON GETS ON THE BOARD

Leon Draisaitl needed to score a very real way, and that’s why I was so pumped to see him open the scoring with a nifty shot in the opening moments of the first period. It’s weird to say he’s struggling despite being on pace for another 95+ point season, but it’s been a bit of a battle for him to get pucks in the back of the net at his usual rate. We’re so spoiled to be able to watch Draisaitl on a nightly basis that we almost forget that his struggles are still vastly superior to what you’d get from an average NHLer, and hopefully, beating Sorokin as cleanly as he did will be the start of a beautiful run of goals for the former Rocket Richard winner.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • It was a weird game for Stuart Skinner. Even though the stats you’re about to read aren’t exactly stellar, I don’t think Stu’s save percentage tells the whole story. Had it not been for some huge saves by Skinner — he made some point blank stops more often than should have been asked — the score would have been much more lopsided than how things ended. I’m not trying to make excuses here, but I think some of the ragging on the goalie that I saw on Twitter was a little bit much. Skinner finished the night with 17 saves and a .850 save%.
  • Coach Knoblauch seriously shortened the bench as the game rolled along, limiting the bottom six minutes in a very real way. James Hamblin played a team low 6:40 with Derek Ryan not far behind at 8:04.
  • It bothers me that the Oilers had only nine hits on the night with Mattias Ekholm having four of them. I know the boys had the puck a lot, but I’d certainly like to see a little more physicality when they don’t have it than the soft fly-bys we got against the Islanders.
  • Connor Brown may never score again. Cody Ceci may not either.
  • Want to hear about the faceoffs? Of course you do. That’s why I’m here to tell you that the Oilers won 52.3% of the draws.
  • Diving into the spreadsheet machine, the Oilers dominated the possession game as shown by the 69.77 CF% and 67.96 xGF%. Sometimes the bits and bites don’t directly correlate to success on the scoreboard, you know?
  • The final shot count ended up at 31 for the Oilers and 20 for the Islanders.

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