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Three Key Things: Stuart Skinner to the rescue, contract year Foegele, and the Oilers’ heater rolls on

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baggedmilk
3 months ago
With a 13-game winning streak on the line, the Edmonton Oilers welcomed the Columbus Blue Jackets to Rogers Place with a chance to extend their record for most consecutive wins by a Canadian team. And while the game was no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, the Oilers found a way to cash in a 4-1 win and keep the heater alive.

STUART SKINNER WAS EXCELLENT

One of my favourite stories about the Oilers’ winning streak is how Stuart Skinner emerged as a true giant between the pipes. He had 10 straight games with a save% above .912, and nine of those outings were at .926 or above. To put it lightly, the guy is on fire. What I didn’t expect, however, was that the Oilers would need Stu to turn in another such effort against a less-than-stellar Blue Jackets team.
Edmonton could have easily been down by three goals or more had it not been for Skinner, so to see him get rewarded for standing on his head was a fantastic result for a guy who deserved it. With his 11th straight victory, Stuart Skinner moves past Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr for the longest win streak by a goaltender in Oilers history. What a stat. In the end, Skinner finished the night with 27 saves and a .964 save%.

CONTRACT YEAR FOEGELE

With the power play goal he scored in the first period and the assist on Evander Kane’s game-winner, Warren Foegele finds himself with 16 points (6G, 10A) in his last 15 games. Before the season started, we loved talking about Contract Year Foegele being a story to watch on episodes of Oilersnation Radio. Still, I don’t know that any of us expected this. McLovin’ is playing some fantastic hockey right now, and it’s an absolute pleasure to see him perform at such a high level.
What will be interesting to see is how this fantastic run affects Foegele’s future. I probably would have suggested using Foegele as a piece in a more significant trade as they did with Ekholm last season before this recent stretch, but with the way he’s playing right now, I don’t know why you would ever want to part with him. Though, the better he plays, the more you have to wonder if the Oilers will even be able to afford him.

TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN

Despite the game finishing in a 4-1 Oilers victory, the boys certainly took a challenging path to get there. Through the first 40 minutes, the Blue Jackets were skating laps around our beloved heroes with chances coming on most of their shifts, and it honestly looked like the streak was very much in Jeopardy. Thankfully, good goaltending can cover up even the worst of efforts, and that’s precisely what the home side got as they snoozed their way through the first and second periods.
Yet, even though this was one of their worst efforts over the last month+, the Oilers still found a way to grind out a win that looked anything but certain. They probably didn’t deserve to win, but the boys found a way to get the job done anyway, and if that’s not the sign of a team that’s feeling pretty damned good about themselves, then I don’t know what is. They can’t always be pretty, but that doesn’t mean those two points weren’t just as beautiful.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

  • The Edmonton Oilers find their record improve to 24-6-0 (.800) under Kris Knoblauch, including this incredible 22-3-0 run over their last 25 GP.
  • How badly did Evander Kane need the goal he picked up early in the third period? It’s no secret that people are worried about his production — we’ve answered questions about him in the Mailbag a bunch of times now — and I hope that last night’s marker can be the start of a new run for him. Kane has a history of being a streaky scorer, and there was no better time to pick up his 15th of the year than when the winning streak was hanging in the balance.
  • Only 55 seconds after Kane gave the Oilers the lead, Connor McDavid picked up his 17th goal of the season on a scrambled play that saw him pick up a loose puck near the crease and slid it through the fallen Merzlikins. The goal put McDavid back on the scoresheet after he was shutout on Saturday night in Calgary, spoiling his personal 12-game point streak.
  • You love to see Dylan Holloway pick up his second goal of the season in only his second game back from injury. Holloway was playing some fantastic hockey before he got hurt, and I think it’s fair to say that all of us would love nothing more than to watch him get a little bit of luck and be able to stick in the lineup. If the Holloway can make it work at centre then that could open up all kinds of different ideas for the Oilers at the deadline, and I’m very bullish on his ability to make that happen.
  • The Oilers were lucky that Stu was dialled in because they were extremely sloppy with the puck. Even though the game was tied at one apiece after 40 minutes, the boys could have quite easily found themselves in a deep hole had their goalie not covered up the mistakes. The NHL site had the giveaways listed at 26 for Edmonton but even at that ridiculous number seemed light for how sloppy they were.
  • It’s almost amazing that the shot clock ended up at 28-24 for the Blue Jackets given that the Oilers were being shot 23-14 after two periods.
  • Diving into the spreadsheet factory, the numbers basically confirmed what our eyeballs watched as the Oilers finished the night with a 48.86 CF% and 45.93 xGF%.
  • Special teams played a huge role in the Oilers’ win as the PK went a perfect 4-for-4 while the power play converted on 1-of-2 opportunities with the man advantage.
  • I’m not doing my job if I don’t tell you that the boys won 51% of the faceoffs they took. You’re welcome.
  • Happy belated birthday to Jack Michaels. He had big shoes to fill when Rod Phillips stepped down, but after all these years, I find that Oilers games aren’t the same without him.

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Edited: New header image & links

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