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Three Key Things: The Oilers were the second best team in every way and Philly deserved to win

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baggedmilk
5 months ago
After picking up their first win of the season on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, the Edmonton Oilers landed in Philly with the chance to turn one win into two. Even though the Flyers are a team that you’d assume the Oilers should beat more often than not, Philly handed the Oilers a pair of losses in 2022-23, and that told me our boys needed to bring their best* if they were going to secure the bag (read: victory). Unfortunately, the plan and what actually happened were very different as the Oilers fell 4-1 to the Flyers.
*Narrator: “They did not bring their best.”

THE POWER(LESS) PLAY

It’s not very often you see the Oilers struggle mightily with the man advantage these days, but that was absolutely the case last night. That’s not to say they didn’t get a few good looks — they really did — but rather that they looked like everything was off by a quarter turn. It was like they were trying to put something together after taking Nyquil shots for funzies. Obviously, I’m being ridiculous here, but seeing this group struggle the way they did was genuinely strange. When else do you see the Oilers give up a shortie and look lost on the offensive side of the puck? Bizarre. Now, am I worried about this? Absolutely not. Edmonton’s power play will be better than fine, but last night was nothing like what we’ve gotten used to over the last few years.

STILL NO THIRD PERIOD GOALS

How is it possible that we just watched the fourth game of the year, and the Edmonton Oilers have yet to score a third-period goal? Not even by accident? How does that happen? I don’t get it. This team has too many scoring options for the offence to run this dry through 80 minutes of third period hockey. Then again, it’s hard to score goals when you only get four shots in the period, which is the feeble number the Oilers mustered against the Flyers despite being down by a field goal. I don’t know what was going on with the lack of give-a-shit down the stretch, but the boys looked like they were more interested in getting on the plane to go home than they were in winning the hockey game. As much as the six goals against the Predators were fun, the NHL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ kind of league, and the Oilers simply are not getting the job done. Make it four games without a third period goal.

TOUGH LUCK START FOR EDMONTON

Last night was one of those games where the Oilers had a strong start on the ice, but since they couldn’t turn the hustle into offence, the door was open for Philly to grab the lead after weathering the early storm. So when Joel Farabee opened the scoring in the back half of the first period, it was one of those cruel hockey stories we’ve seen so many times before when one team can’t score on their chances only to have the other side come back and score shortly after. Outside of letting the Flyers score first, the bigger problem I had with the Oilers’ start was that they stopped moving their feet as the period went along. The boys were buzzing on those first few shifts, and it’s a bummer that they didn’t get rewarded on the early push, but that’s the pendulum that is the sport of hockey. But let’s be honest, the lack of finish to start the game wasn’t anywhere close to being the biggest problem the Oilers had last night.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…

  • Why does it feel like every goal Zach Hyman scores is from within a few feet of the front of the net? From the day he arrived in Edmonton, Hyman has been getting to the greasy areas on the ice and I will never not love seeing that kind of effort to create offence. The guy’s motor never quits, and I wanted to take a second to offer my appreciation for the way that Hyman always gives it his all.
  • Connor McDavid looked like he tweaked his knee/leg after an accidental collision with Evander Kane in the second period, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pooh a little when it happened. Thankfully, McDavid came back to play, but I think even he’d admit that he wasn’t entirely himself regardless if it wasn’t his leg that was bothering him.
  • Evander Kane had another quiet night, and that’s tough to take given the linemates he’s playing with right now. I know you can’t pick up points every game, but one thing you can do is throw your body around and play like it’s your last night on earth. Is that unfair? I don’t think it’s unfair.
  • Even though I saw a lot of people chirping Soup for the way things went in Philly, I don’t think blaming the goalie tells the whole story. From my side of the TV screen, I saw a guy who was hung out to dry on more than a few occasions. I’m not making excuses for Jack Campbell, but I am saying that the defensive play in front of him wasn’t exactly locking things down. That said, he needed to give us a save on what ended up being the shortie by Walker because that goal wiped out Edmonton’s chance to tie the game. Campbell finished the night with 29 saves and a .879 save%.
  • Evan Bouchard struggled immensely against the Flyers. I know we’re not fans of +/- anymore but having a dash three beside his name is a pretty accurate representation of his night. Bouchard has never been a defensive juggernaut but he’s fighting for his life out there right now.
  • I think I heard Connor Brown’s name last night, but I really can’t be sure. Jokes aside, the guy is struggling right now and I wonder how long it’s going to take him to get up to speed after missing all of the last season with the torn ACL.
  • I know the Flyers are supposed to be a bigger, stronger team, but the fact that Philip Broberg got pulled out of the lineup in favour of Vincent Desharnais has to feel like a bit of a wake-up call. Yeah, Philly plays physically, but the reality is that Broberg would never get pulled out of the lineup if he was playing lights-out hockey regardless of who the opponent is.
  • I rag on the PK a lot around here, so I also have to give props when they’re due and last night the Oilers killed off all four shorthanded situations they faced.
  • Oilers won only 47.8% of the faceoffs, and everyone reading this knows how I feel about that.

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