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Three Key Things: Undefeated in the Kris Knoblauch era

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baggedmilk
3 months ago
Since Saturday evening, the Oilers beat the Kraken, fired Jay Woodcroft, duffed their press conference to explain why, and announced Kris Knoblauch as the new head coach. It’s been a weird run, to say the least. The good news, however, is that the Oilers were able to shake off the distractions and turn one win into a second, beating the New York Islanders by a 4-1 score.

BIG NIGHT FOR THE DYNAMIC DUO

Connor McDavid had only one assist in his last five games before last night’s two-point game, and it’s the only time in his career that that has ever happened. We’ve never seen McDavid have a drought like this before, and you could see the relief on his face once that puck slipped through Sorokin’s legs. Even though it sure sounds like Connor isn’t playing at 100% health, he’s started to look more like himself over the past couple of games, and I hope his performance against the Isles can act as the spark he’s been needing. As for the other half of the Dynamic Duo, Leon Draisaitl scored a beautiful goal in the first period, and it was the kind of finish that could hopefully trigger a run for the guy. Leon admitted that he’s been battling confidence issues, and nothing can do a better job of helping with that than a few highlight reel markers. As the game wore on, Leon got better and more confident with each passing shift, and the result was a four-point game that could have been more than that had he gotten a little extra luck. Great night for the Dynamic Duo.

THE KRIS KNOBLAUCH ERA BEGINS

I would have never believed you in a million years if you had told me in September when we talked about the captains’ skates that Jay Woodcroft would get fired on November 12th. Even the day after Kris Knoblauch’s first game behind the bench as the team’s new head coach, I’m still baffled by both the decision to fire Woodcroft this early and how the brass fumbled the press conference later that afternoon. Caught in the crossfire was Kris Knoblauch, who likely just lived out a dream by running his own bench at the NHL level for the very first time. I feel for the guy that he’s walking into a situation where the fanbase is salty, the decision to fire the previous coach was mostly panned, and the pressure to win is as intense in the market as it’s ever been. That’s not exactly an easy landing spot. Either way, I wanted to take a quick minute to welcome our new bench boss and congratulate him on his first win in the show.

ZACH HYMAN HEATER?

Make it four goals in the last two games for Zach Hyman, who took over the team lead for goals with the hat trick against the Kraken on Saturday night. Hyman kept the good times going with a power play goal from the top of the crease after McDavid found him with a beautiful pass that fell right onto his stick. If there’s one thing that Hyman always gives you it’s a full-on effort every time he’s on the ice, and I’m thrilled to see the guy get rewarded for the hustle. Frankly, I wish every player on the roster had the kind of engine that Hyman carries because he’s all heart all the time.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • On November 13th, the Oilers finally picked up their first win at Rogers Place.
  • It was really nice to see Stuart Skinner rebound the way he did after allowing a goal only 40 seconds into the hockey game. I thought he looked steady between the pipes, came up with big saves when he needed to, and gave his team a chances to win. Skinner finished the night with 32 saves and a .970 save%.
  • Loved the way Evander Kane hustled for the empty netter to make sure he sunk it rather than firing an attempt from way back. It was a small detail, but I liked seeing it.
  • The fourth line didn’t get much of a bump in TOI in Knoblauch’s first game as Raphael Lavoie and James Hamblin finished with 8:36, and 8:08 minutes respectively.
  • Dylan Holloway left the game in the second period and did not return. No word from Coach Knoblauch about what happened either, so we’ll have to wait and see what kind of news we get this afternoon/whenever.
  • How great did it feel to watch the Oilers grab hold of the game in the third period? We haven’t seen them close out a game like this all year, and it was so refreshing to see them crank it up as the clock wound down instead of folding the cards.
  • Looking at the special teams, the Oilers finished the evening at 3-for-3 on the PK while the power play popped two goals on three chances with the man advantage.
  • The Oilers got outshot 33-32 but it was actually looking way worse than that leading into the third period. The Islanders were blocking a tonne of shots early on and it wasn’t until the third period until they started getting more through on the goaltender.
  • I love faceoffs and the Oilers won 54.5% of them. Great success.
  • Did anyone else laugh when the Islanders scored on their second shot of the night? I did.

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