Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
Three Key Things: Zach Hyman can’t stop scoring, Oilers in the wildcard spot, and revenge games
By baggedmilk1 month ago
There’s nothing better than an Oilers game on Hockey Night in Canada, and last night, the boys had the opportunity to extend their winning streak with a victory over the struggling Ottawa Senators. And while it didn’t go exactly as planned, the Oilers still managed to get the job done with a hard-fought 3-1 win.
ZACH HYMAN, WE SPEAK YOUR NAME
Zach Hyman got the Oilers on the board on the power play after Evan Bouchard’s seeing-eye wrister from the point deflected in off him and past Forsberg on the blocker side. Initially, Bouchard was credited with the goal, but the NHL eventually gave Hyman the credit. Hyman picked up his 24th goal of the season early in the third period on a sneaky wrist shot that beat Forsberg between the arm and body, putting him on pace to smash his career-best of 36 goals in a season. Not done there, Hyman picked up a second power play goal after Connor McDavid found him at the goal mouth to complete his third hat trick of the season. If this guy doesn’t end up at the All-Star Game based on the performance he’s putting in this season, then the whole thing should be disbanded.
WE’RE IN A PLAYOFF SPOT
The Oilers find themselves in a playoff spot for the first time all season after sliding into the second wildcard spot in the west. Winners of 15 of their last 18 games, our boys have nearly erased the disaster that was the first six weeks of the season. Even though no one is saying that we should hang the Mission Accomplished banner yet, I will say that this turn around has been incredible to watch. If I’m being honest, I was having some dark thoughts about the season back in October, and I’m very grateful that the players in the room didn’t give up on themselves the way that so many of us were starting to in the fanbase. Again, there’s plenty of work left to be done, but sometimes, you need a reminder that hope will never die when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers.
BROWN AND CECI REVENGE GAME
Given that Connor Brown and Cody Ceci are both looking for their first goal of the season, I was hoping that a revenge game against the Senators would be the inspiration they needed to get something on the board. We all know how often former Oilers tend to score against us, and it’s only fair that some of that luck will eventually go the other way. Since both guys are former Sens and need a goal in the worst way, what better time to get that done than against a franchise that discarded you? Too much? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, the revenge game success was not in the cards for either guy, and while both guys played well, neither had anything to show for it on the scoresheet. To make matters worse, Cody Ceci took an errant shot to the face, and I can only imagine how painful that must have been.
OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING
- They can’t all be Picassos, but last night’s game was as sloppy as the Oilers have been since their win streak began. I’m not saying they were bad — clearly, they got the job done — but rather that they weren’t nearly as sharp as they have been recently. Their passes were too often a foot long or a foot short, set plays looked out of sync, and there was a general sense of rust that tends to happen after a four-day break. I know this sounds nitpicky, given the result, but there were times when I felt lucky that the Oilers were playing the Senators instead of a team that actually matters. It’s harsh, but you know exactly what I mean.
- How about a casual three-assist night for Evan Bouchard after he got a touch on all three of the Oilers’ goals? The guy is on fire right now, and it won’t be surprising when he gets more Norris votes when the season is over than anyone would have expected early on. Suddenly, the trade Bouchard crowd is mighty quiet these days.
- Connor McDavid extended his point streak to seven games with the assist on Hyman’s third goal of the night. In this latest point streak, McDavid has already amassed 13 points (3G 10A).
- With the assist on Hyman’s first goal, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is quietly on pace for an 84-point season, and I think more people should be talking about it. Somehow, the guy is defying the aging curve, and I believe his story deserves more attention than it gets outside of this city.
- Stuart Skinner was back between the pipes for his 27th appearance of the season and tasked with keeping the win streak alive. Though not as busy as his counterpart, Stu was rock solid when called upon and actually made some massive saves at critical points of the game to keep his team in the lead. At even strength and on the power play, I don’t think it’s a stretch to put Skinner in the conversation for the team’s best player on the night after finishing with 30 saves and a .968 save%.
- Anton Forsberg proved to be an annoying adversary, didn’t he? The Oilers probably would have won this game by a touchdown had it not been for him.
- There were too many instances early in the game when the Oilers were passing to no one in particular. The NHL site had the Oilers listed with 10 giveaways, but I think that number is a little light based on what my eyeballs told me.
- The Oilers’ power play hasn’t been quite as powerful over the last few weeks, and I wondered how they’d fare against a Sens team that ranks dead last in PK percentage. As we now know, the Oilers picked up two massive goals on the man advantage, and I want to thank the Senators for allowing them to work some things out in the process.
- When down a man, the Oilers continued their PK success, killing off three-of-three shorthanded situations they faced.
- No post-game article worth its weight without me letting you know that the Oilers won 59.6% of the faceoffs.
- The game wasn’t really close on the shot clock as the Oilers outshot the Senators by a 46-30 margin. With the win, the Oilers are now 2-6-1 when firing more than 40 shots on goal. Wild stat.
- I wanted to thank Tom Kostiuk for hooking me up with these very cool custom Nation coasters over the holidays. If you’re looking for gifts with a homemade feel, getting in touch with Tom is the way to go to make that happen.
THE #NATIONVACATION TO ARIZONA
Oilersnation is headed to the desert! Escape to Arizona on our next Oilersnation Vacation presented by Alberta Blue Cross from Feb 18-20th, 2024! Join the party for just $1,999/person (double occupancy rooms). Your ticket includes roundtrip flights from Edmonton, two-night stay in a popular hotel, transportation to the airport and premium hockey game tickets! Limited spots are available so don’t hesitate to get your ticket now!
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