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Zach Hyman’s goal streak, special teams success, and Leon Draisaitl power Oilers to 4-2 win over Kings

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
1 month ago
Losers of their last three games as a result of mostly fixable errors, the Edmonton Oilers needed a win against a very good Los Angeles Kings team or find themselves out of third place in the Pacific Division and into a Wildcard spot. And while last night’s 4-2 win certainly wasn’t the prettiest we’ll eve see, you have to love the way the Oilers got key contributions all over the ice in order to make it happen.

ZACH HYMAN’S INCREDIBLE SEASON CONTINUES

Make it five games in a row with a goal for Zach Martin Hyman, who just cannot stop scoring in his third season with the Oilers. I can’t say it for sure, but it’s almost like it took coming to Edmonton for the guy to figure out he’s an absolute stud or something. I’m not saying it as fact, but I truly believe Toronto held him back, you know? It’s remarkable.
Hyman set a new career-high in goals on Saturday night against the Flames, and he moved that number forward late in the first period after McDavid set him up with a pass in the circle that he teed off on and smashed past a sprawling Rittich. Not only did the goal tie the game, but it basically saved what was otherwise a pretty mediocre period by the home side. As he’s done many times this season, a clutch goal from Hyman kept the Oilers in the mix even though they were getting outplayed.
Now with 38 goals in 55 games, Hyman seems to be getting better as the season wears on, and I couldn’t think of a greater gift for this team than if he can keep this going down the stretch. Given that a few of his teammates are fighting it right now, ZMH’s ability to chip in consistently will be worth its weight in gold if the Oilers are going to win themselves a) a playoff spot and b) home-ice for the first round.

MORE LOVE FOR THE SPECIAL TEAMS

We all know that the Oilers’ penalty kill has given up goals in eight of their last night games — the PK has mostly been a disaster since the calendar flipped to February — and that’s why I have to give the boys credit for getting the job done with the two shorthanded situations they faced against the Kings, including an extended 5-on-3 midway through the second period.
Late in the middle frame, Leon Draisaitl tied the game with his 15th PP marker of the year on the Oilers’ first chance with the man advantage, and for the second straight time, LA coughed up their lead shortly before the intermission. In a span of under 10 minutes, both special teams units came through with clutch performances that directly contributed to the win. The PK kept the game close, the PP set the table for a strong finish.
Of course, the tricky part will be to keep it going.
As much as I’m celebrating a small win here, the only reason that makes sense is because of how poorly things have gone over the last nine games. And since we’ve already seen the Oilers have prolonged success on both units, they have to find a way to get back to that level. I know that seems like a “what have you down for me lately” kind of mentality, but the Oilers are the ones who raised the bar here and all we want from them it to find a way back there.

LEON DRAISAITL HAD A HELL OF A GAME

Over and above the fact that Leon Draisaitl tied the game with his 15th power play goal of the season and 29th overall on a perfect shot/pass by Evan Bouchard, I thought that was the best game he’s played in a while. Everybody knows that Draisaitl was a little big sassy after Saturday’s loss to the Flames, but you have to love the way he followed up an off night with a performance like this one.
Just as important as the two points he put on the board, Draisaitl was noticeably working his bag off in all three zones on the ice. From defending hard in his own zone to hauling ass on the back check, this was Draisaitl at his best and the Kings struggled mightily to contain him. Drai could have probably popped another goal or two with a little bit of luck, and for my money, the numbers he finished with on boxscore don’t really do justice to how well he played. All night long, the guy was a beast.
For my money, this was the best game Leon has played in a while, and I say that knowing full well that he’s had games with more point than he got against the Kings. When he’s focused and engaged like he was against LA then there aren’t many teams that can stop him from hurting you, which is exactly what he did when we needed him to.
On a night when we needed him to bring his best, Draisaitl finished up with one goal and two points to go along with five shots on goal, 60% on the dot, one hit, and a +1 rating.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

-Stuart Skinner had a tough night against the Flames, and his job didn’t get any easier last night against the Kings. Despite the fact that I trust Stu completely, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit concerned about the way things have gone over his last six starts. So, to have him put in a performance like he did against the Kings was spectacular. From start to finish, Skinner was dialled in between the pipes and he kept the Oilers in the fight even when they were down. He made the saves we needed him to make, he was composed, and he looked much more like the guy that set an Oilers record for consecutive wins than he did the guy who had six straight games under a .900 save%. Simply put, Stu was fantastic on a night when he finished with 38 saves and a .950 save%.
-What is the deal with this weird assist streak Connor McDavid is on right now? Make it five straight games where the captain has finished with two assists on the night. Guy can’t buy a goal right now, but he’s dealing apples like a human cider farm. Does that make sense? I’m trying.
-Evan Bouchard’s shot is amazing, isn’t it? Even though we all knew his blast was coming when Draisaitl set him up for the one-timer, there was nothing Rittich could do about it apart from pray that the puck hit him. The guy’s shot is a weapon, and it’s going to make him rich for real for real. Seeing that he already has 15 goals on the season, all I can think about is how much this next contract is going to cost the Oilers when you consider how rare it is for defencemen to put up points like he can.
-The give-and-go by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor Brown that resulted in RNH cashing in his 16th goal of the year. The first reason I want to highlight this goal is because my boy Nuge quietly put up another multi-point game, and the second is because Connor Brown’s assist on the play was a thing of beauty. I know the guy is having a tough season — we’re all watching so there’s no point harping on it — but I absolutely appreciated the touch he had on this perfectly executed play with Nuge.
-Another point for Mattias Janmark! I know most people won’t care, but I’m giving the man some love for having three goals and four points in his last five games.
-Have you been waiting for the faceoff numbers? Did you think I was only going to tease you without offering my favourite circle showdown data? I would never. And, without further ado, I am thrilled to report that the Oilers won 51.7% of the faceoffs.

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