You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Final Score: 5-2 Oilers
One of the most interesting aspects of this weird COVID campaign, to me, is the idea of playing mini-series against the same opponents over and over, and what that will mean in terms of game-to-game adjustments. Last night, the Oilers were sloppy in all three zones on the ice and it cost them dearly in terms of unearned chances against and, in too many cases, goals ending up in the back of the net behind Koskinen. Coming into tonight’s rematch the boys desperately needed to tighten their games up in basically every facet if they were going to avoid an 0-2 start, and while we’re still in the opening days of this season, I was hopeful that the mistakes that sunk the ship last night would be avoided in round two. I mean, let’s be honest here for a second, I don’t think the Canucks played like world-beaters nor were they perfect defensively by any means, and while I’ll readily admit that I’m biased in my outlook, I felt like the Oilers were in good shape to register their first win.
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That all said, there’s no doubt that the Oilers sputtered their way through the opener and if they came out with the same level of effort and execution as they had in that game then we were going to be in for another long night. Adding to the intrigue was the fact that Mike Smith was unavailable to play, meaning that Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for the second time in under 24 hours. But since he hasn’t played in months, I was hoping that Kostco would still have plenty of juice to get the job done, and thankfully the boys were able to make the job a bit easier, buzzing around the ice from the moment the puck dropped and keeping that energy, led by their captain, going for 60 minutes. I’d even go so far as to say they looked like a completely different team. They were hustling, executing plays, supporting each other, and making things happen on their special teams, which were items that hurt them in the loss and all things that helped contribute to this win.
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Outside of a few gaffs, moments of sustained pressure in their own end, and an almost unfortunate score that made the game look a little bit closer than it was, the Oilers were by far the better squad in this one and there were times where it looked like the only way they were going to lose this hockey game was if aliens landed and abducted them straight off the bench. All-in-all, this was so much more fun to watch than what we watched last night, and I think the Connor McDavid-led Oilers deserve a lot of credit for evening this two-game set.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • Midway through the first period, @Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring (1-0) on the powerplay as a rebounded puck found him near the side of the crease, leaving a wide-open net for a tap-in. Nugent-Hopkins added a second goal (5-2) in the third period after Kailer Yamamoto found him with a beautiful pass in the slot that was perfectly deflected by the longest-serving Oiler. With a little bit of luck, RNH could have also gotten a hat trick for himself as he also hit the post a couple of times at varying stages. Nuge didn’t have a great game last night — it wasn’t horrible — but I’d still say that he had a fine bounce back game in response.
  • With less than two seconds left on the clock at the end of the first period, the Oilers managed to pull off a sneaky little faceoff play that allowed @Connor McDavid to slip behind the defence and roof the rebound up and over Demko to extend his team’s lead to two goals (2-0). About 10 game minutes later, he added a face-melting coast-to-coast goal (3-1) that not only embarrassed the Canucks’ defence but also had Thatcher Demko so confused that he likely considered a career change. Wrapping up the hat trick (4-2), McDavid further haunted Demko’s night with a beautiful move from his forehand to the backhand before roofing the puck into the top shelf.  After being held off the scoresheet last night, McDavid went supernova and he was completely unstoppable by anyone the Canucks tried to put in his way.
  • How about @Leon Draisaitl quietly putting up four-points after registering two in the opener? Dude is absolutely ridiculous. A warlord.
  • Despite playing last night, @Mikko Koskinen was back in the crease as a result of Mike Smith being pulled out at some point today. By no means was Koskinen to blame for the loss, but I think it’s fair to suggest he’d probably like to have a goal or two back. Much to our collective delight, the big Finn was rock solid and while he wasn’t quite as busy as his counterpart, he was still called upon to provide his team with some big saves and lay the foundation it needed to get the two points. My point here is that he played incredibly well, and finished his night with 38 saves and a .950 save%.
  • @Kailer Yamamoto is so great. His tenacity on the puck is like a dog on a bone, and I can’t get enough of the way he plays.
  • @Ethan Bear is a lot of fun to watch no matter where he is on the ice. From his stick work with the puck to the way he always seems to be calm and collected, Bear is quickly turning into one of my favourite players to focus on whenever he’s out there.
  • @Tyson Barrie picked up his first point as an Oilers, grabbing an assist on McDavid’s second goal of the night.
  • @Jesse Puljujarvi looks like a much different player to me and one that’s playing with a whole lot more poise and confidence than the one that left Edmonton a year and a half ago. Feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong, but I can’t be the only one that’s noticed a real difference even after only two games.
  • Last night, the Oilers’ powerplay struggled mightily to get established and applying pressure, so I was optimistic that they’d be able to get something done in the rematch and they did exactly that with a pair of goals that backed them to victory.
  • Not to be outdone, the penalty killers were very effective while doing their thing as well, handling all five chances Vancouver had with the man advantage.
  • After being outshot last night, the Oilers returned the favour, dominating the shot clock by a 46-40 margin.
  • Playing every game within the North Division is going to make for some angry games later on and I’m pretty excited about it.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • @Nate Schmidt cut the lead in half (2-1) after ripping a shot from the blue line that made its way through traffic and beat a falling Mikko Koskinen that was settling into his butterfly.
  • Moments after Connor McDavid restored the two-goal lead, @Tyler Motte tipped a point shot near the doorstep past Koskinen (3-2) to bring the Canucks back to within a single goal. This goal was yet another example of the Canucks generating offence with shots from the point, and it’s a tactic that Dave Tippett will have to adjust on.
  • Despite killing them all off, I think think it’s a great idea to be taking five penalties in a night. I know some of the calls were a little bit weak but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.
  • One of the biggest surprises leading into the second game of the season was Mikko Koskinen being called upon to play in back-to-back games. This morning, we had all expected that Mike Smith would get his first start of the year, but the Oilers announced that Stuart Skinner was being recalled on an emergency basis, which triggered all of the speculation that comes along with a roster move like because of the player affected and the time we’re living in. Gregor tweeted that Smith didn’t skate this morning and that Tippett mentioned there would be a change because of “bumps and bruises.” Time will tell, I guess.
  • I don’t like seeing that the Canucks won 54% of the faceoffs but it didn’t matter so I’ll give them a pass.
  • If I’m going to nitpick a little bit, I thought the Oilers took their foot off the gas a little bit towards the back half.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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Talk to me, Twitter. Tweet at @Oilersnation and @jsbmbaggedmilk for your chance to land in the Best of the Tweets.

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