Undermanned but not outworked. I’ll take that, boys. Final Score: 2-1 Hurricanes
Can I be honest for a second and admit that I was very nervous about this hockey game? Not only are they an incredibly tough opponent at the best of times, but the Oilers are also coming into this thing on the second half of a back-to-back set and battling injuries to key pieces in their lineup. Captain Obvious suggests that’s a tough combo to overcome, ya know? So when the game started exactly as I expected it to — the Canes were buzzing in all three zones and firing pucks en masse — I was hoping for history to repeat itself, meaning that we could goalie our way to a win that we probably didn’t deserve. We either had to steal one or get off the mat and start swinging. Unfortunately, those hopes all got pushed to the backburner when Connor McDavid left the game as a result of a high stick to the mouth that forced him off the ice for repairs. The vibes were tense. There’s nothing quite like a potential McDavid injury to tie your stomach in knots, and I was not emotionally prepared for that kind of stress on this fine Sunday morning.
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Heading into the second period, our heroes were down by a pair on the scoreboard but all anybody wanted to talk about was what was going on with the captain and whether he’d be able to return or not. It was almost like the remaining 40 minutes didn’t matter all that much until we got an update about what was going on. Thankfully, Oilers fans got the news they needed as McDavid was able to start the middle frame even though his mouth was bloodied and looking generally awful. With the McScare out of the way, it was time to get back to work and see if the boys couldn’t chip away at the two-goal hole that was staring them in the face. And like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Oilers got a huge goal from Derek Ryan to halve the deficit and get themselves back in the fight. I’m not sure if McDavid coming back was the spark the boys needed or not, but the Oilers got a lot more done in the middle third — they outshot the Hurricanes 16-6 which is no joke — and it was the kind of performance they really needed to give themselves a fighting chance.
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Down by one with the third period left to play, I was actually feeling pretty good about the Oilers’ chances to get at least a point out of this game, but they needed to keep their giddy-up going. This time around, however, the play on the ice seemed to swing back and forth much more evenly as both clubs worked their way into a steady supply of quality offensive opportunities. At both ends of the rink, each side had chances from spots on the ice that could have either tied the game or extended the lead but the goaltenders were having none of it, and it made for an exciting finish. It was shift after shift of back-and-forth action that honestly made me proud of the way our side was playing given that they were tired, missing key pieces, and up against one of the NHL’s best. And while I certainly wish the Oilers were able to get the tying goal to earn at least a point for their efforts, this is one of those times when I think I’m okay with a silver lining. Shorthanded and tired, the Oilers still battled until the very end but just came up short.
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It always sucks to lose, but there is plenty to take away from this one as well.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • @Derek Ryan kept his heater going with a huge second-period goal (2-1) that pulled his team back to within one after he broke into the zone on a half breakaway and made a nice little deke to his forehand before sliding the puck through Andersen’s legs.
  • @Connor McDavid coming back from a high stick to the face with his mouth all caked in blood was a triumphant moment and I don’t want to hear even one word to the contrary.
  • Having the boys hang with the Hurricanes despite missing Nugent-Hopkins, Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, and Kassian was a major bright side. We’re not talking about playing shorthanded against the Coyotes, we’re talking about the team that is second in the league standings.
  • As much as I was worried about how @Mike Smith would look in his 14th start of the season, I have to give him credit for putting in a strong performance and allowing his team the time they needed to settle in and get their lets going. Had it not been for Smith, the Oilers could have been down by more than a pair in the first period and it’s only fair to give him some love after expressing my doubts in this morning’s GDB. Smith finished the afternoon with 27 saves and a .931 save%.
  • It was another big day for Darnell Nurse as he finished with 25:57 in TOI to go along with two shots on goal, five hits, and two blocks.
  • @Leon Draisaitl finished with a team-high 28:08 in TOI, which is a ridiculous total for a forward. I know Connor was hurt for most of the first period but even so…
  • Markus Niemalainen love post! Six more hits for the kid today.
  • If you love a good Corski win then you’re probably excited about outshooting the Hurricanes by a 30-29 margin.
  • Sign up for the new ON Newsletter! It’s a weekly thing I’m doing on Mondays and I’ll have some giveaways, etc happening in there.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • @Teuvo Teravainen opened the scoring (1-0) on the back of a very pretty passing play that saw the Hurricanes cut through the Oilers’ defensive coverage like butter with a hot knife.
  • @Sebastian Aho extended the lead (2-0) in the final minutes of the first period on a power play goal that looked nearly identical to the one Teravainen scored early as the Hurricanes were once again able to capitalize on another perfect passing play.
  • The Oilers went 0/4 on the power play on a day when we desperately needed a goal and that makes this stat sting just a little bit extra.
  • Things didn’t get much better on the penalty kill either as the Hurricanes were able to cash in one goal on three opportunities with the man advantage.
  • I’m not going to make a big deal out of this today because I don’t have the energy to get too annoyed about it but the officiating was dreadful in this hockey game.
  • The Oilers were way too undisciplined in the first period and it was almost like their goal was to give the Hurricanes as many power play chances as they needed to build a lead. I know a couple of those calls were pretty questionable at best, but to give Carolina three power plays in a period is a recipe for disaster.
  • As much as I appreciate that Connor McDavid wanted to celebrate Smytty Day with us, I did not expect him to go so far as to get his face smashed in. Thankfully, he was able to come back with a bloodied mouth but there were definitely some tense moments before we knew he’d be able to keep playing. Brady Skjei, you’re on the list.
  • Unfortunately, I must report that the Oilers won only 40% of the faceoffs.
  • I come to you in peace and love with a report from the spreadsheets that states the Oilers finished the night with a 47.95 CF% and a 49.75 xGF%.
  • Even though they had 30 shots on net, I still thought the Oilers passed up on too many chances to throw the puck on net and try to battle for some kind of garbage goal near the crease.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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LISTEN TO BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER

On this week’s podcast, I had Wanye on to talk about why we love the Oilers even though they’ve been so mediocre for years, the history of Oilersnation, hip hop, and more. Subscribe on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts