Our special teams are an anchor. Final Score: 3-1 Flames
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As much as the logical side of my brain suggested that I shouldn’t expect much from tonight’s BOA, the chaos part of my brain countered by planting a seed that I could win money if I bet on the underdog Oilers to win, and the reality of the situation is that the latter scenario just seems more fun. And since I was already worried about how much fun we’d be having, I decided to throw caution to the wind and bet with my heart in the hopes that the Hockey Gords would grant us the kind of effort it would take to beat the division-leading Calgary Flames. I know the Flames are playing well, but I also know that they’re a team the Oilers play tough so I was legitimately hopeful that the Oilers would rise to the occasion. Not to mention, if the boys couldn’t get fired up for round three of the Battle of Alberta then we’ve got bigger problems than just a losing streak. But in the early going, both sides looked like they were feeling their way into the game as the play flowed back and forth quite evenly outside of a few shifts here and there where either side was able to maintain zone pressure. All-in-all, it was a decent road period by the visitors.
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Bagels on the board and control of the game up for grabs, the Oilers needed to ratchet up their intensity and find a way to play with more urgency than they had to this point. Rather than making soft plays with the puck and hoping lanes opened up for some cross-ice stuff, the boys had to get more shots on Markstrom and couple them with bodies in the crease that would be ready to puck up the garbage if there was some. With both teams checking as closely as they were, it felt like the kind of night where it was going to take a greasy one or a special teams marker to crack the stalemate. Then, just as I was writing that last sentence, the Flames were able to do what the Oilers could not as they took advantage of a power play opportunity to get themselves on the board and into the lead. Not only was the Flames’ PP success annoying because it came on the heels of yet a third failed opportunity for the Oilers with the man advantage, but the marker seemed to open things up in Calgary’s favour as they were able to tack on another one shortly after. Two goals against in a matter of minutes against a fragile team that looked like they may never score again? not good, my friends. Not good.
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Down by two goals with 20 minutes to play, all I was hoping for was that the Oilers win the period and at least make things interesting. I’ll admit that I wasn’t really expecting a comeback to in the cards here but rather had resigned myself to thinking that even getting on the board would be nice. And what makes that confession even sadder is that the Oilers weren’t playing horribly by any means, but that their special teams were letting them down in a way that can hardly be expressed in words. Thankfully, Devin Shore scored a goal early in the frame to pull my mind back into what was suddenly a very tight hockey team, almost as if it needed a little bit of tension to get the people going. With the score halved and over half a period to play, the Oilers had momentum on their side but needed a healthy dose of execution if they were going to even the score for the first time since the opening period. The vibes were good for a minute. Unfortunately, Shore’s goal was close as the Oilers would get as Johnny Gaudreau was able to restore the two-goal lead in the dying moments of the period to close out Calgary’s win and extend Edmonton’s losing streak to three.
The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • The Oilers played well and I know that I’ll take shit for saying it, but I also understand that silver linings don’t pay the bills.
  • @Devin Shore got the Oilers on the board (2-1) after a lucky bounce off the ref’s skate kicked right out in front of the net, giving Edmonton a wide-open net and a little bit of life in the third period.
  • I love the way @Ryan McLeod plays hockey and I truly think he will be a keeper for this franchise once he gets more at-bats under his belt.
  • @Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for his 30th start of the season, and just as he’s done over the last few weeks, I thought the big man came to play for the most part. Despite the result, Koskinen was solid for the Oilers and it would have been nice if the team in front of him was able to do their jobs a little bit better and ease up on the number of quality scoring chances their goalie had to face. I know that chirping the goalies is the easy play around here these days, but I don’t think that Kostco deserves any hate for the way he played as all three goals that beat him came on grade-A chances by the Flames. Koskinen finished with 26 saves and a .897 save%.
  • Milan Lucic did not score! Great success.
  • Once again, I bring you a report from the spreadsheets which states that the Oilers finished the night with a 55.22 CF% and a 58.33 xGF%.
  • Sign up for the new ON Newsletter! It’s a weekly thing I’m doing and I’ll have some giveaways, etc happening in there.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • @Tyler Toffoli opened the scoring (1-0) with a power play goal after a Tkachuk fanned shot trickled right to him near the edge of the crease and he lifted the puck up and over Koskinen on the glove-hand side. Just over three minutes later, Toffoli added a second goal (2-0) after picking up a pass along the left side of the ice with time and sniping a perfectly placed wrister into the top corner.
  • @Johnny Gaudreau iced the game off (3-1) late in the third period with a breakaway goal that saw him finish off the play with a perfectly executed backhand to forehand deke.
  • Another game, another night where the opposition scores on the power play on one of four chances with the man advantage. It’s been said a thousand times at this point, but the disaster that’s going on with the special teams is an anchor on this team right now.
  • I don’t know what kind of sacrifice we need to offer to sort out the power play issues that are plaguing our team, but I’m prepared to head out into the streets to find something that the Hockey Gords might be willing to accept. Oilers finished the night at 0-for-4 with four shots. Horrible.
  • It was a quiet night for Connor and Leon and that’s generally bad news for the final result.
  • I thought Darnell Nurse had a rough night with the puck, and there was no better example than the turnover he coughed up at the blue line that led to Gaudreau’s breakaway goal.
  • If you’re a fan of the Corskis, I must let you know with peace and love that the Flames outshot the Oilers by a 29-28 margin.
  • Unfortunately, I must report that the Oilers won only 46% of the faceoffs.
  • The NHL site had the giveaways listed at only five for the Oilers but I don’t see how that’s possible.
  • I don’t exactly know how many times the Oilers duffed their breakout passes and missed the initial target entirely, but anything more than one is a problem and the boys had a tonne of them.
  • I don’t want to pick on the guy but Warren Foegele looks like he may never score again. He needs someone to bank a goal in off his ass in the worst possible way.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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LISTEN TO BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER

On this week’s show, I looked at Mikko Koskinen’s resurgence for the Oilers and how his fine play may affect Ken Holland’s trade plans as we head into the deadline. Subscribe on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts.