Ban the helmet rule! Final Score: 3-2 Avalanche in OT
As much as it was fun to see the Oilers wrap up their homestand with a fifth straight win over New Jersey on Saturday, the team had some big boy business to handle in the form of the Colorado Avalanche. If we were going to keep the good times rolling, they’d need about as complete of an effort as we’ve seen in the Woodcroft era if they were going to beat the Avs at home. Coming into this thing, the Avalanche were sporting a sparkling 24-3-3 record at Ball Arena and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that anything less than a stellar start could easily mean an early deficit. And right from the opening faceoff, I thought the Oilers did a good job of fighting for space and creating chances for themselves against a team that doesn’t seem to give up a whole lot. But even though the boys had a decent opening period, they couldn’t cash in their power play while the Avs got something done when they got a chance, and as we’ve seen too often lately, it was the special teams that ended up being the difference.
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Down by a goal to a team that’s pretty damned good with the lead, the Oilers needed to get the next goal if they were going to have any chance of getting a point or more out of this game. I mean, as much as I know that a two-goal hole is by no means insurmountable, I do know that giving the Colorado Avalanche a running head start is about as helpful as a caravan that’s got no funkin’ wheels. The good news is that the Oilers were indeed able to get the next one to tie the game as I hoped they would. The bad news was that the Avalanche were able to respond just over two minutes later with their second power play goal of the night. I have no idea what kind of sacrifice to the Hockey Gords we need to make to sort out this PK but I’m about ready to try anything provided that someone will hook me up with an alibi. Yet, even with Colorado reclaiming their lead quite quickly, the Oilers were resilient and kept working to claw their way back with shift after shift of pressure until Evander Kane was able to knot the score up for a second time. Like a fly buzzing around the delicious Arby’s picnic, the Oilers would not go away.
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With the game tied and a period left to play, the Oilers put themselves in a good spot to get a point or more provided that they could stay out of the box. At even strength, the boys were outscoring the Avs by a 2-0 margin but the story was the complete opposite when it came to the special teams, meaning that the best thing they could do for themselves was to keep the game at 5v5. If they could, the boys were playing well enough to get something done. My dream of a cleanly played period was dashed with just under seven minutes to go, however, which had me feeling as nervous as I had all evening until the Oilers came through with a clutch kill to keep the dream alive. And for the third straight segment, the Oilers and Avalanche played an incredibly tight game that was very back-and-forth, and it was almost fitting that the game would head to OT for a little bonus hockey to keep the fun going. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted as the Avs were the better team in the limited bonus period, but what we did get was a huge point against a team that many expected was going to walk all over us. Maybe this is one of those times you take the silver lining?
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The wrap.

THE BRIGHT SIDE

  • That was a hell of a game against the best team in the NHL and I tip my cap to the boys for the effort.
  • @Kailer Yamamoto tied the game (1-1) on the back of a beautiful passing play that saw McDavid and Draisaitl bobbing and weaving before Yamo was fed a perfect pass with a wide-open net to shoot at. Not only did Yamo score but I thought he was making an impact nearly every time he was on the ice with the way he annoyed the Avalanche at nearly every turn.
  • @Evander Kane tied the game up for the second time (2-2) after he snuck behind Colorado’s defence and into the perfect spot for Yamamoto to find him in front of the net. Once Yamo found Kane alone with Kuemper, the puck was off the guy’s stick and in the net almost as quickly as it got there. The Kane heater is real.
  • McPoint!
  • Draisaitl also got a point because it seems like these two refuse to do anything apart.
  • Even though @Mike Smith didn’t have the most difficult outing against the Buffalo Sabres in his last start, I thought he did a good job of handling his business and making the saves he needed to make to lock in the win. On the #BeetCast, I said that I hoped it was the kind of casual win that would build a little bit of confidence for Smith since we’d be better off having him feeling his best considering we were going to need him down the stretch. Tonight, I thought Smith was solid for the Oilers and gave them a quality start, especially when I wouldn’t really hang any of Colorado’s goals on him either. Smith finished the night with 28 saves and a .903 save%.
  • @Ryan McLeod is going to be a stud and I refuse to believe anything else based on the way he’s improved through his first full year in the NHL.
  • I come to you with news from the spreadsheets which reveal that the Oilers finished the night with a 50.0 CF% and a 44.26 xGF%.
  • It’s been a minute since I’ve mentioned the way the Oilers’ neutral zone play has improved under Jay Woodcroft and so I wanted to bring it up again. Rather than sitting back in some kind of zone coverage, the Oilers are way more aggressive with their attack and I am very very appreciative of this upgrade by Woody and the boys.
  • I am delighted to advise that the Oilers won 56% of the faceoffs. A true deadline day win, my friends.
  • Join us in Calgary for the March 26th BOA as we pack a bus with Nation Citizens and make our way south.

THE FACE PALMERS

  • @Mikko Rantanen gave Colorado the early edge (1-1) with a power play goal from in tight after his attempted centering pass was blocked and bounced right back to his stick with an open lane to shoot. A little bit of tough luck mixed with a well-executed power play and you’ve got the Oilers in a hole immediately after flubbing their own chance with the man advantage. Rantanen restored the Avalanche’s lead (2-1) with a second power play goal after his shot from the high slot took a hometown bounce off Darnell Nurse in the slot on its way into the net. Personally, I don’t even think the Avs should have had this PP chance because it was an all-time flop on Yamo but maybe that’s just me being bitter.
  • @Nathan MacKinnon ended the game in OT (3-2) with a snipe from the slot after a sloppy bad luck disastrous mess of a sequence by the Oilers gave the Avs an odd-man rush from their blue line in. Nurse’s helmet fell off, Connor fell down, and it was all downhill from there.
  • We desperately need the PK squad to figure it out down the stretch. While I wouldn’t say the Oilers were terrible in their shorthanded situations, they did give up a goal on 2-of-5 Avalanche opportunities with the man advantage. Even with the lucky bounces on those goals, I don’t think I have to explain why this is a problem.
  • Unfortunately, the power play wasn’t much better as they struck out on both of their opportunities with the man advantage. a
  • I will not complain about the refs. I will not complain about the refs. I will not complain about the refs. I will not complain about the refs. I will not…
  • We lost the Corskis by a 31-25 margin.

SCORING SUMMARY

#GOODCONTENT

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BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER

On the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never, I run through your reaction to the trade deadline and how another tentpole event has passed for the NHL and Ken Holland has yet to find a solution to his goaltending issues. Is it enough that Holland added Brett Kulak and Derick Brassard? Did he fail? Did he succeed? Subscribe on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts. 
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