It’s late February and the Oilers are battling for first place in the Pacific Division. If you would have told me that at the beginning of the season, I’d already deem this year a success. With that being said it’s still frustrating to see the team get off to a good start but let things slip away against the Golden Knights.
@Marc-Andre Fleury was excellent but I don’t think he stole the game for the Knights. Vegas was the better team and deserved the win. Here are a few things going through my mind while watching the game. 
POINT MAN, ETHAN BEAR
It hasn’t taken very long for Ethan Bear to look at home on the best power play in the National Hockey League. He’s much better keeping the puck in at the blueline than @Darnell Nurse and could end up being an option even when @Oscar Klefbom returns to action. I did see some people on Twitter wanting him to shoot more and I’m sure that will come with time — it can’t be easy for a young blueliner to have a shooting mindset when you have @Connor McDavid and @Leon Draisaitl as passing options. 
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It will be interesting to see how the Oilers handle their power play time if @Evan Bouchard makes the club next year. As long as McDavid and Draisaitl are Oilers there will be no second PP unit for the Oilers so there really isn’t much of an opportunity to get your feet wet on an NHL power-play. 
GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR ENNIS
Ken Holland has already signed @Joakim Nygard to a one-year extension and it would make sense to bring @Josh Archibald and @Riley Sheahan back as well, but I still think there is an opportunity for Tyler Ennis to win a job over the next few months. He would come at a cost similar to these other guys but provides much more offensive upside. He’s a little bit quicker than I thought he was and he knows how to use what size he does have effectively. 
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The Oilers will have to sign @Andreas Athanasiou to a new deal and after that they won’t have much room left unless they can move @Alex Chiasson or @Jujhar Khaira. The team could save almost four million dollars a year by buying out James Neal, but he would count against the cap for the next six years at 1.9 million. It’s an option. 
POWER PLAY, POWERLESS
The best power play in the league could not find a way to contribute in the Sin City on Wednesday night. Sometimes you just have to give credit where credit is due and the Knights PK is deserving of praise. The first two power plays looked pretty good even though the Knights were relentless with pressure on the PK. The McDavid unit did a good job maintaining puck possession but really didn’t have any time to actually make a play. The man advantage to start the third period was a major buzz kill. It had a chance to tie the game and did nothing. 
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Five of @Alex Chiasson’s eight goals have come on the power play so maybe I’m being a little too critical, but I have no idea what purpose he serves on that top unit. I know @James Neal is hurt but he’s actually taking time away from Neal even when he’s healthy. 
February 25, 2020; Anaheim, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Andreas Athanasiou (28) celebrates his goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks with defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) center Tyler Ennis (63) and center Connor McDavid (97) during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
ATHANASIOU INJURED
It didn’t take long for @Andreas Athanasiou to start fitting in well with his teammates as he left the game with a lower body injury in the third period. For the past couple of months, the Oilers have had a horrible time staying healthy. As of Wednesday night, all Tippett would say is that the newcomer was too sore to play in the third and he hopes it’s not serious. On the bright side @Zack Kassian will be eligible to return to the line up against Winnipeg on Saturday. 
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RECOUPING PICKS
As of tonight, the Oilers don’t have second or fourth round picks in the 2020 draft, and it’s very likely their third will be sent down the highway to Calgary, but I don’t think Ken Holland is at all concerned about a lack of picks right now. As Holland said earlier this week, his message prior to the deadline was that they want to win now — music to the ears of Oilers fans.  
Holland says nobody was calling about @Jesse Puljujarvi on deadline day which is pretty understandable considering he couldn’t join them this season. Many people have decided to spin that comment into meaning that nobody is interested in trading for Puljujarvi and that’s just not true. 
I still think there’s a pretty good chance Holland can get a second in this year’s draft for JP — worst case scenario, a third and a later pick. The @Ottawa Senators have three first rounders and four second rounders. I’d be shocked if they weren’t willing to move a second to get their hands on a 21 year old that could instantly play top nine, at worst. 
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Holland may also be able to bring back a pick if he can find a taker for @Jujhar Khaira. I’ll be pretty surprised if the Oilers end up with just four picks at the draft in Montreal. 
SOOO JEALOUS
It’s impossible to watch an Oilers games in Vegas on TV and not be jealous of all the Edmontonians in attendance. We took some TSN listeners down to the game on McDavid’s 21st birthday and the atmosphere in that barn was just amazing.
I’ll never forget that experience and I can’t wait to go back. The Nation Vacation trip looked amazing, and the pre-game party at Beerhaus is worth the trip alone. 
Nurse scored the winner in overtime that night and the Golden Knights fan sitting in front of us turned around and thanked us for coming to the game and said it was a pleasure to be cheering against us — the politest sports fans I’ve ever seen. 
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