The Edmonton Oilers have scored five goals in four games.
The forwards have one 5×5 goal in the series.
The Oilers played very well defensively in games two and three, but they need to be more determined offensively, more discliplined and not show their frustration so easily.
The playoff intensity is a new beast and in two games they’ve looked good, while in games one and four they were completely over matched.
It is now a best-of-three and there is no time for a pity party. They need to learn from last night’s ass kicking and show up ready to play on Thursday.
Whether you lose 3-2 in OT or get spanked 7-0, the result is only one loss.
You don’t get bonus points for playing well and you don’t get docked points for playing poorly.
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The San Jose Sharks took the Oilers to playoff school last night.
They played desperate.
They played smart.
They were disciplined.
They were the better team.
And now the challenge for the Oilers is to play like they did in game two when they dominated the Sharks.
The difference is the stakes are higher in game five. The loser will find themselves in their first true must-win situation of the season. There will be more pressure, and I’m curious to see how the Oilers respond.
They dominated game two and were very poised and controlled in game three.
The only valid concern I see is the entire offence, excluding Zack Kassian, has been underwhelming for the majority of this series.
Last night’s offensive display was pathetic. They had one good sequence in the first period, when Connor McDavid created a chance, but other than that the offence never got on track.
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Every forward needs to be better, especially the top-two lines.
This group has discussed how close they’ve become all season. That’s great, and last night’s effort might be a bit easier to swallow because the goalies, defenders and forwards didn’t play well. It is easy to hold each other accountable when everyone knows they played like junk.
“We were bad tonight, obviously. That’s not our team, that’s not our game. We haven’t been like that all year. It was a one-off,” said Connor McDavid last night.
The Oilers rebounded in game two after a weak effort in game one, and they will need a similar response tomorrow.
The best part about the NHL playoffs is there is no where to hide. The Oilers don’t get to play the 30th place team in the NHL tomorrow and have an easier opponent help them regain their confidence. They know they are facing the Sharks, and they know it will be a tough game.
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San Jose took their game to another level last night. It’s amazing, but the intensity and pressure rises the longer a series goes, and if you played well or poorly two nights earlier means nothing when the puck drops Thursday night at 8:30 p.m.
It is now a best-of-three and the Oilers still have home ice advantage.
Many of their offensive stars have yet to show up in the series. The good news is they still have time to make an appearance and help their team win.
Kassian’s performance was the main catalyst in their two victories. He was outstanding. To go deep in the playoffs a team needs timely contributions from the bottom six, but now the onus is on the Oilers top-six forwards.
McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle have to be better. They must find a way to create more offence.
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They combined for 147 goals and 363 points in the regular season.
The rest of the team had 90 goals and 280 points.
It is unlikely all six break out in game five, but at least two or three of them must create some chances and bury a goal or two. Often, we try to dig deep and over analyze things, but the simple truth right now is the Oilers best offensive forwards need to produce. They can’t get frustrated. They need to maintain their confidence, because if they can’t break out in the next few games the Oilers chances of winning are very low.
Talbot has two shutouts. The defence allowed a combined 39 shots in two victories and Kassian scored both game winners.
The rest of the team has done their part to get them to this point, and now it is time for the top-six to show up.
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They’ve been looked at as go-to players their entire career.
They want to produce.
They know they have to, and now it’s just a matter of seeing if they can do it at the most important time of the season.
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