Oilers win, and more importantly, there are only two pre-season games left. Final Score: 7-2 Oilers
We’re finally closing in on the finish line, my friends. Including tonight’s game against the Canucks, there were only three more pre-season games left on the schedule and if that’s not a small miracle worth celebrating then I don’t know what is. On the bright side, we’re finally getting a better idea of what our team might look like when games are played for keeps and that’s exciting because it truly feels like this team is as deep up front as we’ve seen in ages. Sure, I still have a healthy concern about the way our defence will stack up against the universally accepted contenders, but the way this offence is put together has me thinking we’ll just have to win games 7-5 or something. Totally doable, don’t even worry about it.
As for our matchup against the Canucks, I felt coming into this thing that there was absolutely no reason the Oilers shouldn’t win this hockey game given who they had dressed relative to their competition, so what I was most interested in was how these new line combos would do. I really liked the idea of having Dylan Holloway parked beside Leon Draisaitl in a top-six role that he could sink his teeth into. And as we saw, he excelled in that spot. I was also interested in Jack Campbell playing the entire game as we all work to learn what his style is like after three straight years of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen. I wanted to know if Jake Virtanen could show more than a pulse in his fourth pre-season game even though a whole lot of us are more than ready to pull the plug on the experiment. My point here is that I actually find that there’s more to watch during these pre-season games the longer we go on.
In the end, the Oilers gave us the win we were all expecting and I think there were players that rose to the challenge of making an impression and others that didn’t. What will be interesting to watch now is how Woodcroft evaluates what’s happened and what that will mean for tomorrow’s round of cuts.
Things Worth Mentioning…
- Dylan Holloway opened the scoring (1-0) with a deflection in front of the net after putting himself in the perfect spot at the right time to redirect Darnell Nurse’s shot from the point. Holloway added another goal (3-1) midway through the second period on the back of a beautiful little dangle-to-roof job that had both the defenceman and goaltender lost and confused. Holloway completed the hat trick (5-2) in the third period after picking the puck up in the circle, finding some space for himself, and ripping a low shot through Delia. I don’t know how many times I have to go on record to say that Dylan Holloway is making this team based on merit over and above the cap reasons, and this game was another example of why. In fact, I’m so confident in what he’s done so far that I’m ready to name him the Ty Rattie Award winner for 2022 as the team’s pre-season champ.
- Nils Hoglander tied the game (1-1) on the Canucks’ fifth power play chance of the night, and with the way the Oilers kept parading to the box it honestly felt like only a matter of time before Vancouver would find a way to capitalize.
- Zach Hyman restored the Oilers’ lead (2-1) with a tap-in on the power play after Connor picked up the puck along the boards and found him in front of the net with his stick on the ice.
- Conor Garland pulled the Canucks back to within a single goal (3-2) after getting his stick on Wolanin’s point shot and having the puck take a few lucky bounces before eventually sliding through Campbell’s legs. It was one of those weird pinball goals that there’s not a whole lot you can do about apart from actually getting the puck out of the zone, which is what they bungled in the first place.
- Tyson Barrie gave the Oilers back their two-goal lead (4-2) with a low snipe after Zach Hyman found him trailing the play as the high man with all the time and space in the world. Barrie finished the night with two**** points in what was his best pre-season game so far.
- Warren Foegele picked up his first pre-season goal (6-2) in the third period on a one-touch shot as the business end of a perfectly executed 2-on-1 with Jake Virtanen. Foegele picked up a second goal only moments later after he took a pass from Devin Shore in the slot and buried a quick shot through the goaltender.
- I know it’s only the pre-season but I’m already a big Jack Campbell guy. Unless I missed it, we’re now through two appearances in net and he hasn’t yelled at a defenceman even once. Great success! As for his job, I thought Campbell looked very steady between the pipes, and I thought he did an excellent job of picking up his teammates in their moments of sloppiness. Campbell finished with 28 saves and a .933 save%.
- Tyler Benson left the game in the second period and did not return, which was a real bummer to hear because the guy had been having a whale of a pre-season so far. In every game he’s played, I thought Benson was noticeable, annoying (in a good way), and effective, and I hope whatever happened is nothing that will keep him out for too long.
- Jake Virtanen finished his fourth pre-season game with an assist, one hit, one block, and two PIMs. Thoughts?
- The Oilers were doing a lot of passing to no one in particular and it’s the kind of rustiness that I hope they’re able to shake off sooner than later. I know it will take some time for everyone to get their timing back, but there were far too many missed passes and
- It’s weird that the power play has struggled as much as it has over the course of these six games. I know the personnel changes every night, but I find it interesting that no matter who is out there, they can’t find a way to get the puck in the net.
- At the other end of the ice, the Oilers were mostly solid on the PK as they were able to kill off 4-of-5 shorthanded situations.
- I kinda have to acknowledge that the Oilers won 63% of the faceoffs, don’t I?
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