After more than four months of waiting to watch meaningful hockey games once again, the Edmonton Oilers came out flat against the Chicago Blackhawks.
No that doesn't cover things correctly.
After more than four months of waiting to watch meaningful hockey games once again, the Edmonton Oilers dropped an absolute deuce against the Hawks.
There was absolutely no reason the Oilers should have come out the way they did and yet it happened. At almost every turn Edmonton was out chanced, out scored, out skated, and out played. It was one of the ugliest affairs I have seen this team play in a decade; simply because they are far better than what they showed.
Let's break down the good. the bad, and the ugly... and there plenty of ugly to be looking at here.
- The powerplay did the thing that the Oilers powerplay is supposed to do. It was the only facet of the game that Edmonton was able to match the Hawks in. The Oilers finished 3/4 on the PP.
- Mikko Koskinen was good... because of course he was. He has been the Oilers best goaltender all season and has looked the best in the scrimmages. He may not have started the game (we will cover ALL THAT in a second) but he came in and stopped 18 of 19 shots, including all 11 EV shots he faced.
- We may have seen the last game Mike Smith dresses as an Oiler
- RNH scored his first playoff goal of his career. That was neat.
- The Neal-Khaira-Chiasson line might have been the best line for the Oilers last night. They finished with a 70CF% anad just barely outchanced the Hawks.
- McDavid and Draisaitl had 3 point nights (only nice thing I'm going to say about them this time)
- Tyler Ennis went down from a hit by fomer Oiler Drake Caggiula that wasn't called as a penalty on the play. Luckily Ennis would return but the fact that a penalty wasn't called was horrendous. The league has now scheduled a hearing for Caggiula.
- The Athanasiou, Sheahan, Archibald line also came out solid with a 57.14CF% but played the fewest total time for the Oilers, with Athanasiou playing the lowest amount of any player for the Oilers.
- Mike Smith. Right before the game it was announced that Tippett was going with his old buddy Smith to start this game. It's no secret that I am not a fan of Smith and hated this decision but there have been times in the year where Tippett went back to Smith and was rewarded for it. This was not one of those times. Make no mistake, the Oilers absolutely hung him out to dry in the first and allowed some egregious grade A chances against but at some point Smith also needed to stop a puck. Edmonton had some life after their first powerplay goal but Smith's blatant giveaway on the Strome goal seemed to take all life from the team and it was a downward spiral from there.
- I have a feeling after Tippett is done throwing chairs at his players today the main focus of practice will be defensive assignments and moving the puck out of their own end. Larsson finished with a team worst 26.32CF%, Klefbom was brutal, Nurse and Bear weren't as horrendous as that duo but they did not fair much better. After the Strome goal, the next three goals scored by the Hawks were a direct result of missed coverage where a player was left alone in the slot for a grade A chance.
- Connor McDavid had a bad game. It doesn't happen often for the elite centre but when the team needed him the most he wasn't at his best. His name may have appeared on the scoresheet 3 times, but him and his line were out chanced continuously. It wasn't just the Toews line doing damage against #97. The Hawks fourth line also played a decent amount against and still outchanced them.
- The whole RNH, McDavid, and Kassian line were on the ice for the 3 even strength goals that were scored against and did not manage a single goal in response.
- Half of the special teams came out to play. The penalty kill were the other nails in the coffin as Edmonton allowed 3 goals on 6 power play opportunities against.
- Also what the hell is this team doing taking 6 penalties from the Hawks?!
All in all it was a miserable game and panic has reasonably set in for the fans of the franchise. There are some potential bright spots. As much as the loss hurts, it could be exactly the wakeup call this team needs to start to run the show. McDavid and Draisaitl rarely play two bad games in a row, especially when they matter this much. I expect both players to actually be Edmonton's best players next game.
Mikko Koskinen will be the starter for the next game, unless the pictures Smith has of Tippett are really that bad. Koskinen throughout the season has given the team a far superior chance to win and despite how awful the team played in front of him, only allowed 1 goal.
It was as dissapointing a loss as could be imagined but the team will be back at it Monday evening, hopefully with a far better effort. Tying the series up at 1-1 will bring some energy back to everyone.
Going down 2-0 would be catastrophic and if they play anything like they did yesterday... very likely.
Thanks for reading.