15 wins in a row is a task that has only been accomplished 4 times in the history of the NHL. The Columbus Blue Jackets were the 4th team to do it, and came into tonight’s game looking to be only the second team in NHL history to compile a streak of 16 straight wins.
The Oilers, despite being confident in their performance through the first half of the season, must have felt as if they were entering the base camp of Mount Everest when they walked into Nationwide Arena this evening. No, the task in front of them was not impossible, but it certainly wouldn’t be easy.
Could the Oilers bust the streak and become the Supervillain to Central Ohio? Lets take a look.
- It was early on (only a couple shifts in) and the line of Lucic, Nuge and Drai already looked rather good. Nugent-Hopkins has been playing much, much better as of late.
- At the start, the intensity of the game could be felt from both teams. Strong, fast paced hockey with chances coming and going both ways on the ice. Shots were tied 4-4 at the midway point of the period; however, this even play would not last long.
- Unfortunately, Jesse Puljujarvi would take a careless penalty a little over 10 minutes in and the outstanding Columbus Power Play went to work and scored. It was a bad bounce off of Sekera, but still, the Jackets showcased just why their Power Play is so deadly. Exceptional puck movement.
- From then on, little else was able to be generated by the Oilers other than a lot of own zone time and seemingly dispassionate hockey from the majority of the club.
- The shots to conclude the period were 12-4, meaning the Oilers failed to register a shot in the final 10 minutes. Thankfully, Cam Talbot was sharp.
Although the game started off fairly even, by the time the buzzer rang on the period, Columbus had clearly taken a stranglehold on the game. Lucic, Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins looked dangerous, physical and engaged. Everyone else? Not so much. A bone-headed penalty ensured that the Oilers were to head into the 2nd down by 1.
- The Oilers had a chance early to tie the game on the Power Play, but were unable to convert much of anything, registering a total of 0 shots.
- Oscar Klefbom, you beautiful man! After some mundane hockey following the disappointing Power Play, the Oilers were able to generate a nice zone entry, initiated by Jordan Eberle, where Patrick Maroon found the defenceman in the slot for his 6th goal of the season. Nice to see some even strength production from the top line. 1-1.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 4, 2017
- And right after the assist by Maroon, just a shift later, Patrick delivered a crushing hit on Brandon Dubinsky which resulted in a spirited scrap. Oilers fans have to be impressed with the big guy’s performance.
- Columbus would strike yet again on the Power Play (a weak penalty call to Davidson, imo), on another lucky bounce in front of the net, and the Blue Jackets would regain the lead. You have to be lucky to be good, 2-1.
- An Oiler’s Power Play late in the second was negated by yet another weak call, this time on McDavid. Strange, considering the ref closest to the action didn’t call it, but the one on the other side of the ice did, about 5 seconds after the supposed infraction. Brutal.
An up and down period. Klefbom was able to knot the game on a really smart goal, but Columbus got the lead right back with a tally on the man advantage. The penalty call on Davidson was weak, but that is a situation where regardless of the context, a successful penalty kill is needed.
Better period for the Oilers than the 1st, but they would need much more spark if they wanted to slay they streak.
Helpful Hint: If the ref right beside the play doesn’t think something should be a penalty, maybe the ref who is 25 feet away should pocket the whistle. Just a thought.
- After a start to the period for the Oilers that looked promising, Benoit Pouliot committed an absolutely ghastly turnover to Nick Foligno who put the Jackets up 3-1. That was horrible. The terrible season for the veteran winger continues.
- About 5 minutes in, Cam Talbot made a remarkable save at even strength. How did the Oilers respond? Taking yet another penalty. Thankfully, the team was able to kill the penalty successfully.
- McDavid had a very strong drive to the net halfway through the period that looked exactly like how we expect McDavid to play. His ability to put his head down, fly around a D, and drive the net, is unparalleled.
- Afterwards, the Oilers failed to score on a Power Play that could have got them within 1 with time on the clock.
- The Oilers failed to convert in the final couple minutes with Talbot pulled.
Final Score: Blue Jackets 3 – Oilers 1
This was an ugly effort from the Oilers. There might be some merit to an argument of whether or not the Oilers were bad or Columbus was just really good, but by eye, the Oilers just didn’t appear to have the same emotion or care as their opponents did this evening.
Large portions of uninspired, messy, mistake ridden hockey led to the Oilers struggling to consistently make passes, sustain pressure, or even get the puck out of their own zone.
In today’s game day preview, the ability to stay disciplined and avoid turnovers were identified as the keys to winning the game for the Oilers. Sure the second penalty call was weak, but the Oilers still found themselves in the penalty box far too often against a team with the league’s best Power Play. It was a horrible turnover by Benoit Puliot that put the Jackets up by 2, a lead that never felt in danger.
The Oilers were able to compile a shift here and there that generated a decent, promising chance, but there was never any real follow up to those shifts. Instead, the play would find itself back in the Oilers zone where Talbot was depended upon to keep things in check.
It would be hard to win with an effort like that against most regular teams. A team as hot as the Blue Jackets, though? Next to impossible. 16 wins in a row now, and they will look to tie the 1992-1993 Penguins at 17 this Thursday. Can they break the record and hit 18?
A Couple Final Notes
On a dull night, the trio of Lucic, Nuge and Draisaitl were a lone bright spot, despite not scoring. If I am the coach, I keep this line together for Thursday.
The Oilers surrendered 2 goals on the penalty kill tonight. Anton Lander was just recalled but did not play. I can’t help but think that Lander may have been able to help a tad bit tonight in that area.
Oilers Player of the Game
Patrick Maroon. Maroon had a terrific second period and did what he could to get his team back in it. He got a solid assist, a nice scrap and contributed elsewhere with physical play. Even in the dying seconds, Maroon had a decent scoring chance (although it would not have mattered).
Up Next: The Big Bad Bruins
The Oilers will continue their 4 game road trip with a game on Thursday against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins aren’t in the same realm as Columbus, but they are a good team this year, currently sitting at 3rd in their division.
After tonight’s game, we should expect the Oilers to come out with a bunch more emotion. They will be looking to get their 20th win of the season.