The Oilers over the past few nights had to have noticed their fellow Western Conference opponents inching closer to them in the standings. For a team that has had no sniff of the playoffs in January for a number of years, the Oilers (excluding veterans of past success such as Lucic, of course) have been receiving a crash course in the type of pressure that comes along with trying to cobble together the points necessary to make the playoffs.
On Tuesday against the Blue Jackets, the Oilers failed the test that, to this point in the season, best resembled what a playoff like atmosphere is like. Tonight, facing off against a Bruins team that is in a playoff spot themselves, Edmonton would get a chance to redeem themselves.
Could the Oilers pass the test of the Bruins? Let’s take a look.
- Excellent start! Immediately we got to see that sweet McDavid/Maroon chemistry that we have come to love (and miss) so much. Add in a little beauty of a pass by Draisaitl and in just over a minute, the Oilers jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Pretty little move by the Captain to tee it up.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 6, 2017
- Just a couple minutes after his goal, Maroon stepped up to fight Zdeno Chara of all people. Amazing heart by #19. What an addition to the club Maroon has been.
- After scoring, the Oilers ran into trouble with significant pressure from Boston and the B’s were able to capitalize with a goal that just barely squeaked over the line. 1-1.
- In fact, by 10 minutes in the shot clock read 10-3 in favour of the Bruins. Not quite the follow up that one would expect after starting so hot.
- The rest of the period would follow much of the same pattern. Shots improved for the Oilers to 13-8 by the end of 20.
What a strange period of poor play for the Oilers. A gorgeous start evaporated immediately into flashbacks of the terrible Columbus game and eventually turned into a Bruins goal, multiple chances for Boston, and a strong requirement for Cam Talbot to be sharp. McDavid and Maroon looked good early which was a bright spot.
- 4 minutes into 2nd and the Oilers, outside of 1 good shift by McDavid’s line, looked identical to their stagnant 1st period selves. Unacceptable play for a team in the midst of a playoff hunt.
- The first Power Play of the game had very little going on Oilers wise. In fact, the bets chance in the 2 minutes came on a 2 on 1 for the Bruins. Bad.
- And not too long after that, the Oilers left the slot wide open where Patrice Bergeron was able to walk in and put the Bruins up 2-1. That one tasted like the 2014 version of the Oilers.
- Thankfully, Patrick Maroon is apparently a Lord among men and was able to use his size and strength to muscle home his 2nd of the night! McDavid also picked up his 2nd assist on the play.
- The goal is Maroon’s 13th of the campaign, setting a new career high for him in a single season.
- A terrific play by Mark Letestu with 3 minutes left almost certainly saved a goal, despite taking a penalty in the process.
The 2nd period housed another 20 minutes of mostly bad hockey by the Edmonton Oilers. If not for Maroon, McDavid, Draisaitl, and Talbot, this game is already out of reach. Thankfully, the Oilers do have those 4 gentleman and riding on their backs, would have a chance to win the game in the 3rd. Shots were 28-17 Bruins.
- Nuuuuuuugeeee! Isn’t it amazing what getting the puck on net can do? Matt Benning placed a shot on net a mere 14 seconds into the 3rd that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was able to knock in off of a rebound and just like that the Oilers found themselves up 3-2.
- I like to think that in McDavid’s mind while he plays hockey, there is just hundreds and thousands of different formulas, equations, theories, etc flying around a million miles a minute. It is the only way to explain his brilliant play.
- ALL THE HATS!!!!! SEND OUT ALL OF THE HATS!!!! Oh man, aren’t hat tricks just the best? Patrick Maroon, on another incredible individual effort, put his team up 4-2 with 10 minutes to go in the 3rd. Thank. You. Anaheim.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 6, 2017
- Also, take that coach’s challenge! Maroon’s goal had double the enjoyment, just due to the failed offside challenge placed by the Bruins. Oh how much I, and I am sure many of you, hate those.
- With Gryba already in the box late in the game, Benoit Pouliot took another careless penalty to give the Bruins a 5 on 3 Power Play in which the Bruins were able to capitalize and make it 4-3. Not sure how much further Pouliot can cram into that dog house.
- A few tense moments followed in the 3rd, but the Oilers were able deliver on the PK and pulled goalie attack in order to skate away with a victory.
Final Score: Oilers 4 – Bruins 3
Last season, the Edmonton Oilers virtually stole Patrick Maroon from the Anaheim Ducks. Tonight, Patrick Maroon virtually stole this game for the Oilers.
Granted, other players had great games, and sure the 3rd period was much better than the first 2 for the Oilers, but in the big picture, this was all the Patrick Maroon show.
For much of the season now, Maroon has been putting together many impressive games featuring different elements of his game. On some nights, he has impressed with his smart, underrated 2-way ability. On other nights, he has wow’d with his goal scoring ability. On most, he has demonstrated his overbearing physical presence.
Tonight, Patrick Maroon took all of those aspects and threw them down on the table. The Boston Bruins, despite being the better team for the majority of the game, could not fully overcome the challenge. This was an impressive game from an impressive individual, and Peter Chiarelli deserves a TON of credit for finding this player.
Additionally, Connor McDavid showed a spark that has been missing the last few games in which he brought his plethora of speed and smarts. It helped that McDavid not only had Maroon on his wing, but also Leon Draisaitl who continues to put together a wonderful season.
Matt Benning showcased some astute defensive plays on the defence and Cam Talbot was stellar.
In regards to Benoit Pouliot, I cannot imagine a scenario where he plays on Saturday night. After a very poor giveaway on Tuesday night that lead directly to a goal, Pouliot took that boneheaded penalty late in the game that almost lead to the Bruins tying the game.
I am all for playing veterans with strong track records to help ride out their slumps; however, when their play starts to seriously cost the team, that is where the line is drawn.
Overall, was this a pretty game for the Oilers? For the most part, no. Was this an effort that will win them a game on Saturday? Probably not. Does it change the fact that they still got 2 points? Definitely not.
Edmonton found a way to win, and good teams have a tendency to do that. The Oilers nabbed their 20th win of the season, but will need to up their intensity in order to have a successful weekend of back to back games on the road.
Player of the Game
No mystery to this one at all. Patrick Maroon for all the reasons stated above.
On a night when Patrick scored the goal that put him past his career season-high total, he was also able to generate a hat trick and fight Zdeno Chara.
How many players in the league can say that? Unbelievable night for #19.
Up Next: Taylor Hall & the New Jersey Devils
The Oilers will take on Taylor Hall and the Devils Saturday night in a game that is sure to have plenty of fan fare.
Hopefully the Oilers are able to block out the distraction that comes from playing their former star and put together a better game than their last couple.