The San Jose Sharks rolled into town tonight, and the only thing on the line was first in the Pacific. After a lacklustre effort on Sunday night in Ottawa, the Oilers should have had some jump, especially considering the’re starting a 6-game homestand. The loss in Ottawa meant that the Oilers were trying to restart a win streak instead of adding to the number of wins. There’s something to be said for momentum, that’s for sure.
The game started poorly with Mikkel Boedker scoring his first of three goals early, and though Drake Caggiula tied it up in the first, the Oilers couldn’t seem to get caught up, not really. While it’s fair to say that the Sharks are a more complete team (at least in terms of secondary scoring), the Oilers do have the skill to at least stay competitive. What we saw tonight was a lackadaisical effort against a very good team. The Oilers are now 3-7-3 against top-10 teams in the league.
It’s great to beat the bottom feeders, but in order to make the playoffs (and have a chance of making it past the first round), the Oilers need to take 2 points off teams ahead of them in the standings, especially when that team is in the Pacific.
- Drake Caggiula was great. His 1-1 goal was well-placed, and Martin Jones didn’t have a chance. He’s not an offensive firepower, but he’s got some skill and seems to be in the right place at the right time more often than not.
- Matt Benning got his 2nd career goal tonight, and his mom and dad were in town to see their honey badger score (seriously, that’s his nickname….what a weird story)
- Oscar Klefbom fired a rocket from the point, Jones didn’t have a hope, and it was a thing of beauty. Klefbom is becoming what we thought he’d be and it’s been good to see. He also made a great defensive play at the end of the 3rd with the empty net to keep the Sharks ahead by two (rather than giving up a sure goal).
- Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl are playing really well together, and I hope it sticks. They seem to be the only line that generates any real consistent pressure (which is great), but it’s leaving the Oilers as a one-line team without any real consistent secondary scoring.
- The Oilers outshot the Sharks 36-28, but NHL All-Star Martin Jones made some clutch saves that weren’t matched at the other end. It’s nice to see them getting the puck to the net instead of into the skates of defenders.
- At the end of the day, 2 points (or even 1) would have been nice, but it’s January 10 and the Oilers are in a playoff position. As much as Exciting Last Place Hockey was fun to watch sometimes, I’d much prefer that the Oil are playing meaningful hockey at this point in the season (and later).
- Mikkel Boedker doubled his goal total for the year tonight, with a hat trick, because of course he did.
- Logan Couture’s goal was ugly, and it definitely swung the momentum towards the Sharks.
- Civil War veteran Joe Thornton, though not on the scoresheet, seemed to be all over the place when it came to being in the way. Despite his only having 2 goals (!) on the season, he’s still pretty dominant. The beard has magical powers.
- Human/Sasquatch hybrid Brent Burns had a 3-point night, because of course that happened. Somehow, he’s turned into a very skilled offensive defenceman, with 16-26-42 on the season thus far. (In comparison, Connor leads the league with 48 points)
- As consistent as Maroon-McDavid-Drai are, they need to be on the scoresheet. Obviously it’s not going to happen every night, but the team tends to do better when Connor gets a point.
- Cam Talbot had a poor showing. Goalies are entitled to bad games once in a while, but tonight looked especially poor. He finished the night with 23 saves and a .821 SV%.
- I think Lucic played, but I’m not sure because I don’t remember hearing his name once. That’s a lot of money on the 3rd line. Or bench.
The Oilers are good, but the Sharks are actually good. It feels sometimes like the Oilers can’t get rid of the stink of the last few years. They’re obviously in a much better position than they were last year, and the Oilers being in an actual playoff position at this point in the season is huge, but every once in a while the team comes out flat and can’t catch up. Tonight was one of those nights, and it showed that the Sharks are in a class by themselves, at least in the Pacific Division.
Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils are in town Thursday. You’ll be able to find me in section 114 of Rogers Place, probably crying.