Post Game Recaps

Oilers Postgame: Much Needed Win Is Much Appreciated!

Photo Courtesy of the Edmonton Oilers

No excuses were wanted or needed tonight. The Arizona Coyotes, the NHL’s 29th place team, headed into Rogers tonight on the second half of a back to back with their backup goalie in net. That is a prime opportunity for a victory, no matter which team in the league is on the other end.

The Oilers, following a poor showing on Saturday, needed that win tonight. That is all there is to say. Could Edmonton do themselves a massive favour in the race for the playoffs and defeat a team that had just stomped their provincial rivals the night before? Let’s take a look and see.

1st Period

  • Following an uneventful first 5 minutes, the Oilers were unfortunately unable to convert on an early Power Play. It didn’t look quite as dormant as some of their more recent man advantages, but it is still not at the level that it needs to be. An efficient Power Play will be crucial for success in the final quarter of the season.
  • It was only 10 minutes in but Caggiula already had himself 2 good scoring chances. Going forward, if the Drake is to remain on the main roster, I think it makes a ton more sense to have him on the wing rather than centre.
  • Unlike Saturday, the Oilers would not be able to score first, and the Coyotes, off a weird hop out in front, would jump out to an early lead. The Coyotes, with a solid forecheck and a busy presence in front of Talbot, showcased first hand exactly what the Oilers need to do more of. 1-0 Arizona.
  • Way too many Grade A chances allowed late in the 1st by the Oilers, and if not for some sharp play by Talbot, the game probably could have already been out of reach. The sloppiness continues…
  • Shots in the period were 12-7 Arizona.

Another period of Oilers hockey, and yet another intermission that followed with a lot of head shaking. This is the 29th placed team in the league who just played last night and the Oilers allowed themselves to get outworked by them for a 1 goal deficit. Unacceptable. Last game, I had suggested that a cattle prod may be of use in the intermission. I stand by this statement.

Despite the shuffling of the lines, the only trio that appeared to have any zip was the Nuge, Kassian and Caggiula combo. Kassian especially looked energized with multiple, physical forechecks. Looking into the 2nd, the hope would be for these 3 to lead their team out of the doldrums and into a state of passionate play.

2nd Period

  • For a small guy, Caggiula can sure hit hard. He sent Stone, from the Coyotes, to the ice with a big hit on a  furious forecheck. You have t love this player’s tenacity, if nothing else.
  • NEON LEON, BABY! It was noted in the 1st how important a successful Power Play and following superb work by Klefbom and Lucic, Draisaitl was able to to score out front and tie it up. Much needed goal! 1-1.

  • And there we go again! 31 seconds later and Matt Hendricks, exemplifying the hard work that this team needed to do more of in the blue paint, jammed home a goal of his own. Pakarinen, in his first game of the year, picked up an assist, along with Letestu. 2-1 Oilers, but Arizona would challenge the goal (they had no chance), killing the momentum of the Oilers, which lead to…
  • A Coyotes goal just 11 seconds later. This one was just straight ugly by Talbot, even if the Oilers were a little lax on the zone entry by Arizona. 2-2.
  • It must be stated that despite the Coyotes goal, so far the Oilers were much better in the 2nd with 9 shots in the first 5 minutes.
  • The Power Play needed to be hot and the Power Play stayed hot! Following a tandem of Coyote penalties, Mark Letestu would convert a one-timer on the 5 on 3 to give Edmonton the lead again. McDavid and Draisaitl with the helpers, 3-2 Oilers.

  • With about 5 minutes left in the second, it became apparent that we were watching passionate Oilers hockey from all 4 lines! They were battling, hustling, hitting, and overall, executing with some real energy. Finally!
  • The Oilers would close the period with a clutch 5 on 3 kill. Shots in the period were 14-4 for Edmonton.

Now that was a much, much better period. Edmonton looked much more like the team that we have come to expect this year. They had almost all players going hard, which was a very welcome sign after the shuffling of the lines going into the game. One more period like that and the Oilers would roll their way to a victory…

3rd Period

  • That’s a start to the period that you like to see! Oscar Klefbom, off a rush created by Draisaitl and continued by Slepyshev, potted his 9h of the year to insure the Oilers lead. That is Draisaitl’s 3rd point of the night, on what was now his 11th multi-point game of the year. 4-2 Oilers.

  • The Big Rig continues to roll! His 20th of the year, assisted by McDavid and Klefbom, put the Oilers up 5-2. When you’re hot, you’re hot, ad the Oilers absolutely needed a game like this. What a year for the big guy!

  • Clearly, Todd McLellan got his Coach Hines on during first intermission to turn this team around. For those of you unaware….

  • The Oilers would close out the 3rd without giving the Coyotes anything else. Final shots were 32-25 for Edmonton, leading to the Oilers’ 3oth win of the year!

Final Score: Oilers 5 – Coyotes 2

Since the All Star break, for reasons more than likely related to long layoffs from playing, the Oilers had not looked like the team that we had come to expect from earlier in the season. In those previous games, they had looked sluggish, uninspired, sloppy, and overall ineffective in the act of playing hockey. That poor play had come at cost, with only 1 win in their previous 5 games. Thankfully… Edmonton did not resemble that stagnant version at all tonight. No, instead they were electric on the ice, and it lead to a massive win.

Now albeit, tonight’s win did come against the Coyotes who are the second worst team in the league and who had just played last night. But what have we been saying all year? This team needs to beat teams that it should if it wants to make the playoffs. This was a game that the Oilers should have had, and did. Even despite being scored on first, they found a way to battle back, grind through portions of the game where the score was tied and eventually pull away as good teams do against poorer teams. Additionally, it should be noted that this is a Coyotes team that just beat the Flames 5-0 last night and was previously 6-2-1 in their last 9, so it’s not like tonight’s game was a 100% given.

It also helps that the win tonight was not of the flukey nature. The Oilers didn’t have to depend on goaltending bailing them out or not, or squeaking into extra time to put it away. Instead, almost every single player that hopped over the boards for Edmonton was finding ways to contribute in a positive manner. Whether it was Caggiula’s and Kassian’s vicious forechecks, Maroon’s gritty work down low, the stars playing to their typical star-calibre level, or the special teams units outworking the Coyotes, it felt as though that after the first, the Oilers were in complete control.

That must be a real source of relief for Head Coach Todd McLellan, who prior to this game had ran two intense practices, and complimented that with a re-assortment of his forwards throughout the lines. Draisaitl showcased tonight why he is more than capable of carrying his own line, Caggiula gave a good showcase of his talents as a winger, and McDavid reinforced the understanding that mcDavid is McDavid and that he has the ability to elevate those around him. Eberle is still gripping the stick a bit too tight, but he had a couple good looks tonight.

On the backend, Klefbom was absolutely fantastic, getting 3 points himself in over 25 minutes of ice time. Fantastic game for the young Swede.

Talbot, despite letting in a poor one, capped the night with his 28th win of the year and a .920 save percentage. Solid night for the Oilers’ netminder.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to point out just what a massive favour the Oilers did for themselves this evening. With Calgary losing to Arizona last night, and Edmonton winning tonight, the Oilers put themselves ahead of the Flames by 9 points, with no games in hand. It is more and more looking like the playoffs in the West will be decided between 9 teams for 8 spots. With Calgary being one of those 9 teams, and with only 25 games remaining, that 9 point gap will be extremely difficult to make up. Excellent work boys, tonight’s win may have gone a long way towards banking some springtime hockey!

Oilers Player of the Game

No question, it is Leon Draisaitl. In his first game back on his own line after a couple of months, Leon showed clearly that he is indeed a driver of offence. 1 goal, 2 assists, and a night of creative, overpowering hockey. His goal also came at a time when the Oilers desperately needed one in the 2nd.

The 3rd overall selection in the 2014 draft has turned into quite the player for Edmonton. Make it 50 points on the season for him.

Up Next: Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday

The Oilers will take on the Flyers this Thursday at Rogers Place. You may remember earlier in the year when the Oilers lost to the Flyers, thanks in large part to the play of Jonas Gustavsson.

Edmonton showed in that game that they are more than capable of beating Philadelphia, even when they were on their very hot run, and with just a bit of goaltending, they will have a strong chance to do so on Thursday.

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