Flyers 2 – Oilers 1
I’m not sure if there is a much worse way to lose a game than by giving up the losing goal in the final couple of minutes to blow it. It’s the type of defeat that, if you’re not careful, can lead to a broken table, scared pets, and worried neighbours.
Unfortunately for Oilers fans, that is exactly how this sunny little Saturday has begun. Last minute blunder, no overtime, no points to take away from the game. Curses.
Today’s game is especially frustrating, however, when you consider that the Oilers, for the most part, played themselves a fine road game. I think most observers would agree that at the very least, Edmonton deserved a point for their effort, and yet, nada.
Once again, for what feels like what has happened in every game since the opener, the Oilers got off to a lethargic start. Admittedly, this wasn’t all that surprising, considering that the Oilers have seemingly been awful in afternoon games for as far back as the memory allows. The slow start, in accordance with keeping with the pattern of this young season, lead to an early goal by Philadelphia (Giroux, certified Oilers killer), again unsurprisingly, while killing a penalty.
What was surprising, however, was how the Oilers responded. Let’s be honest here, when the Oilers once again gave up that first goal, it was easy to feel uneasy about what was to follow. We have already seen the story so far this season, and even though the Oilers found a way to rebound against Chicago’s early tally last game, it was certainly no guarantee that it could happen again.
Edmonton didn’t cave though, and rallied hard in the second period. Resembling the effort that they displayed in Illinois on Thursday, they were fast on the forecheck, vicious in the physicality department, and controlling with the puck. It was a focused effort from every line, and was capitalized with a fabulous solo Patrick Maroon effort late in the middle frame to tie the game. It looked like the Oilers had a legitimate chance to take this one in regulation…
Sadly, the Oilers struggles with scoring continued, and it would come back to haunt them. After playing much of the 3rd period error free (minus one flurried sequence by Philadelphia), it had looked as though the Oilers would still be able to squeeze at least a point out of an extra frame. Not ideal, but acceptable.
Of course, that was wishful thinking, because, well, this would happen:
A last minute mental breakdown by a few Oilers, directly leading to the dagger, and the game. A painful, stinging loss in Philly, and a 2-5 record. These are tough times, no doubt.
The biggest takeaway from this afternoon’s tilt? Well, now that the Oilers have decided to, for two straight games, play with an effort that is commendable in terms of proper execution and effort, we are starting to see the glaring hole of the roster shine through: scoring. There is no denying that the Oilers are a bit unlucky right now in terms of shooting percentage, but there is also no denying that this team is lacking some skill. This lack of skill is directly leading to a serious struggle to put the puck in the net. This is now two straight games where the Oilers only managed 1 goal in regulation, and both of them have come from the top line.
Today’s game was especially alarming, as the contrast between the skill on the Flyers roster and the Oilers roster was vast.
Now, the Oilers do have the return of Draisaitl to look forward to who will obviously make an impact on the scoresheet, but one still has to wonder what Chiarelli plans on doing with his forward group in the coming weeks. I’m not sure how many options he has, but something has to give soon, because one goal efforts just aren’t going to do it.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s a luck thing and it will swing in a big way, favouring the Oilers (who are doing fine in terms of shot metrics). Let’s hope.
Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Kailer Yamamoto
- The kid continues to impress, and he is starting to make his stay with the club look almost imminent.
- In saying that, the goals for Yamamoto have to come soon, don’t they?
- Maroon’s effort on his 2nd period goal was outstanding, and it very much resembled the level of play that he showcased all of last season. That is 2 goals in 2 straight games.
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Ryan Strome
- This trio is currently doing a lot of things right, but like much of the other forwards, just aren’t contributing enough offence. Is it only a matter of time? Hard to tell, but if things are fair, their hard work should hopefully start to pay off in a consistent manner.
- One negative from this game, however, was that there is a good argument to be had that Strome was the main suspect on Philadelphia’s winning goal. He failed to read the play, and as a result, became nothing more than a bystander. Russell looked worse on it, but it may have just been Strome that was the main culprit.
- Lucic was tuned in this afternoon, and provided us with a great moment early in the game. Don’t mess with Nuge…
Zack Kassian – Mark Letestu – Iiro Pakarinen
- Quiet on most fronts, except the hit department. Not much more to say than that.
Jussi Jokinen – Brad Malone – Anton Slepyshev
- Jokinen is the type of player that is very easy to appreciate. Often times the smartest, craftiest player on the ice.
- Brad Malone, as he has done since his call-up, continues to impress. He continues to earn more time in the NHL. A goal or two is on its way for him if he continues with his workhorse efforts in the o-zone.
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
- Nothing to complain about here. The Oilers top pairing continues to round into form, and they are starting to resemble the duo that they were for much of last year.
- Monster amount of minutes played for Klefbom at 27. Larsson followed right behind at 24.
Kris Russell – Matt Benning
- Matt Benning looked much improved in his return to the lineup, which is refreshing, as his early season struggles were quite worrying. His massive hit on Claude Giroux highlighted his underrated physical presence that was a highlight all of last year.
- Kris Russell. Here’s the thing. He is going to get a ton of criticism for how he played the 2 on 1 that lead to Philly’s second goal. I understand that as it didn’t look pretty at all. The reality though, is that he was caught in a bad situation due to the forwards failing to properly take their men on the transition. Could he have played it better? For sure. If he doesn’t flop on the ground, then maybe he has a better chance of getting into Simmond’s shooting lane, but there is no guarantee of that. It’s a tough spot to be in, and it was exaggerated with the visual of it all. Sometimes things look worse than they are, and that is important to remember here.
Darnell Nurse – Eric Gryba
- No one should be complaining about this pair, as of late. Gryba is playing a more than sufficient game for a 6th defencemen, and Nurse is showing consistent improvement in his defending. Currently, these two are not something to be worried about.
- Played a very fine game, and deserved a better result. 22 saves, .917 save percentage. Came up clutch on a couple of occasions, and gave his squad every opportunity to win. Good to see.
- The Oilers have to get off to better starts. The current goal differential for this team in the first 20 minutes is 11-3. It’s incredibly hard to win games when you dig yourself into a hole like that.
- In terms of needing skill, how long does it take for Puljujarvi to get a call up to the big league? I haven’t been following his progress i the AHL, but that is an area of skill that the Oilers desperately need to pan out eventually.
Up Next: Pittsburgh Penguins
The Oilers will finish off their road trip on Tuesday with a game against the Penguins. In failing to register a point today, the game in Pittsburgh becomes much more important. It won’t be easy, but Edmonton has to find a way to win. A quicker start and a few more shots from the dangerous areas of the ice will help…