All good things must come to an end. On Monday night, the Edmonton Oilers five game winning streak came to an end at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks. The 3-1 defeat dropped the club to 5-1-0 on the season, and closed the book on their four game road trip. Although it was a disappointing end, the 3-1-0 road trip was a resounding success.
The Oilers return home for a pair of games at Rogers Place this week. They’re still first place in the Pacific Division, and the week sets up nicely to collect more points. Both the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs a season ago, and both will come to Edmonton on the second half of a back-to-back.
Plenty To Work On:
The second period on Monday night was a real wake up call for the Oilers. It was the first time all season that they were completely dominated. The Oilers took the period off, and Chicago made them pay. Patrick Kane scored the only goal, but if it weren’t for Mike Smith the score easily could have been 3-0 Blackhawks.
The Oilers were not playing as a five man unit, were chasing pucks around and couldn’t transition to save their lives. To say the middle frame was sloppy would be an understatement.
The good news? Edmonton actually played fine in the first and third periods. The Oilers were, to my eye, the better of the two teams in both the first and third. They had ample chances to open the scoring in the first period, but Corey Crawford was on his game. They had a few great chances early in the third period as well, but simply couldn’t cash.
The middle twenty minutes were really bad, but that is going to happen from time to time. Overall on the night, the Oilers didn’t play that poorly. They didn’t get any bounces and ran into a very hot goaltender. That will happen over the course of an 82 game season.
Does it suck to lose? Of course it does. No team will ever go 82-0, however. Nights like last night are bound to happen over the course of a season. The key? Not letting a night like that turn into two nights, and then three nights.
The Oilers have, in recent seasons, had a tendency to ride the wave. When things are going well, the team shows confidence and rises to the occasion. When things aren’t? The Oilers have a nasty reputation of sagging and letting it build. In years past, one loss quickly turned into three or four in a row.
If the Oilers want to return to the playoffs this spring, that simply cannot happen this season.
One thing that really stood out to me on Monday night was that the Oilers never quit. When they got a powerplay late in the game down a pair, the feeling was the game was not over. In past years? The team already would be halfway to the airport. The Oilers scored to make it 2-1 and gave themselves a chance to tie it. That’s a good sign.
It will be very interesting to see how they play on Wednesday night against the Flyers. As mentioned above, the Oilers have a track record of feeling bad for themselves and not showing up after a loss. This is their first chance to change the narrative.
If the Oilers come out with a little desperation, play their structured system and get back to what allowed them to win games, well then we can truly start talking about a different team.
This is the first test of the season in my opinion. A loss was inevitable. The NHL is all about how you respond to losses. Preventing losing streaks is key. Can the Oilers rebound on Wednesday? I’m very interested to find out.