When you are trailing by multiple goals at the first intermission of a hockey game, you are more likely than not in trouble. The Edmonton Oilers trailed the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 at the end of the first period on Saturday night and 3-0 on Monday night. They lost both games, to the surprise of few.
Yes, the Oilers stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to shock the Vancouver Canucks last Tuesday night, but that just isn’t a recipe for sustained success in the NHL. The Oilers need to start better, there is no way around that fact.
To their credit, the Oilers at least understand that fact and talked the talk on Tuesday after practice.
“If you’re down 3-0 after the first in back-to-back games, that’s a tough way to climb back. Especially against a really good team like Toronto,” Leon Draisaitl said on Tuesday. “Our start is key. Maybe get a lead, try to find a goal early and play with the lead a little bit will help.”
Getting a lead would certainly help. The Oilers have yet to register a single point at Rogers Place when giving up the game’s first goal. When they score the first goal? Undefeated, with their opponents yet to claim a single point this season.
It’s a totally different game when you have the lead, as Head Coach Dave Tippett quickly pointed out on Tuesday.
“When you’re chasing the game, you just seem like you use a lot more energy,” Tippett began. “If your energy is low on your group to start with, and you start chasing it, it just seems like it’s tough to do anything. If you’re even or you got a lead, you feel good about your game. It’s like skating uphill and downhill. Downhill is easier.”
The Oilers could use a little bit of easy right now. Nothing has come easy in their last four games, even though they are 2-2-0. The club hasn’t scored a five-on-five goal in nine periods, and the goaltending has been poor in each of the last two games.
The good news? The effort is still there. The Oilers just aren’t getting many bounces right now.
“We’ve been working hard,” Draisaitl added. “Obviously, it hasn’t been enough. I know that. I don’t think we’ve been terrible the last two games. We didn’t have the most energy but we’re obviously looking to win one tomorrow.”
A better start, more energy and the game’s first goal would certainly help in Edmonton’s quest to find a victory.