Things could not have gone worse for the Edmonton Oilers over the course of their three-game miniseries with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Oilers were swept 3-0 in the series, outscored 13-1 in the three games, never held a single lead and never truly threatened offensively. It was, as an old friend would say, a debacle of monumental proportions.
The beauty of sports is that you get a chance to make things right. You get a chance to fight back. The Edmonton Oilers get that chance tonight when they take on the Calgary Flames in the ‘Battle of Alberta’ at Rogers Place.
The focus will be on correcting the things that plagued the Oilers during their series with the Leafs.
“We got to stay way more connected,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said on Friday. “We got down early chasing the games. It’s how we get down early that bothers you a little bit. In all three games, you look at the first six or eight minutes, we started well in all three games and ended up coming out of every first period down. Some of the mental mistakes and there is some structure stuff in just staying connected better that we talked about.”
Some of it was bad luck. The Oilers had some outstanding chances early in all three games, but failed to convert on any of them. The Leafs converted on their looks, and got some good breaks, and then took over from there. It was the perfect storm for a disaster for the Oilers.
One thing the Oilers can improve on? Battle. They lost far too many battles against the Leafs and seemed to completely sag after giving up the first goal in all three games. Tippett addressed his group’s lack of battle and execution today with a profanity-laden rant during practice.
“There are some areas that we didn’t think were performed very well in, and we addressed those today,” Tippett continued. “Toronto had a better playoff-mindset than we did. Their discipline and the structure they played with, they beat us in those departments. Those are areas that we have to improve in if we’re going to become a better team.”
The Oilers will have to sharpen their mindset ahead of tonight’s game. The Calgary Flames enter this game with confidence after a seven goal output and win on Thursday night over Ottawa. They also enter with a sense of urgency after a coaching change early Friday morning.