Why do all of the Edmonton Oilers games now appear to be the Seventh Game of the Stanley Cup Final?
I must be desperate for the team to win.
In fact, I am.
The Edmonton season seems to be in the balance, with the team struggling to reach 500, needing to reach 500 reais, desperate to get out there and avoid another horrible Season of Darkness.
If Edmonton had lost to St. Louis – as the Oilers looked like after losing 2-0 in the first period – they would have been two games under .500, losing much of the ground they won under the new coach. Ken Hitchcock.
But with Cam Talbot, heroics of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid, Edmonton now has 14 wins and 14 losses. They are actually 500 and in the middle of the Pacific Division playoff race.Connor McDavid, 6. Gets a complete collision for this incredible overtime goal. It has a complete mark for not being able to cover the man in the vacancy in the first goal against. It was flying out there, but it was unable to create much in the attack, even overtime.
Leon Draisaitl, 4. He played 28:48, so the coach loved his game, of course. I, not so much, in particular two slow delays, one at the end of the second and another in overtime, which led to two totally dangerous St. Louis chances. He did not make a great contribution to even a Grade A shot. He was part of a 4-on-3 power play generally not dangerous in overtime. Given Oil's lack of overall prowess since McDavid and Draisaitl have met in the same vein, I suggest it's time to separate them again. Of course, longtime readers know of my partiality here, my belief that the Oilers have their best chance of winning when Draisaitl is a center and leads their own line. Nothing I've seen in the past few weeks has changed my mind on this point.
Alex Chiasson, 6. Set a brilliant display on Klefbom's deciding goal, but he also made some mistakes in scoring, including a horrendous pass straight to the St. Louis striker alone at the Edmonton field. Oops! It seemed a little slow on the McDavid line, so much so that Ty Rattie had taken the right place at the end of the third period.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 8. He set a crucial goal and led the second line, which was probably the most effective unit of Oil in the third period. Nuge played 26:38 in all situations and did well in all situations. It was solid in its own end, not making big mistakes in the chances of Grade A against (here's the score for the game).
Jesse Puljujarvi, 5. He is going hard to the front of the net and earning some pucks with a fast, punching pokecheck but he and RNH are still not matched well with the veteran center, perhaps not relying on the young striker. But this line had some chemistry, partly due to Puljujarvi's range and rushing, so an OK game in general. It needs to play with more ferocity and determination and it has done so to a certain extent in this game.
Jujhar Khaira, 7. The coach liked him enough to knock him out 6-5 (essentially taking his place at Milan Lucic) when the Oilers needed a goal and he was part of the virtuous cycle that created a goal. He had one of his best games of the year, thrashing hard, making plays with the disc and defending well.
Kyle Brodziak, 7. Brodziak seems to be a new man in recent weeks, skating faster, playing better, committing less defensive errors and more good plays with the puck. This game was no exception.
Milan Lucic, 6. I like the excitement of it even if the results are not there. Had four hits, at least that part of his game is intact.
Zack Kassian, 8. He led the team with five hits and five strokes. Two of his shots were from the Grade A variety. It looks like old Kass and the 2017 playoff champion under Hitchcock – and the Oilers always need that old Kass.
Ty Rattie, 7. It was dangerous to get a Grade A chance at first and create a chance of recovery for Ryan Spooner in the third. Count me in as a Rattie fan. He is a smart and agitated player, and the play rarely dies on his staff. He should be playing with Draisaitl or McDavid, something Hitchcock did at the end of this game.
Ryan Spooner, 5. Well, there were no defensive mistakes like we saw in his first Oilers games. And he was well on the attack.
Patrick Russell, 5. Hurry up and win some battles. I can see why he is so valued in Bakersfield.
Nurse Darnell, 6. OK, does it get caught behind the net again in a space goal? Is not cool. Not even close to legal. Nurse has to do better readings than this, but he did it after that initial terrible mistake, playing one of his best games of the season the rest of the way. His pass set the goal of RNH, so he grabbed his previous mistake there.
Kris Russell, 6. Another solid and quiet game in a Top 4 role.
Oscar Klefbom, 7. Such a crucial goal of Klef. He is chewing the minutes and played a much stronger game in defense today, rarely being caught. It was on ice by 30:42.
Adam Larsson, 6. Partnered well with Klefbom, the pair holding on in big hard minutes.
Kevin Gravel, 4. He played only 11:27 and had two very unstable moments in the game, where he and Benning combined to allow two A-grade Slots for the Blues.
Matt Benning, 4. It played 13:40 and, like Gravel, there was a reason for the limited ice time.
Cam Talbot, 9. His mark is raised to a full degree because of the lockout of St. Louis in the shootout. He overcame the opposing goalkeeper – and when that happens, the Oilers usually win in this league a goal difference. Edmonton was beaten by 13 to 11 with first-year chances but Talbot closed the door several times, looking like a strong and efficient netminder who won so many games in 2016-17.
Welcome back, Cam Talbot. Welcome back.
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