It’s still early in the season, but if the Edmonton Oilers are going to be in the Stanley Cup finals, let alone the playoffs at all, they really need something to make those hockey ‘experts’ know what they’re talking about; they need to quickly play to their capabilities. With Connor McDavid, the best player in the world, and Leon Draisaitl, easily in the top 5, the Oilers have only won 5 of their 17 games (now 5 of 18). There is 80% of the season left, so expect the Oilers to change their game.
Canes Score 4 In The First
The Oilers’ coach, for all of about 10 days, Kris Knoblauch, put McDavid and Draisaitl on the same line at the start of the game, hoping those two could jump-start their team. That move probably helped the Canes more, as Rod Brind’Amour was able to mostly counter with his top defenders concentrating on the dynamic duo. The Oilers also went with 7 defensemen and 11 forwards to allow McDavid and Draisaitl more ice time, but it looks like Brind’Amour might have had the better day behind the bench, as the duo actually had about 10 minutes less than their normal time on ice.
The first scoring chance was by the Canes’ Andrei Svechnikov. After a couple of hard checks in the far corner, Svech tried a squeaker up high behind goalie Stuart Skinner, but the Oilers’ keeper was able to come up with the save. The Canes got an early powerplay that had moments of looking like a goal was imminent, but the Oilers were able to thwart off any serious challenge.
A few minutes after the powerplay, everything went the Canes’ way. Jordan Staal carried the puck from the near circle, behind the net then passed up to Jalen Chatfield on the right point. Chatty wasted no time firing one towards the net but hit Jordan Martinook in the back. Jesper Fast, off the right goal post, was in the right spot at the right time as he quickly picked up the loose change and backhanded the puck into the net for the first goal of the game. Thirty seconds later, Dmitry Orlov had a good poke check to knock the puck off an Oilers’ stick that Jack Drury picked up at his own blue line. Michael Bunting was on the left with just one defender back; Drury carried the puck deep into the offensive zone, passing over to Bunting at the last possible moment. Bunting quickly passed back to Drury as Skinner wasn’t able to recover to the far side of the net, allowing Drury to lightly touch the puck just over the goal line for his first, that counted, goal of the year.
A minute and a half later, Sebastian Aho won a draw to the right of Antti Raanta, that was picked up by Seth Jarvis. Jarvy skated through the neutral zone, leading a pass to Aho along the near boards. A small scrum happened behind the net with Jarvy coming away with the puck at the same time Fishy and Teuvo Teravainen went to the front of the net. Jarvy passed to Fishy on the far post, without looking, made the cross-crease pass to Turbo, put a quick stick down to put the Canes up 3-0.
What seemed like a short 3-½ minutes later, the Canes struck again. Chatty stole the puck from McDavid behind the Canes goal line, quickly passing up to Turbo near the blue line. Turbo took a stride with the puck, saw Jarvy just on the neutral zone side of the Oilers blue line, made the pass allowing Jarvy precious time and space to pinpoint the sliver of space on the right side for a commanding 4-0 lead. Late in the period, Stephan Noesen and former Cane Warren Foegele got into it a little bit with Noesen getting a call for interference. It only took the Oilers 5 seconds to pot a powerplay goal as the Canes defense wasn’t set up.
Svechnikov Feeds Necas
Early in the second, Svech had the puck in the near circle to backup goalie, Calvin Pickard, saw Brady Skjei with speed along the far side, made a crisp pass with Skjei one-timing a shot that Pickard blocked to the back wall. Svech was quick on the puck, looked up, and saw a good buddy, Martin Necas, posted on the top of the crease, made a sweet backhander to Necas’ tape for a tip-in to regain the 4 goal lead. Late in the period Svech, never one to shy away from a good check, put 6’7” Vincent Desharnais against the backboards. Both started a little shoving and two-handed cross-checking; the refs allowed it to go but told both to get back to hockey. Svech, taking that advice, went to the dirty area on the crease. Desharnais didn’t take the advice, followed Svech then slashed Svech for a penalty that would upset any coach.
In what only could be seen as a mental letdown by the power play unit, possibly influenced by the score, they didn’t check back fast enough allowing the Oilers an odd man rush started by Foegele ending up with Mattias Ekholm putting in a shorthanded goal behind Pyotr Kochetkov, who replaced Rants at the start of the period. Rants went down hard near the end of the first on a great save then getting sandwiched between 200 pounds of beef and the goal post. Word is ‘out for precautionary’ on a lower-body injury. Earlier in the week, the Canes ‘released’ Jaroslav Halak, the veteran goalie on a PTO. Actually, it was Halak who asked to be released to be back with his family. He still has the skills, but the Canes are really 4 deep on goalies. Let’s not forget, the Canes’ defense is among the top, if not the top, in the league, and they should only get better as the season progresses.
Burns Lob Shot Seals Win
Heading into the third, the Canes needed to play their game, not play the scoreboard. The Oilers are too potent of a team to take anything for granted despite their record. An early goal would be making a game of it, and that’s what happened. After the Canes lost a draw in their end with Ekholm settling the puck on the left point. Looking up, he chose to pass to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins along the far half boards. RNH dangled the puck then rimmed it to McDavid behind the Canes goal. Brent Burns forced McDavid to skate out from behind the net, and in typical McDavid fashion made a turn that defied physics but he blew a tire just as he made a blistering backhand pass to Zack Hyman who somehow had a step on Jaccob Slavin for a tip-in over Kooch’s shoulder to shorten the lead 5-3.
Depending on how you interpret it, it either gave the Oilers a second wind or deflated the Canes’ sails, as the next several minutes favored the Oilers. With just over 4 minutes to go, Edmonton pulled Pickard for the extra skater. However, this move backfired when McDavid was called for interference on Brett Pesce. Credit to the Oilers, as they knew a Canes powerplay goal would eliminate any chance of a comeback, and they executed their plan. Just seconds before McDavid’s penalty was set to expire, Pesce’s stick got ‘caught,’ indicating it was held by or around Hyman. Coaches usually advise against dropping your stick, but in this instance, it might have been the prudent thing to do. With the faceoff in the Canes’ end, the Oilers opted for a 6-on-4 by pulling their goalie, applying pressure to the faceoff. Staal won the draw, pulling it left in front of Kooch. Burns was quick to the puck, wasting no time with a high backhand clear that landed inside the Oilers’ zone, sliding into the net for a shorty and game-sealer. It was a good team win, with 15 Canes getting at least 1 point. The next home game is on Friday against Columbus. Be there!