It’s never a good thing when news arrives half an hour before game time that pertains to your best shutdown defenseman. No matter what you think of Adam Larsson, there was no dispute about his ranking before last night’s game and there sure as hell isn’t any debate after that game.
Oilers missed an opportunity last night. A big one. Tipped pucks, bad luck and a parade to the penalty box. Bitter pill. How will this team perform on Friday? Perhaps we’ll see 60 minutes of complete hockey.
Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. I am proud to be part of The Athletic. Here are the most recent Oilers stories.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers Observations: Analyzing the questions that remain after Game 3 loss
- New Jonathan Willis: Through 2 playoff games, here’s what we know about the post-pause Oilers
- New Lowetide: How Dave Tippett’s lineup tweaks propelled Oilers to Game 2 win
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: If Game 2 wasn’t Connor McDavid at his best, it was damn near close
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘Just not good enough’: The Oilers have a lot to fix after disastrous Game 1
- Lowetide: Homegrown Oilers players will again take a featured playoff role
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Bang for your buck: Ranking the Oilers based on contract expectations
- Lowetide: Could Oilers’ lack of centre depth mean postseason roster shuffle?
- Daniel Nugent Bowman: What the Oilers should be thinking after watching Chicago in exhibition
- Lowetide: Splitting the Draisaitl line may create hot August nights in Edmonton
- Jonathan Willis: Is Philip Broberg on track to be a top-pairing defenceman?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ productive prospect pipeline a welcome change for playoffs
- New Mark Lazerus and Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Breaking down storylines, scouting reports and X-factors for Blackhawks-Oilers
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers scrimmage: Colby Cave gets Maurice Richard treatment in fitting tribute
- Lowetide: Imagining the city of Edmonton with the Oilers in a deep playoff run
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s roster construction options over the next five months
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Inside the bubble: Details on where and how NHL players will live in Edmonton
- Lowetide: What should Oilers fans expect from Connor McDavid in the playoffs?
- Lowetide: Dave Tippett’s postseason strategy against the Blackhawks
TIME ON ICE
Always listen to the coach after a game like this one, you’re going to get some raw emotion. However, another thing to observe is time on ice. Here are the forwards five on five, I’ve placed in bold the lead stories:
- Kailer Yamamoto 15:39
- Leon Draisaitl 15:28
- Connor McDavid 13:36
- Andreas Athanasiou 11:28
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 10:58
- Josh Archibald 10:07
- Jujhar Khaira 9:58
- James Neal 9:34
- Alex Chiasson 9:25
- Zack Kassian 6:19
- Tyler Ennis 6:12 (injured)
- Riley Sheahan 5:42
When a coach faces an injury, he can double shift one of his best players or drop two forwards (usually penalty killers in my opinion) and run three lines. Tippett, who needed that win, ran three lines and benched two veterans. There’s no way to mistake what happened here.
THE GOALS AGAINST
Olli Maatta’s first period goal began with Patrick Kane retrieving the puck from behind the net, Kris Russell and James Neal having won the battle but losing the war. Kane sends a pass right to left and Maatta grabs it at the blue line. Maatta’s shot finds the net, with Dach, Highmore and Russell all providing a screen for the goaltender.
The first Jonathan Toews goal was a fluke but still counted. Darnell Nurse couldn’t stop the pass nor the shot (it wasn’t really a shot) with Koskinen and Draisaitl also in photo. A damnable goal, the Gods must like Jim Cornelisonson.
The Matthew Highmore goal saw Nurse poke the puck to Bear who sent it along its merry way to Riley Sheahan. Sheahan not only didn’t get the puck out, he booted it to Hawks’ forward Ryan Carpenter. Carpenter to the point, Maatta across the ice to Koekkoek, who hammered it (fly-by from Kassian was disappointing), nice tip, Koskinen had no chance.
The second Jonathan Toews goal, Toews wins faceoff, nice little move from Kubalik to get the puck back to Duncan Keith, over to Connor Murphy and a perfect tip by Ethan Bear for the GWG. Credited to Toews, no idea why.
MAKING SENSE OF IT
The Oilers took too many penalties. You can blame the ref and there were some ghastly calls for sure, but the lack of discipline (Yamamoto, Archibald, Athanasiou) was incredible. The call against Russell was silly, especially when the team was already down a man. The non-call on Dach versus Ennis was ridiculous. None of it matters today. The game is in the history books, the Oilers lack of discipline derailed any chances of the team rolling four lines and three pairings.
THE LINES (Numbers five on five)
Athanasiou-Draisaitl-Yamamoto: 7:37, 3-4 Corsi, 2-0 shots, 1-0 HDSC. The line cycled well on a couple of shifts and had two good looks. I expect we’ll see this trio on Friday afternoon. Athanasiou gives this line a completely different look.
Nuge-McDavid-Archibald: 7:25, 7-3 Corsi, 5-1 shots, 1-0 HDSC. I liked this line but would have loved it if there was a five on five goal. Nuge played a strong game, he’s a different player this year. He could always be counted on to be in the right place and right time, but now he’s impacted the plays more and it’s more obvious how smart he is. McDavid is such a talented player, his goal showing off superhero hands. Archibald was a little filthy on the night, took a penalty and gave Kirby Dach the scare of his life.
James Neal-Jujhar Khaira-Alex Chiasson: Played 6:28, 9-6 Corsi, 3-4 shots, 0-1 goals and 1-1 HDSC. I’m so happy with this line I hope to see it in December. Khaira’s faster, Neal’s healthy and Chiasson knows how to work. Khaira found iron, Neal had a couple of fine chances and Chiasson had a couple of lesser opportunities.
Ennis-Draisaitl-Yamamoto: 3:58, 4-3 Corsi, 3-0 shots, 1-0 goals, 1-1 HDSC. This line scored at five on five and I wonder if we’d be having a different conversation if Ennis had played all three periods. Draisaitl had a fine game, scored twice and had an assist. The success was tempered by a lost faceoff to Toews and the emerging pain in the ass that is Kirby Dach. Yamamoto is one of my favourite players, love his buzzing around but he can’t take penalties 10 miles from his net.
Athanasiou-Sheahan-Kassian: Played 2:40, 2-0 Corsi, 1-0 shots, 1-0 HDSC. Sheahan-Athanasiou had a nice look early, could have been a difference maker. Kassian was physical and didn’t take any penalties, but he didn’t accomplish much. His ole on the Koekkoek shot that resulted in the Highmore goal was poor form.
DEFENSE (Numbers five on five)
Darnell Nurse-Ethan Bear: 14:13, 13-12 Corsi, 6-8 shots, 0-2 goals, 3-5 HDSC. Definitely too high event, and the duo played in some bad luck. Nurse was part of the slow-mo first Toews goal, Bear tipped in the winner. Nurse had a tough night. He had three giveaways and seemed out of sync. Bear, despite doing many good things, was a major factor in the winning goal. I stan both of these players (my kids say stan means good) but they struggled on the night.
Oscar Klefbom-Kris Russell played 13:55, 7-14 Corsi, 5-4 shots, 1-0 goals and 1-0 HDSC. Klefbom played well, lacking only his usual offensive flair. Russell won the battle behind the net that preceded the first goal against, but he and Neal couldn’t secure the puck. Russell did have enough time to screen his goaltender. Made a fantastic block on a Dach point-blank chance later in the game. The penalty against Russell isn’t called by a referee familiar with hockey.
Caleb Jones-Matt Benning: Played 8:16, 10-2 Corsi, 5-1 shots, 1-0 goals and 2-0 HDSC. I thought this pair should have played more. Jones played a safe game and I thought he did well. Benning picked up and assist on Draisaitl’s second goal by coming off the bench and sending an excellent shot on goal.
Mikko Koskinen stopped just 21 of 25 (.840) but the only goal he played poorly was the Toews power-play marker (he was out of position). I have no quarrel with his game beyond that play.
I wanted to give you a head’s up on the next few days. I’ll have GDT’s up each morning the Oilers play, followed by a postmortem the following day. After that, I’ll be spending time on the offseason shuffles and the draft. Do you have a preference? Let me know.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we have a great lineup loaded with hockey talk on TSN1260. Daniel Nugent-Bowman from The Athletic joins us to talk about last night’s game, including penalties and the injury to Tyler Ennis. Frank Seravalli from TSN will pop in at 11 to give us a world view of the playoffs and a big weekend for the seven remaining play-in series. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.