What a heartbreaker that was. After almost getting completely run out of their own building in the first period the Oilers hung in there and fought all the way back only to lose it in the last minute with an own goal by Russell. Ugh. Russell to his defence had a fantastic game leading up to that gaffe including the game tying goal so it’s hard to rip the guy but the Oilers deserved at least a point out of this effort. But, an awful start yet again ended up almost costing them the game as this team continues to come out flat and give up the first goal. What’s it gonna take to change that nasty trend?
The weird thing about all this is it is possible (and we’ve seen this in sports many times over the years) that the Oilers actually rally around Russell on this and it helps elevate their play moving forward. Let’s face it, if the Oilers won this game but lose Saturday against Calgary it’s not nearly as desirable an outcome as losing to the East team and beating the divisional rival. It would have been great if they could have done both but walking into Calgary on Saturday and smacking them in the mouth will help the team forget about this heartbreaking loss pretty quickly.
As far as the game went, I talked about in my preview how the Oilers needed to get the puck out of their zone effectively and efficiently which did not happen in the 1st and cost them big time. Way too many lackadaisical turnovers. I also mentioned that Toronto gives up a ton of shots the Oilers need to play with speed by dumping pucks in, getting in on the forecheck and forcing Toronto’s d-men into making turnovers. Well, after the brutal first period that’s exactly what the Oilers did and it worked beautifully as the Leafs kept coughing it up time after time.
The real achilles for this team however is their Penalty Kill which has been gawd awful.
So much time and space for Nylander. Oilers in a bizarre L formation of some sort.. PK problems. pic.twitter.com/A09Jj0x5nV
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) December 1, 2017
I cannot understand for the life of me how they can be this bad. Guys literally just stand there and watch the other team move the puck. No pressure, no speed, no awareness just roll over and let them do whatever they want. The PK is totally oblivious to the cross seem pass literally no one has their head on a swivel. Something needs to change there real fast.
Anyways, it was a tough loss for this team yet again though there were some positive signs this team has turned the corner offensively. For maybe the first time all year the Oilers had 4 lines rolling, they looked fast and determined. They responded after an awful start and really took it to one of the Top teams in the league right now for the final 40 minutes. The question is as it has been all year – can they keep it up?
Battle of Alberta tomorrow night 8:00pm MT, 10:00pm EST.