After hammering the rival Flames and acquiring a familiar face in Brandon Davidson the Oilers were determined to come out and play a more complete game and get back in the playoff race. A game against a struggling Philadelphia team missing their best defensive defenceman Radko Gudas and thorn in Oilers side Brandon Manning meant Edmonton was going to take care of business at home and get the W….. Wrong.
As usual, the Oilers had another clunker of a performance at home. The recipe for disappointment for this team is simple – Don’t get to the blue paint, just play a perimeter game with lots of passes and weak shots from long range with no traffic in front. Don’t cycle hard and effectively to draw penalties just float around on the outside so you’re easy to defend. When the Oilers stink up the joint that’s exactly what happens every time. It’s not rocket science. If the opposing team can hold them to the outside force them to become a perimeter team they win. I’m personally so sick and tired of watching the same dismal performances over and over again. 16 shots after 2 periods all of which were pretty much of the lame variety. McDavid was completely shut down, the Hopkins line once again had zero offensive chemistry (a running theme with him centering lines for majority of last 2 years), Draisaitl playing with 3rd line players didn’t do much and the 4th line had some real nice shifts.
Missing Larsson, Sekera, Talbot certainly doesn’t help but the Oilers have no excuse for not showing up for 40 minutes in this one. Brossoit was good for awhile but his M.O. has become he lets in at least 1 bad goal again last night was no exception. Matt Benning has been awful pretty much all year. He gets the puck at the blue line he just lobs it to the goalie with no one in front total waste of possession. Defensively he still struggles with reads and exits mightily. Kris Russell is clearly too far up the lineup but what are you going to do with Larsson and Sekera out?
On a positive note, I thought Darnell Nurse was the best player on the ice last night….again. He had more dangerous chances offensively than anyone else on the Oilers and was a rock defensively. Lucic was skating hard and taking the body but McDavid was pretty much gang tackled all game it was hard for that line to get anything going offensively. Puljujarvi didn’t do much.
So with an opportunity to pull within 4 points of a playoff spot the Oilers sputter at home once again and blow a golden chance to get back into the race. The only saving grace was this was yet another loss against an East opponent in a ridiculously tilted schedule. There was plenty of talk post game about the team not playing full speed and with enough desperation last night – an all to familiar theme. The wheels have almost completely fallen off and for fans like myself who have remained nothing but positive this entire time I can honestly say hope is almost lost. I have plenty of ideas what needs to happen roster wise but not of it matters if the team continues to give crappy effort after crappy effort for 40 minutes every home game. And don’t even think about putting that on the coach the players know what they need to do they just can’t execute. Instead they are just left searching for more answers….