The Circus Arrives in Chicago - The Oilers Lose Again

Shaw scores on Dubnyk - Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers lose 5-4 to the Chicago Blackhawks

After an embarrassing loss at the hands of the second fourth worst team in the NHL the Oilers headed to Chicago to face the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Even though the outcome was the same at least the Oilers put on a better game.

Highlights

Analysis of the Blackhawks Fourth Goal

The play starts with Niklas Hjalmarsson passing the puck up to Ben Smith. Smith sees he has a defender closing in on him and chips the pass to Johnny Oduya. Oduya gains the blue line while being covered by Philip Larsen. Anton Belov tries takes over Larsen's check but over skates the player entirely. Larsen backs off but doesn't really cover anyone while Sam Gagner decides to challenge the pass to the point for some reason even though Marcus Kruger is his man to check. When Oduya passes the puck to Kruger, Belov realizes there is no one covering in front of the net and tries to get back but its too late by that point.

Update: I missed that the puck went to Ben Smith before the pass to Kruger which should have been Larsen's check at that point.

What could have the Oilers done differently? There were really only two options.

  1. When Oduya entered the zone, since Larsen already had Oduya covered, Belov should have moved to the centre of the ice to break off any passes to the slot.
  2. Gagner had his check, Kruger, but decided to float towards the puck instead of staying with Kruger. The best play here should have been just to stay with his check.

Something like this would be excusable but it seems to be the norm. This swarm defence does not work at the NHL level. Something has to be adjusted and soon.

Tweet of the Game

Tonight I have two Tweets to share. The first comes after the game ended the second came after the Blackhawks went ahead 3-2.

Take Aways

Tonight's Line-Up

This was probably the best looking line-up the Oilers have had so far this season. Not only were all top 6 forwards in the line-up but with Luke Gazdic finally out of the line-up the Oilers were able to dress an actual fourth line. If the Oilers can improve the defence a line-up similar to this could actually start winning games.

Philip Larsen

Larsen was involved in almost every goal this game. He was on the ice for 3 of the Oilers 4 goals and on the ice for 4 of the Blackhawks goals. Yes he assisted on the 3 goals he was on the ice for but was out of position on the 4 Blackhawks goals. I also think Edmonton has found its next polarizing player.

That's just a sample of what fans are saying. To read more craziness head over to #Oilers on Twitter to see more beauties.

Devan Dubnyk

Dubnyk continually takes flack for allowing weak goals. What about the defence in front of him? They continually leave players wide open in the slot for easy passes. Dubnyk may deserve some of the flack he takes but if the defence looked after the slot his goals against would be a lot less.

Jeff Petry

Another decent, not great but decent night by Petry as he racked up 25:28 TOI tonight. I would also like to point out something I mentioned the other night, Petry is starting to become the new Tom Gilbert. Fans are starting to turn because of those big minutes.

Again head over to #Oilers on Twitter to see the comments.

The Power Play

The Oilers had probably their best night of this season on the power play. They played horribly at even strength but it was nice to see the power play click tonight. It was also nice to see Nail Yakupov score.

The Penalty Kill

The penalty kill has seemed to be better over the past 4 games or so but I'm not convinced that this isn't just a blip. It may be goaltending, it may be a change in the way the Oilers are executing the PK and then again it could be the fact that the Oilers have played some weaker power play teams lately. Not sure what it is but I guess time will tell.

Three Stars

I received some grief about my choices last game so I have decided to give an explanation on the picks so at least people can bitch at me for the right reasons.

  1. David Perron - He played a good game and seemed to be driving the play when he was on the ice
  2. Jeff Petry - This guy is a minutes eater and plays a calm game
  3. Devan Dubnyk - He faced 36 shots and only one of the goals was truly his fault
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