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Goaltending was the Difference

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Oilers attempt a comeback late in the game but fall 4-2 to the Blackhawks

The Chicago Ice Crew cleans up debris on the ice
The Chicago Ice Crew cleans up debris on the ice
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers started their annual two week CFR trip today and as has been the tradition over the past many years it didn't start out well. The Oilers headed to Chicago to take on the defending Stanley Cup champions. Strange as it may seem the Oilers played quite well, maybe even dominant, after the first period. The biggest difference in the game was goaltending.

Highlights

The Good

The second period was by far one of the best 15-20 minutes of hockey I have seen the Oilers play this season. They dominated the play so well that it took more than 12 minutes for Chicago to register their first shot on net of the period. Conversely the Oilers had 22 shots on net and 30 total corsi for events. They played a near perfect period, the only problem was that so did Corey Crawford. He was truly the difference in the period and this game.

The Bad

Before I go too far into this please understand that Teddy Purcell had a really good game. His line was buzzing and him and they had some really great chances in the game. On the other hand he just keeps breaking my heart. For the most part Purcell does all the right things but he has absolutely no finish. Twice in the game Purcell was left all alone and either whiffed on the puck or put it over the net. He reminds of Andrew Cogliano sometimes, he’s in the right place at the right time but his hands of stone weigh him down and render him rather ineffective.

The Ugly

Sunil did a write-up earlier today on Talbot. The write-up gives us a glimmer of hope and optimism for the future of the Oilers net-minder but watching Cam Talbot tonight that glimmer is fading fast. Once again Talbot gave up a sharp angle, low probability goal and it set the pace for the rest of the game. If he would've given the Oilers the same goaltending that Crawford gave the Blackhawks, the Oilers would've won the game.

Thoughts

With tonight’s game the Oilers are now .250 on the season. They are bottom 4 once again and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. I've been saying it since the beginning of training camp when the only real defensive changes were Andrej Sekera, Eric Gryba and Griffin Reinhart. The Oilers cannot attract talent even with McDavid and if they don’t improve, this is not going to get any better.

Nobody wants to play in Edmonton! But can you blame them? This team has been run so deep into the ground that the screams from hell are no longer a muffled background noise but a clear high-pitched shriek.

To attract real UFA talent the Oilers need to start winning. To win they need defense. To get defense they will need to make decisions that aren't popular. But nothing will change until a deal is made that fetches a big defensive asset that allows the Oilers to become competitive once again. That is the key, even a bad season of .500 hockey is better than another one sub .300.

Up Next

Since Chicago was so much fun, how about a trip to the Pacific coast to take on the a the surging Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have won their last 4 but are only 2 points ahead of the Oilers in the overall standings. They’ve had a rough start to the season but the Ducks are a strong team and can’t be counted out ever. It’s going to be a challenge for the Oilers but hopefully the 2 full days of rest will help. See you Wednesday, the game starts at 8PM MT.