That game was kind of like a big cartoon illustrating all of the Oilers’ problems. It was "visual".
The Oilers played a riveting first five minutes but Paul Maurice and the hard-hitting Jets quickly exploited all of the Oilers’ weaknesses.
By halfway through the game Oilers fans were far more preoccupied with taking the piss out of Sportsnet’s commentary and left the game to unwind by itself.
To the Jets’ credit, they shut down the Oilers’ powerplay. The Oilers powerplay has caught the attention of the whole league lately and that’s exactly why the Jets limited them to a meager four shots on three powerplays. (Take it as a compliment, Nuge, that the Jets themselves managed to keep themselves to only three penalties).
The Oilers exploded into the first period like gunshot. For the first five minutes they looked like they were going to get the first goal even if they had to put the puck in Derek Roy’s mouth and shoot him through Pavalec.
Incidentally, Ondrej Pavalec entered this game having just shutout the Washington Capitals the game before.
Also to the Oilers’ advantage, the Jets played without Dustin Byfuglien, who is still out with an upper-body injury from a game against the Senators on March 4th.
Those first five minutes were glorious. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle swam around the offensive zone like piranhas. Derek Roy and Nail Yakupov streaked to the net and were oh-so-close. It was just all too perfect.
The turning point came when the Jets big 6’3" winger Chris Thorburn ran over captain Andrew Ference. Ference tried to run back into Thorburn but looked rattled and only bounced off him a second time awkwardly. Ference left the game and did not return. Note this was the ‘symbolism’ moment of the game.
The Oilers grit, heart, and faceoff guy Boyd Gordon went out with a back injury.
Then the Oilers turned into a cartoon of themselves. Oscar Klefbom tried to slide a long, loose pass along the blueline to Justin Schultz that Drew Stafford read before it even happened. Stafford picked off the pass midflight and flew down the ice. Then as Justin Schultz tried to wave his stick around like a broken gate hanging from one hinge, Stafford blew right through it, sending Schultz’ stick sailing away. Schultz could only chase after Stafford with nothing in his hands. By that time Stafford had already wristed it into the net from the top of the circle with nothing between himself and goalie Ben Scrivens.
Shortly after, Nail Yakupov received a quick pass for a one-on-one but Jacob Trouba bowled him over completely before he could even get a shot off.
Toward the end of the period a slapshot from Nikita Nikitin bounced off of Blake Wheeler’s stick and straight into Wheeler’s face at almost point blank range. Wheeler left the ice and didn’t return until the third period.
And that was the end of the hockey game. Unfortunately there were still two whole periods to go.
Then came the great unraveling. The second period played out with the Jets getting two more goals as the Oilers took several bad penalties out of frustration, including inviting the Jets to a 5 on 3. The emotional penalties showed their youth here as they strayed away from the gameplan and handed the second period entirely over to the Jets.
Luckily for the Oilers, no one was paying attention. Everyone was too preoccupied with comments Sportsnet commentator Corey Hirsch made during the first intermission to the effect of Taylor Hall having ‘character problems’ and how he should be traded.
Twitter threw its collective hands up with the hashtag #TaylorHallCharacterProblems satirizing Hirsch’s comments. Everything from leaving dead batteries in the junk drawer to eating all your fries were held in mock evidence of Taylor Hall’s supposed character problems.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the background, Hall actually took a stupid penalty.
It was early in the third period where Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stepped up and quickly put in a goal to get the Oilers on the board, thus single-handedly outscoring all of the Washington Capitals in the past 48 hours.
Shortly after there was a scary moment as Tyler Myers got his stick around Nuge, lifting him off balance and effectively boarding him. Nuge was slow to get up but came back to the game fine.
Towards the end, during their desperate last gasps, the Oilers were called for too many men. For the second game in a row.
It capped off a night that highlighted all of the Oilers shortcomings. Ference getting run over and leaving a five-man paper thin defence. Schultz’s jultzing-stick getting blown through. Scrivens letting in pucks he can see the whole way. And then this. Getting caught scrambling, awkward line management, and, hey, why is Hall on the third line anyway?
My prediction is we’ll see Hall moved back up to the first line very soon. This game shone a clear light on a jumbled mess of an Oilers roster.
For a short while things were working but now the Oilers have been caught plugging holes and sticking players wherever. Sure the odds were already stacked against them with weak defence and goaltending. But a little structure would have helped.
12:28 JETS GOAL Drew Stafford unassisted. Oscar Klefbom attempts a long pass along the blueline and Stafford reads it easily. Intercepts it and skates in with Klefbom trying to keep up. He skates right through Schultz’ stick right out of Schultz’ hands, and a snapshot from the top of circle beats Scrivens. 1 - 0 Jets.
4:21 BLOOD Blake Wheeler hit in the face by Nikitin shot up close, right off his own stick. Goes down. Leaves the ice.
2:36 PENALTIES Anton Lander and Chris Thorburn. Lander finishes a hit on Drew Stafford by the benches as both teams are changing lines. There’s some punches thrown. Drew Stafford and Anton Lander get 2:00 minutes each for roughing. Chris Thorburn also gets 2:00 for roughing, although, to be fair, he didn’t do much. Mostly just showed up looking like hillbilly Rasputin.
Shots Jets 7 - Oilers 6
14:25 JETS GOAL by Lee Stepniak assisted by Jiri Tlusty, Tyler Myers. 2 - 0 Jets
4:33 OILERS PENALTY Mark Fayne slashing, drawn by Drew Stafford
4:29 OILERS PENALTY Martin Marincin high-sticking, drawn by Drew Stafford. 5-on-3 for the Jets.
4:00 JETS POWERPLAY GOAL Tyler Myers assisted by Toby Enstrom. 3 - 0 Jets
1:21 OILERS PENALTY Taylor Hall crosschecking, drawn by Jacob Trouba
Shots Jets 8 - Oilers 16
18:50 OILERS GOAL Ryan Nugent-Hopkins assisted by Taylor Hall, Oscar Klefbom 3 - 1 Jets
16:48 JETS PENALTY Tyler Myers tripping, drawn by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
10:50 JETS PENALTY Jacob Trouba slashing against Rob Klinkhammer
9:10 OILERS PENALTY Too Many Men, served by Taylor Hall
7:43 JETS GOAL Michael Frolik assisted by Andrew Ladd, Jay Harrison. 4 - 1 Jets
1:29 JETS PENALTY Adam Lowry tripping, drawn by Jordan Eberle
Shots Jets 9 - Oilers 12
Total shots Jets 24 - Oilers 34
He takes the last cup of coffee and doesn't make a new pot. #TaylorHallCharacterProblems— Ryan Batty (@ryan_batty) March 24, 2015
Was born in Calgary #TaylorHallCharacterProblems— Travis Dakin (@TravisDakin) March 24, 2015
Lots of Taylor Hall fans out there. Fantastic, he's a VG player never said he wasn't. #oilers— Corey Hirsch (@CoreyHirsch) March 24, 2015
Ha! Nooooo I didn't get fired in between periods. Had to get on Hockey Central. I love a good debate!! You guys are awesome! #oilers— Corey Hirsch (@CoreyHirsch) March 24, 2015