So that was fun. Fun like the way a dentist appoinment is fun. Or like trapping your finger in a door jam fun. Or like... Well, you get it. The Winnipeg Jets came into Edmonton after playing somewhere else earlier in the week. The Oilers were there too. But my god, I forgot how difficult it is to diligently take notes during a game this boring. What an awful endorsement for the NHL. All I wanted to do was anything else. So, you're welcome in advance.
The Oilers started the game poorly, with Mark Fayne taking a slashing penalty almost immediately. The Jets couldn't muster a shot though, probably because they're also bad and nobody outside of Winnipeg cares about them. The Jets did create the first real chance of the game though, with newly-minted NHLer Laurent Brossoit having to be sharp after a rare Connor McDavid turnover.
The Oilers created a half-chance of their own when Taylor Hall's pass flashed through the crease and Zach Kassian just missed a tap-in. Shortly after that, Brossoit had to be sharp again to deny some Jet on a partial break. If only he was sharp enough to cut said Jet. Imagine?
The Jets kept doing things, but the next best chance fell to the Oilers' third line, with Iiro Pakarinen finding some space in the slot to fire a low one-timer on goal. The Jets' goalie made a nice save but kicked a juicy rebound out to Mark Letestu who couldn't control the puck in the slot. He's a first unit powerplay guy now though, so there's that.
Midway through the first period, Matt Hendricks tried to kill some Jet. Another Jet - a big, recently re-signed Jet - took exception, and tried to kill Hendricks. This led to some pushing, and some shoving, and eventually some hugging, before the Oilers ended up with a powerplay. You'd think this would be a good thing. It was not.
I mean, some things did happen. Benoit Pouliot and Connor McDavid played pitch-and-catch in the corner before McDavid made a play that only he would make and almost found a man out front. Shortly after, Justin Schultz disappointed me because that's what he does. Without fail. Power play juggernaut Mark Letestu tried to find Schultz at the blue line and Schultz did his best Bill Buckner and let the puck go by. Then, in typical Schultz fashion, he took a full light year to retrieve the puck.
In spite of Schultz, the Oilers did regain the zone, and Schultz found Yakupov for a one-timer from the top of the right circle that almost killed a Jet. That shot is now on the No Fly List. Before the end of the powerplay, McDavid tried to find a streaking Eberle on a two-on-one but the puck bounced and Eberle whiffed. Trade that guy already.
A few minutes later, some back and forth action culminated with both teams getting two minutes for cheating. During the first shift of four-on-four, McDavid redirected an Andrej Sekera shot on target and hoped for the Jets' goalie to spill a rebound. But in a curious, unexpected twist, he didn't.
Speaking of Sekera, I saw him good tonight. He was constantly being asked to atone for his teammates' mistakes and generally did so with aplomb. Schultz, on the other hand, was treating the Jets' net like he would a Jets forward by refusing to hit it. So frustrating.
But I digress. After the first period, the Jets were the better team by a small margin, and the Oilers were probably fortunate to head into the break tied 0-0.
Before we get into the second period - can we all agree that George Strombolopolous was wearing the same suit he wore to prom? Whatever happened to good, old fashioned, clothes that fit you? In like a non-spandex sort of way? Anyway.
Right off the hop, Brossoit was tested again. First, on an odd-man rush against which he fought off a tough shot up high. Next, on a net-front scramble after the puck just found its way to the slot with no Oiler close enough to clear it before the trailing Jet got a dangerous backhand on net.
Shortly after, the Jets found themselves on the powerplay thanks to a Zach Kassian tripping penalty. Somehow a Jets forward managed to miss the net while basically standing in the net, which is something that only a Winnipeg Jet could manage. What a terrible team they are. And yet, the Oilers were quite easily the second best (of two) teams on the ice tonight. So, what does that tell you?
As the powerplay ended, the Oilers were lucky to still be level as one of the Jets' younger forwards hit the post from the high slot. Oh well. The Oilers were still in this thing despite being outplayed for the bulk of it. Enter Justin Schultz. Schultz did what he does - made a questionable pinch down low and an even more questionable decision to stay down low, which led to an odd-man rush against that was eventually finished by some useless Jet. If you care about their names, you've come to the wrong place. I refuse. I don't care.
After the goal, the Jets continued to assert themselves in the game. Eric Gryba found himself in the unenviable position of having to do what he's paid for, and he couldn't, so he had to hook his man in front of the Oilers' net.
At this point, CBC colour man Gary Galley decided to weigh in on the excellent quality of the ice at Rexall Place, with a statement that makes you wonder whether or not he actually pays attention to the sport he's paid to cover. The ice at Rexall hasn't been good for at least a decade.
The Jets earned another powerplay and at this point I began to stop caring, so forgive me if the play-by-play style of recap I went with for the first period devolves into me just hating on everything for the rest of the article. I'm sorry I'm not sorry. The best chance on this powerplay actually fell to the home side, with some Jet falling over the blue line and giving Teddy Purcell a clean path toward goal. Unfortunately, the NHL decides to change how they apply the rules virtually every night, so what should have been a clear-cut penalty shot ended up being a regular penalty. Great. The ensuing powerplay was as bad as you'd expect. Assuming you've been paying attention, of course.
With five minutes left in the period, the Jets were outshooting the Oilers 11-3. The Jets. The Winnipeg Jets.Those Winnipeg Jets. Connor McDavid was still playing though, and he did manage to set up Schultz for a glorious opportunity that the latter couldn't capitalize on.
The Hall line followed and rode the momentum into a half chance of their own, and drew a penalty after some Jet tried to clothesline Leon Draisaitl with his stick. Two minutes for guillotine-ing. Power play guru Mark Letestu led the way for the Oilers as they failed to generate much of anything. In fact, they surrendered yet another odd-man against, which drew some cat calls from the pillbox faithful.
McDavid's line followed up the dreadful powerplay with a half chance created purely by the teen phenom's speed. After falling over and setting up Jordan Eberle for a chance from the high slot, McDavid got the rebound and almost scored from his knees. He's neat.
More things happened until the buzzer, and then those things stopped happening. After forty minutes, the home team was down 1-0 and quite easily the worst team in the building tonight. Excluding those minor hockey teams that get group rates on tickets. They don't count.
The third period starts because it has to. Gary Galley leads in with a gem about how Connor McDavid's injury really slowed him down (note - McDavid had 12 points in 6 GP since his return). I'd prefer if he didn't say any more words. I'm sure you all feel the same about me, but like Gary Galley, I don't care.
As you might expect given the game so far, the Jets found themselves with the first real chance of the period. Full disclosure, at this stage of the game people began to hate on Yakupov on Twitter and I found myself more interested in defending him than I was in continuing to take notes over this game. It really was a bad game. Especially to this point. Purcell took a penalty for something, and again the Oilers almost scored shorthanded. Lauri Korpikoski tried to find - get this - Mark Fayne (!!) all alone in front but they couldn't quite connect.
The Jets had another glorious opportunity in front but Jordan Eberle did well to alter the shot from the slot that still almost went in as Brossoit was down and out.
Taylor Hall was trying his best all night, but didn't have his best game. After whiffing on a steal attempt, he stuck out his leg on a Jets' defender and found himself in the box. However, the Oilers had the best of the powerplay. A nice play at the defensive blue line by Fayne led to a partial break for Matt Hendricks, who snapped a low shot that beat the Jets goaltender. 1-1.
After the goal, the Oilers finally started to grow into the game. To this point they had been putrid. The ipecac of hockey teams, and that's being nice. The ipecac-for-your-butt of hockey teams. That's more like it.
More hockey happened, with some Jet driving his knee into Eberle's neck after he fell against the end boards. Props to the fan in the front row who gave said Jet a piece of his mind. Nice work sir. Eberle would be OK though, and almost found McDavid for a tap-in on the back post if not for a bouncing puck,
A shift or two later, Zach Kassian made a strong move from the corner and drove to the net with purpose. He didn't score, but not long after, he drew a penalty after a Jet buried him into the boards. Or, he might have tripped. Whatever.
The powerplay proved exciting-ish, but fruitless. This game would require overtime.
Overtime was real end-to-end stuff. Both teams had their fair share of chances, with both sides going close and both goalies having to make some good saves. Taylor Hall took another penalty, Eric Gryba hit a crossbar, and Teddy Purcell should have had another penalty shot. But hey, hockey right? Andrej Sekera had a glorious opportunity in the dying seconds but couldn’t hit the net.
Overtime would ultimately solve nothing, so the points would be decided by the shootout.
The Oilers would go first. The Jets would not.
Round 1 - Hendricks - MISS, Wheeler - GOAL
Round 2 - Eberle - GOAL, Ladd - GOAL
Round 3 - McDavid - MISS
Well shit. This one was ugly. It was a very real struggle to get to this point of the article. I so badly wanted to take a screenshot of my notepad notes, unformatted and riddled with typos - and post it as my article. If the Oilers can mail it in for an entire decade, surely I can mail in one post game report, no? I'm sure it's fine. You guys are used to it by now. Connor McDavid is awesome. Even his bad games are good. Justin Schultz is not awesome. I don't know what that guy has to do to get benched, but man, I can't take it anymore. I know I'm being hard on the guy, but honestly - it's excruciating.
The Oilers play someone else, somewhere else, some other time. I'll leave it to my colleagues to fill you in. They're better at this than me anyway.