The Oilers lost 4-1, at home, to the Senators on Tuesday night, in a game which simply didn't give Oilers fans much to cheer about.
The Oilers played fairly good, albeit somewhat boring hockey for the first half of the first period.
The next 25 minutes or so of game play, was some of the worst hockey that the Oilers have played all year. That's saying something at this point. The Sens got goals from Nick Paul at even strength, and Zack Smith on the power play during that 25 minutes stretch, when the Oilers produced nearly no offensive chances.
Finally, with about five minutes left in the 2nd period, the Oilers had a five minutes stretch of inspired hockey. This included a dangerous looking power play, and a couple good shifts from the McDavid line, including a goal by Jordan Eberle.
Unfortunately for fans, especially the paying customers, whom I don't envy on a night like tonight, the Oilers didn't carry their improved play into the third period. The five minute stretch of good hockey turned out to be nothing more than a flash. The Sens got an early goal from Alex Chiasson and an empty-netter from Mark Stone, in an uninspiring final frame.
You may be saying: Hey, Corey, you sound pretty down in the dumps right now. I hope you don't try to flush yourself down a toilet. There's no way you'll fit, and that mess will just make you angrier.
That's a good point. As far as positives go, Connor McDavid has the rare ability of providing them every game. He looked dangerous at times, and he picked up an assist on Eberle's goal. Even when he doesn't do much, watching him skate is aesthetically pleasing.
Watching Conner play is like going to an art gallery. Actually, I don't like going to art galleries, so it's actually the opposite of going to an art gallery for me. That's a good thing. He's good at hockey.
The McDavid line was the only line who scored. They also dominated in the fancy stats department. They cycled the puck very effectively, which lead to impressive shot-attempt differentials. McDavid had a +8 Corsi +/-, while Eberle was +10 and Pouliot was +11. From a statistical standpoint those three players were head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the team tonight.
Corey's Game Puck
I spent the entire silver lining section raving about McDavid, so naturally I'm giving my non-existent game puck to someone else.
Eberle's game stood out to me tonight, because I thought he did all the little things well. He was instrumental to his line's effectiveness on the cycle tonight. He was particularly good along the wall and in tight quarters. In my estimation he was the catalyst for the prolonged offensive zone time which led to his goal. All night Eberle seemed to find himself with the puck on his stick and a defender in his face, yet more times not not he managed to elude the defender and move the puck to a more dangerous spot.
He also had a few chances on the doorstep, one of which he managed to convert. It wasn't Eberle's flashiest game, but tonight was a good example of a lot of the little things that he does well, which make him an effective player.