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Recap: Blues 4 vs Oilers 1

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Powerplay woes cost Oilers the game

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Normally I start these recaps by talking about things unrelated to hockey. As of today, I will no longer be doing that. No, it’s not because of complaints, or being asked not to — quite the opposite actually. I have been encouraged to write a book about my anecdotes, ludicrous statements, half-formed opinions, and glorifying general laziness.

Because I have an intellectual property rights contract with Vox in order to write here — and knowing full well that those intros were not the purpose of that contract — I have decided to just play it safe, and not elaborate on how speedboats prevent genocide as I was originally planning to tonight. So, as of today, those intros are a thing of the past. Here is the recap.

1st Period:

For the first two minutes, the St. Louis Blues would control most of the play. The Oilers couldn’t get it past center ice. No goals or any real chances, but a whole lot of stoppages in play.

The freshly minted second line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ty Rattie, and Tobias Rieder look good on their first shift. The do what the first line couldn’t and get time in the Blues’s end. To make it better, at the end of the shift, the Blues get called for too many men, and the Oilers are going to the powerplay.

The first unit spent most of the time on the ice, as is tradition, they looked pretty good and Leon Draisaitl had a nice shot in front of the net. The second unit looked terrible, and the powerplay ends with no goals.

Shortly after the powerplay ends, the Oilers are looking acceptable, not good but better than a few minutes ago. That changes when David Perron gets the puck, enters the Oilers zone, and rips a laser shot past Cam Talbot.

1-0 Blues.

Just over the half way point, the Oilers are showing the faintest signs of life. The Milan Lucic, Kyle Brodziak, and Zack Kassian line gets some zone time in the St. Louis end, so much that the 2nd line is able to change on without the puck leaving. Eventually it leads to Rieder blasting a puck off the bar. Almost a goal.

With 3:30 left in the game, RNH gets called for high-sticking, and the good guys are going to have to kill a penalty.

They did. It wasn’t a convincing kill, but killing that clock is enough for me.

The Period ends 1-0 Blues, and I sure hope there are less stoppages in play in the next period.

2nd Period:

Not too much happens early, but just over a minute in, Keven Gravel gets involved with David Perron, and the zebras decide to give Perron the only penalty, it’s for cross-checking.

The Oilers second powerplay of the game is a disaster. Nothing intelligent came of it.

A quarter of the way through the period, Connor McDavid beats Jake Allen, but not the crossbar, and the puck stays out.

Just a hair over two minutes later, the Oilers get their goal. Jesse Puljujarvi buries a one-timer from Jujhar Khaira. Caleb Jones did a great job keeping the puck in on this play and gets rewarded for his first NHL point.

St. Louis challenges this goal for offside, it wasn’t offside. The goal stands, and the Blues are given a penalty for wasting everyone’s time. The only thing I like about offside reviews is that you get punished for being wrong. I’d still rather they just get rid of it.

This powerplay is another stinker. We actually gave up a 2-on-1, forcing Talbot to make a big save. 0/3 on the PP, so far.

12 minutes into the frame, Cam Talbot has to make a couple more big saves. One from the slot on Tarasenko, and immediately after the whistle, another one on Brayden Schenn.

At the three-quarter mark, Patrick Maroon slashes Kevin Gravel sending the Oilers to their fourth powerplay.

This powerplay was worse than the last. 0/4.

It’s ok though, we get yet another powerplay almost immediately after the last one expired, this time it’s the Blues clearing the puck over the glass. Will this one be better?

No, not it is not. Period ends 1-1. The Oilers have 24 seconds of Powerplay time remaining.

3rd Period:

0/5 on the Powerplay.

One minute in, Ty Rattie gets a few whacks in the blue paint in front of Allen. Looked to be a few good chances to no avail.

A few moments later, the Jujhar Khaira line forces a turnover, and Khaira himself ends up with the puck in the slot. He rings it off the bar, off of Allen’s back, and Edmundson clears it out of the crease before it crosses the line.

On the same play, the Blues quickly transition and get a few cracks at Talbot who holds on for the whistle. I actually wasn’t going to include this play as I was taking notes in real time, but it turned out to be quite the game story.

See, the refs are standing at the box with the headset on, and I don’t really know why. No one was celebrating and it looked like your standard scramble and freeze, but apparently, I was wrong.

The ref comes to center, tells us that there was a goal on the play and everyone lines up at center. 2-1 St. Louis.

Ken Hitchcock doesn’t like that, and decides to challenge the goal on the grounds of Goaltender Interference. He can’t challenge whether or not the puck crossed the line, but he can challenge for GI. This is another stupid rule that wastes everyone’s time, but in this case I hope it’s worth it.

It’s not. I still haven’t seen an angle that shows the puck crossing the line, though it likely did, and goaltender interference is more subjective than anything, but this whole thing was extremely unsatisfying.

Anyway, 2-1 St. Louis.

Shortly thereafter — as far as the game clock is concerned, all of this seems a lot more than “Shortly” after that nonsense — Jujhar Khaira decides to exchange cross checks with Vince Dunn. Khaira’s was directly to the head, and especially vicious, so he gets five minutes and a game, Dunn gets 2. Never retaliate, Jujhar, they rarely call the initial, but they always call the retaliation.

Because of those calls, the teams play 4-on-4 for two minutes. The Oilers win the possession battle for this period, it actually looks better than our powerplays. Nothing comes of it though, and after two minutes, St. Louis is on the PP for three.

Vladimir Tarasenko scores, and this game is effectively over.

The Blues add an empty-netter to seal the game at 4-1, and the bureaucratic game of lawyer-puck comes to an end.

Notes:

  • The Oilers have lost their second straight winnable game. Not a good look.
  • The reffing was not spectacular, but for the most part we ended up on the right side of that. The game winning goal is an issue in itself, but that’s not what led to the Oilers losing.
  • Games are won and lost on special teams. I know spread-sheet people like to pretend that it’s not important, but it is. If you go 0/5 on the Powerplay, that’s going to be the first thing I point to if you start complaining about things you can’t control. That just wasn’t good enough.
  • Cam Talbot had another sub-90%, but it increases to 91.3% if you consider the second goal a half-goal, as I do. He was fine, not great, but fine.
  • I really miss Oscar Klefbom, he is so much better at playing big minutes than Darnell Nurse.
  • I also don’t think Caleb Jones should be cut anytime soon. He’s definitely better than Matt Benning, Kris Russell, and especially Jason Garrison. That’s not even a shot at those guys, this kid is legitimately good.
  • Time to put the the Khaira, RNH, Puljujarvi line back together. Khaira and Puljujarvi worked for a goal today, RNH looked to be missing them more than the other way around.
  • Leon Draisaitl was not looking good tonight. He didn’t do those lazy things this time, but he didn’t make a positive impact.
  • Connor McDavid was fairly pedestrian compared to his usual self too. Still, he’s McDavid.
  • Next game is against the Lightning. Losing three straight is quite possible here. Especially if the powerplay doesn’t improve tremendously.