The Oilers went to play in Anaheim for the first time since game seven in the playoffs last year. That particular game should have never happened because of that Ryan Kelser pad grab, but it did, we last that game and the Oilers were looking for redemption.
I’m not going to spend too much time breaking down the anatomy of this game, I’m going to give a quick summary and just go straight to my notes. There is a lot that needs to be said about individual players, and telling you the plays and the scores won’t do it justice. Here we go.
Instead of allowing the first shot to go in for the tenth time this season, Cam Talbot holds off until the third shot. Hampus Lindholm takes a slapshot, it’s going wide but his Andrej Sekera and goes past Talbot. Less than three minutes in and we’re down by one.
Patrick Maroon and Kevin Bieksa dropped the gloves a little later and that was about as eventful as it got this period. Beyond a crazy few minutes where the teams went end-to-end, that is. 1-0 after one.
THe Oilers are pressing pretty hard, the Oilers bottom three lines are playing very well and look like they might get a goal. Naturally, Kris Russell takes matters into his own hands and throws a terrible clearing attempt right to Ryan Getzlaf at the blueline, he passes to Corey Perry and just like that, it’s 2-0.
It seems like it may as well be game over by this point, but Anton Slepyshev got the puck in his own end, flies in for a breakaway and beats John Gibson on a beautiful backhand deke.
That goal put some life back into this team but that was about as far as it went for that period. It’s a real shame it wasn’t a tying goal. That would have made a big difference.
Ryan ‘Pad Grabbing’ Kesler tips a Lindholm shot past Cam Talbot. 3-1.
Kris Russell redeems himself for his mistake by scoring a nice goal. He passes to Connor McDavid, goes in on the two on one, receives the pass back off his foot, kicks it to his stick and beats Gibson. It was a great display all around.
Unfortunately, the Oilers couldn’t tie it up. They put an honest effort into it but it just wasn’t enough. 3-2 would be the final.
- Leon Draisaitl didn’t make it to the scoreboard, but he had an excellent game driving the second line with Milan Lucic and Drake Cagguila. As you can tell by those names, he didn’t have much help, but made due quite well.
- Anton Slepyshev was the best player for the Oilers tonight. He was all over the ice, getting shots, causing chaos in front of the net, running a great give-and-go with Mark Letestu and Iiro Pakarinen. He had very limited ice time, but made the most of it. Great game for him. If he could play like that more often, we’d win more games.
- Connor McDavid was Connor McDavid, we all know what he is and how much he changes a game. Today though, he was merely really good instead of incredible. He had an assist on the Russell goal, a couple good shots but wasn’t doing the ‘with speed’ thing he’s been doing the last few games. For most players this is a really good game, for him, it’s a bit of a let down.
- Andrej Sekera took a shot off of his head, left the game and didn’t return. It’s starting to feel a bit like the beginning of the end for him. He had an exceptional year last year, got hurt and missed most of the season this year, since he’s been back he’s been pretty mediocre, and now he’s hurt again. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him miss a few games, come back, play more mediocre and then silently end up on LTIR for the rest of his career. I have no basis for this, just something that wouldn’t come as a surprise.
- Jesse Puljujarvi... So what the hell is this guy supposed to be doing? He’s a fan favorite, but beyond eating pizza and making funny faces, what does he do that’s actually useful? He’s scored 4 points in 2018, has looked bad the entire time and has recently started a habit of taking unnecessary penalties. His skating is still a problem. He skates leaned forward putting his center of gravity way out in front of him. It results in him having a tough time turning at high speeds, and keeps his eyes from being horizontal to the ice. Furthermore, he doesn’t seem to have any idea what to do when he has the puck. Three times tonight, I saw him receive a pass in the offensive zone, skate backwards out of the seam and pass it to no one, completely unforced. The worst part, the offensive zone is where he has the most hockey sense. You know what would be the dumbest thing management could do? Have two players competing for the same roster spot, have one be better, ignore the coach pleading for the better option, sending the better one back to Spokane and calling up the worse of the two. There isn’t even a price you have to pay for that one, it’s just a bad decision. Jesse Puljujarvi is going to have to turn it around, and fast. I’m not impressed.
- Oscar Klefbom had another solid night. He looks to be rebounding from his first-half struggles. Would like to see more offense, but that’s how it goes.
- Cam Talbot was, ok. Not spectacular but good enough that our record would be a lot better had he done that all season. One-goal games are a coin flip, hense out 10-6-4 record in one-goal games. Coin flips give us better probability that the goaltending we’ve been getting most of the season.
- I’ve had enough of these late games. Turns out there are more of them coming up. Ugh.