The Edmonton Oilers (8-3-1) were in the Motor Apple tonight to take on the lowly Detroit Red Wings (3-8-1) to start a three-game road trip. The Oilers started off their season hot as can be but have struggled of late, losing three of their last four games. The Wings have lost eight in a row. A trap game if there ever was one.
The Oilers were at least a step behind at puck drop, as the Red Wings jumped on them from the first shift. The hosts managed the first eight attempts on target before their polite guests offered their first.
A brief pushback would be short lived, however, as Leon Draisaitl would find himself in the box after a questionable hit on Tyler Bertuzzi.
The Oilers PK has had trouble suppressing shots this season, and tonight was no different. It took mere moments before the Wings were on the board through Dylan Larkin, who was somehow left all alone in front to walk out and tuck home. 0-1.
The Wings would keep coming shortly after their first, with a lengthy spell in Edmonton’s zone culminating in a loose puck sitting on a tee for Patrik Nemeth to walk into and fire past Mikko Koskinen’s glove from above the left circle. 0-2.
The Oilers really didn’t offer much after going down, either, but were able to draw a penalty with less than a power play’s worth of time left in the period. Unfortunately, the first unit wasn’t able to really get established and the score would remain 0-2 after 20 minutes.
Edmonton would begin the second period wrapping up their power play, and it was the most dangerous they looked so far. A couple of good looks went begging, but the pressure continued the following shift.
Unfortunately, the Oilers couldn’t find a breakthrough, and the Red Wings would stabilize, eventually drawing another penalty. The Oilers PK fared better this time around, but couldn’t generate any momentum from it.
The Red Wings continued to push before Larkin found some space to attack Ethan Bear with speed. While Bear has been a revelation this season, he is ill-equipped to deal with such a problem, and was forced to foul to prevent a dangerous chance. Another Wings power play. Another Oilers kill.
Moments later the Oilers would find themselves back on the man advantage after Connor McDavid was interfered with in transition. The Oilers PP is still among the best in the league despite struggling for a few games running.
Once again the top unit of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, James Neal and Oscar Klefbom struggled to get established, and couldn’t generate any really good looks.
Nothing notable for the remainder of the period, apart from the fact that the lowly Red Wings are well and truly beating the Edmonton Oilers tonight. After getting their show run by the Florida Panthers on Sunday. Yeesh. 0-2 after 40 minutes, but a depressing 0-2, with the Red Wings also handily outshooting Edmonton 23-15.
The Oilers started the third period better than either of the two before it, but weren’t able to turn that into a goal.
The Oilers continued to press but weren’t able to find the breakthrough, with the Wings managing to create chaos every so often. Otherwise, however, the Wings appeared content to play a bit less aggressively and defend their way to victory.
A curious strategy, given their effectiveness through 40 minutes. And, it eventually backfired. After a few good shifts in a row, Connor McDavid’s line went to work. The Captain turned Dylan Larkin over at the near wall before playing catch with Leon Draisaitl, who slapped a first-time effort through a screened Jimmy Howard’s legs. 1-2.
Soon after, in fact too soon, Andreas Athanasiou was sent in all alone. Mikko Koskinen had to be immense as he welded his left leg to the ice to keep the Oilers in it.
This would be pivotal, as the Oilers would earn another power play the following shift. What a great time it would be for the top unit to find its early season magic! But it wasn’t to be, as, despite a ton of pressure around the crease, they couldn’t solve Jimmy Howard.
Three desperate minutes would solve nothing, and a Filip Hronek empty-netter would make the final score 1-3 in favor of the Detroit Red Wings.
Rough from start to finish. The Oilers were, unfortunately, second best for too much of this game against a team that, while desperate, is still objectively bad. They aren’t good enough to make the Oilers look this pedestrian, unless, the Oilers are objectively bad too.
Their record was peerless a few weeks ago, but a few more blemishes like tonight’s and it won’t be able to shield those in charge from the criticisms we aimed at their predecessors any longer. This roster isn’t good enough, and quite frankly, anyone who is OK with an Oilers roster that isn’t good enough — for any reason, under any circumstances, no matter how bad it was before — around Connor McDavid is someone I have a hard time trusting with the future of the Oilers. I know, it’s early.
But in another very real way, it isn’t.
*All numbers 5v5 and courtesy Natural Stat Trick.
CF%: 37-35 - 51.39%
FF%: 29-27 - 51.79%
SCF%: 21-21 - 50%
HDCF%: 8-9 - 47.06%
Shots: 25-21 - 54.35%
Golazos: 1-1 - 50%
The perfect Edmonton Oilers take their 8-4-1 record into Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets (5-4-2) tomorrow night. Puck drops just after 5:30 MST. See you then.