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Hot Links: Thursday, August 6

Blackhawks push Oilers to the brink with 4-3 win. Reaction, analysis, and key stories: Ennis’ injury, Kassian’s omission, Bear’s bad luck, and MORE!

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Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Morning, folks.

I’m still steamed. Still feeling the effects of watching a game the Oilers led with less than 6 minutes to ending up as a 4-3 regulation loss. And now they’re on the brink. One game away from going home. I didn’t win the $2.7MM either.

The part that really gets me? Look, the refereeing was monumentally bad — it really was — but the Oilers were about as bad in the most important period they’ve played in 3 years. They sat back. They invited pressure. They allowed Chicago — this very average 2019-20 outfit that was parting out its roster at the deadline, and whose starting goaltender got over COVID-19 like three days ago and very much looks like it — to attack for most of the period. Eventually, that pressure told. Twice, in about 5 minutes. You can’t do that. Even against a bad team like Chicago. Not when all it takes is a bad bounce.

Tyler Ennis was forced to leave in the second period after colliding with Kirby Dach behind the Oilers net. Dach made contact with Ennis’ leg and his toe picked, forcing the lower half into positions I can’t even recall without feeling a bit queasy. It was excruciatingly hard to witness, especially in an empty building where you can really hear the agony. It was an awful moment for the local lad and hopefully news breaks that his leg didn’t, and he’ll be able to find work over the summer.

Mr. “More Important Come Playoff Time” himself, Zack Kassian, was noticeably absent from the Oilers’ third period rotation. The Ennis injury forced coach Dave Tippett to move some bodies around and the context of the game forced him to shorten his bench. Kassian and Riley Sheahan found themselves the odd men out. It would later prove for good reason, too. The one shift they did play in the third led to Chicago’s tying goal after Kassian blew his assignment at the point. Tell me again how good that extension was, now that his coach has effectively admitted he can’t trust him in moments of any leverage against even a middling team like Chicago.

The trio of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sit T2, T2, and 3 in playoff scoring, respectively, having combined for 20 points in 3 games. They’ve lost 2 of them.

But hey, it’s not over. Sure, it’s looking less likely that they’re equipped to really take a real shot at it than maybe it was Tuesday morning, but it’s not over. They’ll have to win 2 in 2 nights on Friday and Saturday now, but they’ve done that before. And to be fair, we’ve always known that this group wasn’t built for a deep run. They’re an obviously flawed team two absolute world eaters carry as far as they can. But you need more than that. If you took McDavid and Draisaitl off this team, would they have been good enough to even qualify for this tournament? I’m not so sure. Just getting in isn’t good enough if you aren’t good enough.

Hopefully, even if when the Oilers do prevail, Ken Holland comes to the realization that this club is far from the finished article. That it still needs to improve if it really wants to challenge for a title.

Until then? We’ve got tomorrow afternoon. LFG.

Oh, and this:

From Us

Oilers Falter In 4-3 Loss To Hawks (Copper and Blue)

PLAY-IN GAME 3: Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Copper and Blue)

Hot Links: Wednesday, August 5 (Copper and Blue)

From Elsewhere

Blackhawks steal Game 3 from Oilers, take 2-1 series lead (Second City Hockey)

Oilers Surrender Two Late Goals As Blackhawks Pull Off Stunning Comeback (Sportsnet)

Pair Of Late Goals Help Chicago Stun Edmonton To Take Control Of Series (CBC)

Oilers’ Tyler Ennis Leaves Vs. Blackhawks And Won’t Return (Sportsnet)

Oilers’ Adam Larsson Unfit To Play In Game 3 Vs. Blackhawks (Sportsnet)

Jesse Puljujarvi Signs One-Year Extension With Karpat (Oilersnation)

James Neal: You’ve Got to Want the Pressure (Player’s Tribune)

Dave Tippett Looking For Consistency “Within The Game” (Oilers Rig)

For Money

Nearly 30 percent of Canadians ignore summer to watch NHL and NBA on Sportsnet (Athletic)

Down Goes Brown: A fan’s guide to how worried you should be after 4 days (Athletic)