Coming into this game, I would not say that I was excited to do the game recap. Frankly, I am frustrated with the Oilers – which includes players, coaches, management. Dave Tippett seems content with ineffective lines (or is too stubborn). Ken Holland refuses to improve the goaltending or third line. The players, beyond a select few, do not play with any sense of urgency or consistent effort.
The Oilers season is already starting to feel out of reach as they continue to drop games left, right and centre. Sorry, that’s just where the goals are going in on Koskinen (3.42 GAA, .900 SV%) this year. Anyways, the Oilers are back at home after going 2-2-0 on their road trip.
Going into the game, a few shakeups in the Oilers lineup.
Khaira and both Russells are removed from the lineup for this matchup with the Leafs, their third showdown of the season. Evan Bouchard is evidently still not ready for action.
Key’s to tonight’s game:
- Score more goals than the Leafs (obviously)
- Learn how to make exit passes out of the zone (unlikely)
- Reunite the DRY line (seriously, why not?)
- Some bottom 6 production
- Stop breaking my heart (once again, unlikely)
Here we go.
The Oilers start the game with a ton of energy, but no finish so far. The top two lines put together some wonderful chances which is always good to see, but after a bumble behind the net, Spezza puts one home. Koskinen gave it away, and then the puck somehow squeaked through. 1-0 Leafs. And there goes the air out of the tires.
One bottom six player who’s buzzing early is James Neal, who’s shooting from every angle and creating in the offensive zone. Draisaitl and Kahun then trade back to back open-net opportunities and neither are able to put it home.
The momentum continues however, and Kerfoot takes a slash on RNH to send the Oil to the powerplay. The boys fumble a few passes, struggle to keep it in the zone and the sloppy man advantage with no shots on goal. Following their ill-fated powerplay, the Oilers take their own penalty with a hold on Turris. Nothing doing for the Leafs and a few good stops for Koskinen, but Nylander slams one home with one second remaining on the PP. 2-0 Leafs.
Body language not looking great on the boys going into the first intermission. That weak goal took their energy away.
Early positives from the 2nd: Puljuljarvi just CREATES, man.
Early negatives from the 2nd: Our d-men never get their shots from the point through. Koskinen learned stickhandling from Mike Smith.
Holl throws a pick on Draisaitl, and the Oilers are back to the PP. However once again, the Oilers have no chemistry or unison on their powerplay. Embarrassing effort, again. One shot on two powerplays.
A few good chances from the top three lines yields no results, and the score continues to be 2-0 Leafs.
The Oilers’ work ethic is way too spotty, as it seems like many players take two out of every three shifts off, and it shows. They don’t ever outwork teams, which I believe is on coaching and personnel. James Neal, with five shots, might be the best player tonight.
Back to back powerplays, and a 5 on 3 thrown in there.
How Larsson’s stick didn’t shatter into a million pieces on this deadly slash is beyond science pic.twitter.com/edNGAW06AN— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) January 29, 2021
Neal and Barrie have a few good looks, but it’s finally Leon Draisaitl who puts one home. One shot on three man advantage sequences. 2-1 Leafs heading into the final frame.
Leon Draisaitl of the @EdmontonOilers extended his goal streak to five games and matched the longest of his NHL career, achieved on two other occasions (Dec. 22, 2018 – Jan. 2, 2019 & Oct. 24 – Nov. 2, 2019). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/h4iUPy1DiE— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 29, 2021
A few decent chances, followed by a good penalty kill, has the third period jumping to a busy start. Old demons plague the Oilers though, I’ve never seen a team struggle so consistently to exit their own zone with the puck. Edmonton lucks out on a missed Kerfoot chance.
Kerfoot is back to the box thouh, on his third minor penalty of the game for interference on McDavid (quite blatantly, IMO). And Leon puts home his second of the game on the PP, game is now tied 2-2. Yamamoto with a good battle in front and Draisaitl finds the loose puck before putting it home.
The tie is short lived, as Wayne Simmonds tips one in front on the Leafs’ powerplay. 3-2 Leafs.
The teams trade goals again, and Kassian nabs his first goal of the year (5x5 may I add) to make the game 3-3. Another powerplay for the Leafs following an Oilers goal, and the Leafs take advantage. Matthews puts Toronto up 4-3. Poor execution costs the Oilers yet again.
Draisaitl hits the post with a minute to go, but that’s as close as the Oilers will get. Drop this one to the Leafs, 4-3, and fall to 3-6-0 on the season. Rematch on Saturday.