The Oilers won their second of four games against the Vancouver Canucks this week, by a score of 4-1.
The Canucks scored on their very first shift of the night, on a goal by Brock Boeser 34 seconds into the game. From that point on, the Oilers played an extremely solid game from a defensive standpoint, with a bit of a third period shooting bonanza that didn’t feel especially dangerous by the Canucks notwithstanding.
The first period was pretty dull for the most part, with few great chances for either team. Tyler Ennis attempted a lacrosse style goal late in the first stanza, and, if he had converted it would probably be the only thing I would have talked about in this post game. I may not have even mentioned the score of the game.
The Oilers offence kicked into gear in the middle frame, thanks to their big three of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Bouchard.
I kid, but Bouchard did look very good in my eyes tonight.
Draisaitl scored the Oilers’ first two goals of the game, both on beautiful shots that were the result of great passes from the captain. The second Draisaitl goal was the result of a particularly fantastic play from McDavid, who perfectly anticipated a Vancouver clearing attempt, picked it off, and promptly feed the other half of the dynamic duo for a one-timer. Evan Bouchard then extended the Oilers’ lead to two late in the period.
Darnell Nurse added a third period insurance goal (his 16th of the year!!!), and although the Canucks had 17 shots in the third, it really felt like the Oilers were in control the whole way. The Canucks trailed through 40 minutes and only had 12 shots on goal at that time. That’s not a competitive performance. The Oilers looked like a much better team, much as they did on Monday as well.
Bouchard played his first game in about two months tonight, and he provided a lot of confirmation for those of us who have been frustrated at the fact that he hasn’t been playing. He looked like a seasoned veteran on his goal, faking a slapshot, then firing a sneaky wrister through a screen into the back of the net. He didn’t dominate any on-ice stats such a xG differential, or anything, but he did look very composed with the puck, and made a few passes that Oilers fans rarely see from defenders.
Per the stats website HockeyStatsCards.com, Bouchard’s per game average Game Score, which is a catch-all metric that is based on a weighted combination of on-ice and individual stats, currently ranks 4th among Oilers blueliners. Ethan Bear ranks third, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask to see both of them play in the same game, preferably in the top two pairings, but I’ll take what I can get.
The Oilers play their next game on Thursday against (you guessed it) the Canucks again. McDavid sits at 93 points on the season, with 5 games to play. But, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him scoring seven on Thursday and taking the rest of the year off. After all, Sam Gagner scored eight points in a game once upon a time, and I’ve always said that Connor has Gagneresque potential.