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The Calm Before The Storm

Oilers loss to Ducks could have far-reaching implications

Anaheim Ducks v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Oilers were not successful in defeating the NHL’s worst team today.

in fact, you could say they lost. (They did, 4-3).

The Oilers were powered by a Darnell Nurse goal early on, but they’d give up the lead 2-1 at the end of the first. Ryan Strome (hey, remember him?) would make it 3-1 midway through the second. The Oilers would put up two power play tallies to tie it up, but it’d be John Klingberg that’d be credited with a power play game winner of his own with six minutes gone in the third. More on him in a little bit.

This game could have been a 7-4 Oilers Special. You know how they play games this year; they rely on special teams, they score a couple of goals, McDavid does McDavid things, he picks up a goal and three assists, Zach Hyman says hello for 1-2-3, Draisaitl picks up a pair, Jesse Puljujärvi plays nine minutes and some folks with access claim that’s the reason why the Oilers allowed four goals. You know, typical stuff.

Except, that’s not how the game against the NHL team with two regulation wins finished.

The Oilers got out-goalie’d by household name Lukas Dostal, who made 46 of 49 saves for the Ducks. Anaheim wins just their third regulation game of the season, 4-3. They’d do it with just seventeen shots. That’s not an indictment on Stuart Skinner, because there were some terrible lapses by the Oilers that helped contribute to pucks in their own net. Anaheim’s first goal was squarely on the shoulders of Darnell Nurse. While Nurse did have the Oilers’ first goal tonight, he’s had a really tough stretch of play as of late. Tonight he turned the puck over in his own zone to Jayson Megna. A pretty pass to Mason McTavish turns into Sam Carrack’s first goal of the year. Ditto Evan Bouchard, who would get what looked like a routine pass eaten up by Ryan Strome in the Anaheim end. Strome took it in all alone to make it 3-1 early in the second period.

Two big gaffes cost the Oilers that game, but running into a hot goalie didn’t help things.

The Oilers probably have figured out that the defence just isn’t good enough, and that’s good. What’s concerning is the eventual move that will come if things don’t change soon.

CLOUDY FUTURES

After a run to the conference finals last season, the club is no doubt unhappy with where the Oilers are in the standings today. They’re tied with Seattle at third place in the Pacific, but Seattle has three games in hand. Their big ticket free agent goaltender has a save percentage well under .900, and the majority of the games have been played by Stuart Skinner. The Oilers are perfectly adequate at 5 on 5, they’re good on the power play and they’re a nuclear meltdown on the penalty kill with just over a 73% success rate. They’ve got a top pair of Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci.

The Oilers know they’ve got to do something on defence. You’re not going to win a championship (or maybe even a playoff round) if your club is consistently allowing 4 or more goals a night. (The Oilers are currently allowing an average of 3.41 goals a game). While the club ought to seriously be going in on Jakob Chychrun from Arizona. The names we’ve seen recently are Joel Edmundson and John Klingberg, two names that don’t exactly inspire.

With Edmonton knowing that their defence isn’t what they think it should be, a move might be on the horizon in the near future. It goes without saying that they’d do well not to wildly overpay for a guy that was a healthy scratch on the St. Louis cup team a couple years back.

Adding an embarrassing loss to a Ducks club that now has three regulation wins this season, and the pedal on a deal like that might have just gone through the floorboards.