Some free lessons there to say the least. Final Score: 2-1 Blues
After picking up a big win in Dallas and quieting the nerves of Oilers fans everywhere, the boys were back at it against another tough opponent in the St. Louis Blues. Obviously, going up against the defending champs is never an easy task, something we saw on full display here tonight, but I also felt like the Oilers had a chance to close out a win provided that they played the way they can. When they’re crossing their ‘T’s and dotting their ‘I’s the Oilers are a tough team to handle, but as we all know, the problem comes with doing it consistently. Over the course of their four-game losing streak, Edmonton gave up far too many goals and seemed generally disjointed in their own end, often shooting themselves in the foot and ruining their chances at a win just as we saw with the wasted comebacks against Buffalo, Carolina, and Minnesota, something that simply could not happen again against the Blues. I believed in a win and I believed in our boys!
The last time these two teams played, Jake Allen stole the show for the Blues and I was really hoping for another quick start for the Oilers that could put the netminder back on his heels a little bit. Unfortunately, it was the visitors that were back on their heels early on as defensive lapses gave the Blues all kinds of extra opportunities to maintain the zone and fire pucks on net. Thankfully, Koskinen was rock solid in net, but it would have been nice if his teammates had been smarter with their puck choices as to not lean on him so much. To put it another way, this thing would have been ugly without him. Moving into the second period, things didn’t get much better as the Blues continued to dominate on the shot clock while the Oilers hung on for dear life and hoped for the best, seemingly unable to throw any kind of counterpunch whatsoever. Frankly, the fact that they were only down by a single goal heading into the third period was a testament to Koskinen’s game rather than a tip of the cap to the team in front of him. This game was lopsided as hell, but with their goaltender playing lights out the Oilers still somehow had a chance at points they didn’t deserve.
Down by a goal with 20 minutes to play, the Oilers were going to need to be either way better than they had been for the first two periods or hope for some kind of miracle because this game was not as close as the score might indicate. And while the Oilers inched their way closer in the dying moments, there was no comeback to be had on this night as the Blues were simply too strong defensively and did an excellent job of capitalizing on their opportunities. From start to finish, the Blues made better choices with the puck, supported each other well in all three zones, and showed the Oilers exactly how a contender looks when they play defence.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- James Neal scored late in the third period to bring the Oilers back to within a single goal after finding a loose puck in the scramble and sinking in behind Allen when he slid way out of the net.
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes for his third straight start and looking to build upon the strong performance he put in against the Stars on Monday night. And while he didn’t get the win that he probably deserved considering the performance he put in, it is very easy and obvious to say that he was the best Edmonton Oiler tonight by a substantial margin. Full stop. Case closed. To put it lightly, had it not been for Koskinen, who knows what the score might have been and the fact that the game ended as close as it did was because he stood on his head and kept the team in it. Koskinen finished the night with 42 saves and a .955 save%.
- Adam Larsson was easily the Oilers best defenceman in my mind and played tough minutes in all situations. He was even forced to moonlight as a goaltender for a moment in the second period after he made a huge kick save that stopped a sure goal for the Blues.
- Big ups to Zack Kassian on his 500th game, which is even more incredible to think about when you consider his pre-Oilers history. Congrats on the milestone, sir!
- The Oilers were great on the PK, killing off all five penalties they took. A lot of the credit can go to Koskinen for those kills, but it’s only fair to admit that the team was very good when down a man.
- I thought Caleb Jones was steady on the third pairing tonight and he made some nice reads with the puck that should be acknowledged.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Brayden Schenn opened the scoring for the Blues with a breakaway goal after sneaking his way behind the Oilers’ defence and snapping a shot past Koskinen after the visitors were unable to gain entry to the offensive zone and gave the puck up at the blue line.
- All night long, Edmonton had a real knack for giving the puck up at the opposing blue line and that’s exactly what happened on MacKenzie MacEachern’s third period goal. As we saw with the first one, the Oilers simply could not gain entry into the offensive zone and gave the puck away near the line. From there, the Blues were able to turn the play around and bury one at the other end, punishing the Oilers with a pair of avoidable goals.
- The Oilers were way too loose defensively throughout this game and it gave the Blues all kinds of undeserved offensive opportunities that were completely needless. As has been the trend of late, the boys were flying the zone too early and the defencemen were then forced into plays they shouldn’t have been making.
- Edmonton desperately needed their power play to come through with a goal tonight but they just couldn’t get one in any of their four chances with the man advantage. That said, I know a few of their power plays were abbreviated but I didn’t necessarily feel like they were getting much done with the time they did have either.
- For the second game in a row, I have NOT been a fan of the Khaira-Nuge-Chiasson line as they got absolutely dominated at even strength. I don’t know what Tippett sees in that trio but clearly he and I are not on the same page on this one.
- There were a bunch of free lessons for Ethan Bear tonight as he had a hard time dealing with St. Louis’ relentless pressure in the defensive end. And while that may seem like a negative thing to say, these are the games he’ll have to work through as he continues to build his young NHL resume. He’ll get through them and I feel like going through games like this will only make him better in the long run.
- I’m going to go ahead and ask that Ken Holland make a move soon because watching the Oilers get caved in at 5-on-5 has been really tough to watch.
|08:04||St. Louis||Brayden Schenn (15) ASST: Vince Dunn (5), Jaden Schwartz (16)||0-1|
|06:23||St. Louis||MacKenzie MacEachern (6) ASST: Ryan O’Reilly (26), David Perron (19)||0-2|
|18:10||Edmonton||James Neal (16) ASST: Zack Kassian (12), Leon Draisaitl (37)||1-2|
Elliotte Friedman is speaking the truth right now. Even if the officials called half penalties that McDavid draws, the #Oilers would double their power-plays.
— Eric Friesen (@EricJFriesen) December 19, 2019
— Jackie moon (@toast140) December 19, 2019
He is so grounded when he gets home. He should not be out this late on a school night anyway
— Anthony Flynn (@anthonyjflynn) December 19, 2019
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) December 19, 2019
This second period has been at least 45 minutes long. @OilersnationHQ
— Turner L. Watson (@TurnerWatson) December 19, 2019
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