The Day After: Edmonton Oilers 5
The Edmonton Oilers only played three games under Jay Woodcroft, but they had three wins.
They looked rejuvenated and played a solid game against the New York Islanders, before completely dominating the San Jose Sharks. Last night in their 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, it was a different kind of victory.
They went down 1-0 early after a blunder from Mike Smith led to a goal against. Just two weeks ago, that probably would have meant game over for the Oilers. They didn’t seem like they had the ability to stay in the game, let alone come back and win them.
But last night? Last night was different. The Oilers got on the scoreboard, but never on themselves. This allowed Connor McDavid, Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to score big goals that would lead to victory.
“We asked everyone to increase their work rate, we ask the team to play a certain style, a demanding style, and we are very happy that the team is seeing results,” said the coach- chef Jay Woodcroft after the game. “It’s a good team character victory.
“We didn’t score the first goal of the game, no one lowered their heads. We found a way to recover and there wasn’t a lot of real estate there. You had to fight for your space and these type of games are not easy to win. Seeing the level of effort put in by our players was very impressive.
Edmonton gets a definite coaching bump early in the Woodcroft era, but the most notable thing so far has been the teams’ commitment to playing in all three zones. They are tough on the forecheck. They’re aggressive in the neutral zone and they’ve been solid in their own zone.
They are no longer passive on the blue line, but rather play an aggressive style of hockey that creates turnovers and plays the other way. Markus Niemelainen who advances to the blue line as on this game is an excellent example.
disrespectful human life yung gravy escalates with a good bang on dustin brown pic.twitter.com/P7T3Iv0CkX
– zach laing (@zjlaing) February 16, 2022
Edmonton’s ability to dictate play and not be passengers may be enough to keep the team moving in the right direction.
McDavid’s goal was pure courage, a “May type goal”, as described by Woodcroft. The second goal, scored by Nugent-Hopkins, started on the forecheck and the player found himself in front of the net. Yamamoto’s goal, the eventual winner of the game, was scored again thanks to a deep puck and the player who found himself in front of the net.
While these aren’t the best goals, these are the ones the Oilers haven’t scored in a while.
“We stayed patient in our game and didn’t let it slip away when we were down 1 there,” Mike Smith said after the game. “Hit in a gritty in the second, then just stuck with it.
“There was never really a panic in our game. It looked like it would be whoever made the last mistake…the other team was going to win the game. It was a brave effort from our group. we hung on and found a way to win.
Calm, cool and collected. All business.
It’s massive wins here for the Oilers, especially the last two coming against Pacific Division foes in the Sharks and Kings. Edmonton’s schedule also remains challenging going forward.
They got Anaheim at home on Thursday, Winnipeg on the road on Saturday, then Minnesota at home on Sunday. Next, Edmonton embarks on a tough Eastern Conference swing against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks.
None of these games will be gimmies and will be a great litmus test for Woodcroft and co.
- Edmonton opted to go 11F/7D for the third straight game, but replaced Tyler Benson with Devin Shore on the “fourth line.” Shore, however, played just 2:57 of ice time all night with his last shift at 3:43 of the start of the second period. He took four shifts. Woodcroft is trying to get a sense of what he has and has deployed various players in different areas, like shorthanded Draisaitl, for example, but those few minutes for Shore can’t be a good sign for him.
- Now three games into the Woodcroft era, here are the Oilers’ goals scored by the front line/die duo:
- Drew Doughty was honored before the game for playing in his 1000th NHL game, and he gave a hilarious speech before the game even started. https://twitter.com/zjlaing/status/1493794895202377729
Kings momentum before break ends in loss to Oilers
LOS ANGELES — The Kings were back at work Tuesday night, but couldn’t pick up where they left off before their extended hiatus, falling to the Edmonton Oilers, 5-2, at Crypto.com arena.
In their first game since Feb. 2, the Kings saw off their six-game point streak. Meanwhile, Edmonton improved to 3-0-0 under interim coach Jay Woodcroft.
Winger Arthur Kaliyev and center Phillip Danault scored for the Kings, while Cal Petersen made 24 saves.
Centers Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and wing Kailer Yamamoto scored for Edmonton, with the latter getting the game-winning goal. Wingers Zach Hyman and Evander Kane each added an empty-net goal and Mike Smith made 30 saves.
The Kings were held scoreless on five power play chances, but also managed to kill all four penalties they took.
“We definitely didn’t play our best. The first period was okay, the second wasn’t very good and the third, I don’t even know,” defender Drew Doughty said.
While Edmonton made a coaching change and then racked up a pair of wins, the Kings had been doing nothing but practice.
“You don’t play Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in training when they’re trying 100 per cent, so there’s a challenge straight away,” Doughty said.
Hyman and Kane scored 67 seconds apart, both in the vacated cage in the dying moments of the game.
Edmonton went ahead for good with 4:46 left after the Kings rushed slightly to recover from a broken stick defender. Draisaitl moved under the goal line and tossed the puck past Yamamoto, who passed it past Petersen. The Kings then came under some pressure and had a pair of good chances, but couldn’t extend the game. – Andrew Knoll, Los Angeles Daily News
Zach Laing is the News Director and Senior Columnist for the Nation Network. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaingor attached by email to [email protected]