Mikko Koskinen, we speak your name! Final Score: 3-0 Oilers
I don’t know about you fine folks, but the first thing I thought to myself when I looked at the Oilers’ schedule this week was that they had to find a way to win all three games. The Flyers, Blackhawks, and Habs are all terrible and anything less than six points from this stretch was going to be a real bummer, so I needed the Oilers to find a way to pull their shit together in spite of the injuries and handle some business. And if the Oilers could put in the same effort as we saw against the Hurricanes, the fragile Flyers wouldn’t stand a chance. Two points, lock ’em in. But as the first period wore on and the play teetered back and forth, I started to get more and more nervous about the way the Flyers were able to hang around because our side couldn’t get anything past Hart. It wasn’t that the Oilers were playing poorly or anything like that, but I do get nervous any time the score stays too close against a team that’s terrible. Thankfully, the PK came up with a huge 5-on-3 stop and Leon Draisaitl calmed the nerves a little bit with a power play goal towards the end of the period, giving the good guys the lead heading into the intermission.
Now that the Oilers had the lead, the next step was to get themselves some insurance and avoid letting the Flyers grind their way back into a tie game. Rather than let the opponent stay afloat in a tight game, this was the perfect time to flex a killer instinct and throw an anchor at Philly’s dinghy and watch it sink to the bottom of the ocean. Instead, what we got was another punch/counterpunch period that saw the Oilers waste a collection of power plays that kept their lead to a single goal, and that lack of finish was worrisome because it seemed like only a matter of time before the Flyers would find a way to respond. I don’t know what the hell is going on with the power play right now, but it looked like the exact opposite of the killer we were getting earlier in the year. And that lack of execution kept things just too close for comfort, ya know? The good news is that Kailer Yamamoto was the next to strike after finding a loose puck in the crease that he was able to chip over the line, giving the Oilers a little bit of breathing room that they desperately needed.
Up by a pair with 20 minutes to play, I wanted to see the Oilers get another goal and finish this game off well before the clock ran out. From my side of the TV screen, I saw no reason that the Flyers should be able to claw their way back into the mix, but it was going to take a strong finish from the visitors to keep their year of pain alive and haunting them. But just like the first two periods, the Flyers did a really good job of manufacturing opportunities for themselves and they ended up with a bunch of really clean looks on net that could have easily been goals against had Koskinen not been up for the task. In fact, the Oilers were on their heels for most of the third period and it seemed like the only reprieve they could find were the moments of calm they’d have after clearing the puck off the glass. Thankfully, those stressful moments were all for not as the Oilers got the saves, blocks, and clears they needed to navigate the waves of pressure they faced as the clock ran down. By no means am I saying this was a perfect win, but I’m not about to complain a whole lot about a shutout that gets the week started with two big points.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring (1-0) with a power play goal near the end of the first period after he picked the puck up high in the zone and lasered a seeing-eye wrist shot through traffic and over Hart on the glove-hand side.
- Kailer Yamamoto extended the lead to two (2-0) after he drove to the goalmouth, found a loose puck sitting in the crease, and pumped it over the goal line before anyone could clear it away. This was the kind of greasy goal we don’t see this team score enough and I was fired up to see them get it.
- Connor McDavid finished the game off with an empty-netter (3-0) to put the Oilers up by three and nail the coffin shut. I will always celebrate McPoints and the captain put up two more of them.
- Mikko Koskinen was back between the pipes and looking for his 19th win of the season, coming off what was undoubtedly his best performance of the year against the Florida Panthers. And just like he did on Saturday afternoon, Mikko was rock solid in net for his team and gave them the kind of goaltending that allowed them to weather a few storms and bounce back unscathed. I mean, what else can you say about a guy that stopped all 39 shots he faced? Perfection.
- I thought Darnell Nurse had a really strong night on the back end as he was once again called upon to play big minutes in all situations. Nurse finished with 24:46 in TOI to go along with an assist and one shot on goal.
- It seems like every single night, Ryan McLeod does something that impressive and I’m a huge fan of the way he keeps getting better and better with each passing week. I don’t know where his offensive ceiling will end up, but I’m having a good time watching the progression in his young career.
- Zach Hyman appreciation post for the way he literally hustles all game long.
- Shout out to Duncan Keith for being quietly solid in his first game back.
- Huge props go out to the penalty killers for handling both shorthanded situations they faced on a night when they really needed some big kills. This was the first time the Oilers have shut a team out on the PK in a while and I appreciated that result.
- Congrats to Ryan Malone for playing his 200th NHL game!
- With peace and love, I bring you a report from the spreadsheets which states that the Oilers finished the night with a 45.54 CF% and a 52.94 xGF%.
- Kinda fun to remember that the Flyers are still paying Ilya Bryzgalov $1,642,857 per season until 2026-27.
- Sign up for the new ON Newsletter! It’s a weekly thing I’m doing and I’ll have some giveaways, etc happening in there.
THE FACE PALMERS
- I don’t know why it bothers me that the Flyers outshot the Oilers in every period but it does. Maybe I’m just nitpicking.
- I thought the boys relied on Mikko Koskinen way too much in the third period as they seemed content to sit back and try to defend rather than push ahead for more offence.
- The Oilers’ power play was anything but powerful, finishing the night at 1-for-5 and contributing greatly to the stress I was feeling since the game wasn’t wrapped up way earlier.
- How many times did the Oilers turn the puck over in the third period? I don’t have the number myself but it was enough to make me scream at my TV a few times after what was an ugly collection of passes to no one in particular.
- The NHL site had the giveaways at 13-12 with the Oilers having more and that makes a lot of sense to me.
- If you love a good Corski win then you’re probably upset about the fact that the Flyers outshot the Oilers by a 39-32 margin.
- I regret to inform you that the Oilers won only 48% of the faceoffs.
Can confirm it wasn’t
— Barry Kachur (@Tehbigbear8) March 2, 2022
“I’ve always tried to model my game after Derek Ryan” – Wayne Gretzky
— Woz (@itsWozzz) March 2, 2022
Celebrating a goal in the other team’s crease is such an F U and I love it
— Ryan (@IAmByks) March 2, 2022
Has Jay Woodcroft tried this yet? pic.twitter.com/X5nbpTEKlz
— Mike Z 🇺🇦 (@Zinner2dot1) March 2, 2022
So this just happened on Wheel of Fortune. pic.twitter.com/FgVunCEmDg
— Kenny (@KennyK089) March 2, 2022
LISTEN TO BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER
On this week’s podcast, I took your questions and pumped out a quick podcast that revolved around your feedback. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts. New episode is coming up tomorrow!