The Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid had the game on his stick in the dying seconds of Sunday night’s 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. The out-come of that play depends heavily on your point-of-view:
Amazing save by Jonathan Quick? Or Inclusive video evidence, masking the fact that McDavid had, indeed, tied the Game at 3?
Well, friends…while I would love to argue the latter, the absence of a better camera angle at NHL headquarters in New York gives me no other choice but to agree with the former.
But trust me…I don’t like it. And I’ll get to that.
9. Cam Talbot was given 2nd Star in the building on Sunday night, and while I agree he battled, I’m not sure he was deserving of that level of praise. After all, that first goal against was a real softie, the kind Edmonton Oilers fans have seen all-too-often these past few years. And he juggled rebounds for a good part of the night, too. Cam Talbot was good…but not great. Just sayin’.
8. I actually had a lot of complaints about the officiating on Sunday night, long before and long after they got the waived-off goal wrong. Before, A puck-less Connor McDavid was leveled by a Kings defender in front of the net with 9 minutes left…no call. And in the final seconds, Anze Kopitar fell on the puck in the face-off circle…no call. A poor night by the men in stripes. Booo.
7. As shaky as that 2nd Period was for the Edmonton Oilers, fact is they hung around. It was a game at the end only because the Oilers bent but didn’t break, until Taylor Hall was able to slip a nifty deflection past the L.A. goaltender. That is a mantra Todd McLellan has preached since training camp. The penalty kill after a terrible offensive-zone penalty by Lauri Korpikoski seemed to spark them to start the 3rd. Who knew Korpikoski would take yet another, that would prove costly.
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6. To let the officials off the hook just a little, that play at the end may not matter if Eric Gryba does not forget WHO he is, and puts that pass up the boards, at 6:29 of the 2nd, instead of right up the middle. In short order, his bad decision was intercepted and deposited in the back of the Edmonton Oilers net. For Eric Gryba to succeed, he needs to make simple, low-risk plays. Unlike THAT one.
5. If you go by the metrics, Oscar Klefbom had a terrible night. That’s why I struggle with Corsi, because Sunday night was clearly Klefbom’s best of the season to date. In fact, I thought he got better after Justin Schultz got hurt, seemingly thriving on the additional ice-time. I thought Andrej Sekera was also decent, and handled most of the puck-moving duties in Schultz’s absence.
4. The Oilers line of Connor McDavid, Nail Yakupov and Benoit Pouliot was terrific again. They scored once (well, twice, but that’s still to come!), and were dangerous all night long. Pouliot had 5 shots on net, McDavid 3, Yakupov 2. And you can tell that the coach knows, as those 3 are showing up more often in key situations. On the Pouliot goal, McDavid just swept past Jake Muzzin, after Yakupov had made an excellent play along the boards to spring the break-out.
3. Justin Schultz left the game at the 12-minute mark, after a very innocent looking play behind the net during an Edmonton Oilers power play. Ignore the Schultz-haters: They missed his puck-moving ability. There is a big drop-off, when it comes to puck-handling abilities on the blue-line after him. If he is out, longer term, whick puck moving D-man comes up from Bakersfield? Brad Hunt? Nikita Nikitin? Darnell Nurse??? Who would YOU sooner have?
2. The Edmonton Oilers could have tied the game at 14:40 of the 3rd Period, when Rob Klinkhammer found himself all alone in front of the LA net but could not stuff it in. I have nothing again Klinkhammer, who has played an honest game alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall. But who would you sooner have in front of the net with the puck on their stick in that situation: A border-line 4th line NHL-er…or Jordan Eberle. They really miss him. Like…really.
1. The “Goal”. It boggles my mind that the National Hockey League does not have every angle imaginable to determine whether or not a goal should count or not. One, the referee clearly pointed to the net, on the McDavid back-hand. Then…he changed his mind. Then, when you see the diagonal angle that showed up on Twitter, by a professional photographer: The puck was clearly and vividly over the line before Jonathan Quick put his glove on it. It wasn’t the replay they showed on SportsNet. What THEY showed me WAS inconclusive. My mind was changed when I saw additional angles. But that, sadly, does not matter. It goes into the books as a 3-2 loss.
A loss is a loss, sure. But there were lots of good things mixed in with the bad, against a very good NHL team. The Edmonton Oilers are in the mix, with their tough Western rivals this season. And while “in the mix” does not count in any way in the standings, what we are seeing IS growth.
Bring in Minnesota. At 3-and-6 in the standings, now, that will be a big game for the good guys, before November arrives.