Edmonton Oilers Lose 2nd Of Back-to-Back Road Games, 4-1

The Edmonton Oilers, even if they had all hands on deck, would find it hard to win back-to-back games on the road. But they don’t, and did. The 4-1 loss isn’t a fatal blow. But this game WAS a chance to make up precious ground in the Western Conference, and they could not answer the bell.

9 Things:

9. Benoit Pouliot could not play tonight, because of the flu. And I felt that we could could see a lack of energy up and down the lineup. That could be 1-part fatigue from the night before and 1-part upset stomach. Not an excuse…just sayin’.

8. Anton Lander‘s struggles continued again this evening. Make it 0 goals, 0 assists for 0 points in 17 games, and a -6. So not only is his acute lack of offence holding back his teammates, he’s not getting the job done on either side or the puck. If there were a better option, he’d be in Bakersfield by now.

7. Injuries are seriously hurting this club. When this many quality players are out, it makes it tough to pull 2 points out of a mediocre night, when our best players are just not enough on their own. Problem is, key guys like Connor McDavid and Justin Schultz are not immediately due to return. So the current lineup is what it is.

6. The Edmonton Oilers had a distinct edge in possession, Thursday night, and soundly out-shot the Coyotes, 28-21. But one one hand, the Oilers lacked finish, and on the other…Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith was very good. The Oilers had their opportunities, but just could not capitalize on their chances.

5. The Edmonton Oilers got off to a terrific start, commanding the play in the first 12 minutes. A beautiful give-and-go from Leon Draisaitl to Taylor Hall resulted in the 1-nothing lead 3:03 in. It looked as if the Oilers had finally broken that 1st Period jinx. But really…the Taylor Hall goal was the beginning of the end.

4. Nail Yakupov had his worst game of the season Wednesday night, against the Anaheim Ducks. But he had a very good bounce-back game in Arizona, with excellent possession stats and visible jump in his step. And Yakupov managed much of that on line with Mark Letestu and rookie Iiro Pakarinen.

3. Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl had excellent shot metrics on the night, and contributed jointly for the only Edmonton Oilers goal. On one hand, you want to move red-hot Draisaitl off onto to another line, with the hope that his success follows him and spreads out the offence. But what if that kills your only “real” line?

2. The stats about starting goaltenders in both of back-to-back games is stark: They struggle mightily. And while it is pretty hard to blame Anders Nilsson for the loss tonight, he was the 2nd Best goalie in the rink. Mike Smith was the superior puck-stopper…period. So Todd McLellan played a hunch and loss.

1. The Power Play (the #4 Power Play in the N.H.L, don’t you know) came up barren tonight, unable to capitalize on 4 chances. And that was the game, really, as the Edmonton Oilers were given 3 consecutive advantages with the extra man, and frittered away all 3. That kind of performance, combined with fatigue, caused the Oilers to visibly slump toward the end of the 1st…and they never really did recover from that. If they score on any of those 3 opportunities, this game may well have ended differently. But alas…

Losing the 2nd of back-to-back road games should not come as a shattering surprise. It happens. It’s just that an outcome different than this would have made a big difference in the standings.

L.A. is next, Saturday.