Edmonton Oilers: Analyzing the Sabres Loss

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 23: Adam Larsson
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 23: Adam Larsson /

The Edmonton Oilers had their 3-game winning streak snapped by a blowout loss to the Buffalo Sabres. What can they learn from this setback and try to get back on the winning track?

Riding a 3-game win streak, it could have been number 4 for the Edmonton Oilers. Facing off against one of the worst teams in the league and seeing how well the Oilers have looked lately, this game should have been in the winning bag.

It was supposed to be a battle between the two superstars, Connor McDavid versus Jack Eichel. What transpired last night is what has exactly been happening throughout the season, a nightmare masquerading as ugly losses.

The demons we all thought the Oilers exorcised the last few games evaporated in less than 20 minutes. The former Stanley Cup favorites at the beginning of this season now mirror what they hope they didn’t want to become, a lottery team.

Many Edmonton Oiler fans have tried to develop amnesia or look forward to the very next season. You can’t blame them at all. Especially for a team like the Oilers (who should have smoked the Sabres) got the tables turned on them in less than one period.

The players looked lethargic and slow from the get-go and seemed to be going through the motions in the first period. It’s been those slow starts that have hurt this team all year-long. For a team who had two days off, that type of effort is clearly unacceptable.

Penalty kills

What hurt the Edmonton Oilers in this game is what has hurt them all year, penalty kills. This team was in the penalty box for 8 minutes, which allowed the Sabres to score 3-out-of-their-4 opportunities in the first and second periods.

That was a knee-breaker for the Oilers since their overaggressiveness (43 hits) became their undoing during the game. The Oilers have been the most physical team in the league this year with 1294 hits. But it’s been that reputation that has allowed the officials to monitor them closely and blow the whistle for penalty infractions.

Another issue that has also hurt this team this year and especially in this game was the giveaways. Allowing 20 giveaways in any game is a recipe for disaster and the Oilers have been boiling that pot all season.

Being ranked 4th in the league in giveaways while being overaggressive and logging a lot of penalty minutes will sport you a 21-24 record for the season. What this team needs to do is to figure out a way to still be aggressive and a bit more disciplined. That’s something that coach Todd McLellan should address in practice.


The only positive notes to make of in this game was that the Edmonton Oilers did take 33 shots on net and won 58 percent of their face-offs. This game was a horrible blowout loss but this team does need to take some positives from this debacle.

They need to go back and look at tapes from their previous games and compare it to their performance in this ugly loss. There is a slim chance at this juncture that the Oilers can turn it around and squeak into the playoffs. But that all depends if they can bounce back in their next game against the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.

Let’s be real, Oiler fans are more pessimistic than optimistic now more than ever. It’s up to this team to prove them wrong.