Colton Parayko to the Oilers?

Mar 30, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Taylor Raddysh (11) go for the puck during the first period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 30, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Taylor Raddysh (11) go for the puck during the first period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Draisaitl celebrates goal against Vegas
Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

I was thinking of doing an entire blog on this as a featured topic, but ultimately decided against it as the topic has already been done to death as a featured topic.

Let’s just do a quick recap of why the Oilers lost the second round against Vegas:

1.  Bad team defence

Give Vegas credit, they’re a good and deep team so they won the series fair and square in their own right. Also unlike the past two series we’ve played against the Kings, we weren’t playing against a coach who was bad at adapting to the opposition’s moves nor did we have a book on playing Vegas in the playoffs as we had never played them in the playoffs until this season. The reason the Oilers beat LA in six games vs. last years seven is the Oilers now had video footage on LA from two seasons ago and could adjust their tactics accordingly.

Ultimately the Oilers made too many untimely mistakes that led to goals against. It isn’t even one player or two to blame, the whole team just prolapsed untimely goals. Hopefully, the Oilers will learn from this experience and I’m willing to bet that the video staff will fire up their equipment and go through footage to see not only what the Oilers can improve upon but how Vegas plays and sort out their weaknesses to exploit for future series.

2.  Depth/Top scoring disappeared

Connor Mcdavid did his thing in both series putting up 20 points in the 12 playoff games the Oilers played, but everyone after him seemed to atrophy against Vegas.

Even Leon Draisaitl, who had 11 points in the six games against LA in round one, had six goals in the first two games of round two but then disappeared the rest of the way with only one assist after that. Good start, bad finish.

Zach Hyman did well on the face of it, going 3-8-11 in 12 games, but he had five assists in the first two games of the second round and then went 1-1-2 the rest of the way, with all of that coming in only one game.

Evander Kane was an absolute force in last year’s playoffs with 17 points in 15 games, but only went 3-2-5 in the 12 games and had but a single assist in the second round. It also didn’t help that he went from +2 in last year’s playoffs to -3 this year.

Even guys at the bottom of the roster like Klim Kostin, who went 3-1-4 against LA had but a single assist in the second round (he was playing in his first playoffs, so I’m willing to give him more rope having said that).

In order to succeed in the playoffs the team needs everyone firing on all cylinders, and it seems most of the cylinders shut off for the Oilers in the second round.

Let’s hope we don’t see the offence dry up in next season’s playoffs. At the very least we’ll see some very motivated players coming back.

3.  Our starting goalie didn’t stand on his head

Now before anybody crucifies me in the comments section, just know that I love Stuart Skinner as a player and I don’t believe he let in any bad goals in either series. I believe defensive lapses from the skaters are to blame for the goals against.

I would rate Skinner’s performance as average, which in the playoffs is not good enough. The problem is in the playoffs you need your goaltender to stand on his head and steal a game here and there. I think Skinner stole some goals at times but I wouldn’t say he stole any games in either series. That needs to change going forward if the Oilers are to win a cup, and there’s plenty of historical precedence for this.

Oilers fans should all know about the legendary performances of Andy Moog and Grant Fuhr in the 80s and the Conn Smythe trophy-winning performance from Bill Ranford in 1990. Patrick Roy backstopped the Habs to two Cups in 1986 and 1993 on two rosters that didn’t have a lot of firepower on either forward or D, then proceeded to win two more cups backstopping a powerhouse Avs team in Colorado. New Jersey had Martin Brodeur for the 90s and early 2000s when they won Cups. The Rangers had Mike Richter in 1994. Dallas had Eddie the Eagle Belfour in the net in 1999 when they won. St. Louis was in last place in the league before they called up Jordan Binnington and he backstopped them to a playoff spot and Cup win in 2019. Would the Lightning have been in three straight Cup finals and won two in a row in recent years without Andrei Vasilevsky in the net?  Probably not.

Skinner needs to follow in the footsteps of all of these fine players if the Oilers are to win a Cup – or Jack Campbell, for that matter, as long as one of them steps up and shuts the door, that’s what we need.

4.  Injuries

Rumour has it that Connor Mcdavid, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman, and probably Leon Draisaitl too thanks to that stupid slash from Pietrangelo were all playing injured. None of the players used it as an excuse in the press conference, but it certainly does diminish things to a noticeable degree. If the team can stay healthy enough, they should be able to keep a lid on this next playoffs.

5.  Two costly mistakes by Jay Woodcroft in round two game six

I like Jay Woodcroft as a coach, and he’s proven himself to be a brilliant tactician, but he made two bad mistakes in the last game of the Vegas series.

First of all, he only played Connor McDavid just over five minutes in the first period. Apparently, he wanted different matchups against William Carrier who was tasked with being the proverbial white on rice to defend against Mcdavid. Hence, he made sure Ryan Mcleod was out there instead of Mcdavid, but this didn’t generate more offence.

Second of all, he started Skinner again in game six despite the fact he’d been pulled three times in the series and Jack Campbell had come in and played well.

Jack Campbell had a record of playing well for Toronto in the playoffs and Skinner probably should’ve sat in that last game and Campbell started in his stead – after all, if Campbell had lost game six then it would’ve been the exact same result, no harm no foul. But if Campbell had stood on his head and won the game it would’ve tied up the series and the Oilers would’ve gone back to Vegas for game seven. He rode Skinner for too long.

His loyalty is admirable, but starting Skinner in game six was clearly the wrong decision. Campbell deserved a start and didn’t get one, while Skinner looked like he was cooling off.

All of that being said, the part of the fanbase infected with stupid saying Woodcroft should be fired for his mistakes is incredibly harsh. Didn’t you people learn from the decade of darkness that constantly changing head coaches doesn’t help anything?

Woodcroft is a smart fella and not a fart smella so he will learn from these mistakes and come back next playoffs older and wiser.

How’d you like to be fired from your job the second you make a mistake? Wouldn’t feel too good, would it?

6.  Puck luck

Another key ingredient to winning in the playoffs is you need the bounces to go your way and not the opposition’s.

As you can see if you’ve opened the link by now, the Oilers and Kings had the exact same PDO of .985 – and if the bounces are the same on both sides then the Oilers, who have more firepower up front, will take over.

Compare this to Vegas where the puck luck was most definitely on their side as they currently lead all playoff teams in PDO with 1.068.

This also explains, in part, why the Knights are currently up 3-0 on Dallas. Dallas’s PDO is even worse than the Oilers at .982, so Vegas is hands down winning the puck luck battle in round three too.

At this rate, it wouldn’t surprise me if Vegas rode this all the way to a Cup win. Unfortunately.