A look at what went wrong for the Edmonton Oilers in Philadelphia on Thursday night, as they made it three losses in four games to start the 2023-24 season.
Following Tuesday night’s 6-1 win in Nashville, it seemed as if the Edmonton Oilers had rediscovered their mojo. How wrong we were.
Looking set to build up some momentum on the back of the win versus the Predators, the Oilers instead came to a crashing halt in Philadelphia. Harsh or not, the Flyers deserved their 4-1 win on Thursday night.
Jack Campbell got the start for a second consecutive game, as reward for his fantastic effort versus the Predators. And while he wasn’t great against the Flyers, he can really only be blamed for one of their goals.
So what went wrong, in a game where the Oilers were expected to win their second straight? Here are three takeaways from a disappointing performance at Wells Fargo Center:
1) Lack of urgency
It was a case of Déjà vu in Philadelphia, with the Oilers looking similar to how they played during the season opener in Vancouver. As with the game versus the Canucks, they were second-best to a team which they really should have beaten, but who just wanted it more.
Of course this is the NHL, so it’s always possible to lose to a less talented team, especially on the road. However, the severity of the two beatings by a combined 12-2 is, quite simply, unacceptable.
Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft didn’t mince his words, when discussing the performance of his team versus the Flyers. Speaking to the media postgame, he said:
"“You know, I thought our game lacked urgency today. I didn’t see second and third effort in all areas of the game from up and down our lineup. Not to our standard. We play towards a standard and it wasn’t there for us tonight and that’s disappointing. It’s going to have to get fixed quickly here.”"
In terms of getting fixed quickly, the Oilers are notorious for their slow starts, including going 10-10-0 through the first 20 games of last season. However, you can’t keep relying on your ability to recover, especially if the early-season form costs you the chance at a higher seeding come playoff time.
While appreciating the Oilers’ status as preseason favorites with a lot of media types, it really doesn’t mean a thing in the grand scheme of things. They’re playing like a team which thinks they just need to turn up to get the two points, which is a bad look for a team with a core group that hasn’t actually won a Stanley Cup yet.
Understandably though, Woodcroft doesn’t believe this is an issue. He said:
"“I don’t think so, I think we’re past that point. I think sometimes, younger teams at different life stages might feel that way if they have a bunch of skill, that they can go and earn two points just based on their skill level. Where we’re at in our life stage of team, (where) we should know better.”"