Top 3 Oilers duds from disheartening 5-2 loss to Predators

Nov 4, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner (89) tries to screen Nashville Predators goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner (89) tries to screen Nashville Predators goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Edmonton Oilers Vincent Desharnais
EDMONTON, CANADA – OCTOBER 26: Vincent Desharnais #73 and Brett Kulak #27 of the Edmonton Oilers talk strategy in the second period against the New York Rangers on October 26, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images) /

Still dealing with the fallout from Saturday’s demoralising 5-2 loss to the Predators, here’s a look at three Oilers players in particular who disappointed.

As much as a 10-game winning streak to begin 2023-24 was unfathomable for the preseason Stanley Cup contender, so was a 2-7-1 start. The Edmonton Oilers are already in a desperate situation.

You know it’s bad, when the Oilers are second-best to a team they have dominated in recent years. Consider that entering Saturday afternoon’s tilt versus the Nashville Predators, they had a 10-1-2 record versus them over the previous four seasons.

However, rather than following up the recent 6-1 win against the Predators with another victory, the Oilers fell flat on their faces. As a result of the 5-2 loss at Rogers Place — where they have yet to win this season — they have the second-fewest points in the NHL as of Monday morning.

Next up, the Oilers face the Canucks Monday night in Vancouver, where they were humiliated 8-1 on opening night. Before then however, here is a countdown of the three players who disappointed most versus the Predators:

3) Vincent Desharnais

This is Vincent Desharnais’ first appearance as one of our three duds this season. While not being a standout up to this point he hasn’t been terrible either, at least not until Saturday’s game.

We would point towards Desharnais being partly responsible for at least two of the Predators goals. Both came at crucial points, when the Oilers were still in with a chance of getting something from the game.

The 27-year-old’s first mistake came when the Oilers were down 2-1, and trying to stifle a power play for the visitors. He needed to do a better job of breaking up the two-on-one pass which consequently led to a wide-open O’Reilly scoring his second goal and making it 3-1.

The other error came after the Oilers had got back to within 3-2, and time was winding down in the second period. Desharnais moved too far up the ice and was caught out of position, as the Predators got behind him and subsequently made it 4-2.

In fairness, everyone’s entitled to a bad game every now and then and we don’t expect the Laval, Quebec to have many similar disastrous outings this season. It’s just that when the Oilers are struggling as a whole, every mistake an individual makes is magnified tenfold.

In this respect, Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft was asked postgame what it’s going to take for the team to push through and be who they’re meant to be. Speaking to the media, he said:

"“We’re very clear that when you’re in a funk, in it up to your knees, the only way forward is to stick together … and work your way through it. But it’s about addressing parts of the game that have to be cleaned up. We’re aware that for us to win, right now it has to be on the defensive side of things.”"

For Desharnais specifically, this means continuing to be the big physical presence who can intimidate opponents. As long as games like Saturday afternoon are a rarity for him, he’s going to be just fine.