The Edmonton Oilers were in St. Paul, Minnesota to play the Wild tonight. The Wild have beaten the Oilers 6 of the last 7 times, and goaltender Niklas Backstrom is 6-0 against the Oilers. Backstrom will play tonight after missing the last 10 days with a groin strain.
The game was all but over after the first period—but not because of the goaltending of Backstrom on this night. The Oilers did everything they could to self destruct, and handed the game to the Wild.
The Oilers took five penalties in the first period. None of them were of the good variety, and the Wild scored three power play goals—including two of them in 12 seconds to bury the Oilers.
Another power play goal early in the second period and the game was pretty much over. The Oilers got a power play of their own, and the teams exchanged even strength goals before the second period was out. Neither team could find the net in the third period.
Why did the Oilers lose? They lost because they couldn’t stop taking lazy penalties.
7 of the 10 penalties were of the lazy play variety. You know the ones? Where the player is too lazy to skate and catch the opposing player, so they reach out with their stick or arm to pull the player back. These are the kind of penalties that lose games, and the kind of penalties that losing teams make.
Right now, the Oilers are a losing team. This was probably the worst game they have played all season. The forwards weren’t checking anyone; the defence had no idea what they were doing on the ice most of the time. Even Dwayne Roloson couldn’t be counted upon to make the save when it was needed most.
This was the start of four straight games on the road, and the first of eight straight against divisional opponents—it was an awful way to begin. Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish looked totally disgusted on the bench, and I can only imagine the language that was being used in the locker room.
If the Oilers thought they were going to get a day off, they have another thing coming. I hope MacTavish skates them into the ice. The time is now to get this team going, because one subpar month and the season will be over.
The veterans need to act like leaders and start earning the money they make. Right now, it is only the rookies earning their paychecks.
Once again the power play stuttered, going 1/6 and bringing their year-to-date total to 4/60. Normally a good faceoff team, the Oilers were a disgusting 38% in the faceoff circle.
The Oilers have also been pretty good killing penalties this year, with 85% proficiency —but tonight they were only 60%. So many things went wrong in this game that someone needs to pay, and that should be the players—with blood, sweat and tears.
After a game like this, they owe it both to their fans and themselves.