Here we sit, roughly 15 minutes before game number nine of the season and I can’t help but think about how much things have changed. We all knew that Connor was a true phenom and would change the Oilers all by himself but how many predicted that the change would be so dramatic and fast? I sure as hell did not! I expected improvement but not top of the western conference 10% of the way through the year.
After two shut-outs in the last three games I think the vast majority of Oiler fans are expecting another win tonight for the guys and if I was inclined to disagree, I’m not, by the way, I would be hard pressed to mount much of an argument in my favor.
I’m not expecting a blowout but I do think Edmonton is clearly the better team here and will win the 6th straight game to finish October with an 8-1 record. We are about two and a half hours from finding out either way! Craig Andersen returned to the Senators line-up after taking a short leave of absence to be with his ill wife. Best of luck to both of them as they continue through treatment and recovery.
Through the first twenty minutes the Oilers and Senators have not managed to bulge the twine in either net. In the period the Oilers were the better team for the most part. Except when they had the man advantage. Only managing two shots in six minutes of power-play time. On the plus side, the Oilers lead in shots, 7 to 4, in hits, 9 to 8, and are killing it in the face-off circle going 12-3 in the opening frame.
Connor, as always, had a couple good moments in the period. First, he stormed through basically the entire Senators team, going around Erik Karlsson-like he was standing still for a wrap around attempt. Then later in the period he drew the third power-play when he caught Derrick Brassard flat-footed in the neutral zone and made a nice move to the inside. That forced Brassard to take the hooking penalty.
Only other item of note in the first was a very minor fight between Zach Kassian and Mark Borowiecki. Wouldn’t say there was a winner or loser but Kassian was the only one to land a punch in the fight… Still goes down as a disappointing draw.
The second period proved little better as far as game action was concerned. The Nuge made a fantastic move that I am still not quite sure how he pulled off. He had two defenders all over him and he still managed to extract himself and the puck for a clear straight shot on the net. Unfortunately for the Oilers that was their best chance of the middle frame.
Ottawa scored the only goal of the game near the mid-way mark of the middle period off of some nice board work from Kyle Turris and Tom Pyatt. The result was a fantastic behind the back out front of the Oiler net to Mike Hoffman who beat Talbot short side to light the lamp.
The second ended with little else happening in the way of action and the Oilers went into the third period trailing for the first time this season, excluding the blow-out loss to Buffalo back in game three.
I read somewhere a few weeks back, I believe from Lowetide, that there are 25 games you will win no matter what and 25 you will lose no matter what. The rest are what make the difference between the play-offs and golfing early. Last night’s was one of the 25 that you lose no matter what.
Edmonton clearly was the better team on the night but there was zero chance that anything was getting past Craig Andersen in his first game back. The Oilers fired a ton of rubber at him in the third but to no avail. This was pre-destined. Andersen was on fire and when he did seem to be in some kind of trouble his defense cleared the puck out of danger quickly.
Hard to get too down on the game when Edmonton was playing fairly well against the boring trap coached Senators but it just wasn’t in the stars last night. Thankfully the next game is against the much-maligned Toronto Maple Leafs and I fully expect the Oilers to come out flying. Especially Connor McDavid, who will likely be playing in front of a lot of friends and family, after being held off the score sheet last night for the third time. I almost feel bad for what he will do to his hometown team tomorrow night.
The thing that fans need to remember is that one game does not make a season. We still have 73 left to go and there will be losses. Of that, we can be sure. How the guys respond Tuesday is the next big test for us. What happens Oilers fans? Let us know in the comments!