This evening we will be treated to game 2 in the Oilers/Sharks first round playoff series but before I get to that I want to touch on a few things in game one as I took the chance to watch the game again to see if I could notice what everyone was getting on about.
THAT is how you ring in the first playoff game in ten years, right? I had a feeling that the Oilers would do something special with the anthem and it clearly impressed the players and I know that because when the anthem was being sung, the cameraman was focused on Lucic and the look on his face said it all (about 0:49 into the video above).
As for the actual game, I was not surprised one bit that Edmonton came out flying nor was I surprised when they lost momentum. There was no way that that adrenaline was going to carry them for 60 minutes. Not that it wasn’t for a lack of trying, I think that the crowd tried their damnedest as well to try and lift the team up on numerous occasions.
To get more specific these things stood out for me:
- Nerves – The Oilers looked like a very nervous team as the game wore on. The cute little passes weren’t connecting and the home run passes weren’t either. They couldn’t keep possession in the Sharks end for any sustained amount of time and the vets on San Jose were eating them alive.
- The Hits – I loved how they boys came out with a fire in their belly and were determined to seek & destroy… See what I did there. Kassian is a beast!
- Brent Burns – Yikes kids! Gotta get a handle on this guy as it seems he’s running the show for the Sharks right now.
- Eric Gryba – I don’t think he had THAT bad of a game but unfortunately was on the ice for two key goals against. That said, I’m not sure Matt Benning would’ve fared any better and I’d rather have veterans in the lineup than rookies if all things are equal.
- Penalties – The Oilers took some shady PIMs last time, some I can agree with and some I think the ref blew completely, like Gryba’s elbow on Couture… Brutal call from the ref there. But Edmonton has to refrain from taking shitty penalties in the Sharks end.
- Connor McDavid – He had his chances to put the game to bed but couldn’t get the puck over Jones’ pad. But I’m not so disappointed at that as the mad hooking calls that weren’t called on the Sharks when they tried to stop him.
- Tim Peel – I knew as soon as I saw that he would be officiating the Oilers/Sharks series that we were in for a “treat”…
- SHOOT THE BLOODY PUCK! – 17 shots is simply not going to cut it if the Oilers are going to make it to round 2. For this reason alone I would have Anton Slepyshev in the lineup. He can do everything Iiro Pakarinen can do but at least he shoots.
I know that Todd McLellan doesn’t like to flip guys out of the lineup after a less than stellar performance but this is the playoffs baby and there’s no time like the present. I’d take out Desharnais and Pakarinen and replace them with Matt Hendricks and Anton Slepyshev.
David Desharnais has shown me very little (is that a pun?) so far and him being demoted to the 4th line tells me the coach is also thinking the same. I know that you’re thinking that Matt Hendricks is too slow and the game has passed him by but how many minutes does the 4th line get anyhow? I don’t believe it’s enough time to concern yourself with them being a huge risk to winning game 2.
I think there are some people who think that Drake Caggiula should come out due to the fact that he took a couple of dodgy penalties last game but to me, he was looking great! He was tenacious on the puck and reminded me a bit of Esa Tikkanen. He should stay in.
- Faceoffs – I believe Hendricks (Or Anton Lander) would help here. Leon Draisaitl was the only positive player on the dot in game 1.
- KISS – Keep it simple stupid! None of this cute shit. Get the passes on the tape, move the feet, shoot the puck. The Oilers really are a much more skilled team and they failed to capitalize on that in the first game.
- Shadow? – If the Oilers put a guy on Brent Burns from the get go, how much of a difference do you think that would make? I mean he had more shot attempts than the Oilers 1st line in the opening game…
- Boom Shacka Lacka! – Keep up the physical play for the whole match and I would target Couture/Pavelski for sure.
Connor McDavid is on a 15 game scoring streak going back into the regular season and I fully expect him to put up another point or two tonight. One player on the Sharks that looks to be heating up is Tomas Hertl and Edmonton might be smart to not forget about the damage he did two nights ago.
What do you think the Oilers should do? Let us know in the comments below!