The Edmonton Oilers faced a tough battle on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers, ultimately falling 4-1. While the final score tells one story, the game unfolded with several key moments that raise questions about the team's performance and strategy.
The turning point of the game, for me, crystallized in a pivotal few minutes during the latter half of the second period. While the scoreboard favored the Flyers at 2-0, the Oilers were riding a wave of momentum, and after a commanding penalty kill, the atmosphere hinted at an imminent game-changing breakthrough. Roughly 30 seconds post-penalty kill, Zack Hyman made a great net-front play, beating Carter Hart and narrowing the gap to a single goal. However, three minutes later a Sean Walker shot from the top of the circle eluded Jack Campbell putting the Flyers up 3 to 1.
Last season the Oilers led the league in goals scored in the 3rd period but last night they really faded in the 3rd and were outshot 16-4. It seemed to me the team gave up on this game and thats a real concern for a team thats considered to be a favorite to contend for the stanley cup this season.
Jack Campbell started strong but ended the night with a disappointing .875 save percentage. The Oilers' success this season heavily relies on the performance of their goaltenders, and if neither Campbell nor Skinner finds consistent form, the road to the playoffs will undoubtedly be rocky.
A surprising move was seen in the limited ice time given to star players Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, all playing under 20 minutes. This contrasts sharply with their usual ice time from last season when the were consistently playing over 20 minutes a game. If Jay Woodcroft is trying to limit the 3 big guns minutes so they have something left in the tank for the playoffs he's going to need more contributions from the bottom 6.
While the team struggled, defenseman Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci stood out, leading in ice time and finishing the night with a positive +/-, both earning a +1. It makes a huge difference having Ekholm in the lineup and taking the pressure off Nurse.
Although Evander Kane is still struggling to put the puck in the net following last seasons injury he's still contributing to the team. He led the team in hits and shots on goal in the game and I think its just a matter of time before he starts filling the net.
Warren Foegele looks like a good fit in the top 6. I thought Foegele was one of the better forwards in the game last night, he wasn't able to put up any points but did generate a couple of dangerous chances.
The Oilers are now 1-3 to start the season and have lost 3 games against teams they should beat. Maybe they should stop planning the parade and put their energy into making the playoffs.