There was a lot about the Edmonton Oilers’ 5-1 defeat to their Pacific Division rival, the Los Angeles Kings, at Rogers Place on Sunday (Dec. 5) that could raise a coach’s ire.
It was the most lopsided loss of the season for the Oilers, whose previous largest margin of defeat was three goals. It was the second consecutive loss for Edmonton, which has now dropped back-to-back games for the first time in 2021-22. And it was the 14th game this season, including 11 of the last 14, that the Oilers have given up the first goal, and the third time in the previous five games they’ve surrendered a goal in the opening four minutes.
So it’s completely understandable that, despite his team’s excellent 16-7-0 record, Dave Tippett has seen enough. And Edmonton’s bench boss let that be known in his post-game media availability Sunday.
“There are parts of our games that aren’t good enough right now,” said Tippett, whose team has gone 7-6-0 after opening the season with nine victories in its first 10 games.
“There’s some puck battle stuff, some wall battle stuff, some execution with the puck, things that allow you to play a lot harder and a lot faster, and we’re not doing enough of that right now. Our puck play is slow; too many battles we end up chasing pucks, and that’s been going on for a long time now.”
Oilers Chase the Game Again
Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead just 2:01 into the game, after Kings forward Trevor Moore won a battle with Edmonton’s Kris Russell for the puck along the boards, skated in over the blue line, and fed the puck to Rasmus Kupari, who chipped the puck past Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen. That sequence set the tone, as the Kings never relinquished the lead.
“You want to have a good start to the game,” Tippett said. “We talked about it before we went on the ice that we wanted to have a good start to the game. First shift, we give up a Grade A chance, then we end up losing a puck battle on the boards, and it ends up in the back of the net. Those are things that we talk about all the time, but you’ve got to get out there and do it.”
Slow starts have become the Oilers’ calling card. In the last four weeks, going back to Nov. 8, no other NHL team has allowed the first goal as often as the Oilers, who have fallen behind 1-0 10 times. In that same span, Edmonton has gone into the first intermission trailing five times, third-most in the Western Conference.
Oilers Lack Response to Seattle Loss
Edmonton’s lackluster effort against Los Angeles was particularly dispiriting, given their performance in a 4-3 loss to the Seattle Kraken on Friday (Dec. 3). In their first visit to Climate Pledge Arena, Edmonton was in chase mode from the get-go after giving up the first goal just 42 seconds into the game and never held the lead against the expansion Kraken.
Related Link: 3 Takeaways From Oilers’ First Ever Loss to Seattle
Against the Kings, Edmonton pulled to within 2-1 on a goal by Darnell Nurse. But that would be as close as the Oilers would get, and their fate was sealed when captain Connor McDavid was assessed a five-minute major late in the third period, and Los Angeles scored three unanswered power-play goals. The Oilers were outshot 40-22 for the game, including 13-6 in the first period when they came out flat and 14-4 in the third period when they needed to be pressing for the equalizer.
“We looked out of sync right from the get-go,” Tippet said. “I was worried yesterday in practice coming back (from Seattle). There was not a lot of juice in practice. I was worried yesterday, and my thoughts came true today.”
Wild Waiting in the Wings
Edmonton, which just last week had the best winning percentage in the NHL, is now third in the Western Conference standings with 32 points.
The Oilers coach has called them out, and their first chance to answer is at 7 PM. MST Tuesday, when they host one of the teams ahead of them in the standings, the Central Division-leading Minnesota Wild, at Rogers Place.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.