Oilers Waste Golden Opportunity

With three games left to go on their November schedule, the Edmonton Oilers seemed poised to close out what had been an inconsistent month of play on a positive note. After coming from behind to beat the Colorado Avalanche last week, Todd McLellan’s side had to grab just three points from their remaining games in order to finish the month with a .500 record. While not the most difficult of asks, it was one this group was unable to follow through on and it could come back to haunt them in early April.

Last night’s disappointing 4-2 loss to Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs was the kind of performance no one wants to see from a team but it was made that much worse coming on the heels of back-to-back defeats at the hands of the lowly Arizona Coyotes. Instead of seizing the opportunity to put some distance between them and the rest of the Pacific Division, the Oilers went out and showed they are not quite ready for that kind of moment.

No. 97 Could Use Some Help

That’s right folks, despite yet another multi-point effort from Connor McDavid on Tuesday night, Edmonton found a way to continually shoot itself in the foot against one of the league’s most inexperienced sides…in a game they absolutely had to have. Unlike their two losses to the Coyotes, this was not a scenario in which Frederik Andersen was called upon to do his best Mike Smith impression in helping his team steal a couple of points they had no business getting.

While the former Anaheim Ducks netminder was solid in-between the pipes for the visitors, stopping 28 of the 30 pucks fired his way, Edmonton essentially self-imploded at the worst possible moment. They gift-wrapped not one, not two but three of the Leafs four goals on the night and against a team that played as hungry and looked as motivated as Mike Babcock’s crew did, there was no way on earth this one was going to end well for the Oilers. It truly was a comedy of errors and unfortunately that has become a rather familiar theme of late.

Mistakes Taking Their Toll

No team plays a perfect game but those “glaring mistakes” have crept into Edmonton’s game with far more frequency of late and it is starting to kill them. The fact we have repeatedly seen various defence pairings get caught so badly out of position that opposing players have been left completely unmarked in front of the Oilers net is a major concern, as are the continual ill-timed turnovers in the defensive zone. While Cam Talbot helped cover up many of those mistakes earlier in the year, when they continue to occur…the puck is eventually going to find its way into the back of the net.

Add that to the fact that their power play continues to be utterly useless on home-ice and suddenly we are staring at a 5-8-2 record for the month, which included a four-game losing skid and one that is at three and counting. Funny thing is, after watching the Oilers rebound from their earlier struggles with convincing victories over the Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks, many seemed to think Edmonton was all but guaranteed of taking three of four from the Avalanche, Coyotes(x2) and Maple Leafs.

Be it a matter of this group of players being guilty of reading their own press clippings and believing they were better than they actually are or a simple regression to the mean, the Edmonton Oilers wasted a golden opportunity to send a message to the rest of their Pacific Division rivals. Unfortunate for them, but then again, no one said this was going to be easy and the past five days only further solidifies the notion that this club still has a ton of work ahead of them.