By now the stats have been beaten into the ground, that teams coming of the newly mandated bye week are like 3-948-3, and naturally the Hawks fell victim to it themselves, and in doing so snapped a 5 game winning streak, all of which came on the road. But while they lost another winnable game on home ice as their chances for the division rapidly evaporate, the main fear was that they would look disinterested or lethargic, and that was anything but the case.
The Hawks came out in the first period and positively dong whipped the Oilers, who are seemingly impossibly disorganized in their own end. Were it not for Cam Talbot, whose exploits Sam wrote about earlier today, the game could (and probably should) have gone to the first break with the Hawks putting up 3 or 4. Periods like that always end up being a harbinger of doom, and tonight was no exception. A slight let up at the start of the second period along with Ryan Hartman finally channeling the one aspect of Andrew Shaw’s game that everyone has been so grateful hasn’t been here this year gave the Oilers a power play from the instigator Hartman drew, and Matt Benning banked one in off Teflon Van Riemsdyk’s gaping jaw in front on a blind, no-angle prayer of a shot from below the goal line in the corner.
But again, the Hawks would continue to press only to come up empty against Talbot until 250-lb cinder block that had been dropped off an 8 story apartment building Milan Lucic scored his first even strength goal in nearly 3 months. Undeterred, the Hawks now went into kitchen sink mode where Richard Panik would finally pierce Talbot, but McDavid would then punctuate the proceedings with an empty netter. Oil 3, Hawks 1, and our first batch of bullets in the new digs.
- The Hawks attempted EIGHTY THREE shots on net tonight, 68 at 5v5, and put 39 on goal. Which are the highest marks for total attempts and 5v5 attempts this season. No skater was underwater on the possession ledger.
- It doesn’t even seem possible considering the fact that Todd McLellan is an actual professional NHL coach with a track record of actual recent success for the Oilers to be so predictable and disorganized in their own end. All any Hawk defenseman had to do was wait out the Edmonton puck carrier for the eventual blind fling up the boards. Additionally, they seemed all too happy to concede their own blue line. Kris Russell being out is probably a net positive for their defensive group, but Darnell Nurse still has a ways to go in his development and should not be this sorely missed. Even if these guys are lacking talent, they still should be able to what they’re told, and it’s clear based on McLellan’s history that he knows where to put guys and where the puck should go, and they’re simply not doing it.
- The hit on Tanner Kero was completely clean, and Kero should have seen the freight train coming rather than having his head down at the attacking blue line. Ryan Hartman can’t give a team with that much top end skill that’s already getting mauled at 5v5 any extra looks, and hopefully he got a stern talking to about it.
- RUN CMD saw the most even strength time against Toews, Keith, and Hjalmarsson, and sported a robust 30% share.
- No time to stew about it, as the Hawks are likely already on a flight to western NY to take the suddenly playoff-flirty Sabres. But if this is the type of speed they’re going to consistently bring after this rest, the results should be in line with the possession ledger in short order.