Three Lessons from Edmonton Oilers’ Loss Against Maple Leafs

The Edmonton Oilers hoped to end a five-game, disastrous road trip with a victory against the streaking Toronto Maple Leafs team. However, they were unsuccessful in spite of their valiant efforts. Zack Kassian and Mike Smith returned to the Oilers’ lineup. They were still there. Without their captain Connor McDavidRyan Nugent–Hopkins, Tyson Barrie and Derek Ryan were some of the other key players that left the team.

The Oilers are currently in the Pacific Division’s bottom half, having lost their last game against the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 18, 2021. They put forth a better effort in this game than they did against the New York Rangers. This is a good sign, considering their shorthandedness in terms of lineup absences.

Oilers Goaltending Not an Issue

Oilers have been struggling to provide consistent goaltending over the last few games. They also lost a lot of games to this issue. This trend was noticed by Dave Tippett (Head Coach), who made it a big deal. comments regarding Mikko Koskinen’s performanceAfter the loss against the Rangers. This one was Mike Smith’s. He played a solid game and gave the Oilers every chance to win.

Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Photo: Harry How/Getty images)

Two of the goals against were off poor bounces, making it even more difficult for the Oilers. Smith was injured in his last game against the New Jersey Devils. He allowed six goals and bounced back to stop 29 of the 32 shots that he faced. Smith’s health is important for the team. Koskinen can have a well-deserved rest and be able to refocus. Both players cannot start large amounts of games. They must share the net in order to be effective.

Insufficient offensive production

The inability to score goals for a team that has so much firepower is becoming a concern. Jack Campbell scored two Oilers goals, and the Oilers had several chances to get the puck in the net. This is the fourth consecutive game in which the Oilers have scored no more than two goals.

Related: Oilers Must Reunite Nugent–Hopkins with McDavid on Top Line

McDavid wasn’t there tonight. Draisaitl was able to score. The lack of scoring support in other parts of the lineup is a growing problem. Despite the increased minutes and roles for several players in tonight’s game, no player really stood out on the offensive side of the puck.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers

The Oilers’ power play failed to cash in on their only attempt against the Leafs and has been goalless since Dec. 18, 2021. Despite still owning the best power-play percentage in the league, the Oilers’ power play has been operating at just 17.6% since the start of December and is looking like the main reason the team did so well earlier in the season. This highlights 5-on-5 play as the source of offense and how it needs to improve. However, McDavid’s inability to do all the offensive heavy lifting seems to be causing problems elsewhere in the lineup.

Hyman’s Homecoming Spoiled

Zach Hyman, who spent his entire career playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs team, returned to Toronto following his offseason departure. Although Hyman returned home without any emotion due to the lack of fans, three goals were scored by the Leafs with Hyman on ice.

He found himself skating on the teams’ second line alongside Ryan McLeod and Jesse Puljujarvi due to the absences in the Oilers’ top-six forward group. He had over 20 minutes of ice, which is more than his season’s average. He scored two goals, two hits and two blocks and earned a minus-3 rating. He has two goals, five points and only six minutes of ice time in the last eleven games. For someone who is top-six and has a cap hit over $5 million, the team needs him to play more on both ends of the rink.

Reset and Refocus

Oilers fans have good news. They are returning home from a terrible road trip. The Oilers will have the chance to rest at home and spend some time with family and friends, which should help them get over the hump before they take on the Ottawa Senators team on January 10, 2021. They are currently third in league standings. They’ll be hoping to bring back some reinforcements and they should be able give their best performance in that game considering they have 10 days off due to postponements.