NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks | 02/09/2024

Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

It was a really fun ride while it lasted. Of course, it would’ve been great if Edmonton tied the league record for the 17th straight win on Tuesday night. I do feel bad for the Oilers fans who traveled to Vegas and attended the game, possibly traveling to Anaheim for that game as well, hoping to witness historic nights live in person. But the actual game itself was nowhere near a disappointment. They did not look at all like a team that just had a week off from NHL games. They generated lots of grade A scoring chances, the All-Star break didn’t take away their rhythm. They just got beat by a goalie who has a .937 SV%, which is not a terrible thing. Adin Hill made all the difference in the second period. I almost had this feeling the Oilers would pull off a miraculous buzzer-beater whenever they stopped multiple empty net chances for Vegas. But the Golden Knights eventually scored an empty net goal to make the final score 3-1, stopping both Edmonton’s winning streak at 16 games and their streak of games without allowing more than 2 goals at 14 games. But Stuart Skinner still hasn’t allowed more than two goals in 12 straight starts.

After the empty net goal was scored, there was a camera shot of Connor McDavid being frustrated about the long winning streak being over. That sort of reaction would’ve been looked at as a concern of bad leadership if the team was still losing games. Instead, he was just continuing to be passionate about the team and was disappointed that the winning streak won’t go on. And when he scored the opening goal on the shorthanded 2v0 with Leon Draisaitl, couldn’t you feel the excitement on his face? I love that he cares that much. That being said, the Oilers are still playing for something much bigger. There’s a much bigger celebration to be had in June; that’s what needs to be won. They haven’t looked like a team that overachieved or could slow down. If they keep playing like they were throughout that winning streak and on Tuesday night, it won’t be impossible for the bigger prize to be had. Let’s go out and start another long streak. The keys to the game are…

No Zig-Zeg: Trevor Zegras has had a rough season. An injury kept him out for a month and a half between November and December. Then he got another injury in early January and is only halfway through recovering from that. If you’re Anaheim, covering for the loss of a 60+ point player is not the easiest thing to do.

Frankie All-Star: Frank Vatrano has 36 points through 50 games played in the 2023/2024 season and represented the Ducks at this year’s NHL All-Star weekend. Even though his team didn’t win, he did pretty well with two goals and an assist. Prior to that, he put up three points in his last four games. Will he want to show up his fellow All-Stars on the other side of the rink?

Trade Deadline Audition?: According to insiders, Edmonton has been linked to Adam Henrique. The 34-year-old forward, playing in his 13th NHL season, has scored 33 points in 49 games. While I’m not certain the Oilers need to add another left-handed centerman, I suppose it could be worth keeping an eye out for him and seeing if a good game tonight makes us slightly more interested in him.

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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