Oilers Game 24: Minnesota Wild

What a difference two weeks can make. The first meeting against Carolina signaled the end of the world in Edmonton. Down 4-0 after the first period in that game up 4-0 after the first period on Wednesday night’s game. There’s still a long way to go, but Oilers fans are in a much better mood now. This is not the same team we watched feel shattered in Raleigh. They’ve won five straight games but are still seven points out of a Playoff spot. That just goes to show how big of a nightmare their start to the season was. I’d also say that Wednesday was better than the Washington game they played after the first Carolina game because the bottom six was more involved with the secondary scoring. Warren Foegele had a goal and an assist. Mattias Janmark had three assists, one of them being a blocked shot that led to Foegele scoring on a breakaway. If you don’t think just an empty net goal can give enough relief to a slumping young player, Ryan McLeod showed otherwise. He scored a goal under half a minute into the game. Mattias Ekholm’s goal 13 seconds later had Paul Coffey’s fingerprints all over it, leaving the blue line, skating to the front of the net, and waiting for Connor McDavid to feed him the pass. Zach Hyman recorded his second hat-trick of the season, tying him with Sidney Crosby in goals and putting him three goals shy of Brock Boeser for the league lead. During these five wins, Stuart Skinner has allowed just seven goals on 141 shots, equaling a 1.58 GAA and .943 SV%. The game against Vegas was his only “meh” game in that stretch.

One of my keys to Wednesday night begged the question as to whether or not the Oilers would feel rusty from having a five-day break. They didn’t look like that at all. You’d think the Hurricanes were the tired team as soon as the game even started. Their next three opponents are against teams that are also currently out of a Playoff spot. Except the one tonight has been enjoying their own heater, winning four of their last five games since their coaching change. They’re looking to write merely the same comeback story as Edmonton. The Oilers need to play to beat them to it. The keys to the game are…

We Can Relate: We’re used to seeing a Minnesota team that kept the puck out of their net with solid goaltending and boring defensive play. But just like with Jay Woodcroft, the below-average play of their goalie tandem led to the firing of Wild head coach Dean Evason. Since their coaching change, the Wild have allowed just seven goals in their last five games. Even if you don’t blame the initial coach for the losses, having a new bench boss can sometimes spark more motivation for the players to perform better. John Hynes is their version of Kris Knoblauch.

Don’t Use The Past As An Excuse: Regular Season history is not on Edmonton’s side when they play against Minnesota. The Oilers have only beaten the Wild 31 times compared to the Wild’s 61 wins. But Edmonton can’t think about their struggles against Minnesota if they want to keep their winning streak and Playoff hopes alive. Before Wednesday night’s game, Carolina was 7-1-1 against Edmonton since Rod Brind’ Amour took over as their coach. The Oilers still showed up and dominated, not caring about that record because the wins and points are more important to think about than bad history. They could’ve won the first meeting this season, but they disappeared in the third period when they had a lead and needed to shut it down. It’s also what makes the “forget how to play” phase so exhausting and eye-rolling every season.

The OTHER 97: Kirill Kaprizov has averaged a point in every game for Minnesota this season. We should expect more from the former 105-point forward and Calder Trophy winner as the season progresses. He is one of those diamonds in the rough at the NHL Draft for the Oilers to view as an example. Edmonton has selected lots of talent in the first round; no one questions that. But aside from a few exceptions (McLeod and Skinner), they have yet to draft and develop a substantial piece from the other six rounds.

Episode 7. Player Safety First! Inside The Rink

NHL Player Safety is not policing enough incidents. Jacob Trouba is not suspended for swinging at Trent Frederic. David Perron gets 6 games, Eric Gudbranson jumps Nick Cousins and gets a game. NHL All-Star game changes. Winter Classic jerseys suck. Plus much more!For more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  2. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  3. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  4. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire
  5. Episode 3. Firing Blanks

Stephen Vani

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

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