The Edmonton Oilers were the latest team to get in the way of the Columbus Blue Jackets during their historic winning streak when they dropped a 3-1 decision on Tuesday night to give the Blue Jackets their 16th win in a row.
It was a game that was supposed to be a big test for an Oilers team that is trying to prove it is for real after a decade of disappointment and silence its doubters.
You don’t want to make too big of a deal about one game during an 82-game season, but they did not handle the test the very well.
Even though it was mostly a close game on the scoreboard, the Blue Jackets dictated the pace and play for most of the night and always seemed to be one step ahead of everything the Oilers were doing. After the game Oilers coach Todd McLellan was asked if he thought it was similar to the game in Edmonton a few weeks (which Columbus also won by a 3-1 margin) and he was pretty clear that, no, it was not at all similar.
“No,” said McLellan. “I thought we played better at home against them, at least in the first half of the game we got to their pace at home, we didn’t even come close to their pace, their tenacity, their relentlessness, we weren’t anywhere near it.”
“We’re not capable of getting there yet. It was a great test for us. For me that was a playoff type environment and we had some go-to people that were invisible. So we have to get them up and running. They have to understand as we get further in, and as we get to where we want to go eventually, it is going to be a lot harder than that and you have to show up.”
Here is his complete press conference.
McLellan didn’t mention any names when it came to the players that were “invisible,” but when you look at the stat sheet you quickly see that Jordan Eberle and Leon Draisaitl were especially quiet, combining for zero shots on goal and only two total shot attempts (both by Eberle — both missed the net).
The Oilers ended up getting outshot 35-22 overall and had a particularly tough night on special teams, giving up two power play goals. Their own power play gave up as many shots as they generated (one).
Even with the loss the Oilers remain in third place in the Pacific Division with a pretty solid cushion over a Calgary Flames team that is currently in a wild card spot (three points ahead) and a Vancouver Canucks (six points ahead) that is on the outside of the playoff picture. Still, this was not the performance the Oilers were looking for on Tuesday in what was a pretty big game.