On a three-point night, that point was Connor McDavid’s strongest point.
It started with their head coach Dave Tippett starting the bad goalie filtered down to McDavid, who was schooled five-on-five by the great Jonathan Toews, and went straight to the penalty killer. touted, which was stung for three. Chicago Blackhawks Goals.
The grand total was a 6-4 score, with two of the Edmonton Oilers’ goals going in the trash to cover up how unbalanced this really was a lopsided first qualifying round game.
“Not good enough all around. Pretty easy, ”said McDavid, who wouldn’t hear of the Fifth Oilers Seed, perhaps thinking the 12th Blackhawks Seed would be an easy pick. “We certainly didn’t take them lightly. They are tested in combat. They came out and did exactly what we thought they would do. We just weren’t ready.
We can start at the net, but the problem with this loss at the feet of a goaltender is that it takes some of the blame away from the Oilers skaters and coach.
So let’s face it Edmonton starter Mike Smith, drawn after five goals and 26:32 “action”, was mediocre. But it must also be said that three of the five goals he allowed were almost impossible to stop – and Tippett should never have started him anyway.
Mikko Koskinen was better all through training camp – in fact, he had better numbers all season – and earned the start. Tippett’s allegiance to Smith, which he had in Dallas and Phoenix, clouded the coach’s vision.
“Smitty started the season 5-0, and we thought we wanted to start the postseason the same way,” said Tippett, who had his finger on the pulse of a 50/50 tandem all season. “We felt that apart from the gift, he was left to himself.”
This is true. But there were other questions to ask after this complete rout of Chicago.
What about McDavid, who had four points but was tied for a tie by Toews? Or his No.1 line, which had a disastrous start to qualifying for Edmonton.
Where was Zack Kassian, who can influence playoff games with his successes and physical play? Did he even play?
What about Edmonton’s penalty units, who have brought in the best percentage of 24 teams in this postseason? They conceded three power-play goals, as rookie Domink Kubalik (two goals, five points) made his playoff debut with a record, scoring the most points in a playoff game in Chicago history, and most by any NHL rookie in his playoff debut.
The Blackhawks’ power play unit entered the area as a guy quietly pulling his car into the garage.
“Once they got in, they beat us in every way they could on the PK,” Darnell Nurse said. “There is a lot to learn from this game.”
What about the beefed up Bottom 6 that was supposed to give the Oilers an element they haven’t had in years: responsible play with an offensive touch?
No, only one team was ready for that first game of the playoffs, and it was the Blackhawks, who won every battle, from goalie to midpoint. They frequented Edmonton on a large scale on Saturday. This game was not close to distance.
“To say we’re disappointed with how we started out would be an understatement,” Tippett said. “Give Chicago credit – they played well. But some of the mistakes and the way we did it… we were a much better team in the regular season. You fall behind early, you start cheating, you don’t look like a good team. This is where we were tonight.
Across northern Alberta, people had installed televisions on their decks, lakes, and camping. It was a long-awaited first game of the playoffs for a universally favored Oilers team to send the Blackhawks, and when McDavid hardwired home a powerplay flick on the Oilers second shot, he seemed like success would come easily.
Alas, that’s how the Orange team played the rest of the game, as Chicago methodically recovered their game – boosted when Smith gave the puck to Dylan Strome for the 1-1 goal.
Any Oilers ‘momentum died instantly, and without a home crowd to help them, Chelsea Dagger strains would ring in the Oilers’ head the rest of the afternoon.
McDavid said, “It wasn’t good from the start. “