|Goaltender||GAA / SV%||% Games Won of Total GP|
|Edmonton Oilers||TBD||6.77 / .865 (avg)||.585|
|Chicago Blackhawks||Corey Crawford||4.00 / .862||.514|
With Chicago leading the best-of-5 series, one game to none, they and the Oilers will prepare to play Game 2 of their Qualifiers. It would be a massive understatement to assert that we were surprised to see the Blackhawks absolutely destroy Edmonton in Game 1. Dominik Kubalik had a five-point night (2G, 3A), and goaltender Corey Crawford allowed four goals on 29 shots.
Leading up to puck-drop, it was still TBD who would be the starting goaltender for the Oilers, but it was Mike Smith that ended up between the pipes in Game 1. The Chicago Blackhawks opted to start Corey Crawford. Smith coincidentally eliminated Corey Crawford and his squad in the Stanley Cup Playoffs while playing with the Coyotes.
Before the game was two minutes old, the Hawks were penalized for too-many-men on the ice. Connor McDavid, healthy and recovered from a late-season knee injury, scored on the power play to give the Oilers a 1-0 advantage. Leon Draisaitl and Oscar Klefbom registered the primary and secondary assists, respectively. As previously noted, Edmonton boasted the best power play in the league. A poor play by Smith led to a turnover in front of his net, and Dylan Strome tied the game 1-1 just over three minutes later. The Blackhawks were gifted a power play shortly thereafter as Matt Benning was called for slashing. Chicago’s power play ranked 28th during the regular season, but Jonathan Toews made it 2-1, Hawks, with the man-advantage. Dominik Kubalik, who struck twice in the Hawks exhibition game, tallied the primary assist. Brandon Saad extended his teams’ lead by yet another goal, and the period wasn’t even halfway over yet. The lack of authentic crowd noise highlighted the importance of teammate support and quality coaching, especially with the Oilers being the ‘home’ team, in their hometown. Toews tallied his second of the afternoon to make it 4-1 after a feed across the crease ended up behind Smith.
Much to the surprise of fans and broadcasters, Oilers bench-boss Dave Tippett decided to keep Smith in goal for the start of the second period. Leon Draisaitl gave Edmonton some life, helping the Oilers go 2-for-2 on the man-advantage, and cutting the Hawks lead in half at the 4:13 mark of the second. Unfortunately, another strong faceoff win ended up on the stick of Kubalik and in the net behind Smith for yet another power play goal. Finally, Tippett swapped goaltenders, and Mikko Koskinen came in for relief. Koskinen went 18-13-3 in 38 games with a GAA of 2.75 and a .917 save percentage. The Oilers kept their opponents from scoring for much of the remainder of the 2nd, until Kubalik scored his second (and second PPG) of the day, making it 6-2.
Edmonton was gifted a late second-period power play, but for the first time in the match, did not convert. The Oilers received another power play with four minutes remaining in the game, and after a scramble in front of the net, James Neal successfully made it 6-3. With 3:22 left, the Oilers pulled Koskinen for the extra skater, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave his team their second goal in 40 seconds. Despite the late push by Edmonton, the Chicago Blackhawks’ fire power proved too difficult to overcome, and Edmonton ultimately dropped the first game in this series. Between Smith and Koskinen, the Oilers allowed six goals on 41 shots.
TXHT’s Top Takeaways
- The Edmonton Oilers need to figure out their goaltending situation, and fast.
- The Oilers cannot rely on special teams to win games.
- Chicago, despite being the 12-seed, shouldn’t be underestimated.
The Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks will play Game 2 of the Qualifiers on Monday August 3rd, at 10:30pm EST in Edmonton at Rogers Place.
Hockey-Reference. (2020). Mikko Koskinen Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/k/koskimi01.html.
NHL.com. (2020). Dominik Kubalik Stats and News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/dominik-kubalik-8477330.
TheScore. (2020). Chicago Blackhawks @ Edmonton Oilers. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/23144.