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McDavid tries to explain what went wrong in blown lead to Canucks

Published May 9, 2024 at 8:41 PM

In the NHL playoffs, momentum swings can define a series, and the Edmonton Oilers felt the full weight of this reality in their series opener against the Vancouver Canucks. Despite taking an early 4-1 lead, the Oilers' game unraveled, leading to a surprising 5-4 defeat.

The game started promisingly for Edmonton, with dynamic offensive play putting them comfortably ahead. However, the turning point came when Leon Draisaitl, a key figure in the Oilers' lineup, exited the game due to an injury. His absence was palpable, as Edmonton shifted their strategy towards a more defensive stance, which inadvertently invited pressure from Vancouver.

Goaltender Stuart Skinner, who had been solid up to that point, found himself under siege. Despite his efforts, some of the goals conceded were ones he'd usually be expected to save. However, it was a collective lapse in defense that truly cost the Oilers, not just the performance of their goalie.

After the game, team captain Connor McDavid and Coach Knoblauch both provided explanations that did little to assuage the concerns of their fans. McDavid remarked,
They're doing everything they could to come back, and we were doing everything we could to hold onto the lead. That happens in the playoffs. We're trying to hold onto leads, sometimes we're a little bit too passive, but I thought we were doing a good job of holding the lead. They find a way to get two, and a third there to win.
This perspective, while measured, underscored a perceived passivity in their approach—a point of contention for analysts and fans alike.

The second half of the game highlighted a significant strategic error: Edmonton's reluctance to test Arturs Silovs, Vancouver's rookie goaltender, who had only a handful of NHL games under his belt prior to this playoff appearance. With just 18 shots throughout the game, the Oilers failed to capitalize on an opportunity to pressure an inexperienced goalie, especially critical given their early lead.

In particular, the Oilers endured a staggering 23-minute stretch without a shot on goal, a statistic that became all the more glaring as Vancouver mounted their comeback. This offensive dry spell coincided with a rare playoff phenomenon—McDavid, one of the league's premier players, did not record a single shot on goal, an occurrence that hadn't happened before in his playoff career.

The team's post-game reflections and today's practice focused on rediscovering their aggressive, proactive style of play. With Draisaitl's status uncertain and the potential return of Canucks' goalie Thatcher Demko looming, the urgency for Edmonton to recalibrate and intensify their offensive efforts is paramount.

As they look ahead to Game 2, the Oilers are at a crucial juncture. The need to adapt and overcome the defensive strategies of the Canucks is evident. For Edmonton, it's not just about bouncing back; it's about asserting themselves in a series that has abruptly put their playoff aspirations on uncertain ground.
May 9   |   103 answers
McDavid tries to explain what went wrong in blown lead to Canucks

Did McDavid's observation that the Oilers were too passive in defending the lead hold true?

Yes, they were too passive8178.6 %
No, they played fine, need saves from Skinner1615.5 %
See Results65.8 %
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