When you have 99-point man Connor McDavid and the super-powered Leon Draisaitl in the lineup, you’d think the Oilers would have a major advantage over the opposition in three-on-three hockey.
But that has been anything but the case in 2022-23. After Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Oilers have won just two of eight games that were tied after 60 minutes. In fact, they’ve lost six overtime/shootout games in a row. They haven’t won an overtime game since Nov. 28, when they beat Florida 4-3. You don’t expect to win them all, but there’s no doubt the Oilers are leaving valuable points on the table — and that could come back and bite them at the end of the season, considering how tight the top half of the standings are in the Pacific Division.
Seattle has won five overtime/shootout games. The Los Angeles Kings have won eight. The Vegas Golden Knights have eight overtime/shootout wins. The Kraken are tied with the Oilers — with both teams on 66 points. The Kings have 67. The Knights have 68.
The reason the Oilers aren’t ahead of those teams? That’s right, the overtime record.
Draisaitl was asked post-game if shootouts and overtime are, well, lotteries.
“Shootouts, definitely,” he said. (Draisaitl didn’t score on his shootout attempt. McDavid was successful, but it wasn’t enough as Detroit won it in the fifth round).
“Teams have adjusted over the last couple of years,” said Draisaitl, who scored his 31st goal of the season on Wednesday. “Every team has really good skaters and really skilled players. Every team is going to put their best players out, so…”
And that was it.
But, truth is, no matter the team, there isn’t a coach in the NHL that can match the Oilers on paper when Draisaitl and McDavid are in the three-on-three.
Games aren’t won on paper, though.
“Obviously, we want that extra point,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who scored a pair on Wednesday. “I thought we did a pretty good job battling back and getting at least one point. Disappointed not to get the second. But, we can’t dwell on it now. We climbed our way back into that game. We (gave up) two powerplay goals and two face-off goals, but I thought, for the most part, we carried the game.”
Can’t dwell on it now? Of course we can dwell on it now.
Because overtime and shootouts, this season, are the reason the Oilers are not at the top of the Pacific Division.
Make that, comfortably atop the Pacific Division.
Savvy AF. Blunt AF. Edmonton AF.