Oilers Takeaways: Lack of attention to detail proves costly vs. Blues

Jake Allen made 35 saves and the St. Louis Blues hung on to a one-goal lead late in the third period to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 2-1.

It’s the little things that decide games like the one played in St. Louis Wednesday night. Little things like a missed check, or a late goal post.

Dull, tiny details, like getting pucks deep, hustling to the bench for a change instead of gliding, or bearing down on your check, instead of simply skating along behind him. St. Louis is a better team than Edmonton and they mostly dominated this game, but in the dying moments there were the Oilers, on a power play, the goalie pulled, and all over the Blues with a chance to grab at least one point.

So how, after all of that, do you lose 2-1 in St. Louis? Failure to get two pucks deep into the Blues zone, that both went the other way and behind Mikko Koskinen. A slow change on a Brayden Schenn breakaway goal, and a not-quite-good-enough checking job by Connor McDavid on MacKenzie MacEachern’s 2-0 goal. A late post by Leon Draisaitl.

Details. The Blues were that little bit better at them, and when this Blues team buckles down like they did Wednesday, they are awfully tough to beat. Just a little bit too much for the Oilers on the scoreboard, but a lot more than that to the naked eye.

Home of the Oilers
Stream all 82 Oilers games this season with Sportsnet NOW. Get over 500 NHL games, blackout-free, including Hockey Night in Canada, all outdoor games, the All-Star Game, 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and more.

Koskinen continues to be Oilers best player

We all wondered how long head coach Dave Tippett could stick with his two-on, two-off goaltending system, where Koskinen and Mike Smith took turns playing a pair, with neither grabbing the reins and becoming the No. 1.

Well, perhaps we are there.

For the second straight game, Koskinen was Edmonton’s best player, stopping 42 of 44 shots against the Blues. On Monday in Dallas, Koskinen stole a 2-1 win when he stopped all but one of the Stars’ 35 shots on net.

That’s 76 of 79 saves in the past two games, and it’s a certainty that Koskinen will get one of two games at home this Friday and Saturday, against Pittsburgh and Montreal.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

“Koskinen was excellent,” head coach Dave Tippett told reporters in St. Louis. “He kept us in the game. It’s a little disappointing that we couldn’t find a way to manufacture a little more offence.

“When the goaltender is that good you’d like to do a little more in front of him,” said Tippett, who thought his team’s game could have been better. “We need to make a few more plays, get up the ice cleaner get ourselves up the ice with some speed.”

Mike Smith may get the Pittsburgh game, considering his finest effort this season came in Pittsburgh, where he stopped 51 shots in a 2-1 overtime win. But his saves percentage stands at .896 compared to .919 for Koskinen. If this weekend’s back-to-back at home sees more separation between the two, you may see Koskinen start the three remaining games in the rest of December, against Vancouver, Calgary and the New York Rangers on New Year’s Eve.

Sign up for NHL newsletters
Get the best of our NHL coverage and exclusives delivered directly to your inbox!

NHL Newsletter

*I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

Quick Hits

Blues coach Craig Berube had the toughest of calls, whether to challenge the Oilers goal at 18:10 of the third period for goaltender interference, knowing that if he was wrong the Oilers would finish the game on the power play. He challenged and lost, and Edmonton very nearly tied the game. “It’s always risky,” he told reporters post-game. “ It’s tough, I don’t know — the rules kind of vary all the time. I’m not going to talk about that. There’s nothing to say. It is always tough (to make that decision), but you keep it 2-0. Whatever, our guys killed it off. It’s good.” … Adam Larsson took a puck to the mouth, then came back to block a sure goal with the score still 1-0. It was, he said afterwards, “a great hockey match.” … The final shots on goal were 44-36 for St. Louis, but the Oilers peppered Jake Allen late as they tried to come back. The Oilers had 18 shots in the first 40 minutes, and 18 in the final 20 … Edmonton’s powerplay went 0-for-5, a rare night when it let the team down. It was the first time in nine games it failed to convert … Draisaitl had eight shots on net, whistling off the post with 19 seconds to play.

Up Next

Edmonton hosts Pittsburgh on Friday, then the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. Edmonton has lost five of its past six games.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.