And, once again, it was the same problems which did them in: lack of toughness, not taking shots (be they good ones or otherwise), employing defensive strategies with more holes than Swiss cheese, coughing the puck up at inopportune moments, and not winning enough face-offs.
In other words, the Oilers continued to play fundamentally unsound hockey and it cost them.
Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom is now a perfect 17-0 at home against the Oilers, and the Wild overall have won 19 of 20 at home against them, so that should tell you what the expectation was heading into this game. The Wild came ready to play, and were so dominant at one point that they held the Oilers without a shot for the entire second period. Zero shots!
If you want proof that things aren’t right in Edmonton – Taylor Hall is injured, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is playing through an injury that he clearly needs to succumb to so he can call it a season, and Nail Yakupov is being being shuffled down to the third and fourth lines at times when there is no reason he should be outside of the Top 6. So, there you have it.
The Oilers are playing with no confidence, and that goes all the way to Devan Dubnyk too. He stopped 39 of 43 shots last night, but as usual, his defense is giving him nothing to work with, and Dubnyk is not a miracle worker. There’s only so much he can do no matter how hard he tries, and he knows this.
At this point, the Oilers have to hope that he doesn’t start losing any more confidence than he probably has in the past couple weeks, otherwise things are going to go downhill again in a hurry, and the Oilers will be well on their way to yet another Top-5 pick.
Another game, another Oilers loss. They are now 14th in the West. Can it get any worse? We’ll see. They play the league’s worst team in the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, and a loss to them would certainly be worse.