There were stretches where the Oilers played toe-to-toe or better than the Hawks--start of the 1st, most of the 2nd, and a stretch in the 3rd.
The Hawks, not the Kings, are the type of team that the Oilers are most like, fast, scoring, skilled, and not necessarily gritty or big. You can have skilled defensive forwards like Nuge, Arco, Perron, and Eberle to an extent.
Despite five goals, Dubnyk actually kept the game competitive for his team, making some excellent positional saves.
The powerplay was great! Finally! However, the Hawks have the worst home penalty kill in the league? Can you believe that? Oilers took advantage of it. And finally, Yak gets put on the right half wall to fire his blistering shot. That one must have felt really good.
Gagner. He's not a centre anymore. Everyone's saying it. I'm wondering if that jaw guard is having a big effect on his vision. It seems so, but that's not an excuse for following the puck rather than watching and checking off-wingers streaking to the weak side. He seems more anxious to score rather than defend as he only has one point, which is the plagued problem with this team. Acrobello has emerged as a decent replacement and I wouldn't be sad to see Sam get traded.
The Belov and Larsen pairing. Totally out of sync, and it left Kruger right in front to score.
There was a long stretch in the 3rd in the Oilers' zone where it seemed the Hawks were playing against a pile of pylons. It was really embarrassing seeing the Oiler wingers on their heels and not attacking defensively--likely out of fear. In fact, most of the game was in the Oilers' zone. And with that...
Line matchups. Dallas Eakins is trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Hemsky on the PK? Gagner against Toews? Slap me sideways fifty times. A quarter of the season has been spent on experimenting with lines and matchups and trying to force weak defensive players into those roles. Is this about the coach learning matchups and the players learning defense? If so, it's now obvious to me that this year wasn't about immediate results, but about building for next season.