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As a strategy, Hang Around, Hang Around, Hang Around is not that far removed from Rope A Dope.
And I suspect it wasn’t a strategy at all by Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett and his staff.
But whatever it was, it worked
It added another wonderful chapter in this Whatever It Takes tale of their own as they came back from a two-shot first period to take the No. 1 team in the NHL, a Boston Bruins team that’s trending for first place overall, a President’s Trophy and home-ice advantage through the Stanley Cup playoffs, to overtime.
And, no, the Oilers didn’t win it.
David Pastrnak scored in three-on-three overtime to give the Bruins the victory. But that loser point looked a lot like a winner point to the injury depleted Oilers.
Edmonton is now 3-1-1 without Connor McDavid in the lineup, but the loss and the overtime loss have been to the two teams battling for first overall.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were 9-1 going into Edmonton’s visit last week and Boston was 9-1 coming into this one.
And you should know the Oilers registered one of only two losses by the Bruins at home so far this season and that Tippett’s team has defeated every team in the Eastern Conference except Tampa this year, and they still have to play their home game against them in March.
Normally in a home loss, even in overtime in the situation the Oilers are in right now, the coaching strategy would be to park it and move on to the next one.
The problem Wednesday evening against the Bruins, with the Oilers playing with six starters out of the lineup, including McDavid, Oscar Klefbom and Zack Kassian, was that Edmonton appeared to park it before the game began.
The Oilers produced that grand total of two shots on goal in the first period and their strategy appeared to be to hang around, hang around, hang around …
And damned if they didn’t.
A 1-0 Boston lead eight minutes into the game on a goal by Patrice Bergeron, was still a 1-0 game well in to the third period when the next goal went in the visitors’ net.
Edmonton’s No. 2 ranked penalty kill refused to give up a goal to Boston’s No. 2 ranked power play, despite giving up five opportunities and 5:08 minutes of man-advantage time in the first two periods.
When Edmonton’s No. 1 power play had an opportunity midway in the second period, it produced seven shots on goal, more than the entire team had to that point.
To that point, the penalty kills defused the power plays both ways.
But then came one more power play and Sam Gagner, with Ethan Bear and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins assisting, finally putting the Oilers on the board.
It wasn’t just a game featuring the top two special teams in the league but arguably the NHL’s best line in Boston’s Bergeron, Pastrnak and Brad Marchand versus the hottest line in the league in Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto.
Nugent-Hopkins picked up the assist.
So if you’re scoring, since Yamamoto’s call-up on New Year’s Eve and the creation of the DRY line with Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins, the three have played 18 games where Draisaitl now has 11 goals and 33 points, the Nuge seven goals and 21 points and Yamamoto with eight goals and 17 points.
But the Boston line won the evening with the Bergeron and Pastrnak goals.
With Klefbom out for two to three weeks, there was a lot of focus in terms of how the minutes might be distributed on defence. Darnell Nurse seemed to get most of it. He played 28:44. Adam Larsson was out there for 25:41.
That will be an on-going study.
But, win, lose or loser point, the Oilers still have to park it.
While a game against Boston has more sizzle than the upcoming game against Minnesota on Friday, the fact is the next one is more important than the one they just played, because it’s a conference game.
On Twitter: @ByTerryJones
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