Should We Be Concerned About The Oilers Game 4 Performance?

To put it bluntly, the Oilers were trash in game 4 against the Kings, but how concerned should we really be?

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In games 2 and 3 of the series, the Oilers absolutely dominated the Kings. There are a number of factors that contributed to their multiple six-goal wins, but the most obvious was that they were just out-working the Kings. They were always controlling the pace of play and were consistently getting pucks in space to create high-danger scoring chances. None of that was true in game 4. From the get-go, the Kings were bringing it to the Oilers and generating chances seemingly whenever they wanted. Most of the Oilers issues seemed to stem from weak play in transition, with their defense, in particular, struggling to generate breakouts and the team rarely gaining solid possession in the offensive zone. For most of the game, the Kings able to cycle the puck at will in the Oilers zone, and that made a comeback for the Oilers almost impossible. I could keep going on about how terrible the Oilers were last night (because they were really really awful) but I think you get the point. The game is over and there’s nothing that can be done about it. We’re heading back to Edmonton for game 5, with what’s essentially a best-of-3 series. But coming off such a brutal performance, should we be concerned about the Oilers?

Coming back home is absolutely huge for the Oilers. Under Jay Woodcroft, they’re an impressive 16-2-1 at home and have done a great job bouncing back after losses. The team thrives at Rogers Place and has only lost consecutively on the road and at home once in Woodcroft’s tenure. Game 4 was the first time that they had been shutout under Woodcroft though, so this will be new territory. Like I said before, the Kings brought the pressure to the Oilers last night and made it very difficult for them to generate any sort of offense. This may not sound like a plus, but I think a lot of that stemmed from the Oilers just not playing very well. In the final two periods, the Kings were playing fine, but it was really the Oilers lack of urgency and sloppy play that kept them behind. If the Kings had seemingly figured out the Oilers, then I would be pretty concerned, but last night seemed to be more of a case of the Oilers playing poorly. With that said, I do think there are areas from game 4 that the Oilers could learn from.

The Kings were playing like a team that needed to win last night, which led to an ultra-aggressive approach, that could be taken advantage of if the Oilers play better. The fact is that Edmonton is a much more talented team, and in one-on-one situations, they should be winning most battles. If the Oilers can just clean up their transitional play and not let the Kings pressure them into mistakes, there’s no reason why there should be a repeat of game 4. I’m not saying we should completely throw that game out the window, it’s important to learn from your mistakes, but what it really comes down to is that the Oilers played really badly in game 4, and that just happens sometimes. All we can do right now is hope that clean it up for the rest of the series.

I think it’s pretty clear that these Oilers are far from the best team in hockey, but right now the only other team that matters is the Kings, and when it comes down to it, the Oilers are a better team than them, whether they always play like that or not. Game 4 was absolutely brutal, but I wouldn’t be too concerned in the long run. At this point, the first 4 games don’t matter and from here on out it’s a best-of-3. Let’s just hope we can hear La Bamba again on Tuesday.

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