"We'll be better:" Draisaitl on Oilers' defensive breakdown in Game 1

Jun 1 2022, 3:52 pm

Leon Draisaitl had two points, Connor McDavid had three, and the Edmonton Oilers… still never had much of a chance of winning Game 1, despite a late comeback push. Where have we heard this one before?

The Oilers dropped last night’s Western Conference Finals opener by an 8-6 score to the Colorado Avalanche, including a Cale Makar goal with 14 seconds left in the first period that gave their opponents a 3-2 lead.

Makar appeared to possibly be offside on the play, but video review upheld the goal. On the ensuing power play caused by the result of Oilers Jay Woodcroft losing his challenge on the call, Nazem Kadri scored to give the Avalanche a 4-2 lead.

Draisaitl says the Oilers need to clean up their defensive efforts.

“We can’t get scored on three times [in the first period], doesn’t matter what game it is,” Draisaitl told reporters following the game. “We’re chasing it from there on, so we’ll be better.”

In their opener against the Calgary Flames last series, the Oilers scored six goals but actually gave up nine in one of the wildest games we’ve ever seen.

“That’s the second time this has happened,” Draisaitl said. “We got to make sure we’re ready to go right off the bat and we’ll be better… we obviously have to change something and we can’t be giving up that many goals and expect to win a Western Conference Finals game.”

Colorado’s big guns were flying in Game 1, with all of Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Nazem Kadri, and Mikko Rantanen finding the back of the net. But Draisaitl backs his team to be able to match their firepower in Game 2.

“We know we can skate with them, we’re one of the fastest teams in the league,” Draisaitl said. “When we play to our strength and play to our quickness, then we’re a really hard team to handle. You saw spurts of it in the third period, but it’s obviously not good if you’re down 6-3 or whatever it is. You’re just chasing the game from thereon. We just got to come out a little sharper, a little harder.”

Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse echoed Draisaitl’s statements.

“You’ve just got to be overtop of them, match their speed,” Nurse said.  “Myself, personally, I didn’t do that well enough. As a team, we can do that a lot better just being aware of the speed, where it’s coming from, and reading the play. They’re a good team, they’re going to create a lot of offence. They have some special players.”

Game 2 goes Thursday night at 6 pm PT/ 8 pm MT.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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