The Canadiens enter Rexall on a roll, winning seven of their first eight games, but since December of 2000 the Habs are only 4-12-3 against the Oilers. Over the 12 past seasons the Habs are 468-356-126 (1,062 points) and made the playoffs nine times, while the Oilers are 394-422-134 (922 points) and only made the postseason three times, yet the Oilers have dominated Les Habitants.
The Oilers have also owned Carey Price. He is an unspectacular 1-5-1 with a gaudy 3.71 GAA and .857 SV%, and maybe his head coach, Michel Therrien, recognized that because he is giving Price the night off.
Dustin Tokarski will start for the Habs.
Let’s look at some other stats and see if they will shed some light on how the game may unfold.
As mentioned, the Habs come to Edmonton with the league’s best record at 7-1. But they haven’t been dominating teams.
In their seven victories they have outscored the opponents 22-16, and they only have seven more shots, 222-215. If you add in their only loss of the season — a 7-1 drubbing to the Lightning — they’ve been out shot 256-239.
Digging a bit deeper into their victories we discover that their total Corsi (PP, EV, PK) is virtually even at 430-426. Winning is what matters most, and the Habs have done that better than anyone, but when you look their other statistics, the Oilers shouldn’t be overwhelmed tonight. The Habs have shown they know how not to make mistakes at key times in the game, but so far they are not dominating teams.
The major challenge for the Oilers will be to match the desire and intensity of the Habs. They are tireless and dogged in front of the net, especially in the offensive zone, so the Oilers D-men have to be prepared to battle and limit their second and third opportunities in close.
SPECIAL TEAMS STATS.
The Oilers and Canadiens are near the bottom in PP chances. The Oilers are 27th with 23, while Montreal is tied for 28th with 22.
Teams PP chances PP shots PP goals PP minutes
MTL 22 31 3 35:28
EDM 23 36 5 41:08
The Habs have taken a few penalties while on the man advantage and that has limited their overall PP time. Two PP goals can make a big difference in your overall efficiency early in a season. The Oilers PP is 12th at 21.5%, while Montreal is 23rd at 13.6%.
Teams PK chances PK shots PK goals PK minutes
MTL 30 41 5 47:05
EDM 24 34 6 40:37
The Oilers have been very good at not taking penalties, tied for 3rd
fewest at 24, but so far they’ve struggled killing off a penalty. The Oilers are currently 26th at 75%, while Montreal sits 13th at 83.3%.
The Canadiens have spent 11:37 more time on the PK than they have on the PP. That is the second worst ratio in the NHL. The Oilers are basically even, sitting with a total of 0:31 more PP time.
The Oilers need to move their feet and force the Habs to continue to take more penalties.
The Oilers will stick with the same four lines for the fourth straight game, and they will look for their first four game winning streak since April 03rd of 2013 when they won five in a row.
Nikita Nikitin will be a game time decision. He had a maintenance day according to Eakins, and if he can’t go tonight then Brad Hunt will play. Nikitin has a high pain threshold, so I’d lean towards him playing.
He was named 2nd star of the week in the NHL. He has played four consecutive good games so of course you keep playing him. Only area he needs to improve is his puckhandling skills/communication with his defence, behind the net.
As mentioned, Tokarski will start his second game of the season. He gave up only one goal in the victory over Washington, but he did give up three goals when he came off the bench vs. Tampa Bay.
Beaulieu draws in for Tinordi. I’m curious to see if Eakins tries to get Hall’s line away from Subban and Emelin or if he goes head-to-head.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers continue their surprising domination over the Habs with a 4-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The building will be electric. The atmosphere is always louder when the Habs are in town.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Marc Arcobello continues his point-a-game pace vs. Montreal with a second period goal. He adds an assist later in the game and wishes that he’d play the Habs more frequently.
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