April 02 2014 02:17PM
The Oilers might likely need a few distractions to keep tonight's tilt close. The Ducks will be shooting to win 50 games for the first time in franchise history, and they will be fired up after their stunning comeback victory vs. the Jets on Monday. The Ducks trailed 4-0 with 23 minutes remaining, then they managed to tie the game with 23 seconds left in the third before winning 16 seconds into OT.
The Ducks won't take the Oilers lightly this evening.
Last night's 5-4 loss was one of the more entertaining games of the season. The Oilers top line kept them in the game. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle were flying as they combined for four goals and ten points. Part of me understands why Renney, Krueger and Eakins have split those three up at times, to get balanced scoring, but considering how well the play together maybe Eakins should just keep them together all year next year and see what happens.
Hall has 72 points and needs 8 points in the last 6 games to be the first Oiler to score 80 since Doug Weight had 90 in 2001. Those three were very strong last night, especially Hall and RNH. The big difference you see between the Sharks and Ducks compared to the Oilers is their depth.
After David Perron, the Oilers scoring takes a big dip and the blueline play is significantly different at this stage. When you watch the Ducks tonight pay attention to their secondary scoring and how much those players contribute.
The Ducks have 12 players with 25+ points, while the Oilers have six. Yakupov would likely have one more point if he was healthy and sit at 25, but you can say the same about Silverberg for the Ducks. The point is the Ducks produce offence from more than just one line.
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have 83 and 75 points respectively, but then it drops to Nick Bonino's 47. Their top guys score a lot, but they have solid secondary scoring from both forwards and blueliners.
And now look at the Oilers' scoring:
The Oilers have 104 PPP points amongst their group while the Ducks have 98, however, the Ducks have 373 ES points compared to the Oilers 312. The Ducks thrive at ES scoring and you see that in the glaring difference in +/-.
The Ducks lead the league in 5-on-5 goals with 175, but they've only allowed 124 (+51) while the Oilers have scored 122 at 5-on-5, but they've allowed the most in the league at 170 (-48). The Oilers need more balanced scoring, but mainly they have to improve their defensive play 5-on-5.
This is a classic case of what plagues the Oilers. I don't care which new players they bring in, if their young guys don't cut down on their puck watching at critical times in the game, it won't matter which veteran D-men or forwards they trade for.
This Sharks goal was scored by their fourth line, not their first, so it wasn't a bad matchup. Petry can't watch the puck into his goalie, because he doesn't have enough time to react to the rebound. He is in the right position, but he needs to tie up Desjardins' stick. These types of plays are the responsibility of the individual player. Petry isn't the only one who suffers from puckwatchitis, but the younger players have to be aware of this virus and try to eliminate it from their games.
The coaches can harp on it all day long, but until the players decide to stop doing it, these types of goals will keep happening.
Tyler Pitlick didn't step on the ice last night. He was dressed, but not healthy enough to play. The Oilers have recalled Steve Pinizotto on an emergency basis from OKC. Pinizotto was acquired from Florida earlier this season. Pinizotto played 12 games for the Canucks in 2012/2013. He is a crash and bang type of player similar to Hendricks.
You have to keep the top line together and Eakins has to hope they can carry the game for a second straight night. Viktor Fasth will get ample opportunities to shut down his former teammates.
- I realize there is more to the game than just points, but you need players who can produce if you want to win. Hall has been one of the best point producers in the NHL the past two seasons, and as he rounds out his overall game he'll become even more dominant. I'm floored by fans who suggest trading Hall would be a good idea. Hall has scored the 8th most points the past two years, and he is tied for 5th in points-per-game.
|6||Martin St. Louis||125||47||78||125||308||15||1|
- Hall is in pretty good company and as his overall game improves he will only become more dangerous. The biggest improvement I've seen in Hall's game the past month is his back pressure and creating turnovers. If he demands more from himself defensively and challenges his teammates to do the same, the Oilers might eventually win more than they lose.
- Eberle is 30th in points the past two seasons. He doesn't dominate games like Hall, but when he's playing well he is extremely dangerous offensively. Like Hall, his two-way game needs to improve.
- Frederik Andersen starts for the Ducks. This will be his third straight start. Jonas Hiller hasn't played since his shaky outing against the Oilers on Friday. It will be interesting to see who the Ducks start in the playoffs.
- I love how hard and greasy Perron plays, but he needs to cut down on bad penalties. He has to be smarter when he retaliates or tries to get in a cheap shot. I expect he will take a few over the course of a season, just because of how he plays, but he can't take one every second game.
- The more I watch Klefbom the more I see him as the steady blueliner this team desperately needs. I'm not saying he's ready to be a top-pair guy next year, but in a few years I think he'll be a very reliable defender.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: It is a major stretch to expect the Oilers to win tonight. The first line keeps it close, but Oilers lose 5-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mean Gene Principe rattles off four or five beauty puns referencing Fasth.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: RNH scores a pair of goals to give the Oilers four 20-goal scorers for the first time since 2006. What isn't obvious is that RNH scores in his 2nd straight game en route to scoring again on Friday for his first ever three-game goal scoring streak.
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