Up until Saturday night the Edmonton Oiler franchise record for shots in a game was 55, against Minnesota on March 21st, 1986, but the young Oilers eclipsed that after firing 56 v. Colorado. The Oilers peppered Semyon Varlamov for 60 minutes, and despite falling behind 3-0 they kept attacking in waves as nine different players had at least four shots.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ended a 12-game goal scoring slump, Jordan Eberle ended an 8-game slump and both looked very relieved afterwards. Was it a one-game outburst or are the Oilers starting to find their way out of their offensive slumber?
It is too early to say, but confidence is a finicky thing and Nugent-Hopkins admitted that his goal had him in a different frame of mind today. The Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle/Taylor Hall trio had been generating loads of chances with little results, but a game like Saturday could easily ignite them. They are averaging 9.5 shots/game as a line, and it was only a matter of time before they scored.
The Oilers need to get on a winning streak before heading out on their 9-game road trip, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings are a team the Oilers need to beat.
For the 2nd straight season the Kings are struggling to score five-on-five. Last year the Kings were 29th in ES goals with only 118 in 82 games. They made the playoffs because they were 2nd in ES goals against, giving up only 121. Their offense caught fire in the playoffs and they cruised to their first Stanley Cup.
However, their offensive woes are back and once again they are 29th in ES goals for. The Oilers are 30th, but right now the Oilers have a better GAA than the Kings at 2.64 to 2.69.
The Oilers top players are producing. Hall and Gagner have 15 points in 14 games while Eberle has 11 and Ales Hemsky is tied for 13th in the NHL in goals with 7.
Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar lead the Kings with only nine points. It is very perplexing that a forward group consisting of Richards, Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Drew Doughty on the backend can’t produce more goals, but they are and the Oilers need to take advantage of that tonight.
ALL LINES GOING
Against Colorado all four lines were buzzing and creating chances. The Oilers attacked the entire game and they were able to spend way more time in the offensive zone.
LA’s s size will make it more difficult to cycle the puck consistently, but the Oilers need to use their speed wisely against the bigger Kings.
Khabibulin has played very well in his two appearances, start in Detroit, off the bench v. Colorado, and he’s earned another start. "He’s given us a lot of energy with his play, but this is nothing to do with Devan’s play," said Krueger. Dubnyk has had three bad luck goals the past two games, and he’ll get the night off.
Lennart Petrell is still dizzy from taking a puck in the temple during warmup on Saturday and he’ll sit out.
- Colorado, Edmonton and Florida have only one D-man who has scored a goal. Tyson Barrie has one goal for the Avs while Brian Campbell and J.Schultz have four each. The Oilers aren’t blessed with an abundance of goal scorers on their blueline, but they need some production from Petry, Whitney and Potter. Edm, Col and Flo also have zero ES goals from their blueliners.
- Colorado has one goal, while the Oilers are tied 2nd fewest goals from the blueline with Florida, Boston, Minnesota, San Jose, New Jersey and the Islanders with four each.
- The defencemen haven’t scored one ES goal this year. "We have had too many shots blocked. We have worked on making a few little changes so they can get more shots through," said Krueger.
- At the other end of the spectrum the Rangers and Capitals’ blueline have zero goals on the PP. Mike Green has no PP goals for the Capitals, yet their PP is still 6th best at 25%.
- The Oilers’ PK isn’t getting much attention, but it has been very good, allowing only nine goals on 68 chances, 4th best in the NHL at 86.6%. They are also tied for second with two shorthanded goals.
- If the Oilers start scoring at ES, this team could become very competitive.
- At 3 p.m. today on we will have a trivia contest for a pair of Oiler tickets to tonight’s game. here. First correct answer wins. Also LIKE the page.
- Will the Oilers go the way of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks, or will they be like Florida, Columbus, Atlanta and the Islanders? They are entering a crucial stage of their development. Read here.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Khabibulin has seven career shutouts v. the Kings, and he comes close to blanking them again as the Oilers win 4-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nugent-Hopkin’s line continues their dominant play in the offensive zone and they score twice. RNH scores his 2nd goal of the season.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the first period, the Kopitar line creates four consecutive scoring chances yet Khabibulin stones them. The crowd cheers louder with each save and when the sequence ends they chant, "Habby, Habby, Habby." While sitting on the bench Devan Dubnyk wonders why they don’t do the same for him, rather than the Duuuuuubbb that has become a trend. It’s a question that no one, but you the fans, can answer. Please do.