Every player prefers wins over personal statistics, but with three games remaining the personal goals are more interesting to discuss than whether or not the Oilers will have a 14.2% chance (28th place) or an 18.8% chance (29th place) of winning the draft lottery.
Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and David Perron are battling for the team lead in goals — they each have 27 — while Hall is also trying to become the 12th player in Oilers’ history to score 80 points.
Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson did it, but can you name the other six? (*answer at bottom)
Hall is putting together an outstanding season. He already has 60 even strength points. When Doug Weight scored 104 points in 1996 and 90 in 2001 he had 58 and 50 ES points respectively. Right now only Ryan Getzlaf has a better ES points-per-game ratio than Hall.
Getzlaf is at .84, while Hall and Crosby are at .833. Hall has become a dominant offensive player and as he said yesterday in our interview, he is working hard at improving his overall game. He is going to be even better next season, and if he stays healthy he could push for 90 points and be a better defensive player.
While Hall is battling to become the 12th Oiler in team history to get 80 points, he is pushing Eberle and Perron to reach 30 goals. The Oilers haven’t had two 30-goal scorers in the same season since Ryan Smyth (39) and Andrei Kovalenko (32) did it in 1997. They haven’t had three 30-goal men since 1990.
It is unlikely all three of them will average a goal/game over the final three games, but it will be fun to watch who takes over the lead in goals.
Eberle is trying to become only the 10th Oiler to have two 30-goal seasons. (**List of the others is at bottom). He’s quietly had a good season. He wasn’t very good early in the season, and I think the trade talk was bothering him, but he’s been quite good, 19 points in 18 games, since the Olympic break.
Scoring 30 goals twice as an Oiler would put him in pretty good company.
I asked Eakins about Lander playing centre. “We know he can play centre, we need to find out if he can play the wing in the NHL,” said Eakins. “I won’t compromise the structure of our team to watch one player play centre. If he is going to play here he’ll need to be able to play centre, right wing and left wing.”
Lander hasn’t looked bad, but he hasn’t produced any offence, and in the future if he hopes to be a 3rd line he’ll need to show he can produce at the NHL level. It is still to early to give up on Lander, but he’ll need to show a pulse offensively in camp next season if he has any aspirations of making the team.
- The Oilers are 12-4-4 in their last 20 vs. the Avs including an 8-2 drubbing earlier this season. The Avs are one of the few top teams in the league that the Oilers dominate.
- Nathan MacKinnon will win the Calder. He leads rookies in scoring with 60 points, and he’s only the fourth 18 year old in the last decade to score 50+ points. Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were the others.
- This is a big game for the Avs. They have a two-point lead over Chicago for home ice advantage in their upcoming playoff series. The Avs finish the season with four road games.Tonight, Thursday in Vancouver, Friday in San Jose and Sunday in Anaheim. If they can win two of four they secure 2nd place in the central division and home ice against the Hawks. They should be movitvated to beat the Oilers.
- When asked where he’ll play next year, Ryan Jones replied, “Not here,” to Rob Tychkowski. Jones went on to say he felt it was mutual from both sides. This isn’t breaking news, because it was clear neither party had much interest in the other, but you don’t hear a player admit it on the record very often.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The SpOilers upset another team battling for home ice advantage with 6-4 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: There will be multiple statistical comparisons between MacKinnon and Hall or Nugent-Hopkins throughout the broadcast.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: MacKinnon and tough guy Patrick Bordeleau are the only Avs to have played all 78 games heading into tonight’s tilt. Bordeleau picks up a 2nd period assist and reaches double digits in points for the first time in his career.
* Weight (104 and 90), Jimmy Carson (100), Blair MacDonald (94), Vincent Damphousse (89), Mike Krushelnyski (88) and Joe Murphy (82) were the other Oilers with 80-point seasons.
** Kurri (10), Gretzky (9), Anderson (9), Messier (8), Smyth (4), Coffey (3), Esa Tikkanen (3), Craig Simpson (3), and Petr Klima (2).
15 other players scored 30 goals once as a member of the Oilers: Carson (49), MacDonald (46), Krushelnyski (43), Damphousse (38), Murphy (35), Eberle (34), Jason Arnott, Mike Comrie, Ken Linseman and Stan Weir (33), Kovalenko, Dave Lumley and Dustin Penner (32), Zdeno Ciger (31) and Bill Guerin (30). Hall and/or Perron could become the 25th player to hit the 30-goal mark.
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