An Oilers player has yet to score a goal through the first two games of the season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was credited with his first goal of the season in St.Louis, but he never shot the puck, the Blues put it in their own net.
The Blues and Predators have excellent defence cores, but the Oilers offence, especially the forwards on the top three lines, need to be more assertive in the offensive zone. It won’t get any easier with Taylor Hall possibly out of the lineup. Hall is ill. He didn’t take the morning skate and will be a game time decision.
I re-watched both games and I counted ten scoring chances. You need more than five scoring chances per game if you want to win, but the good news is the Oilers didn’t give up many chances either.
Their powerplay looked disjointed in both games. They struggled entering the zone, but the most noticeable weakness was how many puck battles they lost on the man advantage.
They have to work harder on the PP. I’m sure the coaches will switch up where players set up as the season progresses, but regardless of where they line up their work ethic needs to be better on the man advantage.
If Hall can’t go he is a big loss. He had 12 shots in the first two games, including nine vs. the Predators, while the rest of the top-nine forwards have combined for 23 shots. With Eberle out of the lineup, and Hall under the weather, Nail Yakupov and Benoit Pouliot need to produce. Yak supporters have been asking for an opportunity and now it is here.
Defensively they have been good, except for the terrible giveaways. They’ve had three brutal giveaways which led directly to goals; Purcell
in St.Louis and Sekera in Nashville turned the puck over just inside the offensive blueline, and that can’t happen. Ference’s idea in Nashville was fine, but if you are going to try a bank pass like that you better be certain it works. It didn’t and those three plays led directly to goals. Turnovers will happen,
but they need to eliminate the five-star mistakes.
The Oilers need some sustained offensive pressure tonight. Outside of a few shifts by the fourth line in St.Louis, they haven’t been able to have three or four shifts in a row where they are attacking and forcing the opposition to defend.
They will score tonight vs. the Stars. Dallas’ D corps is weak compared to Nashville or St.Louis, and the Oilers need to take advantage of them tonight. I’m not sure they will score five goals in 25:07 like Colorado did on Saturday to overcome a 3-1 deficit and win 6-3, but the Stars will give up some scoring chances and it is up to the Oilers to create some and then finish them off.
- It is only two games, but the Oilers PK looks much better. Talbot was solid in goal, but the Oilers didn’t give up many quality chances. The Stars PP is off to a good start, three for nine, and they are tied for fifth in the NHL. Their PK has allowed two goals in seven chances, and Colorado exposed them with some quick puck movement on Saturday.
- Former Oiler Ales Hemsky is on the third line in Dallas, but he leads them with three points through two games. He and Eakin have looked good together thus far.
- Nilsson and Lehtonen will get their first starts of the season tonight. Nilsson looked great in preseason, but he didn’t face shooters like Benn, Seguin and Sharp. I’m very curious to see how he plays.
- Justin Schultz has played much better so far this year, but until the Oilers have a D-man who can play more minutes than Schultz ( 23:08/game) they will not be a playoff team. They need Klefbom or Nurse to emerge as a 24+ minute/game player.
- Don’t fret about McDavid going pointless in two games. It is two games. Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Anze Kopitar and Evgeni Malkin are all 0-0-0 in their first two games. McDavid will be fine.
- I wonder how long McLellan rotates his #6 defenceman. Reinhart will likely play vs. the Blues on Thursday and if he plays well again, I wonder if the rotation will end.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
‘Execution on the power play.’
That sounds like a good description of the Stars’ Saturday night. Back-to-back unnecessary minors for too-many-men and delay-of-game helped swing the game in the Avalanche’s favor over the weekend- A very talented Edmonton Oiler lineup looking to get things rolling offensively would be a bad group to hand such opportunities.
They’ve scored once on 55 shots this year, and that one came off a deflection. That’s the definition of “due”. The Oilers are due.
“I thought our power play sucked the life out of us so that was disappointing,” said McLellan. “Yet, some of the things we were doing on the power play were the right things but we killed it ourselves with poor execution, poor passing.”
Again. He is really emphasizing power play. Stay out of the box.
As always, their uber-talented lineup, featuring that guy that got drafted really high that people won’t stop talking about no matter what. (Again, due)
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers watched the Jays win two games in Texas, and they feed off the “Canadian” fever to pick up a surprising 3-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky scores against his former team.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Slepyshev scores his first NHL goal. He has a calm, controlled celebration and on the bench Yakupov congratulates him, but tells him he need to work on his cellys. I ask my Russian neighbour to lip read what Slepyshev said to Yakupov and he tells me, “Knee slides are your thing. When I score a big goal I will show you real Russian celebration.” I spend the rest of the game hoping he scores again just to see a “real” Russian celebration. I assume it includes vodka, but I’m not sure how.
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