The Oilers come into tonight’s game against the Devils in 30th place in the standings – this is not a dream. I’m pretty sure I saw Bill Murray cruising around with that damned groundhog on my way into work this morning.
For me, one of the most disheartening things about this season is the fact that the Oilers ARE playing fairly well but it’s not showing up as points in the standings. Eventually, you’d think that the tables would turn, and the wins will start piling up, but life as an Oilers fan has left our Hope Reserves® dangerously low. Frankly, I’d guess that the Nation comments section is only a few more moral victories away from spontaneous combustion, so it’s imperative that the Oilers get a win.
In their last 10 games, the Devils are 6-4-0 and are currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. To me, seeing a team from the East floating around .500 means that this is a winnable game. So far this season the Oilers are 3-2-0 against the East and that’s enough math to predict that the Oilers should be able to end their slide. I’m not saying that games against the Eastern Conference should be guaranteed wins, but with the Oilers playing well against some of the top teams in the West you would think that they have a good chance at getting a winning streak started.
Besides, the Devils lost to the Flames a few nights ago and they’re equally as bad as the Oilers. Right? Right.
- The Oilers have played 14 of their first 20 games against top 12 teams. The schedule has not been kind to our beloved Oilers.
- The Oilers are currently 3-2-0 against the Eastern Conference and will be playing their next 11 of 13 games in the East. If they can find some success against the East this run could start turning the ship around.
- In their last eight games against the Devils the Oilers have gone 4-3-1. I’m not sure why stats from years ago necessarily matter, but there you have it.
- Resident goat, and carrot aficionado, Teddy Purcell is on an absolute tear after Adam Oates convinced him to cut four inches off his stick. For Teddy, it appears that size really does matter. He has eight points in eight games since making the change.
- Day 17 without Connor McDavid. This wait feels like an eternity.
- Andrej Sekera wasn’t on the ice for the morning skate so I’m assuming that means he caught the flu that has been moving its way through the locker room. Sekera has been playing better as of late and losing him would be a big loss for an already inexperienced back end.
- Oscar Klefbom looks like he will be returning to the lineup after missing yesterday’s practice with the flu.
- Nilsson gets the start and will surely be looking to improve on his last two outings. Nilsson’s save % over his past five starts are – .909, .939, .919, .810, .852
- The Devils have scored 43 goals on the year while the Oilers have scored 50. That would normally be a positive until you see that the Devils have only allowed 40 goals (good) whereas the Oilers have allowed 62 (bad).
- Join us tonight at the Pint Downtown from 5-8pm for our first NationGear pop-up store! We’ve got more fresh designs than you can shake Teddy Purcell’s shortened stick at! If you’re around, come down and visit the ladies from Nation HQ as they push out new designs like Ice Cube pushes rhymes. Get your Christmas shopping done AND have a beer and watch the game. It’s a win-win scenario!
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
There is legitimate reason for the Oilers faithful to think things are getting better. Todd McLellan is the head coach, Peter Chiarelli is in at team president and general manager, and those two aren’t dumb. At least, not as dumb in management as, say, Kevin “I know a thing or two about winning” Lowe. Five of their twelve losses were by one goal. As OilFaninYYC stated in this recap at the C&B, they did play a good game against Chicago and have had some other good performances.
Here’s something the fans can also feel better about. The Oilers aren’t sitting near the bottom of possession. On the contrary, War on Ice lists their CF% as 48.9%. While that’s not good, it’s better than ten other teams as of this writing – including the Devils. Let’s go a little deeper at War on Ice. Their SF/60 rate at even strength is still a low 26.5, but their SA/60 is only 29.5. That’s also not good, but their current lowest shots against per sixty-minute rate at evens ties their best mark in the last eight seasons. The Oilers are still prone to some massive brainfarts on defense, but the goalie isn’t getting shelled as much at evens. That’s another positive.
If the Oilers can build on these positives, then they could have a team that isn’t 30th about a quarter of the way through the season.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers finally get rewarded for playing well and beat the Devils 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Taylor Hall continues his warlord-esque pace and registers an assist in the first period. Not to be outdone, Leon Draisaitl carries the puck on an end to end rush, roofs it, makes Keith Kinkaid cry, and busts out a choreographed dance in celebration. Thrilled with how their partnership is going, Hall and Draisaitl continue to work on a secret handshake.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Anton Lander seems to have lost his powers since shaving off his pirate facial hair. As Movember moves forward, and Lander’s duster fills in, his source of power begins to refuel his ability to make plays. Lander draws power from the newly seeded mo and scores his first goal of the season.
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