Todd McLellan and his players have talked often about the challenge to find consistency. It should surprise no one the Oilers have managed to win consecutive games only once this year. They won three in row on October 17th, 18th and 21st, but winning streaks have not been common over the past few seasons.
Despite the Oilers’ tough start, they are a three or four game winning streak away from vaulting up the standings.
This home stand is another opportunity for the Oilers to finally string some wins together.
Fatigue should not be a factor for the Oilers on this home stand. They had Tuesday off, won on Wednesday and they were resting last night while Dallas was playing in Vancouver.
The Stars won 4-2 in Vancouver and are 7-0-1 in their last eight road games, so the Oilers must be ready for a tough game. The Stars are also 2-0 this year on the second game of back-to-backs with wins in Boston and Minnesota, however this is their third game in four nights. This is the second set of three in four nights, and the first time it occurred they were out shot 39-19 in the third game, but still won 5-3.
The Stars have the league’s best record, 20-5-1, and this will be a massive test for the Oilers, but Edmonton must find a way to match the effort and attention to detail they displayed Wednesday versus the Bruins tonight against the west-leading Stars. They have proven they are capable of playing their system and executing; now they have to start showing they can do it consistently.
The most frustrating aspect of this season, for me at least, has been watching them play well one game and then revert back to being weak defensively and sloppy with their execution the next night. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for head coach Todd Mclellan.
The potential good news for the Oilers is five of the Stars’ six losses have come against non-playoff teams.
They lost at home to Florida, Toronto and Ottawa and have road losses in Colorado, Toronto and Calgary (SO). However, they are 9-1-1 versus the West including 6-0-1 versus the Pacific that included dominating the Oilers 4-2 and out shooting them 52-28 on October 13th.
The Oilers can’t afford defensive lapses or the Stars will embarrass them. The Stars are the highest scoring team in the NHL with 92 goals in 26 games. The Oilers have scored 65.
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Pouliot is still nursing an injury and will sit out. McLellan will ice the same lineup that defeated the Bruins, unless Davidson’s injury keeps him out.
TSN analyst Ray Ferraro was on my show yesterday and had a few interesting thoughts about the Oilers.
- “There are times I see a really tentative group. A bunch of players who are looking to the next guy to make the big play. They look like a team that hasn’t won very much. The commonality year to year is they have had their top-end of the roster back, and they’ve changed the bottom six over and over again. Unfortunately, the change has to be with players who are more significant.”
He had this to say about Eberle’s game.
- “I’m watching Jordan Eberle and I’m roughly the same size. Al Arbour used to have this phrase with me and he’d pull me in, and he called me Seagull, and he’d say, ‘Seagull you are on the end of your gawd damn stick again’.
“And what he meant by that was every puck that I went to I would reach to get it, instead of getting my nose over top of the puck. When you are a little guy your nose has to be over top of the puck, because if it is not you get bumped out of the way too easily. A big guy can play with reach and a little guy can’t.
“I’m not sure Jordan is uneasy or not confident, but I saw a lot of ‘end of your stick’ recently. I know he got burned on a ridiculous save last game, and he could have scored another, but he doesn’t have the puck enough to make a difference like he should or like he has in the past. Too often he is at the end of his stick.”
- Todd McLellan is playing Justin Schultz fewer minutes since he returned from injury. He played 21 minutes versus Toronto, but that was due to Davidson’s injury. In the other two games Schultz has played 17 minutes. This should help the defender. I don’t believe he is big or strong enough to play a productive 23 minutes. He should have more energy, and in theory he should be able to battle more effectively with reduced icetime. We will see how it works out, but the final 50 games will determine if he returns next season. If he doesn’t improve, I don’t see Chiarelli re-signing him at $3.9 million.
- The Pacific division is not very good right now. The Oilers (nine) have as many wins as Vancouver, Anaheim and Calgary. Arizona holds on to the third, and final, playoff spot in the Pacific and they are only seven points ahead of the Oilers. If the Oilers can tread water for another six or seven weeks until McDavid returns, they could still be in a position to play some “meaningful” games between February-April. Dare to dream.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
You’d be hard pressed to call the Edmonton Oilers, despite the off-season changes both in front of and behind the bench, anything but relatively poor through 26 games at 9-15-2.
They’ve not been terrible offensively- a rather middle-of-the-road 2.42 goal per game. Rather it’s the defensive side where they’ve struggled to keep up, even in a down division like the Pacific. Only two teams allow more goals per outing than does Edmonton at 3.04.
That being said, the Oil have earned points in three of their last four and five of their last eight overall, so they’ve been plenty competitive. They defeated a very hot offensive team in the Bruins 3-2 in a shootout at home Wednesday and the Penguins on the road, also in the shootout, a few days before that.
Not coincidentally they kept their opponents to two goals in those two victories- but they allow four a little too often.
If #fancystats are your cup of tea you would be interested to know they’re a pretty average Corsi team at 48.4% at 5-on-5- Middle of the road. Combine that with their team save percentage, 28th in the league at 90.9% (5-on-5) and it paints the picture of a team that’s not getting the netminding they need.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: It is Positive Friday. It is my son’s second birthday. It is day four of Month of Giving. The positive vibes find their way to the Oilers and they pull off a major upset winning 5-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: A few angry posters will write, “The Oilers should have taken Seguin instead. He’d make us better.” They don’t realize since the start of 2011 (I didn’t include rookie season because Hall had more opportunities on a worse team), Hall has .95 points per game and Seguin has .96. Last I checked Seguin doesn’t play defence and he wouldn’t have Jamie Benn as a winger here. The gap between Hall and Seguin is so slim the Oilers winning % would not have changed.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nilsson has a very good game and in his post game presser Matt Hendricks says, “He stood on his lips tonight.” Hendricks used the exact same line describing Holtby last week. #StoodOnHisLips will be trending on twitter after the game.
Day 4: MONTH OF GIVING
Thank you Mike for your generous $2,000 bid and to Mr.Derk for the awesome package.
A signed orange Connor McDavid jersey. (actual box, but not actual Jersey)
In a Jersey Shadow Box Cabinet from Pro Am Sports.
– Low profile 3″ depth
– Easy to open door with strong magnetic closure
– Comes with Wallbuddies Hanging System & hardware for immediate installation
– Crystal clear UV stable glass and black background
– Strong side hinges
– Case dimensions: 30″(width) x 38″(height) x 3″ (depth) – (Outside Dimensions)
Thanks in advance. All proceeds will help out Operation Friendship Seniors Society.
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