Tonight in Winnipeg, two teams far from the playoffs get together and battle for two points. We are at the point in the year where GMs and fans are somewhat divided on the value of those points, but for this fan I say full speed ahead.
The Oilers after 67 games are No. 29 in the league and could finish anywhere from No. 30 to No. 23, although finishing that high is unlikely. One of the truly bizarre situations about this season has Edmonton with an outside shot of finishing No. 4 in the Pacific Division by season’s end:
When I talk about turning north, part of it is standings, but progress can be measured in other ways, too. Edmonton’s goal differential one year ago was -75, so the team has in fact improved year over year. What has contributed to it?
- Goals for per-game this season in all situations (last season): 2.37 (2.15)
- Goals against per-game this season in all situations (last season) 2.92 (3.09)
- Shots for per-game this season in all situations (last season): 28.9 (26.2)
- Shots against per-game this season in all situations (last season): 31.4 (27.7)
- Corsi for in all situations (last season): 48.5 (48.9)
- Shooting percentage in all situations (last season) : 8.34 (8.20)
- Save Percentage in all situations (last season): .9059 (.8883)
The Oilers are scoring a little more and allowing fewer goals against (the spread was -0.94 per-game a year ago and is -0.55 this year. That is improvement). The Oilers are dead in the water in terms of standings, but it would be nice to see a strong finish and something north of 70 points as a final number.
Connor McDavid’s consistently produced since February 2, leads some big names in scoring during the span since then pic.twitter.com/EzFEc3x5Jj
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) March 5, 2016
Yeah, I think Connor McDavid should win the Calder even if he plays half the games pic.twitter.com/TkSRKFVY4n
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) March 4, 2016
I think Connor McDavid could win the Calder Trophy, and the recent trip to the east coast was a revelation in terms of just how big this story is at this time. Frankly, it reminded me of the early days of the Boys on the Bus, where 100 media are in Buffalo (no disrespect meant) of all places.
Since the Oilers arrived in the NHL, there haven’t been too many games missed for me (mostly via television but I have been blessed to see many live as well). It has been many years (2006) since I planned things around games and I find myself doing same with McDavid in the conversation. That is an extreme compliment to this young man—he makes the No. 29 team in the NHL appointment viewing. Perhaps that is the strongest reflection of his talent and impact, even after only 30 games.
- Peter Chiarelli has done a fine job of adding players who could be a part of the team next season. RFA and UFA who have been added in-season include Zack Kassian, Adam Clendening, Adam Pardy and Adam Cracknell. Not all will be back, but I think Kassian and Cracknell have a chance.
- The strong performances by others leaves us wondering about the future of Luke Gazdic. From what we know, he is a very popular part of the team, but the additions of men like Kassian, Cracknell and Patrick Maroon (who will be back next year) give one pause in regard to Gazdic.
- The Oilers have a lot of lefties on defense, and with men like David Musil coming into the period where they will be waiver eligible, I think we might see some movement over the summer in the lower regions of the defensive depth chart.
- One free agent defender who doesn’t get mentioned a lot by Oilers fans? Brian Campbell. Although long in the tooth and lefthanded, he can still move and serve as a terrific mentor to this team’s youth.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Art Middleton, JetsNation: Fresh off their Mark Scheifele hat-trick fueled win over Montreal
last night and mere hours after the NHL announces that Winnipeg will
host it’s first outdoor game next season, the Jets will look take down
the team they’ll face at Investors Group Field in October – The Edmonton
Oilers. It’s the rubber match between the two clubs as the
Jets avenged a 3-1 loss to the Oil in December with a 2-1 win in a
shootout last month. Remarkably, not only are the Jets the only
team to not have a win streak of three games or more this season, but
the Jets tonight are looking to gain a point for the third game in a row
which is also a feat they have yet to accomplish this season.
GAME DAY PREDICTION
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The game is heavy early, with a lot of ground beef and full ugly from big men on both sides. The first period ends scoreless, with both sides counting fingers and toes to make sure everything is still attached.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
Edmonton continues to grind down the Jets, who are not used to the small Oilers having these big winger and defenders. A lazy penalty by the Jets is punished by a Connor McDavid goal and Edmonton leads after two periods, 1-0.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
The floodgates open in the third, five goals in total and three belong to Edmonton. Final score: Oilers 4-2, two points for McDavid and a strong showing by the giant wingers.