It’s been a long, it’s been a long time coming, but the Edmonton Oilers are close to an actual factual playoff race. Early days, but if they can make it through December, everything’s going to be alright I know. The McDavid will bring us riches untold and a better day. Will we see an early thaw, or a false spring?
AN EARLY THAW?
This team has a chance to make the postseason for the first time since 2006, and the fact we are even talking about a second season is reason to smile. Connor McDavid leads the league in offense, Leon is parked just outside the top 20 in scoring, and the club is showing well in some important categories:
- Goals For: 75 (average is 64)
- Goals Against: 64 (average is 64)
- Power-Play Goals: 15 (average is 14)
- Power-Play Opportunities: 79 (average is 77)
- Power-Play Percentage: 18.99 (average is 18.02)
- Power-Play GA: 10 (average is 14)
- Power-Plat Against Opportunities: 73 (average is 77)
- Power-Play Against Percentage: 86.30 (average is 81.98)
- Shots: 796 (717)
- Shooting Percentage: 9.4 (Average is 8.8)
- Save Percentage: .915 (average is .915)
- PDO: 100.5 (average is 100)
Edmonton has played one more game than average, so the boxcars are a little skewed, but there is good news in these numbers. The goal differential year over year is a net +26 for this Edmonton team, they have five more wins than a year ago, and 10 more points. Music! Now. December needs to go well and we can talk trade deadline instead of draft!
A FALSE SPRING?
The concern I have (aside from things like wearing out the goaler and another five-game losing streak) has mostly to do with scoring outside the 97 line. You put me and Wanye on a line with McDavid and we will score (or at least until Wanye gets kicked out of the game for chugging a mickey after his third goal of the game, and they call the ambulance for me), but what about the rest of the group?
I have been rambling on about 5×5 scoring for the forwards not associated with McDavid’s line, but the fact is that Benoit Pouliot is the only forward well off the mark (well, Leon, but that isn’t fair to compare he was still on that crazy scoring run). Here are the regular forwards, and where they were a year ago in brackets. Check out the Nuge and Eberle.
- Connor McDavid 3.47 (first in NHL) (2.70 this time last year)
- Tyler Pitlick 1.90 (AHL last year)
- Leon Draisaitl 1.85 (3.44 this time last year)
- Anton Slepyshev 1.75 (AHL last year)
- Jordan Eberle 1.70 (0.35 this time last year, he had just returned from injury)
- Patrick Maroon 1.65 (Anaheim this time last year)
- Jesse Puljujarvi 1.62 (Finland this time last year)
- Mark Letestu 1.56 (0.25 this time last year)
- Milan Lucic 1.53 (Los Angeles this time last year)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.51 (1.14 this time last year)
- Anton Lander 1.47 (0.23 this time last year)
- Zack Kassian 1.26 (property of Montreal this time last year)
- Benoit Pouliot 1.15 (1.69 this time last year)
- Drake Caggiula 0.79 (College hockey this time last year)
- Source this year
- Source last year
Missing from last year are Taylor Hall (2.40), Teddy Purcell (1.72), Nail Yakupov (1.72) and Iiro Pakarinen (1.14). So, as much time as I have been spending on the 5×5 scoring troubles for Nuge and Eberle, only Pouliot is down from that line. Huh. Maybe this team can survive on two scoring lines. One thing that should help the scoring? Moving Leon to 97’s line. I love Jesse Puljujarvi’s future, but there were plenty of chances that did not cash in the first 25 games (Lucic too, for that matter).
The Oilers announced this morning that Darnell Nurse had been placed on the IR and that Dillon Simpson has been recalled. Bob Stauffer tweeted out the defensive pairings (above) but we don’t know for sure what the forward makeup will look like just yet.
Lineups (subject to change) are courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com
- The Lucic—McDavid—Draisaitl line combined for eight points in their first official game together. What can we expect tonight?
- Oscar Klefbom moved down the depth chart after early struggles in the Winnipeg game. I spoke to Jason Gregor yesterday, he expects we will see McLellan place the two Swedes back on the top pairing this evening. Makes sense, as matches McLellan’s own past in terms of handling his players.
- The Oilers have recalled defenseman Dillon Simpson and placed Darnell Nurse on injured reserve. That is a bad turn, Nurse has been playing find hockey of late.
- This is a four-point game. Edmonton wins, and they move past Anaheim (the two teams are tied currently), with the Ducks holding a game in hand. If the Oilers lose, the Ducks are two ahead with the extra game to go. Lots of these games to come during December, a pivotal month for Edmonton.
- The Kid Line showed well in the Jets game, do they return? I thought Drake Caggiula had his best game overall.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle on defending McDavid: “Obviously they want some more size around him and probably take up some space in front of the net to give him some more space on the flanks. He’s a special player. You can see it. He’s pretty dynamic. The way he moves around the ice and his speed is one thing. If you don’t notice it, you sure better pay attention to it during the game.”
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers take advantage of Anaheim penalty trouble early, scoring on the power play. The Ducks tie it before the end of the period on a controversial goal—Perry kicks it into the net but the ref calls tripping on the play and it is 1-1 after one.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The second period is playoff hockey, with both teams selling out on a December Saturday night. No score, but the best period of the year at Rogers Place.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor McDavid. He scores one, sets up another and the Oilers win 3-1. Wanye finds more Mickeys and I recover at the hospital. It is a brilliant Saturday night in our town!
A GOOD OL’ HOCKEY GAME
- When: Friday December 9th with doors opening at 2pm (the game starts at 6pm).
- Where: West Edmonton Mall at the Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace
- Who: Edmonton takes on Minnesota
- Why: Because we love to party
- What else: We’re going to have prize giveaways all night long
- How much to get in: FREE!
Huge thank you to everyone at West Edmonton Mall, The Brick, Vimy Hockey, Donnan, 1st RND, TSN 1260, Eddie Bauer, The Bear and everyone else that worked so hard to help us get this event off the ground. Your hard work is appreciated, and I can’t wait for December 9th to get here. It’s going to be a fantastic night.