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The Oilers skate into Philadelphia with the Flyers riding a six-game winning streak. Steve Mason has started five in a row, allowing only nine goals and stopping 162 of 171 shots (.947sv%). He’s been great and the Flyers are on a roll.
The Oilers, despite many expressing massive concerns, are 5-2-3 in their last ten games. They’ve accumulated 13 points, while the Flyers, 7-3-0, have 14 in their previous ten.
The Flyers have 33 points this season while the Oilers have 32. These teams are evenly matched.
Here’s a quick look at their other numbers over the past ten games.
Philly has been winning games, but they’ve relied heavily on Steve Mason during the past five games. They defeated the Bruins 3-2 in a shootout despite being out shot 47-21. On Tuesday they beat Florida 3-2 in OT while being out shot 44-25.
Mason has been lights out since Michal Neuvirth got hurt and they stopped splitting duties. Mason had an ugly .891sv% through his first 14 starts, but he has a stellar .947sv% in five starts since November 29th.
The Oilers should be able to generate many shots and some quality scoring chances. The Flyers defence has a collection of good puck movers, but they lack a dominant defender.
Michael Del Zotto played 22 minutes versus Florida on Tuesday, but he’ll be a healthy scratch (McLellan is not the only coach who makes changes during winning streaks, many do). Radko Gudas will draw back in after sitting out with the flu on Tuesday.
Head coach Dave Hakstol wasn’t thrilled with his team’s play on Tuesday despite getting the victory.
“We have to be better with the puck. We didn’t do enough when we had the puck. Gave it up a little too easily and because of that, you end up playing defense a lot of the night,” he said. It would seem Del Zotto was one who game it up too easily.
Rookie Ivan Provorov has been excellent for the Flyers. I’m not surprised, having watching him in Brandon the past few seasons. In my eyes he was the best player in the WHL last season. He’s an excellent skater, very strong and has outstanding hockey sense. He’s played the most PK minutes for the Flyers, gets 1:49/game on the PP and he’s averaging 20:30 TOI/game, second most among Flyers defenders.
With Sean Couturier out, Pierre Edouard Bellamare will get the unlucky assignment of trying to contain Connor McDavid. Regardless of which D pair the Flyers put out, I expect McDavid to create a lot tonight.
Benoit Pouliot draws back in and he’ll play with Draisaitl and Puljujarvi, while Kassian moves to the fourth line with Hendricks and Letestu. Tyler Pitlick will take a seat.
Jonas Gustavsson will get his second start in five days. He might have not looked technically sound versus Minnesota, but he did a great job of stopping the puck. His .923sv% is very good for a backup, but he will need to be sharp against the high-scoring Flyers, and less active in his crease.
Philadelphia is fourth in goals per game at 3.11, while the Oilers are seventh with 2.93. Meanwhile, the Flyers are 26th in goals against/game at 3.04 and the Oilers are 13th at 2.61.
The Oilers will get their chances, but they will need to be smart defensively to slow down a dangerous offensive team.
Lineups (subject to change) courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com
- Tonight’s tilt features six of the top 35 scorers in the league. McDavid is first with 36 points, Leon Draisaitl is tied for 24th with 22 and Jordan Eberle is tied for 32nd with 21. Wayne Simmonds is tied for 10th with 26, Claude Giroux is tied for 12th with 25 and Jakob Voracek is tied for 14th with 24.
- Edmonton product Dillon Simpson will make his NHL debut tonight for the Oilers. The 92nd overall pick in 2011 is in his third pro season. He has 38 points in 140 AHL games. He’ll be paired with Matt Benning. Simpson played for the Spruce Grove Saints in 2009/2010, before going to North Dakota, while Benning skated with them in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 and then played NCAA with Northeastern University. Quite the feat to see two players from the Saints play on the same D pairing for the same NHL team.
- Simpson’s father Craig played 419 games for the Oilers, scoring 185 goals and 365 points, and he won two Stanley Cups. The Simpsons are now the fifth father/son combo to play for the Oilers.
Kent Nilsson played 17 regular season games and 21 playoff games for the Oilers in 1987 after being acquired from Minnesota. He had 17 regular season points and 19 in the playoffs when the OIlers won their third Stanley Cup. He left for Europe that summer, but returned to play six games in 1994/1995. Robert played 199 games in Edmonton from 2007/2008 to 2009/2010 scoring 30 goals and 97 points.
Brian Benning played 568 NHL games with 18 of them coming as an Oilers in 1993. Matt will play his 20th game tonight.
Keith Acton played 72 of his 1,023 NHL games with the Oilers. He was acquired near the trade deadline in 1988 and was a small part of the 1988 Cup winning team. He was traded to Philly midway through the next season. Wil Acton played 33 games for the Oilers between 2013 and 2014.
Frank Musil played 69 games for the Oilers between 1997 and 2001. His son David, who was recalled yesterday, has played four games with the Oilers.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The Philadephia Flyers have not had a streak of seven straight wins since the 2001-02 season, when they won eight straight in the month of January on their way to a division title. Two of those wins came against the Atlanta Thrashers, a team that does not even exist anymore.
A win tonight against the Edmonton Oilers will bring them closing to matching that streak. Currently a seven-gamer after Tuesday’s overtime win against Florida, the Flyers have jumped back into a playoff spot and sit just two points out of first place in the Metropolitan Division (if you ignore the number of games played by each team).
MONTH OF GIVING
Thank you to Joe and Sheldon for their generous bids and to On The Rocks and Mr. Derk for the great packages.
- 4 tickets in their Suite for the Oilers game on January 10th vs. San Jose.
- Food and beverages included.
- A signed Owen Nolan Sharks (teal) jersey.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: We will see a high scoring affair. The Oilers have 13 goals in their last three games versus the Flyers. The Oilers are 12-22-3 all-time in Philadelphia, but they are 5-3 in their last eight and 4-1-1 during games in December. They defeated the Flyers 3-2 on December 8th, 2005 when Ethan Moreau scored two shorthanded goals. Oilers win their second straight in Philly, this time 4-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Voracek picks up two points. He has three multi-point games versus the Oilers as a member of the Flyers.
NOT-SO-0BVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: RNH has six goals in five career games versus the Flyers. He loves playing Philly and he nets a goal and an assist, the first time he has a 1-1-2 game since last December.
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