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Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Game Day Quick Hits: Oilers vs. Predators

“I thought we put good efforts together for three nights in a row, but it is only worth something if we come back home and grow on it. I hope we’ve learned lessons and will adjust our game accordingly so that we do play better here at home. Time will tell.”

That was Todd McLellan yesterday after the Oilers off-ice workout. The Oilers have played well before on the road, only to return home and soil the sheets.

Can they break that cycle tonight versus the Nashville Predators?

1. The Predators won 7-1 in Vancouver last night, improving to 4-0 on the first game of back-to-backs. Pekka Rinne has played all four of the first games and hasn’t played any of the second. On October 27th at Chicago, he stopped 43 of 44 shots in a 2-1 win. In Anaheim on November 3rd, he stopped 35 of 38 in a 5-3 victory, Dec 4th versus Boston he stopped 37 of 40 shots in a 5-3 win and last night in Vancouver he stopped 25 of 26 in their 7-1 spanking of the Canucks. Juuse Saros has played in the second game of all three previous back-to-backs and should go tonight. Saros lost 6-2 versus the Islanders on October 28th, allowing six goals on 23 shots. He won 4-3 in LA on November 4th, stopping 36 of 39 and he won 5-2 in Dallas on Dec 5th stopping 43 of 45.

2. The Preds have averaged 37 shots against in the first game of BTB, won all four and had a .946 sv%. In the second night of BTB, they have averaged 36 shots against with a .897sv%.  Saros’ numbers look worse due to the six goals on 23 shots versus the Islanders, but the Predators have allowed a lot of shots. The Oilers average 34.6 shots per game, sixth most in the NHL, but they are averaging 37.1 on home ice, yet they can’t win.

3. The Oilers continue to struggle on home ice. They are 5-9. Since shutting out the Flames 3-0 on opening night they are 4-9, and have been outscored 53-39. They are averaging three goals per game at home, but they give up way too much. They are allowing 3.78 goals per game. Their penalty kill is beyond terrible at 59.5% (17 goals on 42 kills).

4.The Oilers’ PP is exactly the same at home and on the road. They are 8 of 42 at home and on the road with a 19% efficiency. But their PK, as noted as above, is abysmal at home, yet on the road it is 83% allowing 10 goals on 59 kills. They have been shorthanded 17 more times on the road than at home, yet their PK is much better. The good news for the Oilers is the Predators’ PP is the exact opposite. They are 35.6% at home (21 of 59), but on the road their PP is only 16.7% (9 of 55).

5. The Oilers play the exact same PK system at home, but we have seen them give up grade A chances over and over on home ice. Their PK wasn’t very good last year either, but it was virtually the same at home (80.7%) and on the road (79.3%). It is mind-boggling how the PK can be so much worse on home ice than on the road.

6. Edmonton is allowing 31.9 shots/game at home and 29.2 per game on the road. A slight difference, but their GAA is 3.78 at home and 2.76 on the road. Exactly half of that is due to the PK. If the Oilers had the same PK% at home as on the road they would have allowed seven fewer goals. So while the PK is an issue, so is team defence and goaltending.

7. The Oilers home sv% is a .887 and it is .909 on the road. Laurent Brossoit is .912 on the road stopping 196 of 215, but he is .843 at home stopping 81 of 96 shots. His road numbers improved due to this recent three game trip and he needs to play the same at home. Cam Talbot has a .907sv% on the road, stopping 255 of 281 shots, while he has a .899sv% at home stopping 313 of 348 shots.

8, The Predators welcomed Scott Hartnell and Ryan Johansen back to the lineup last night in Vancouver. Hartnell missed 13 games while Johansen missed three. Johansen picked up two assists in his return and now has 19 points in 27 games. Johansen has really altered his game. He scored 33 goals in his third NHL season and followed that up with 26, but he only has 14 in each of the past two seasons and only three this year. He doesn’t shoot very much anymore. His shot totals have gone down consistently the past five seasons from 237 to 202 to 185 to 154 and he is on pace for 119 this season. His point totals haven’t changed very much though, with 63-71-60-61 and on pace for 56 this year, and while I understand wanting to be a playmaker, if I’m paying a guy $8 million a year I’d like him to shoot a bit more. He has a good shot and if he shoots more, combined with his passing maybe he is more of a 70-point player than a 60-point guy.

9. Leon Draisaitl makes $8.5 million and some are concerned with his production. His EV scoring is actually better than last year. He had 50 EV points in 82 games last year, and he has 19 EV points in 27 games thus far (on pace for 55), but his PP points have plummeted. He had 27 last season, but only has two thus far with both coming in the last three games. I expect his PP production will be much better in the final 51 games compared to the first 31. It is the easiest bet you could make. And he is the opposite of Johansen. His shot totals are going up every year. He went from 133 to 172 and is on pace for 188. I could see him surpassing the 188, because he only has 11 shots on the PP thus far. He had five on the three-game road trip. He has been more involved on the PP lately, and not surprisingly it is starting to improve with four goals in the last three games. Draisaitl’s goals totals will also improve in the final 51 games since he has no PP goals thus far. His EV goal scoring is better than last year as well, but he has gone from 10 to 0 on PP goals. It is unlikely his PP drought continues.

10. Connor McDavid has 39 points in 31 games. The exact same total as he had last season. He has 12-27-39 this year and he had 12-27-39 last year. He is very consistent, but the difference this year is he has battled losing 15 pounds and was noticeably weaker for a few weeks. Here is how he point totals break down through 31 games this year and last.

2017/2018                                          2016/2017
8 games with 0 points                       10 games with 0 points
13 with 1 point                                    9 with 1 point
5 with 2 points                                    6 with 2 points
4 with 3 points                                    6 with 3 points
1 with 4 points

11. McDavid had his first four-point game of his career in Columbus on Tuesday. He tallied five points versus Toronto on February 11th, 2016. In his brief career he has played 158 games and scored 187 points. He has 52 multi-point games (five once, four once, three 18 times and two points 32 times) and 70 games with one point. He has only played 46 games without scoring at least one point. He has scored a point in 71% of his games.

12. In case you’re curious. In Sidney Crosby’s first 158 games he produced 219 points. He had 66 multi-point games (six once, four seven times, three 18 times and two points 40 times) and 51 single-point games. He had 39 games without a point. He had a point in 75% of his games. His first two seasons there was slightly more scoring, but I’m interested to watch where McDavid compares to Crosby after game 500.

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Source:  Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 12/14/2017 – 9:00am MST

  • If the Oilers can get 12 points out of their next 10 games, that will give them 40 points at the halfway point of the season. If they can get 50 points out of the second half of the season, that will be 90 points. That MIGHT be enough to take the last wild card spot. In the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas: “So your saying there’s a chance.”

    • Sparky Blue

      I looked at the NHL standings at the end of the regular season for the last 10 years and the number of points needed to get to the playoffs averaged at 90, adding 1 point to the points of the first team not to make it rather than the actual points of the last team in. For the Oil to make 90 they need to get 12 points out of each 10 game piece of the schedule, which is what they have done in the last 10 game segment. Who knows if this is enough, or if they have the cajones to do this, but time will tell. They have the skill they need to show they have the work ethic.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        Average points is meaningless. If you see a strong Central Division push, then a Wild Car spot is in the upper 90’s. Currently it’s around 93 for projected. So, it really has to be winning every possible game against the West in regulation. So difficult to jump over teams if you have a OT/SO game.

        Things aren’t dire yet, but a team out of the playoff picture in December has a very slim chance of making the playoffs.

        • MrBung

          People are getting ahead of themselves. Talk of playoffs for the Oilers given their situation and what they still have to prove is way premature. This team still has yet to prove they can be dominant at home. They have no room for any losing streaks. Have yet to prove they can put up a long winning streak. Once the Oilers show they can do these things, then I can understand talk of playoffs. Right now, they have proven little. The last couple games have been good, but they still lost in Toronto.

    • Oiler Al

      Lots of scoring from the back end ….. Suban,Josi, and Ekhom have 20 pts , thats in the same range as Lucic, Nuge and Dria with 22 pts each. Preds also like to play in the blue paint, especially Arvidson. If Oil play like they did in the 2nd period last game , they can handle the Preds.

  • Hoping for a good road game at Rogers.

    As much as I expect a healthy McDavid to do some damage I know this Preds team will be doing everything to shut him down.

    So I’m really hoping for the 3rd and 4th lines to shine tonight. Drai, Jujhar Hockey™, Kassian, Letestu…they’re heating up and it’s games like this where they have to show up.

      • QuitForRealThisTime

        Hockey players named Johnny that deserve the name “Johnny Hockey” more:
        Johnny Bucyk
        Johnny Bower
        Other options:
        Jonathans (Guick,Toews)

        Only one great one.

        • BringtheFire 2.0

          “You shouldn’t cause he’s not worth it…”

          Hey!!! That’s wrong!!!!! Yay Flames!!! Sort-of-yay Oilers!!!

          (13.5 for similar scoring, is it? Ah, who cares, best of luck with the playoff run, I’ll go away now 😀 😀 )

          • Leaking5w-30

            I’ll admit that the Johnny Flames contract looks pretty good at this point. But Jujhar Hockey is totally fair. Don’t agree… I challenge you to find a Jujhar who plays hockey better that ours!

      • No, you can’t call anyone the Great One in Hockey except Gretzky.

        But we can most definitely call Khaira “Jujhar Hockey™”

        Why?

        Because other people labeled Gretzky as “The Great One”. He earned that monikor.

        Johnny Hockey came into the NHL trying to trademark the name. He is trying to brand himself a certain way. That’s not how this works. Messier didn’t come into the NHL with the “Moose” under copyright.

        Crosby didn’t make sure all rights to “The Kid” were under his legal ownership.

        When we say “Jujhar Hockey™” we say it with adoration. Not as part of some branding mechanism.

        We say “Jujhar Hockey™” because he earned it. Not because he had a team of lawyers that pursued trademarks in multiple markets.

  • DerpSolo

    Oilers get to face Saros today, and I just saw that dubnyk is out week to week, so oilers get to face the backup for the wild on Saturday ( I forget who it is). This could be a very opportune chance to pick up 4 pts

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    Huge test for the Oilers tonight. I hope they are competetive. There’s no reason that thay can’t beat any team on any night, but do they have the will? Win tonight against another top team, and keep things rolling.

  • TKB2677

    This is basically a must win for the Oilers. They are playing well, they need to win games against West teams. They can’t afford to put up another stinker.

  • OilersBro

    Lucic, Drai, and Klefbom could all be exceeding our standards for their scoring totals if they were able to score on the PP. That goes to show that the players have what it takes to earn their contracts’ pay however, there is something systemically wrong with the PP. Remember how many one touch goals Drai got from the slot on the PP where the puck would go from Lucic low to McDavid on the boards and then to the middle? It’s a simple game when you make the defense move – eventually they get out of place.

    • I have been asking all year why they don’t do the play down low where McDavid passes it to the man behind the goal line (Lucic or Draisaitl) who immediately passes it to the man standing in the crease (Maroon, Draisaitl, or Lucic). That play worked over and over last year and I don’t even see them try it anymore. Having that play in use will also open up space in the middle for other plays because the defense needs to wary of it. What gives?

      • OilersBro

        Totally agree! I think they’ve fallen in love with having Letestu as their first option. The first option should be the goal line player looking to the slot. Then if it’s taken away, it is because the defense collapsed. Fire that back out to McDavid and then skip the pass to Letestu. Right now they are trying to force the skip pass without making the defense flatten out first and that’s where it is getting turned over.

        • What about Draisaitl though? He has very few PP points this year.

          Plus, we’re talking about power play scoring not even strength. Their PP looks lost at times. I just don’t know they do use a play that worked over and over again last year.

        • OilersBro

          I always say EV scoring shows the skill of the player and PP scoring shows the ability of the system. Right now Looch has shown both at different times as an Oiler with his scoring last year. I like Lucic on the first line because of his ability to quickly move the puck off of the boards in his own zone to McDavid up the middle but now it’s time for Woodcroft to use him to his fullest potential. I don’t think it’s unrealistic for Lucic to have a career high in points playing on McDavid’s line and on a powerplay that was incredibly dynamic at times last year.
          I’ve been stoked with his play so far but if he starts getting points on the PP then he’s gonna exceed expectations greatly

      • OilersGM

        I agree and said that last year when the PP was struggling and it worked eventually when they went to it.
        Washington uses that play a lot when the options to Ovie is not available with Oshie being the trigger man and that’s why JP should be on the PP right shot that can one time it in the slot.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    So, if you make it to the playoffs it will be by the skin of your teeth but Connor doesn’t have the flu anymore and the locker room problems are solved.

    This could be the most legendary half-season you guys ever had.