“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.
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.
QUICK HITS BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL
Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.
Enter the Vegas Breakaway for a chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas and tickets to a Golden Knights game. Enter to win at atb.com/vegas
Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 12/14/2017 – 9:00am MST