Beginning tonight to the end of February, the Oilers play 27 of their next 32 games against Western Conference teams. In their first 31 games, they faced a Western Conference opponent eleven times, winning six and losing five.
They will play 21 of those games against teams they are trying to catch for either the wildcard spot or in their division like Los Angeles, Vegas, Anaheim, San Jose, Vancouver, Colorado, Chicago, Calgary and Minnesota.
Nashville currently has the best winning points percentage in the West, with 42 points in 30 games. It is highly unlikely they are a team the Oilers can catch, but tonight’s game is vital for the Oilers in their quest to climb up the standings.
The Oilers have underachieved at home and they can’t afford another feeble effort on home ice.
The Predators played last night in Vancouver. It wasn’t an overly taxing game, as they thumped the Canucks 7-1 and outshot them 48-26, but Pekka Rinne will not start tonight. The Oilers will likely face backup Juuse Saros. The odds say that is a better matchup as Saros has a .890sv% to Rinne’s .927, but after Curtis McElhinney shutout the Oilers on Sunday there is no guarantee facing Saros will be a cakewalk.
However, Rinne is 9-0 in his last nine starts with three shutouts versus the Oilers. Nashville didn’t skate this morning and there’s no word yet if Rinne plays. They haven’t played in back-to-back scenarios yet this season, so my gut says he won’t play, but I wonder if Rinne’s recent dominance over the Oilers might have head coach Peter Laviolette thinking twice.
Until the Oilers play well at home, it is fair to question which team will show up, because they have underperformed greatly in ten of their 14 home games. They played well against Calgary, New Jersey, Dallas and Vegas. The also defeated Arizona, but didn’t play very good that game. In their nine home losses they have really struggled.
They’ve been outscored 42-17 in those games. ON HOME ICE.
They allowed a powerplay goal in eight of those games. Washington never had a powerplay when they visited Edmonton or it likely would have been all nine. Those teams’ combined powerplay efficiency was 43.3%. They went 13 for 30. Seriously.
I know the PK has struggled, but good grief that is horrendous. Even in their five home wins they allowed four goals on 12 opportunities. The numbers are staggering, and if they can bring their road PK home then their home record will improve. There is no reason they are almost 24% worse on the PK at home, 59.5%, than they are on the road, 83%.
Eventually, they will improve, but it needs to start tonight, not next game. They can’t keep waiting until the next home game so to snap out of their funk.
Adam Larsson skated this morning and stayed out late with Drake Caggiula, Andrej Sekera, Eric Gryba, Nathan Walker and Nick Ellis for some extra conditioning. He came off the ice and said he was feeling better. They will not rush him back, because back injuries can be very finicky.
Talbot took a lot of shots and looked good. He is very close to returning. When he returns, Ellis will go to Bakersfield, but activating Larsson from the IR means the Oilers will need to make a roster move.
I don’t expect those lines to last very long, but that is what they rolled for the most part in Vancouver last night. Forsberg, Johansen and Arvidsson usually play together, but Johansen was out for three games prior to last night and Laviolette liked his new combos. I’m sure he will go back to that trio again soon.
The Oilers have to be leery of the Predators blueline. Subban and Josi have 20 points and Ekholm has 19. They can transport the puck, are excellent passers and they know when to join the rush. And they are all very good on the PP. Each has nine points. The Preds PP units are equally dangerous, but they are much better on home ice. They have 21 goals at home (35.6%) and nine on the road (16.4%), but with the Oilers PK struggles they can’t overlook any powerplay.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Nashville’s 26.3% power play conversion rate is 2nd best in the NHL. Edmonton’s 73.3% penalty kill percentage is WORST in the league. One easy way for Nashville to pour it on the Oilers tonight, is on the power play. The Predators were 1 for 4 last night on the power play.
Protect Rinne – Pekka Rinne is 6-3-1 in road starts this year. If the Predators defense can keep the shots to a minimum, and in low-danger areas, Rinne will have an easy night. Edmonton doesn’t have too many weapons, however, the ones they do have, are very good. There is a chance Juuse Saros starts tonight, but the Predators have not named their starting goalie yet.
Frustrate Edmonton’s Weapons – Edmonton lives and dies through Connor McDavid, Milan Lucic, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. When they are able to find time and space, and create shots, good things happen. When opponents make a point to shut them down, they have no other viable offense. If the Predators win tonight, it will be because they kept McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, and Lucic quiet.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: You can’t lose 10 out of 15 home games, can you? I guess it is possible, but the Oilers play well and skate away with a 4-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid has his 53rd career multi-point game.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Kris Russell scores. He has 41 career goals, but six have come against the Predators.
MONTH OF GIVING
Thanks to Shane and Darren for their great bids and to Chop Steakhouse and Urban Tavern for the fun packages.
Day 10: Furnace or AC Unit
There are two items up for grabs, and the winning bid can choose which one they want.
A-1 Heating will supply and install one high efficiency furnace or a Central Air Conditioning System.
This is what you get with the furnace:
- One Bryant Preferred Series 96% high efficiency 2-stage variable-speed Energy Star furnace
- All venting and materials to complete installation up to code
- All sheet metal modifications to maximize performance of new equipment.
- City permit and City inspection fees
- Removal and disposal of old furnace
- 2 year labour warranty
- 10 year parts warranty
- Lifetime heat exchanger warranty
This is what you get with the Air Conditioning System:
- One Bryant Preferred Series 16 Seer Central Air Conditioning System
- All electrical connections with outdoor safety disconnect
- Anti-vibration pad or wall brackets
- City permit and inspection fees
- 2 year labour warranty
- 10 year parts warranty
You will receive a site visit from one of their comfort advisers before installation to take measurements and determine proper size of Air Conditioning system/Furnace for your home and where it will be installed.
To bid you can call 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today. Thanks in advance for your bid. All proceeds will go to support The Christmas Bureau.