My friends, it’s the last game of 2017 and we’ve got a grudge match on our hands, as the Oilers will look to avenge their loss to the Jets from five days ago.
In their first games back from the Christmas break, the Oilers and Jets matched up in what was a spirited game that was full of mistakes and sloppy puck management. Unfortunately for our boys in orange, too many of those mistakes ended up in the back of the net, creating a hole that was just too deep to crawl out of. Despite playing well, the Oilers had to look for silver linings rather than points on the board and that’s a bad ending when you’re on the outside looking in. There were plenty of positives to take away from that game, but moral victories don’t pay the bills and rent is due.
Coming into tonight’s game, Edmonton needed to find a way to mostly keep doing what they have been while also limiting the mistakes and giveaways they’re making at both blue lines. From where I blog, the Oilers are their own worst enemy as their puck donations and defensive zone miscues are giving their opponents far more chances than they deserve. If they can tighten that stuff up and stick with their game plan, the Oilers will get right back to piling up wins. If they can’t do that, goodwill from that four-game winning streak could disappear in flash.
Not only is tonight’s game the last of 2017, it could also be one of the most important. If the Oilers truly plan on climbing back into playoff contention then they’re going to have to start cashing in good efforts, and not letting them evaporate into moral victory territory.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
- Looking at the special teams, again, the Oilers would be smart to try and stay out of the penalty box. The Jets power play has cooled over the past few games but they’re still sitting in 4th place in the NHL with a 23.2% success rate. It goes without saying, the Oilers and their horrible 72.7% PK matching up against a lethal power play doesn’t exactly give you warm and fuzzies.
- On the other side of the coin, Winnipeg’s PK (80.4%) has improved a little bit since these teams last met, though it’s still an area that they’re looking to improve. Meanwhile, the Oilers scored a power play goal against Chicago and will look to keep that momentum going. Coming into today’s game, the Oilers 17.3% success rate with the man advantage has them sitting in 21st place in the NHL.
- Looking at goal differential, Winnipeg scores a lot and their +19 (129GF, 110GA) shows exactly that. As a comparison, the Oilers have improved over the last month or so but are still in the red with a -7 (114GF, 121GA).
- According to the fancies, the Oilers continue to maintain their place in the NHL’s top-three teams for CF%. Their 53.1% Corsi For Percentage ranks third in the NHL as they continue to get an abundance of shot attempts on a nightly basis. But as we’ve seen all year, the tricky part is not just getting shots on net but also figuring out how to get them in the back of the net.
No lineup news has been released yet so I’m just running with the lines that the Oilers used against Chicago. I’ll be sure to update things as news comes out.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The Jets came back from the Christmas break and played in a wildly entertaining game against the Edmonton Oilers that they ended up winning 4-3, but in the process lost forward Mark Scheifele for the next two months after he fell awkwardly into the boards. The Jets now will bump Mathieu Perreault up to the top line (where he kind of belongs if we’re being honest) while Paul Maurice will insert Shawn Matthias into the fourth line. Don’t be surprised if the lines you see to start the game tonight don’t remain the same as Maurice will likely try out a few different line combos.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: After falling to the Jets five days ago, the Oilers tighten up their defensive play, capitalize on two power play chances, and close out 2017 with a 4-3 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor McDavid will dance through the Jets on multiple occasions. During those dismantlings, he will get hacked, held, and slashed multiple times before drawing a single penalty.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers kill off all of their penalties… in a home game. Seriously.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/31/2017 – 12:00pm MST