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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Game Day Quick Hits: Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings

Sports always seems to possess a feeling of, “what have you done for me lately.” Seven months ago Edmonton Oilers fans felt 2017 was one of the best years of their sporting-fan life. The Oilers were in the playoffs for the first time in eleven years, they won a round and then went to game-seven in the second round. Fast forward to today and Oilersnation doesn’t feel the same glee.

The Edmonton Oilers ended 2017 with a lifeless 5-0 loss against the Winnipeg ,and they sit in 13th place in the western conference with 42 games remaining. 2017 began with such promise for Oilers fans, but it ended in frustration. Will the frustration continue in 2018?

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1. The Oilers were quite good in December before the Christmas break. They were 7-3, but after a three-day Christmas break they finished the month 0-2-1 and surrendered 13 goals in three games. Their effort vs. Winnipeg on New Years Ever was non-existent, and it is fair to wonder if this group is capable of playing consistent hockey for the next three months.

2. The good news for Oilersnation is the Oilers play 23 of their final 43 games against the Pacific Division. The Oilers are 5-1 vs. the divisional foes so far this season. They are 12-18-3 against the rest of the NHL, and they will need to continue their domination within the division if they have any hope of staying in the playoff race.

3. The Oilers went 19-4 against the Pacific in the 2017 calendar year and were 13-1 on home ice. They have home games against LA, Anaheim, Calgary and Vancouver this month and road games in Arizona and Vegas. With only 10 games this month due to their bye week (Jan 14-19) and All-Star weekend, they can ill-afford any more heartless efforts like Sunday’s loss to Winnipeg.

4. The Kings, despite sitting 5th in the NHL, have been average against the Pacific this season at 4-4-3 and are 10-13-6 in their last 29. They are, however,19-7-2 against the rest of the league. The Kings missed the playoffs with only 86 points last season. They already have 51 and their resurgence is due to a healthy Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar having a good first half and Dustin Brown having one of the most surprising bounce-back seasons in recent memory.

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5. Brown’s last four seasons have not been good. He finished with 27, 27, 28 and 36 points. He looked slow and many felt his salary, five years, with a $5.875 million cap hit, would be an anchor for the Kings moving forward. But Brown fooled us all. He has 13-16-29 in 39 games and looks reborn. I was told he and Darryl Sutter weren’t on the same page, so that is part of it, but Brown is on pace for the best season, 61 points, of his career, and the most points since 2007/2008 when he scored 60. A new coach is likely part of it, but Brown looks much quicker, more decisive and he is playing regularly with Kopitar again. Without question his bounce-back season has to to be among the top-three, and number one for me, surprise individual performances of the first half.

6. The Kings allow the fewest goals, 91, in the NHL. They have the best PK in the league at 87.1%, allowing only 17 goals in 132 opportunities. Jonathan Quick has a ridiculous .920sv% while shorthanded. He’s only allowed 13 goals on 163 shots. His even strength SV% is .927.

7. The Oilers PK is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. They’ve allowed a league-worst 35 goals. They only allowed 43 last year. Cam Talbot’s SV% down a man is .810 having allowed 23 goals on 98 shots, but many of them he had no chance on due to some egregious mistakes in front of him. The penalty kill is not improving. It is actually getting worse. I started tracking it over seven games sequences in the middle of November.

Seven games between November 16th to 28th they allowed six goals on 22 kills. 72.7%
Seven games from November 30th to December 14th they allowed seven goals on 22 kills. 68.1%
Seven games from December 16th to December 31st they allowed six goals on 20 kills. 70%.

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We’ve seen no improvement in six weeks, in fact it got worse, which is amazing considering only four teams in the last 38 seasons have had a worse PK than the Oilers current status. The coaches have tried new players, altering the system and watching video and nothing is working. They should be past desperate and now is the time to bring in an outside consultant. Someone with a different voice, or more importantly, a different perspective. Jim Johnson’s message is not working. Something is amiss and if they don’t fix it soon the season will be lost.

8. The Oilers powerplay has become equally inept. In their past 19 games the PP is 6-for-50 and 12%. It has gone downhill after going 21.2% through the first 20 games. They are 25% over their last four games (2 for 8), so they likely will try and focus on that, but until they are 20% or better over ten consecutive games I won’t be convinced the PP is improving.

9. Connor McDavid’s quest for a second consecutive Art Ross trophy will be a challenge. He trails Nikita Kucherov by nine points. Kucherov scored the most points in 2017 calendar year, amassing 106 to McDavid’s 102. Patrick Kane and Blake Wheeler were tied for third with 90 while John Tavares was fifth with 88. If McDavid is going to catch Kucherov he will need to outscore him by 10 points over the next 43 games. It will be a challenge, but if the Oilers powerplay can wake up he’ll have a chance. McDavid had 74 EV points to Kucherov’s 65, while Kucherov produced 41 PP points to McDavid’s 24.

10. How bad is the Oilers PK? Since 2000 nine teams allowed fewer PP goals in a full season than the Oilers 35 allowed through 39 games this year.

In 2012 New Jersey allowed 27 PP goals.
In 2015 Carolina allowed 29.
The 2003 Devils, 2015 Wild and 2016 and 2017 Hurricanes allowed 32.
The 2012 Penguins and 2014 Sharks allowed 33.
The 2014 Rangers allowed 34.

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The Oilers are currently at 71.8%. If they go 80% (league average) the rest of the season they would finish at 75.5%. There is no point looking at the overall number for their PK. It will be terrible when the season ends, but at least they need to show some improvement. The past six weeks have been a tutorial in how not to kill a penalty.

The Oilers home PK, 56.1% (allowing 25 goals on 57 kills) is the worst the NHL’s seen in 40 years. The 1978 Washington Capitals were 66.7% at home. The Oilers are 10% worse than the worst team in the past 40 freaking years.

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Source:  Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 01/02/2018 – 10:30am MST



  • Spydyr

    Talbot has to come to play from the start. One of the biggest issues I see with the dynamic of this years team is no confidence in their goaltending. It is tough on a team when they don’t know when another iffy goal will go in.

      • Spydyr

        You right you can’t win unless you score but the whole team sags when you the goalie lets in weak goals especially early on or after a team has battled hard to get back into a game.

        To win on most nights you have to have the best goalie on the ice. The Oilers have not had that often this season and it shows in the standings.

    • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

      Hmm. Yes, Talbot hasn’t played as well this season, but it’s not on him. When you have an atrocious PP and PK like the Oilers do, you’re going to lose a lot of games. I don’t understand how they can be so bad on special teams when they were so good last year. It’s mystifying.

  • Natejax97

    Wonder how long into the game tonight before the Oilers pack up and mail it in? If LA scores early, this could get super ugly. Whoever thought Fallin for Dahlin was a real thing in Edmonton.

  • Leichs

    Meh not even a little bit excited. I will have it on my tv and glance over if things sound interesting but i wont let another loss impact me anymore. Hope for the best but i am expecting the worst.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I don’t disagree, you are bang-on..
      The problem I have is that I sound like a Leaf Fan, when talking about my Oiler’s,…
      I don’t know how long I can keep that up?

  • Roberto

    It’s a damn shame they didn’t change some or all coaching personelle earlier in the season, when there was still time to bounce back. Fallin for Dahlin, once again possible draft lotto, man that’s depressing.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Huge props to Gregor,…
    Keep the dream alive Jason…
    It must be draining?
    It’s the analytics that keep you positive, isn’t it?
    Because, aside from a few players, it’s certainly not a “what you see on the ice thing?”
    Unless of course the team all wants to play, then they are fun to follow.
    It’s just a crap-shoot in which game to watch…

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    I’m going to listen to the 630CHED broadcast just so i can follow the disgust of Bob’s voice as the Oilers struggle to score against the Kings. It’s kind of comical actually. I haven’t heard him so down in years. But maybe, just maybe, Bob will be able to show some surprise by the end of the game as the Oilers manage to pull out a win. Maybe.

  • Disappointed

    Jason, would you care to comment on this thought provoking post from ScottV yesterday. I’ll repost it for you, and I hope S dosen’t mind.

    Can’t help but think that there is a top down major gong show leadership thing going on, that is at the heart of the matter. Absentee – fan boy with a toy owner, a Hockey Canada President with no NHL experience, spurned but still hanging on guys like Lowe and MacT, throw in some Gretzky’s to blur things further, a perhaps controversial PC, an over rated McL, the youngest team Captain in the league and – well – this could be a real problem(s).

    It’s always leadership that is the problem whenever a group flounders. One of the clues specific to this current situation, is that none of the leaders are coming out to take responsibility. The only real public face of it all is McL and geez, is anybody else tired of listening to his [email protected] explanations for why things aren’t working? Guess what McL – it’s more to do with the leadership you are getting, your own coaching and that of your staff – than any player or players that aren’t executing. Take ownership. Your job is influence and if they aren’t doing what you want – it’s because of your inability to influence it. That being said – it goes beyond influence, because from day one, you haven’t given them the right stuff to operate with. Wrong stuff – questionable ability to influence and we have a problem. Even when winning last year – it all hinged on 2 young forwards on a roll and a goaltender who was able to stand on his head.

    In the clouds – one can probably imagine that PC is being pushed and pulled in all manner of directions, to the point – that he doesn’t know up from down. An owner that thought Yak was a good idea and didn’t have the stones to just clean house on Lowe and MacT. A President who’s claim to fame is a bunch of Team Canada medals? OK. Gretzky? C’mon – if you’re gonna bring in Gretzky, you might as well just hand the whole thing to him. Who’s gonna question what Gretzky says – rather right or wrong. PC? Man – all these guys in a room and I think you have the very picture of disjointed blurred leadership.

    We will never see it, but time for Katz to clear up the blur on leadership. You get enough guys in there with cloud factor, that they can all kind of hide in all them clouds. A major shake up in this area, would do more for on ice performance than any of McL’s next blender button pushes. Gotta find more offence….

    • Jason Gregor

      If you think MacT or Lowe have any say in direction of the NHL team you’re mistaken. Gretzky is an ambassador for the brand, and players absolutely love having him around. Just to speak to him. Nicholson was never brought in to run the Oilers. He runs OEG, the business, he has little say in scouting or signings, and why would he. He never was GM of Hockey Canada. He was President. There really is no blur on leadership. It is Chiarelli and McLellan. Feel free to critique them. Oilers downfall has been special teams. McLellan’s loyalty to his asst. coaches could be his demise if it doesn’t improve. People need to get over Lowe and MacT. Move on. They have nothing to do with how Chia built the team or how McLellan is coaching the team. That is the issue, blaming Lowe or MacT is just people complaining about things that have no relevance to what is happening with the team. When they won last year I didn’t hear people saying how Lowe and MacT were helping the team, so saying they are hurting it now makes little sense to me. Lowe works on business side. His main focus is that, not on ice hockey. That is Chia and McLellan.

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    One of the worst things to happen to the Oilers was winning in the first round of the playoffs last season and taking the Ducks all the way to Game 7 in round two. It gave the fans and Chia a false sense of security where Chia did nothing to improve the team in the off-season. This really sucks.

  • Soccer Steve

    The Buffalo game is seared into my head. I was listening to it on the radio thinking “this is it, this is the season.” Couple glimmers of hope since then but, man, I think we won’t make the playoffs. Really don’t want to be negative but this sucks.

    • DerpSolo

      Same here. I was actually at an oil kings game that night, and I shut it off because I couldn’t stand listening to it. Oil kings didn’t do much better tho

    • Hemmercules

      I counted them out in early December and then they pulled me back in with all that nice play before Christmas. I guess those 2 weeks were a mirage and now they are back to who they were to start the season. Points are slipping away quickly and a huge streak is the only thing that can save them now. One game at a time, can’t worry about the last one, just win the next one.

  • DerpSolo

    Does a 56% home pk, and a 71% overall pk not warrant the firing of Jim Johnson??? He’s literally setting a record for worst home pk in NHL history. I feel like any other team would’ve fired him and found someone else, but no, not oilers of course.

  • Oilman99

    2018 playoffs start tonight, no room to take anymore nights off. There is a dam good defensive minded coach that used be in Arizona that would sure help the PK, and be in the wings if a change was going to happen.

  • 40 Year Re-build

    It’s weird, but even if the Oilers miss playoffs, I really don’t want them to win the draft lottery. Missing playoffs after so many high expectations AND getting another 1st overall…. God that would just be too embarrassing.