The Oilers play their final game against Dallas this season Saturday afternoon. Edmonton won 5-4 the first time, but lost 6-3 in their second meeting, a game where the Oilers gave up four consecutive goals to lose a 3-2 lead.
1. Dallas is an encouraging story for the Oilers and their fans. They lost in the second round in 2015-16, then plummeted from 106 points that season to 79 points the next. Goaltending and defence was a problem. They added Ben Bishop, Marc Methot, Alex Radulov, Martin Hanzal, and Tyler Pitlick. They’re 23-16-3 and in a playoff spot.
2. John Klingberg has been incredible this season. He plays over 23 minutes a game and on pace for 70 points. His cap hit is only $4.25 million, with four more years on his contract. That’s a great deal. Klingberg and Esa Lindell are a big reason why they’re in a playoff position this year.
3. While the Klingberg-Lindell pairing is fantastic, the Stars defence is still a work in progress. Dan Hamhuis and Marc Methot are reliable veterans, but Greg Pateryn is on the second pairing and fourth in average ice time per game. Luckily their third-overall pick in 2017, Miro Heiskanen, is having a fantastic season in Finland.
4. Both Martin Hanzal and Jason Spezza are playing the lowest amount in their careers. Hanzal has six points in 26 games after signing a three-year deal last summer. Spezza’s doing a little better. He has 16 points in 41 games, but he’s playing 13:35 a game. Spezza’s name was in trade rumours earlier this season, so I wonder if he’ll get moved to a team that needs a centre. Spezza is signed for another year after this one at $7.5 million, which might make a move difficult.
5. The Oilers are 5-4-1 in their last 10. That’s positive, but the damage is done at this point in the season. They have 39 points through 41 games and that’s just not good enough. Edmonton would need a historic run to make the playoffs. It’s hard to write off a team with Connor McDavid, but they need to go something like 26-10-6 to get 95 points.
6. Former Oiler Tyler Pitlick is having a good season. He has career-high in both points and games played, with 15 points and 40 games. I don’t think the Oilers made a mistake in not signing him. His injuries were a real concern and I’m surprised he got a three-year contract from Dallas. It’s a nice story, but this isn’t a player the Oilers missed on.
7. Tyler Seguin got his first shorthanded goal of his career, and life, according to the Stars’ centre. Both Seguin and Jamie Benn kill penalties for Dallas. I always thought skilled players are under-utilized on the penalty kill. Of course there’s a concern with injuries, the Oilers had Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid hurt on the penalty kill in the past, but they’re your best players. The Oilers have all of their centres killing penalties, but badly need some skilled wingers that can chip in too.
8. Todd McLellan said they want Laurent Brossoit to get some work in and Cam Talbot will start the majority of the way, so in comes Al Montoya. Talbot’s their starting goalie, but how many games can they start him the rest of the way? The Oilers only have three sets of back-to-back games, including this weekend against Dallas and Chicago, so Talbot could play over 65 games in a season again. But why? They’re in such a huge hole and Talbot had an incredible workload the previous season. Might as well give Talbot some rest with Montoya here.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 01/06/2018 – 8:00am MST