The Oilers will try and bounce back from a pathetic performance against Buffalo on Tuesday night. Odds are they will, because they are playing a Pacific Division opponent. The one thing that has carried over from last season is the Oilers’ ability to beat division rivals. The Oilers are 9-2 against the Pacific this season after going 20-6-3 last year.
1.The Oilers have won six straight over the Flames, outscoring them 30-16. They’ve scored seven goals three times. The Flames lost 2-1 in OT to Los Angeles last night and will start their back up tonight. Will the Oilers waste another opportunity like they did on Tuesday or will they play with desperation and desire from the opening faceoffs? We’ll see.
2. Connor McDavid has nine goals and 14 points in nine career games versus the Flames. Calgary and Dallas (seven goals, four assists) are the only two teams McDavid has more goals than assists against in his career. He seems to enjoy playing the Flames.
3. David Rittich is expected to start in goal for the Flames and it will be his sixth career start. All six have come on the road. His only appearance on home ice came on December 2nd, 2017 when he started the third period with the Oilers leading the Flames 5-1. He allowed two goals on six shots, although one deflected in off his own D-man. The Oilers are playing a team on consecutive nights with their backup. Oilersnation has seen this movie before.
4. Mike Smith has started 41 of 48 games for the Flames and he’s been excellent, with a .926sv% and a 2.39 GAA. He will be joining McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau at the All-Star game in Tampa Bay this weekend. Smith is the main reason the Flames are in a playoff spot. They have allowed the seventh fewest goals in the league.
5. Gaudreau is having an excellent season as well. He is tied for fourth in league scoring with 56 points. Sean Monahan is second on the team with 43 points and Matthew Tkachuk is third with 32. Gaudreau has carried them offensively. They are in a playoff spot, but only 22nd in offence. If Smith ever falters the Flames could be in trouble, unless they get some secondary scoring soon.
6. Jack Eichel leads the NHL on being involved in his team’s offence. He is in on 44.5% of the Sabres goals. He has 49 points. Gaudreau is second at 42.4% (56 points on 132 goals) and McDavid is third at 40.7% (53 pts on 130 goals). Claude Giroux is fourth at 40%, Jakub Voracek is fifth at 39.2% and Nathan MacKinnon is sixth at 38.7%. The NHL’s leading scorer, Nikita Kucherov is at 36.3%, while John Tavares is at 34.1%. The Lightning and Islanders both have very productive second lines which is why Kucherov and Tavares, who are first and third in NHL scoring, are lower.
7. Dougie Hamilton was ninth among NHL D-men in scoring last year with 50 points, while Mark Giordano was tied for 24th with 39 and the Oilers Oscar Klefbom was tied for 32nd with 38. All three have dipped this year, but Klefbom has dropped the most. Hamilton and Giordano are currently tied at 34th among D-men with 22 points, while Klefbom is 99th with only 11 points. A nagging shoulder issue hampered him a bit, but Klefbom hasn’t been nearly as confident or effective offensively this season.
8. The Oilers have won six straight against the Flames. Cam Talbot has won four and Laurent Brossoit won two. The Oilers have been able to defeat the Flames regardless of who plays in net the past two seasons. Talbot has a 1.96 GAA and a .938SV% in his last four starts.
9. Magnus Paajarvi was placed on waivers today by St.Louis. He is a bottom six forward at this point of his career, but he can fly. He had 4th most PK minutes among Blues forwards. If I was Peter Chiarelli I’d consider him. I believe he will bring more than Iiro Pakarinen on the 4th line. The issue is it puts Oilers at 50 contracts. The Cameron Hebig contract counts, odd rule, so it isn’t great to grab Paajarvi to make him 50th, but I’d argue he’d be better than Pakarinen.
10. The Flames have the fifth best road PP in the NHL at 22.7%, but they are 28th on the PP at home at 13.5%. They are the exact opposite of the Oilers PK, which I know you are all aware is an NHL worst — in history, not just this season — at home, 54.2%, but is a league-best 86.6% on the road. The Oilers have allowed a powerplay goal in 13 of their past 14 home games. The only team not to score was the St. Louis Blues on December 21st, but the Blues only had one PP opportunity.
11. The Oilers have allowed a PP goal in 19 of 24 homes games. In the other five, twice they never took a penalty, twice they only took one and once they killed off four, versus Vegas on November 14th. If the Oilers take two or more penalties tonight there is a 95% chance the Flames will score a powerplay goal. Only once in 20 home starts have the Oilers not allowed a PP goals when taking two more more penalties. That will be hard for any NHL to match. Wow.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 01/25/2018 – 10:30am MST