Ryan Strome scored the game winner in Colorado on Sunday. It was his first goal in 23 games. “Maybe it will get the piano off my back,” he said post-game.
Strome wasn’t the only Oilers carrying a piano, or monkey, on his back. Many Oilers are struggling through a goal-scoring slump.
1. It is amazing how many Oilers currently have a double-digit goal drought.
Yohann Auvitu hasn’t scored in ten games.
Jesse Puljujarvi is at eleven games.
Darnell Nurse sits at 12 games.
Adam Larsson is goalless in 18 games. So is Andrej Sekera, who is currently on the IR.
Mike Cammalleri hasn’t scored in 20 games.
Milan Lucic’s streak is at 22.
Mark Letestu has played 23 without a goal.
Matt Benning hasn’t lit the lamp in 25 games.
Oscar Klefbom hasn’t scored in 26 games.
2. It isn’t abnormal for D-men to go long stretches without a goal. Prior to this 25-game drought, however, Benning scored a goal once every 13 games. Klefbom averages a goal every ten games. But it is odd to have so many players slumping at the same time.
3. Strome has one goal in 23 games, Jujhar Khaira has one in 21 and Iiro Pakarinen has one in 24. Kris Russell has one goal in 17 games. Patrick Maroon has one in eleven games. He averages a goal every 4.8 games in his NHL career.
4. The list of players who are scoring recently is much shorter. Connor McDavid has eleven goals in nine games. Leon Draisaitl has five in his last eight. Zack Kassian has three goals in nine games. Brandon Davidson has three in ten games, Drake Caggiula has three in his last 12 games and Anton Slepyshev has two goals in his past six games. As I mentioned before, you will always have some players on a bit of a drought, but many are hoping they can follow in the skates of Strome and end their slumps.
5. There has been a lot of talk about the Oilers needing more offence, but I think their defensive zone coverage has been a bigger problem. The Oilers are 10th in the NHL in 5×5 goals, but they are 20th in goals allowed. Last season they finished 9th in 5×5 goals allowed and were 8th in goal scored at 5×5. Their powerplay hasn’t been nearly as good, which is why they are 23rd overall in goals scored, but on top of a bad penalty kill, their 5×5 team defence hasn’t been good enough from the goalie out to the forwards.
6. The Boston Bruins have been the best team in the NHL since November 1st, going 32-10-5 and outscoring teams 155-106. They are currently 3rd in the NHL with 80 points, trailing Tampa Bay (81) and Vegas (82), but the Bruins have played 57 games while Vegas and Tampa have played 59. The Bruins are especially good at 5×5, outscoring the opposition 120-86.
7. The Bruins have been on fire despite Brad Marchand missing 13 games since November 1st. He’s been injured twice and suspended once. Marchand has 55 points in 44 games and is second in the NHL in points-per-game at 1.25, trailing only Nikita Kucherov (1.30). Marchand has become a really good offensive player, and while he still crosses the line with his cheap shots, he’s a major piece of the Bruins’ success. Not only is he good offensively, he’s really improved his defensive play as well.
8. On February 6th I wrote how I’d track the Oilers in seven-game stretches the rest of the season. I felt the previous seven-game stretch would be their most difficult, with six road games, and it turned out it was. The Oilers went 1-6 and were outscored 18-28. Their PP was 7.7% scoring once in 13 tries, while the PK allowed five goals on 19 kills (73.7%). One area they were good was in the faceoff dot going 53.8% as a team. Leon Draisaitl was 57.4% (70-52), Mark Letestu was 58.8% (50-35) and Jujhar Khaira was 54.9% (28-23). The Oilers were 25-14 in the dot on the PK, which is really impressive, but they still allowed five PK goals. Faceoffs aren’t the reason the PK stinks.
9. I wrote it almost four years ago and I still believe it today: Jonathan Toews’ contract was going to hurt the Chicago Blackhawks. In the 2 1/2 years of his $10.5 million contract, Toews is 48th in points with 65-91-156 in 211 games. Patrice Bergeron has played 210 games and has scored 80-92-172. Bergeron makes $6.875 million. He produces more than Toews and based on his Selke trophies, he is considered a better defensive centre. Toews is a good player, no question, but at some point NHL GMs need to realize they can’t play players for what they did, they need to pay them for what they are going to do moving forward.
10. Bergeron is a very good player, but let’s not get carried away into thinking he should be a Hart Trophy finalist. He has 52 points in 52 games and is a great two-way player, no question, but that doesn’t make him a Hart Trophy candidate. His linemate, Marchand, has 55 points in 44 games. I’d take Bergeron on my team in a heartbeat. He’s an exceptional player and he is good with and without the puck, but I don’t see him being a top-five candidate for the Hart.
QUICK HITS BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL
Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.
Enter the Vegas Breakaway for a chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas and tickets to a Golden Knights game. Enter to win at atb.com/vegas
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- GDB 56.0: Oilers and Golden Knights’ role reversal
- Lucic on 19-game drought, speed of the game and more
- GDB 55.0: In need of a save
- Stop the Insanity on Draisaitl trade talk
- GDB 53.0: Rekindling the Rivalry
- Hockey Heroes: A Journey to Canada
Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 02/20/2018 – 10:00am MST