For the second time this week, the Oilers will look to work their way through another pair of back-to-back games while also trying to get themselves back into the win column. Part one of that two-game set kicks off today at noon with the second meeting of the season against the Florida Panthers.
What is it about the Oilers and matinees this season? By my count, today’s game marks the 10th time this season that they’ve played in the afternoon and, aside from being a bit strange that they’re playing so many in the first place, the boys haven’t had a whole lot of success (2-7 record). I don’t know why the schedule makers felt the need to make us suffer in the daylight so often this year but it’s not cool and they should beware of the karma bestowed by the Hockey Gords because of it. On the bright side, these day games give us all an excuse to drink enough coffee and Baileys to get a little bit tipsy before it would generally be considered socially acceptable to start getting wasted.
Schedule complaints aside, this is a game that the Oilers can win but they’re going to have to do a better job of limiting their turnovers than they have been, something that killed them in Wednesday night’s loss to the San Jose Sharks. The Oilers grabbed the lead three separate times against the Sharks but couldn’t manage to hang on as the mistakes they made, generally avoidable turnovers, were glaring and costly. So what does that mean for today’s game? The boys need to lock it up. The Florida Panthers are playing like straight fire right now, and it would be in the Oilers’ best interest to play a simple, detail oriented game. Going up against a team as hot as the Panthers are right leaves no room for charity goals, something the Oilers have been giving up all over the place in this current losing streak.
If they want the two points then they’re going to need to stop shooting themselves in the foot. Winning in the NHL is hard enough as it is without gifting the opponent all kinds of chances and possession time.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
- The rollercoaster ride continues for the Oilers as they’ve continued the trend of winning some games and then replacing them with losses. After winning three-straight against the Rangers, Coyotes, and Islanders respectively, they’ve not dropped two in a row with some up and down efforts against the Flames and Sharks. Will the 3x3x3 trend continue?
- The Oilers have allowed only four power play goals in 41 opportunities against over their last 15 games. That’s the kind of PK success that may have saved their season had we seen it all year, but I guess it’s better late than never, right? Maybe? Bah.
- Looking at the fancy stats over at Corsica, the Oilers’ 51.36 CF% has fallen lately and sees them dropping out of the top five-six teams where they’ve generally been slotted for most of the year. On the flip side, Florida’s 49.63 CF% seems them in the bottom half of the league standings in terms of shot generation. Strange considering the team records, right? At face value, this means the Oilers are generating more shot attempts than the Panthers but aren’t cashing in as many goals. Why? It could come down to shooting percentage. Edmonton’s shooting% (8.13%) is a half point lower than what’s happening in Florida (8.78%).
- Connor McDavid is on an absolute heater right now and there’s no way that he should be stepping away from the table. In his last 13GP, he’s put up 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points. Coming into tonight’s contest, McDavid is tied for third in the league with 86 points (33G, 53A) and five behind the first place Kucherov. There’s no doubt that he should be in the conversation for the Hart Trophy but the Oilers’ horrible season will likely knock him out of contention.
- Milan Lucic will play his 800th game today. A fun coincidence about this milestone is that yesterday was the 12th anniversary of the Sergei Samsonov trade that saw the Oilers send Marty Reasoner, Yann Statsny, and a 2nd round pick to the Boston Bruins in return for the skilled Russian. That second round pick was used to draft Milan Lucic.
- Since February, the Panthers have been one of the league’s hottest teams. Over their last 10 games, they’re sporting a very impressive 8-1-1 record and have been putting up goals like crazy, outscoring their opponents 39-24. Again, the Oilers are going to need to limit their turnovers and make sure their d-zone coverage is dialled in if they plan on winning. If they don’t, this could be a tough afternoon.
- Looking for silver linings? Well, the Oilers have won eight straight road games against the Panthers dating back to March 8th, 2002. Will the good times keep rolling? We shall see.
These are the line combos from yesterday’s practice but I don’t know how much they’ll mean when the puck drops. According to Jack Michaels, Todd McLellan said not to look too much into these combos so it’s still unclear what they will actually run with, but I will be sure to update as news comes out.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Whether it’s a bad start to a game or period, allowing your opponent to score in the opening minute isn’t a recipe for success. If anything, it’s a recipe for disaster.
We can go on and find many other examples, but the point has been proven that good hockey teams don’t continuously start flat-footed in games or periods. It only sets you up for failure as you’re starting a step behind, forcing you to catch up. Not every team has the luxury of talent to simply catch up from a poor start.
Especially this team, considering the lack of depth we have upfront, the Cats just can’t afford to constantly start behind the eight-ball.
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers and Panthers put up 12 goals in their first meeting of the season so I’m predicting the complete opposite for today’s game. Fortunately, the Oilers come out on top with a 2-1 OT win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Many of you will forget that the hockey game started at noon and will only turn on the TV in the third period.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Mike Cammalleri hasn’t scored a goal in 200 years but that drought ends today as the Panthers score a goal on their own next with Camo Larry being the last Oiler to touch the puck.
Take home a growler, a crowler, a sixer, a mixer, whatever. Sherbrooke Liquor. Where’s Your Beer?
Source: Edmonton Oilers, Official Game Page, 13/17/2018 – 10:00 am MST