“Gate 31A was Hawaii and gate 31B is Winnipeg…alright, going to Winnipeg.”
It was a classic line from a Fountain Tire commercial in 2005.
It obviously was a joke, since there is no airport in Winnipeg, but the Oilers are in Winnipeg and hoping to find some offence.
It is difficult to win when you only score five times in three game, but the good news for the Oilers is they’ve only allowed eight actual goals in three games (Boston and New Jersey each scored an empty net goal). The Oilers have only allowed five EV goals in three games — granted, they’ve only scored three at 5×5, but considering how bad they were at defending at 5×5 last season, the early low goals against total at 5×5 should be looked at as a positive. (On an unrelated note, the Arizona Coyotes haven’t scored one goal at 5×5 in four games. Unreal.)
But the Oilers lack of offence is a major concern right now. We did see some life from the third line in New York. The Ryan Strome-Drake Caggiula-Jesse Puljujarvi trio combined for seven shots, and were on for three other shots. Strome and Caggiula weren’t on the ice for any shots against. That is a dominant performance, but they need to find a way to bulge the twine to make it really matter.
Leon Draisaitl can do more. He is the leader of his line, and they go as he goes. He does have three points, which is good, but you’d like to see him be more of a consistent threat. He is capable of it, and needs to get going at even strength.
The Carolina Hurricanes dominated the Jets in Winnipeg on Sunday night. Former Oilers netminder Laurent Brossoit stood on his head, stopping 42 of 43 shots, including 32 in the first 40 minutes, before Patrik Laine scored on the PP early in the third and Bryan Little scored the winner with just over two minutes remaining. The Jets couldn’t handle the Hurricanes speed, and with Dustin Byfuglien scheduled to miss his second consecutive game, the Oilers need to use their speed more than we’ve seen. They are still struggling to move the puck quickly up ice, or move up ice as a close unit. When they do make a good outlet pass the forwards aren’t supporting one another, and it often leads to Edmonton dumping the puck in or losing possession.
The Jets are off to an average start, by their standards, but they have too much talent to see their offence struggle like it has for the past four games. The Oilers need to be on their toes in all three zones this evening, and ideally they do not want Connor McDavid tying or setting the NHL record for factoring in on seven consecutive team goals to start a season. We know McDavid is great, but if he breaks the record then the Oilers chances of winning are very slim.
Benning returns and will play with Garrison. I’m a bit surprised the coach changed a winning lineup. However, I do think it is smart to put Benning in the third pair where he is better suited right now. Putting players in positions they can handle and hopefully succeed in is wise.
Most importantly, the PK needs to be on their toes this evening otherwise the dangerous Jets powerplay will light up the Oilers.
Even without Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets top four is pretty solid. The Jets aren’t playing great hockey right now and with Big Buff out of the lineup the Oilers need to take advantage of his absence. The Oilers went 0-3 v. Winnipeg last season and were outclassed in two of those games.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Perhaps the biggest weapon the Oilers have had in the past is no longer with the team. Mark Letestu was a well known Jet killer during his time in Edmonton. In fact, over his career, he recorded more goals against Winnipeg than any other team in the league. If there is any time Oilers fans might still want Letestu, it’s tonight in Winnipeg.
As mentioned above, the Oilers have only played three games so far this season. It’s a tough schedule quirk as they are near the bottom of the league standings almost entirely because of the schedule. Granted, if the Oilers had won three straight, nobody would be using this as an excuse…
Game Day Prediction: I don’t see a .500 trip. The Oilers score three goals, but lose 4-3.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Jets score on the powerplay.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: McDavid picks up points on the Oilers first two goals to tie Adam Oates’ NHL record of getting a point on his team’s first seven goals of the season, but he doesn’t break the record as Ryan Strome, flanked by his linemates, scores the Oilers third goal.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 10/15/2018 – 11:30 am MT