GDB Game Notes: Predators @ Oilers

The Oilers are riding a three-game winning streak and will welcome last year’s President’s Trophy winners to town for their most difficult test thus far in the early season.

1. If the Oilers win tonight, they’ll stretch their winning streak to four games. That would tie their longest winning streak from the entire 2017-18 season. The 2017-18 Oilers won four in a row before Christmas, beating Minnesota, St. Louis, San Jose, and Montreal, to give us a little bit of a tease that the team was going to mount a mid-season comeback. That didn’t happen. After that four-game streak, they lost seven of their next eight games, effectively erasing the four wins in a row.

2. The Predators will be Edmonton’s biggest challenge of the season thus far. That’s not to dimish how difficult the Oilers’ schedule has been, but the Predators are pretty easily the best team in the league right now. They’ve beaten the Oilers in 12 games in a row and they’ve outscored Edmonton 37 to 15 over that stretch.

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3. Like I said, Edmonton’s schedule has been extremely difficult thus far, given their quality of opponents, travel schedule, and late home opener. That said, they’ve received a little bit of scheduling luck the past couple games. Tonight will represent the second time in a row the Oilers will face an opponent playing on the second leg of a back-to-back. The Bruins rolled into Calgary and lost on Wednesday before coming to Edmonton and losing again. The Predators were in Calgary last night and earned a 5-3 win and tonight’s game in Edmonton will be their first back-to-back of the season.

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4. Pekka Rinne left last night’s game in Calgary with an injury after colliding with a teammate. He allowed three goals on 18 shots, then Juuse Saros came into the game in relief and stopped all nine shots he faced for the win.

5. Saros has been Nashville’s goalie of the future for some time now. In 51 career NHL games as Rinne’s backup, Saros owns a .923 save percentage. It’ll be interesting to see how Nashville handles their goalie situation beyond this season. Rinne won the Vezina Trophy last season and has been largely excellent throughout his 13 seasons with the Predators. He’s also set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and he turns 36 years old in November.

6. Goaltending has been a key to Nashville’s success, but they’re the league’s best team for a variety of reasons. They rank fourth in goals against on the season and eighth in goals for. They have a loaded top-four blueline and a lethal top line. Much like with Boston, the Oilers will need to shut down the Predators’ top line to win this game.

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7. The trio of Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Filip Forsberg has been the heart of Nashville’s offence, as you’d expect. They’ve combined to score 10 goals through seven games and the line rarely gets scored on. That said, Nashville isn’t just a one-line team. The acquisition of Kyle Turris last season and the development of former first-round pick Kevin Fiala has given the team three lines that can score goals. Nashville has had 14 different players score at least one goal thus far while the Oilers have had just eight different goal scorers.

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8. Interestingly enough, as good as Nashville has been, they’ve done virtually all of their damage at even strength. Their power play is operating at a putrid 13.04 percent and they’ve only killed 72.22 percent of their penalties. The Oilers’ power play has been much, much, much better this year than last, so this is something they’ll need to use to their advantage this game.

9. The Oilers recalled Kevin Gravel to replace Matt Benning while he’s on the injured reserve. If Gravel plays well, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Oilers decide to waive Jason Garrison instead when Benning returns. Many have been calling for Ethan Bear to get the call in place of Benning, but I’m fairly certain the plan all along has been for Bear to come up from the AHL once Evan Bouchard returns to London at the end of his nine-game cup of coffee.

10. The Oilers are undefeated in home games this season when they skate out under the Walterdale Bridge. It was supposed to be a one-time thing, but if they lose tonight, they need to re-make it and skate out under the Walterdale for all of their home games because it’s clearly good luck.

Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 10/20/2018 – 9:00 am MT

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Big test tonight, possibly the biggest yet. It seems just like yesterday I was not even considering the press as a dangerous team to be taken seriously, yet here they are. We’re gonna need to be on our toes tonight. Cam was able to stave off Boston in the 1st period, not sure he can do it again against Nashville. We’re gonna need all 4 lines going and out defence needs be up to par.

    A tough game vs a tough opponent. One shift, one period at a time. Alleys get the W

  • OilCan2

    I think Bouchard stays for the season. We need depth at D. Unless PC pulls a rabbit out of his hat the solution has to be internal. Grab a W tonight boys,…..

  • hagar

    So frustrating we had to watch complete coaching incompetence on special teams all last year without common sense corrections even the most casual of arm chair coaches would easily made.
    The solution was to of course promote the problem internally, and after a complete season wasted, start fixing the problem.

    Anywho.. Lets go oilers!! I think they got it in them to win this one!

  • Serious Gord

    Looking at the schedule one wonders about how much vetting is done.

    The bruins came to EDM having played the night before in cgy. Now the preds are doing the same.

    Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have EDM be the first alberta team so as the prevent EDM getting the advantage both times?

    • Spydyr

      Wouldn’t have made more sense not having to start in Europe then wait two weeks for your home opener. Then have a murderer’s row of a schedule in October? I’m pretty sure the NHL schedule maker was harder on the Oilers than any other NHL team in October.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        The advantage is playing a team on the 2nd night of a B2B. Those examples from Gord are just that, and played in two consecutve home games for the Oilers. PITTS is playing games every 2nd day, so there is no advantage to either team.

        • Serious Gord

          A few years back I recall there was a bit of an issue with the fact that van got to play something like a dozen or more teams that had played the night before.

  • KMA

    I don’t care if they live under the bridge just as long as each player competes on every shift. If the Doctor and Quasimodo don’t keep their feet moving they are of no use to this team.

    • Ever the Optimist

      might not be a bad thing ….. if he is good as we hope then the long term contract should have a lower aav. Sometimes waiting a year to sign a contract for top talents end up hurting you.

      • Spydyr

        From an earlier article:

        Funny how people still think Bouchard might go back to junior after nine game. That is not going to happen. The teams defencive depth is too weak to replace him. Sad but true.

        • BringitbacklikeSlats

          Very probable based on need… agreed. The kid can play, and you can teach defence in most cases but hard to teach offensive instincts he clearly has.

          The situational analogy is the payday loans where you’re forever blowing portions of your paycheque just to get an early return because of debt. Oilers management under the man in the micron skates (ol 6 rings) never seemed to grasp the draft and develop model that so clearly worked for other teams ie. Detroit
          Chiarelli made some absolute dipshit mistakes that are hard to defend, yet I point the bulk of the blame at the OBC who are obviously still pulling triggers behind the scenes.
          It’s amazing to me how little talk there is of the Oilers not possessing a top pairing defenseman. Larsson and Klefbom are second pair Dman on a decent team, and arguably further down on contender since neither one of them possess a complete game. What Larsson lacks offensively, Klefbom exceeds in Defensive inability.
          With Sekera down and likely out, it’s a very good thing management decided to draft for need and take Bouchard… and likely even more important to this season is having Nurse emerging as an O weapon, and Russel rounding out that top 4.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      Yeah who saw that coming? My only issue is that his play has mostly been sheltered minutes on the 3rd line. Knowing this coaching staff, he’ll be in the top-4 by the end of the year

    • Cowbell_Feva

      I know this is reaching, and I could be completely letting my bias get ahold of me. But I thought Bouchard looked shakey and nervous to start the year in the NHL. But the past few games (the Boston game in particular), he looks like he might have found his confidence and is making plays with the puck. I’m hoping he keeps that up and starts getting his cannon of a shot off repeatedly like he did in Junior. He could be that sorely lacking Dman with a bomb and the ability to make good outlet passes and smart decisions with the puck on his stick.
      If he does, they don’t really have an option to send him down if he is progressing in the bigs!

  • oilredemption

    Oilers need to come out strong. Good teams that play back to back always come out guns a blazing. The oilers will need to weather the storm from the Preds.
    1st period: advantage team playing back to back.
    2nd peeiod: up for grabs depending if the b2b team hasn’t lit up the other team in the 1st
    3rd period: b2b is now tired. Time for the other team to own the game.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Bouchard looks like he might have found that same confidence he played with in Junior. That game against Boston he was making plays with the puck on his stick. I thought that was his best game for sure.

    Would love to see him bury a clapper tonight at home for his first! Goilers