The Oilers skate into the Pacific time zone for the first time tonight in San Jose, and they will be looking for a much more consistent effort than what they showed v. Calgary and Vegas. The great part of NHL hockey is teams rarely have to wait long for an opportunity to rebound from a bad performance.
Oilersnation waits anxiously to see which Oilers team shows up tonight. The one who started the season 7-4-1, or the team who has limped to a 1-6 record the past two weeks.
1. Both the Oilers and Sharks D corps have combined for six goals. The Oilers blueline has 35 points, while the Sharks have combined for 50 with Brent Burns leading the way with 22. Erik Karlsson has only one goal and 12 points thus far, but as we’ve seen in previous years he can ratchet things up as the season progresses. I think the Sharks top-three of Burns, Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic is the best in the NHL, and their entire D corps is very solid.
2. The Pacific Division has five of the eight worst point % teams in the NHL. The Kings, Vegas, Edmonton, Anaheim and Vancouver. San Jose and Calgary have separated themselves from the pack, but the third seed is wide open. The Oilers don’t have to be great to make the playoffs, they just need to be better than the other average teams in the Pacific. They ruined a chance to distance themselves from Vegas, and now this three-game road trip becomes even more important. The must avoid another “period” collapse tonight.
3. Connor McDavid has 99 goals in 229 games. He is poised to become the fifth player in Oilers history to score his 100th goal in 250 or fewer NHL games. He will join Wayne Gretzky (145 games), Glenn Anderson (183), Jari Kurri (214) and Mark Messier (250). He will pass Messier and become the fourth fastest to reach 100 goals.
4. If he scores a goal tonight, in his 230th NHL game, he will become the sixth fastest active player to reach 100 goals behind Alex Ovechkin (167), Steven Stamkos (194), Ilya Kovalchuk (209), Evgeni Malkin (210) and Sidney Crosby (219). He will tie Bobby Ryan (230).
5. Edmonton is 5-3-2 in their last ten games against the Sharks, but San Jose has won three in a row. In the insignificant-but-matters-to-me stat of the day, McDavid is a career-high +7 v. the Sharks.
6. Alex Chiasson has eight goals in 14 games with the Oilers. He is one of the best bargains at goal-per-dollar, with eight goals at $650,000. Brayden Point of Tampa Bay is the best with 14 goals, 26 points and a $686,000 cap hit. The Sharks Timo Meier is currently the second best value with 12 goals, 21 points and a $894,000 cap hit.
7. After allowing six PP goals in their first six games, the Sharks penalty kill has only surrendered one goal in their past 15 games. They were shorthanded 28 times in their first six games, but have only been shorthanded 36 times since. They are disciplined and their PK has almost been perfect since October 18th.
8. I don’t see a quick fix for the Oilers, but because the Pacific lacks three stand out teams they should be in the mix for the final Pacific playoff spot. I’ll be very surprised if four Pacific teams make the playoffs. I don’t see a significant trade happening, mainly because the Oilers don’t have a lot to offer, but also because their best chips are prospects and trading one of them for a rental would be the wrong move. Tyler Benson has 14 points in 13 games in his first season as a pro. He has been very solid, and could push for a roster spot next season. Caleb Jones is having a great season in Bakersfield. He moves the puck well, is quarterbacking the first powerplay unit and he has 11 points in 13 games. Much of the focus has been on Ethan Bear, because he played 18 games in Edmonton last season, but I’ve felt since the time they were drafted Jones was the better prospect. He had to mature and become a better professional off the ice, and he did that this summer. It would be great if both become NHLers, but I don’t think Jones is behind Bear in terms of development. Throw in Evan Bouchard and the Oilers have some young defenders who should be ready next year. The problem is they won’t help now.
9. I’m curious to see who Doug Wilson targets at the trade deadline. The Sharks have to be going for it. Martin Jones is struggling with an ugly .894sv% and 2.94 GAA despite being 9-5-1. Jones has been good in the playoffs with a .925sv% in 40 playoff games, but he has been very average early. Would Doug Wilson look to add a backup with more experience than Aaron Dell, or will they give Dell more games down the stretch? The Sharks could use another scorer, and I suspect Wilson will be looking to make a splash. The Sharks core is getting older, but their D corps is still in their prime. Expect Wilson to make a big move before the deadline.
10. The Sharks offensive leaders are Meier, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl. Hertl has 16 points in 16 games, but has missed the last two with an injury. He has been skating and could return tonight. Pavelski has 13 goals, but oddly only three assists thus far. Meier is really coming into his own at 21 years of age. He leads their forwards with 21 points including 12 goals while Couture has 20 points. If Hertl can’t go tonight, and Pete Deboer keeps the lines the same as the past few games, then we will see the Sharks top line of Pavelski-Couture-Meier likely go head-to-head with the McDavid line. It should be one heck of a battle.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 11/20/2018 – 7:00 am MT