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GDB Game Day Notes: Golden Knights @ Oilers

The Vegas Golden Knights are riding their five-game winning streak into Edmonton for their second game against the Oilers in as many weeks. Here are your game day notes.

1. After a slow start to the season, the Golden Knights have hit their stride. They’re riding a five-game winning streak and they’ve won six of their past seven games. All of that started a couple weeks ago with that big 6-3 win over the Oilers in Edmonton. During this hot stretch, Vegas put up commanding 2-0, 6-0, and 8-3 wins over Calgary, San Jose, and Chicago.

2. Beating Vegas is very important for the Oilers. The Golden Knights are going to be one of those teams the Oilers need to jump over in order to earn a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. Right now, it looks like Calgary, San Jose, Vegas, Anaheim, and Edmonton are the teams in that mix as the Canucks have predictably collapsed and the Coyotes haven’t taken the step forward many expected.

3. Speaking of success within the division, the Golden Knights have been Pacific killers so far this year. They’re 7-1-1 against Pacific teams with their only losses coming in a shelling by Calgary and a shootout loss to the Flames. The Oilers, on the other hand, are 2-3-1 against the Pacific. That’s a tiny sample size, but they need to be beating teams like Vegas and Anaheim who they’re trying to jump over to get into the playoffs.

4. It isn’t overly surprising to see the Golden Knights pull themselves together. I think we all expected a regression from last year’s shocking, magical season, but Vegas’ roster was always good enough to fight for the playoffs this year. The last time I did Game Day Notes for Vegas and Edmonton, the Golden Knights were 8-11-1. A big part of that was their poor team shooting percentage of 7.2 percent. Again, they weren’t going to score on every tenth shot like they did last year, but they also weren’t going to shoot at 7.2 percent all year either.

5. The Golden Knights weren’t as bad as their record indicated over the first quarter of the season. As I said, their percentages were poor and they were inevitably going to regress back to normal. All season the Golden Knights have been one of the better teams in the league in terms of shot differential and that generally tends to tell us who the good and bad teams are as time goes along. At this stage, only one Golden Knight has a shot attempt differential below 50 percent, and it’s shutdown centre, Cody Eakin.

6. I have a feeling that getting Nate Schmidt back was a big boost for the Golden Knights. He was their No. 1 defender last season and he had to sit out the first 20 games of the season due to a performance-enhancing drug suspension. Though he only has one point since returning, Schmidt has logged a team-leading 21:25 minutes per game with a strong 56.5 percent shot attempt differential. Getting a key player back in the mix can do wonders for a team’s morale.

7. Another big driving factor behind Vegas’ turnaround has been Max Pacioretty returning to form. After scoring two goals and four points in his first 16 games with the Golden Knights this year, Pacioretty has found himself in his new home. He has eight goals and 11 points in his last seven games dating back to that win in Edmonton when he busted a seven-game goal drought. After a slow start, he’s now tied for the team lead in goals with 10.

8. Heading into the game against the Oilers a couple weeks ago, Marc-Andre Fleury owned a .901 save percentage. He started all six of Vegas’ wins in their past seven games (their only loss in that stretch came when Malcolm Subban got slammed in Calgary) and posted a .937 save percentage in that stretch. Fleury is now up to a .911 save percentage on the season and he looks much more like the goalie he did last season.

9. I wonder where Valentin Zykov best fits into the Oilers lineup. The top-six looks good right now, with Alex Chiasson scoring on every second shot on the top line and Drake Caggiula and Jesse Puljujarvi providing speed on the second line. The Identity Line obviously isn’t going to be touched, so that would leave Zykov on the fourth line with some combination of him, Ty Rattie, JJ Khaira, and Ryan Spooner. I imagine Zykov will battle Rattie for minutes and Khaira will be the centre on that line. Once Tobias Rieder comes back, though, it’s anyone’s guess.

10. Mikko Koskinen will start his third game in a row for the Oilers. Since he replaced Cam Talbot in net mid-way through that loss to Colorado in November, Koskinen owns a .931 save percentage. There’s no doubt he has the net for now as the Oilers will (and should) ride his hot hand. While Talbot has had a rough go, I certainly wouldn’t just throw him to the wayside. He’s still a good goalie and, as he demonstrated from the bench on Thursday, he’s a great teammate. When Oscar Klefbom scored the go-ahead goal, Talbot was extremely fired up on the bench. He isn’t sitting there pouting that he’s lost his starter’s gig. That’s exactly the type of player you want for your goalie tandem.

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From peewee to the pros, Albertans loves the atmosphere, energy, and life lessons that take place at rinks across the province. And where there’s an arena, you’ll find an ATB branch nearby—with our team members cheering and fundraising along with you. See more information at ATB.com.


Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/01/2018 – 7:00 am MT

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Man this filter drives me nuts, trolls comments appear regularly whether we like it or not, regular posters, your comments are a crap shoot if they get by the filter…very very weird

  • Homer

    So as a team we can’t score a goal to save our lives unless it’s scored by CM, LD, RNH or Chaisson( what a find!) but we let Pontus Aberg go? Is this another sign of poor coaching or is mgmt that inept that we can’t identify talent within our own organization? He has 7 goals and 11 points in 22 games but couldn’t find traction here?

    • The future never comes

      Todd didnt like him dating back to when he missed that practice last year, the rumour was due to “partying”. After that incident he never got a fair shot and was thrown away. Another example of Todd’s ego getting in the way of finding the right personnel.

    • chezzychez

      Ponty was bad in pre-season. Was out out played by a number of players (including the 18yr old Ryan Mcleod and a couple more guys playing in Bakersfield). He definitely didn’t earn a spot on this team.

    • El Cid

      Kneedroptalbot
      19 HOURS AGO
      TRASH IT! 1
      CHEERS 20
      REPLY
      It’s Official, right off Wikipedia:
      “Mikko Koskinen (born 18 July 1988) is a Finnish professional ice hockey goaltender currently holding the starting position for the Edmonton Oilers in the National Hockey League (NHL)”.

  • chezzychez

    Not sure if Zykov will be ready for tonight but I’d like to see Zykov/Khaira/Rattie on the 4th line tonight. Let McD double shift and have some time back with Rattie and the new guy. Let Spooner sit and soak the game up from the press box for a game or two.

  • El Cid

    Check the write up on the Oilers rig .com about Chia. I know he is a bad GM but to sit and read the transactions he has made more people than Chia should be fired!

  • Spydyr

    So Talbot is happy and a good guy on the bench. He is sitting on the bench making 4 million per, tough gig. He should be fired up and pi$$ed of he lost the starters job and saying he will work he hardest to earn it back.

      • El Cid

        Talbot has been a washout from the very start. Cam could only put parts of seasons together and NO he did not win the the Vezina and yes he lost the Oiler’s the Duck’s series. The next GM should only offer Talbot a PTO or 1M 2 way contract. This current A-h#le has Montoya playing games infront of prospects. Chia could have kept Nillson and had something resembling a goalie but NO!