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GDB Game Notes: Flyers @ Oilers

Back-to-back games have not been kind to the Edmonton Oilers this season. This is their fourth set of BTB games and they are 2-4-1 thus far. They won in Nashville and Chicago on October 27th and 28th, lost in Washington and Tampa Bay on November 5th and 6th, then lost in Calgary and at home to Vegas on November 17th and 18th, and lost 5-4 in OT last night in Winnipeg.

Despite their struggles in BTB recently, a victory tonight would move the Oilers into second place in the Pacific Division with 39 points. They’d be tied with San Jose and Anaheim, but have the tiebreaker over both of them.

Their five losses in BTB games were to teams in the playoffs. Tonight’s opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers, are currently 25th in the NHL and without their best goalie.

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1. The Oilers battled hard against a more talented Jets team last night. Connor McDavid was an inch away from winning the game in OT, when he hammered one of the goal post moments before Josh Morrissey won the game. This won’t be an easy game by any stretch. The Flyers should have defeated Calgary on Wednesday night but blew a 5-3 lead in the final 70 seconds of the game.

2. Stolarz is making his sixth start of the season. He has a 3.80 GAA and .889Sv%. In his last four games, he has allowed 16 goals on 126 shots (.873sv%). His confidence, and the Flyers confidence in him, has to be fragile right now. Edmonton needs to go after him early and get him moving side to side.

3. I know many of you are thinking, “Gregs, the Oilers struggle against backups.” In the past yes, but here are the goalies the Oilers have lost to this season: Keith Kincaid, Jaroslav Halak, Jussi Saros, Matt Murray, Alex Stalock, Pheonix Copley, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Roberto Luongo, Semyon Varlamov, David Rittich, Marc-Andre Fleury, John Gibson, Cal Petersen, Anton Khudobin and Connor Hellebuyck.

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They have defeated Henrik Lundqvist, Hellebuyck, Halak, Holtby, Saros, Cam Ward twice, Jonathon Bernier, Antti Niemi, Martin Jones, Khudobin, Jonathon Quick, Fleury, Jake Allen, Devan Dubnyk, Rittich and Varlamov.

Rittich might be considered the backup due to fewer starts, but there is no debate he’s been the better goalie for Calgary. The Oilers haven’t been stoned by a backup who has played poorly all season, other than Copley and Stalock, who have been average at .902 and .904 respectively. The other backups have been solid: Rittich is 9-3-1 with a .921sv%,  Petersen has a .927sv%. Khudobin has been his usual steady backup with a .913sv%. Halak has started more games than Rask in Boston and he is second in the NHL with a .930sv%.

4. In previous seasons the Oilers have been stonewalled by backups, but like many other parts of their game this season they haven’t made a backup look all-world very often. Stolarz comes in as the shakiest goalie they have faced all season. They can’t afford to let him get comfortable.

5. Sticking with goalies, Mikko Koskinen has started eight of 12 games under Ken Hitchcock. He is 6-1-1 with a .936sv% and a 1.87 GAA, while Talbot is 2-1-1 with a .910sv% and 2.95 GAA. The starts illustrate who is the starter right now for the Oilers. If they remain at to 2:1 ratio, Talbot will start 16 games and Koskinen 32-34 over the final 50 games. That seems reasonable and we might even see it closer to 35 or 36 starts for Koskinen and 15 or 14 for Talbot. I believe Koskinen has taken the starters job. That doesn’t mean the Oilers won’t need Talbot. He has picked up five of a possible six points in his last three starts, and if you get type of point production from your backup then you should be ecstatic.

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6. Connor McDavid picked up his 300th career point last night. He is now 19th all-time in points for Edmonton with 301. He is on pace to score another 72 points this season and if he does he will finish the season 13th all time, ten points behind Jordan Eberle. By the end of next season it is very likely he will be eighth all-time, close to 480 points and trailing only Doug Weight (577), Ryan Smyth (631), Paul Coffey (669), Glenn Anderson (906), Mark Messier (1,034), Jari Kurri (1,043) and Wayne Gretzky (1,669).

7. McDavid became only the ninth player in NHL history to reach 300 points before his 22nd birthday, joining Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Dale Hawerchuk, Ron Francis, Jimmy Carson, Pierre Turgeon, and Steve Yzerman.

8. In 240 career games McDavid has 301 points (1.25 points-per-game). Evgeni Malkin is second in the past four seasons at 1.15 points per game, but Patrick Kane has the most points, 308, albeit in 38 more games played. Vancouver rookie Elias Patterson is averaging 1.18 points-per-game in his young 28 game career.

9. I’d guess we will see Caleb Jones make his NHL debut tonight. Jason Garrison only played 8:59 last night in Winnipeg, but he was +2. Chris Wideman played 11:07. Jones shoots left, but has been playing RD all season in the AHL. He can play both. Will they want him paired with a veteran like Garrison or have him play his natural side and skate with Wideman? I see him slotting in on the left side with Wideman.

10. The Flyers are 7-6-2 on the road. They’ve been outscored 58-51, but outshot opponents 476-471. Their special teams have struggled. The powerplay is 14.3% going 6-for-42, while their PK has allowed 15 goals on 53 kills for an ugly 71.3%. Meanwhile, the Oilers are 9-4-1, outscoring opponents 43-33, outshooting them 460-425. Their PP has struggled at home compared to the road. They are 23.4% on the road, but only 17.3% (8 of 46) on home ice. The PK has been steady at 80.5%, allowing seven goals on 36 opportunities. They have drawn 10 more penalties at home, while they are -9 in PP/PK ratio on the road.

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11. Koskinen is a perfect 6-0 at home, allowing only five goals in six starts for a sparkling .972SV% and 0.83 GAA. It made sense to start Talbot in Winnipeg and Koskinen at home tonight.

MONTH OF GIVING

Thank you to Emil for his wonderful bid on the Hughes package and for all of you who helped out in the Pyramid of Giving for Adopt-A-Teen.

DAY 10, Package #1: McDavid and Hockey

  • A signed Connor McDavid jersey
  • Pair of seats, row 22, to the Oilers game vs. Panthers on January 10th.

Package #2:

  • $1000 GC to use at any Liquor Depot
  • Twi bottles of Flat Bourbon Tennessee Whiskey
  • Pair of seats, row 23, to Oilers game vs. Blues on December 18th

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today. All proceeds will go to the M.E. Lazerte breakfast and lunch program.

GAME NOTES BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL

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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:


Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/14/2018 – 11:00 am MT



  • Bills Bills

    Keep it tight defensively and pounce on them offensively. This should be a win. They need to create seperation between them and Dallas/Minnisota as I doubt anyone else can catch them for a playoff spot. Games like this you can’t let slip away.

    • Dan 1919

      That’s just a click bait heading. Sure it’s interesting info… but there’s 56 other games that make up the schedule that you have to factor in before you can just declare who has the “easiest schedule.” I.e the Oilers road trip to start the year.

      • FlamesFan27

        Click bait? It’s from Oilers Nation. I realize that back to backs are not the only measure of a difficult schedule. But it’s the easiest thing to measure, and the team with the advantage on the back to back has a 63% better chance of winning according to what I heard on the Gregor show. The Oilers get a fairly weak team (there are no gimmes in the NHL) on their back to back night tonight, so it’s still a winnable game especially with Koskinen in net.

        • Jason Gregor

          The 63% was in reference to teams playing 3rd game in 4 nights…so tonight Philly is the team who has the 63% advantage cause Edm is playing 3rd in fourth… and they will be again in Vancouver on Sunday….but Canucks will be playing BTB that night, so I don’t think the 63% is as important in that type of game.

          • FlamesFan27

            Thanks for the clarification Jason. Do you know if there is any difference in 3 games in 4 nights if the pattern is play, play, break, play vs. play, break, play, play? When I caught your stat on the radio I was thinking about the Flames on back to backs last Sunday (the second pattern). It will be interesting to see how the Oilers respond tonight. The good thing is that they play a weaker opponent so they can probably roll with 4 lines and 6 defence (although that may be tough). Plus the Oilers are playing their best goalie tonight.

  • Abagofpucks

    This a team the Oilers can roll all 4 lines against, this is also a back up goalie that the Oilers can victimize up high. Mcd, Drai, and Nuge didn’t play big minutes last night, and i believe they will have enough in the tank to make life miserable for him. And the number 1 reason we can win this game is, Koskinen is well rested and lights out at home so far. But it still comes down to following Hitch’s plan, after all this team isn’t gonna roll over and play dead.
    GO OILERS GO

    • NoBuBlackOPS

      What’s better for the long term success of the team Bouchard on a ELC when he’s 19-22 or when he’s 20-23. For me it’s a very easy decision to have him on his ELC during his 20-23 years. More time to improve all facets of his game and one more year to pack on muscle and get more of his man strength.

    • Gary Chalmers

      He likely won’t, but that’s more of an indication of how great Gretzky was, not an indictment on McDavid. He’s not in his prime yet and doesn’t have a ton of help, I could see him finish number 2.

      • ziyan94

        also we need to consider how the training, equipment, and technology has advanced to help goalies be better than ever before. Goalies were pretty lousy back in Gretzky’s day compared to now

      • FlamesFan27

        I think if McDavid played in the 80s, he might even be better than Gretzky. Gretzky played in a wide open era, plus the 3rd and 4th line players Gretzky could double shift against were nowhere near as strong as the 3rd and 4th line players today. Gretzky had vision like no one, McDavid has speed like no one. Can you imagine McDavid against Jamie Macoun?

    • Bills Bills

      Actually he only need 1670 points to lead all Oilers. If he plays the next decade in Edmonton, I could certainly see him passing Gretzky on the Oilers points list.

  • Soccer Steve

    Is it just me or does anyone else see McDavid in a “slump” right now? I swear he could have a dozen more points than he already has now. I fully anticipate another giant surge from him and wouldn’t be surprised at 80 more points to his total. Rantanen is on borrowed time to cool down; his production is totally ridiculous.

      • I did, had great seats. About $25.00 back in the day. I remember the first time I saw him, he was a scrawny teenager, and I thought , you have to be kidding, this kid will never make it. Back then you could trust Oilers management, and boy was I wrong, only had to see him play a couple of shifts and you could tell he was going to be special. I think a beer was about $4.00 but you could get a flat for that back then (If you could make it to the ALCB store before 6 on Fridays as they were closed on weekends). Youngsters probably wont know what ALCB stand for. If you missed that it was offsales and pay through the nose.

      • Beer_League_Ringer

        I had the pleasure dozens of times. His level of play was bananas. However, I must say (era comparisons are pretty silly… BUT) If Connor played in the 80s, points born of his speed alone would be enough to rival Gretz’s points accrued via his vision, skill, and creativity. Connor would be able to skate around entire teams of slow-arse players. He’d have 12 breakaways a game (instead of the 1-3 he gets a game present day).

        • Spydyr

          Connor is fast but you could actually hit back then. Imagine Stevens catching Connor with his speed like he did Lindros, Kariya and many others.

          Connor would have needed his Semenko too.

          • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            Watch a few youtube videos of Byffy hits. Some lightweight named Gadzic gets tossed like a rag doll off a clean, no-elbows hit that makes you thankful it wasn’t your father being hit because you wouldn’t be born if it were.
            And Byff even seems to be laying off while Stevens was always trying to kill players and their extended families.

            I was fortunate enough to go to the first Oilers game in the NHL (3-3 against the Wings) and catch about 90% of the Gretzky era games. I’m convinced that players are better coached and conditioned today–to the point where the ideas that Gretzky had brought to the game (curl to look for the late man entering, use the office to attack, slick saucers, etc.) have been completely internalized by today’s player. Having said that, I don’t I’ve seen a player before or since with Gretzky’s hockey sense, IQ, whatever. The guy could think the game on the ice better than anyone, I’d say even Connor–as skilled as he is.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    4. I should be ecstatic.? Thanks. I will be.

    Or not?
    Talbot got us 5-6 points in his last three starts, really?
    Talbot?
    If the Oilers don’t score 4 last night-what does Talbot get you. Look at the goals scored and saves made against Jets: weak performance.

    His two wins before the Jets, the other four points you are referring to: were against the worst scoring team and the struggling Wild. The Oilers still had to score 3 to win.

    In the last 5 starts, Talbot is 2-3 with a 3.50 GAA against. He got lit up by Vegas, and the other loss was against the league’s worst Kings.

    What I was ecstatic about was Koskinen give the second highest scoring Flames a goose egg.
    That was goaltending to be ecstatic about.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Anyone else find McDavid played a slightly more emotional-on-edge game last night?

    — his 2nd penalty seemed out of character (he knows what he’s doing with his stick, and usually has great control )
    — the partial breakaway he had coming out of the box seemed to be a bit more showy (pretty much going one-handed), almost as if he had something he wanted to prove–he didn’t do his easy lay-up version of the shot.
    — The OT shot he took similarly looked like a “something to prove” shot where he was going to put the Jets down singlehandedly.
    There were a few smaller plays as well but overall I thought the Jets managed to get him off his game with their hitting and sometimes 4-on-1 checking.
    I hope that if Flyers try something similar there’s a pushback with a #27 written all over it.

  • Leichs

    Totally disagree with number 11. It was not a smart decision to play our backup against a high offense cup contender and our starter against a non playoff team struggling to win. We squeaked out a point which is nice but it would have been two with Kosk in net. Go oil regardless.

    • El Cid

      Yes this was a risky move putting Cannot in net but I would think it won’t happen again unless it is to rest our goalie. 1 point is good but to go to O.T. and lose it? Bye bye Cannot.