The Pacific Division just keeps winning. The Anaheim Ducks won again last night in Pittsburgh to improve to 11-2 since the Oilers hired Ken Hitchcock. The Calgary Flames are 10-2-1 in that time, while Vegas is 10-4 after a 1-0 loss in Columbus last night. The Edmonton Oilers have played quite well and are 9-3-1 with Hitchcock on the bench, but despite a solid record, they’ve actually lost a bit of ground on all three Pacific Division foes since November 20th. They did, however, gain ground on San Jose who went 7-4-2.
Things change fast in the NHL. In early November the Central Division looked the like dominant division in the Western Conference, but after a resurgence by the Pacific Division during the past three weeks there are now five Pacific teams holding down playoff spots in the West.
1. Playoff races are great, and with the parity of today’s NHL the race pretty much starts on November 1st nowadays. Edmonton holds down the final wildcard spot heading into action against the Blues tonight. They are one point back of Vegas, with two games in hand, two points back of San Jose and four back of the Ducks, with a game in hand. The Oilers, like their rivals, won’t continue to win nine, ten or eleven games out of 13, but right now no one wants to be the team who cracks first.
2. The Oilers didn’t play poorly in Vancouver, they just couldn’t stop the Canucks PP. The Oilers PK was actually trending upwards prior to that game, but one tough game on the PK, when you allow three goals, and all the hard work during eight previous (88%) games can be erased quickly, at least percentage-wise. Edmonton did outscore the Canucks 2-0 at 5×5, and if they continue to do that their chances of winning games will remain high. It was also the Oilers third game in four nights and as Darcy McLeod pointed out a few years ago, the team playing their third game in four nights only wins 37% of the time.
3. It was only two games, but the Oilers managed a meagre 22 shots against Philly and Vancouver. They scored five times at 5×5, which is excellent production on limited shots, but I’d expect them to generate more shots tonight. In their previous ten games they averaged 31 shots/game so look for them to get more pucks on goal tonight, especially against the shaky Blues goaltending. The Blues have allowed 19 goals over the past four games on 117 shots for an ugly .837 SV%.
4. Despite allowing 19 goals, the Blues did manage to win two of those games. They got spanked 6-1 by Vancouver before defeating Florida and Colorado by identical 4-3 scores and then Calgary waxed them 7-2 on Sunday afternoon. Edmonton would love to mirror their Canadian counterparts.
5. The Oilers have done a decent job avoiding long losing streaks this season. They’ve had one bad stretch where they went 1-6, but outside of that they only lost back-to-back in regulation in their first two games of the season. Eventually they will likely lose two games in a row again this season, but ideally you don’t want the second one to occur against the 28th place team in the NHL. While the Oilers have responded well to their new coach, the Blues haven’t seen much of an improvement since Craig Berube took over. They are 5-6-1 under Berube a very slight improvement from the 7-9-3 under Yeo.
6. Darnell Nurse has averaged 29:06 over the past four games due to the injury to Oscar Klefbom. He has six points in four games and is now tied with Tyson Barrie, Mike Green and Jacob Trouba for the 16th most EV points among defenders with 14. Nurse has arguably played better with the increase in minutes and I asked him if it takes him back to his time in junior with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
“Yeah, it has been awesome (laughs). At this level 30 minutes is a lot harder to play than at junior, but a lot of the same principals come into play: managing your game, you can’t be all over the place all the time so it might resort to me punting the puck, or chipping it a little more, but you have to maintain a high level when you are playing that much,” said Nurse. It is a small sample size, but he’s flourished with the increased role. He is producing points and is +4 (GF%) at 5×5 in four games.
7. In the past nine years, only nine Oilers players have scored 20+ goals in a season. Jordan Eberle did it five times, Taylor Hall four times, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Dustin Penner did it twice while David Perron, Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon did it once. Alex Chiasson needs five goals to join that group and he has a very realistic chance at scoring 25 goals which would put him in an even smaller group. If he scores 30 (he’d 15 goals in the final 48 games), then he’d join McDavid (twice), Penner and Eberle as the only Oilers in a decade to reach 30 goals. I love underdog stories and I’m rooting hard for Chiasson to have one of the most unexpected seasons in Oilers franchise history.
8. Speaking of 30 goal-season, Alex Ovechkin needs one goal to reach 30 goals for the 14th consecutive season. Mike Gartner and Jaromir Jagr hold the NHL record for 15 consecutive 30-goal campaigns, while Gartner has the most 30+ goals seasons in NHL history with 17. Jagr had 15 seasons with 30 goals, while Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Marcel Dionne topped 30 goals 14 times. Ovechkin has a legit shot to tie and break Gartner and Jagr’s consecutive 30-goal season streak and I won’t be surprised if he catches, or even surpasses, Gartner’s 17 seasons with 30+. Ovechkin is having a remarkable season and looks like a guarantee to reach 50 goals for the 8th time in his career.
9. McDavid is on pace for 120 points while Draisaitl is on target to reach 101. They are one of four sets of teammates who are on pace for 100 points this season. Mikko Rantanen (139) and Nathan MacKinnon (129) with Colorado, Nikita Kucherov (115) and Brayden Point (102) in Tampa Bay and Mark Schiefele (114) and Blake Wheeler (109) in Winnipeg.
10. In 1993 five teams have at least two teammates reach 100 points. The Penguins had four, and Jaromir Jagr wasn’t one of them. He tallied 94 points in his third NHL season and was 5th on the Penguins in scoring behind Ron Francis (100), Rick Tocchet (109), Kevin Stevens (111) and Mario Lemieux (160). The Bruins, Blues, Sabres and Nordiques each had two players with 100 points.
11. The NHL had three 100-point players last season. The last time we saw four was in 2010, and in 2006 and 2007 there were seven 100-point players. This season there are the aforementioned four pairs of teammates along with Ovechkin, Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel and Mitch Marner on pace for 100. So there are 12 on pace today, how many players to you think reach 100 points? I will say seven.
12. Kudos to whoever runs this Atlanta Thrasher account. They’ve probably been searching the Internet for years trying to find a story to match their tweet.
If we had to go, he should have to go too. What a joke https://t.co/28T0riH4T2
— Atlanta Thrashers (@NotThrashers) December 17, 2018
MONTH OF GIVING
Thank you to Al Prokop and the groups at Blackhawk Golf Club and restaurant XIX for the great packages and to Ryan and Scott for their great bids.
DAY 12: Package #2 REALTOR FEES from Michelle Derk
- Up for grabs is the seller’s commission for your house. (In a
regular sale half the commission goes to the seller realtor and half to
the buyer. So this is $3.5% on the first $100,000 and $1.5% on the
On a $500,000 house that is a value of $9,500.00. On a $600,000 house that is a value of $11,000.00. and so on.
PACKAGE #2: Family and Rivalry games
- Four seats at centre ice (section 120) row 22 for Oilers/Canucks on Thursday, December 27th. Unreal seats
- Four Loge seats to the Edmonton Oil Kings v. Calgary Hitmen on Friday, December 28th.
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:
- Can Alex Chiasson be the next Alex Burrows?
- GDB 33.0: Another KoskiWin?
- McDavid’s 300th point puts him in rare group
- GDB 32.0: Goin to Winnipeg
- Paging Nurse to the Top Unit
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/18/2018 – 8:00 am MT