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GDB Game Notes: Blues @ Oilers

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.

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
    balance).

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.

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today. Proceeds will help The Christmas Bureau and Gregor’s Grads.

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, 12/18/2018 – 8:00 am MT



  • TKB2677

    I am starting to think that the Oilers PK woes have nothing to do with the coach or the system they run but the guys they have doing it. To start the season, there was an entirely new coaching staff except for the head coach. With McLellan gone, now there is a completely new coaching staff and it still sucks. So what’s left?

  • Oilswellthatendswell

    @Gregor I personally think all 4 of our top 4 goal scorers have a legit chance at 20 goals this season (McD, Dria, Chiasson and RNH). What do you think? Obviously McD will hit it.

    • TKB2677

      I would say it’s a lock for all 4 to get over 20. There is 48 games left in the season. Leon has 16 goals in 34 games which is not exactly a crazy rate. All he needs is to get 4 for 20. Chiasson has 15 in 28 games and there is only 48 games left. I don’t think 5 goals in the last 48 games is very hard. Nuge has 11 in 34 which isn’t a very high clip so if he did 11 in the last 48, I don’t think that is unrealistic.

    • Jason Gregor

      I would hope so. McDavid is on pace for 47 goals, Draisailt for 38, Chiasson for 40 and RNH is trending for 26. I would say unless one is injured longterm they will all reach 20 goals. The Oilers had four 20+ goal scorer in 2017 and made the playoffs and Oilersnation is hopeful history repeats itself this season.

  • rnj

    I knew Chaissons season was wild given his career highs, but I didn’t realize how rare it is for anyone to produce at that level in Edmonton. Even crazier that he came in on a PTO.

    The thing that really gets me here is how just a season or two ago many people were calling for changes to goalie pads etc to improve offence. What changed Gregs?

    • hagar

      I was going to say after the article that i wonder how much the equipment changes have lead to the increase in points production.
      You wouldnt think trimming up loose and over expanded equipment would be much of a difference, but here we are the first year after goalie equipment changes with a huge spike in points totals?

    • Redbird62

      So far this season according to hockey-reference, goals per game per team has been at 3.11 which is an increase of 4.7% over last season and the highest average since 95/96. A big change year over year is the drop in save % from .912 to .907, which translates to a greater than 5% increase in shot percentage . So that would strongly suggest that it is the reduced size of the pads is having an affect on goal totals, since shot totals and power play opportunities are not significantly different.

  • TKB2677

    Right now Leon is on pace for over 100 pts. Even if he slows a bit and scores high 80’s to mid 90’s, is it OK to say that his contract is not an overpay? While I always want players to make less, I never thought his contract was much of an overpay at the time it was signed and felt it would only become a steal as each season passed.

    • Oilswellthatendswell

      My only gripe with him and his contract is the inconsistent play and I wish he would produce away from McD. There have been too many games where play seems to stop with him. If he played every game the way he can play he would be a 90 point guy for sure.

      • Quoteright

        It’s not that he isn’t playing well but I think we all remember the absolute beast he can be. He can dominate a game by himself, he carried Sleppy and Coggs in the playoffs and was the leading scorer on the team. That’s why he got paid. At the time people were worried about a 10 mill offer sheet.

    • Redbird62

      Pastrnak, Gaudreau and Kucherov are all on pace for around 100, and make $6.6, $6.7 and $4.5 million respectively (though Kucherov bet wisely on a bridge and gets a raise to $9.5 Million next season). Young high end wingers get signed for $7 million per season or less. Draisaitl is playing as a winger right now and if he stays as Connor’s winger, the contract could be considered an overpay. If he eventually flourishes as a second line center in the next season or two (ala Malkin – though I doubt Draisaitl will ever be that good) then the contract could maybe become a bargain. Chiarelli should have held harder at about $7.5 million at that time. Nathan Mckinnon is signed for 4 more years after this one at $6.3 million per – now that is a steal.

      • TKB2677

        Eichel makes 10 mill and is finally having a break out season all be it with Skinner having a career year in a contract year but Leon has outscored him. Tavares makes 11, pretty much all of his best years are behind him and probably won’t score as much as Leon. What will Marner get? 10-11? Marner will most likely be 80-90’s pt guy over his next contract. What will Matthews get? 12-13? Matthews is most likely an 80’s to 90’s pt guy.

        • Redbird62

          Since joining NHL, Eichel has average .91 points per game vs Draisaitl’s .82, is a year younger and is the franchise center not playing with Hall or McDavid for much of his time. While Skinner helps him, it is Skinner who is the greater beneficiary in that tandem. Marner is not getting $10-11 – Nylander’s contract is $7.5 average. Marner maybe gets $8 million to $8.5 signed 2 years later than Leon (have to consider cap inflation which will be over 10% by the time Marner signs). Can’t compare Tavares since he was an unrestricted free agent and the best one available maybe ever. Mathews, if healthy, will be more than an 80-90 point guy – he started his 3rd season averaging 1.42 ppg. I really like Leon, and I do not for a moment think the Oiler’s should be trading him and the contract could very well be a good deal in the long run. All I am saying is that based on the market conditions at the time, Chiarelli made somewhat of an over payment.

      • Jason Gregor

        Kucherov will make $9.5 million next year. Rantanen will get more than Draisaitl and he is a winger. Gaudreau will get more on his next deal as well. It is all about timing of when contract is up. If you expect every contract to match the ideal contracts you will be disappointed. It makes little sense to me that Draisaitl is criticized because he produces with McDavid. Maroon played all year with him and had 42 points. The myth that anyone will produce with McDavid at the level Draisaitl does is mind-blowingly inaccurate to me. They are one of the most dangerous duos in the NHL. Instead of complaining Draisaitl isn’t Malkin, and FYI in Crosby’s 4th season his most common 5×5 linemate was Malkin, realize he is very talented. It seems naysayers complain more about the one backcheck a game they don’t like and suddenly that is more important than the multiple great passes he makes every game to create chances and the points he scores. Draisaitl is the least of the Oilers problems in a salary cap world.

        • OldOilFan

          Agreed in the sense that Leon is still young and thus continuing to develop [while playing with McD]. He may well “graduate” to center his own line – and probably feel better/confident about it at that time?

        • Redbird62

          Jason – since your post is a reply to my post – I can only assume you were addressing my comments. Why then did you see the need to re-iterate that Kucherov will make $9.5 next year which I had already clearly pointed out? Second of all, in terms of valuing a signing, I was trying to keep the discussion to first contracts post ELC since bargaining power and track record can be reasonably compared. So the fact that Gaudreau is going to get more in his 3rd contract after 6 years on his post-ELC doesn’t negate the fact that his contract was a somewhat better bargain at the time it was signed even considering that the Oilers had to pay to buy the extra 2 seasons for Draisaitl. And I am not complaining he is not Malkin just stating a fact. I don’t expect him to be Malkin and he was not paid like Malkin just pointing out he has to play like a star as a second line center. I was not actually complaining about Draisaitl at all. As I have stated I really like him and am very happy with his progress and I agree he is very talented. My issue (not a big issue) is with what Chiarelli paid him at that time and that is on Chiarelli not Draisaitl. The Oilers could use that $1 million. By the way, per Naturalstattrick in Crosby’s 4th season Dupuis was on with Crosby more than Malkin, and in total, Crosby and Malkin were apart for 2/3 of their respective ice times so both Crosby and Malkin were both getting it done apart for the majority of their time.

    • btrain

      The problem is, following a game 7 second round appearance, his chemistry with McDavid, his body of work prior to signing, and despite being in a position of strength Chia gave him the highest reasonable amount.
      So it still falls within the upper limits of reasonable but you have to question if just about any other GM comes up with a better contract given the situation at the time. For me he is still worth the contract but I still wonder if it could have been better if the GM could actually negotiate.

  • Alberta Ice

    It would appear the Blues game should be the easiest game in the next 5. Tough and testy 4 games coming up after tonight for the Oilers. Liking the Pacific doing so well; hating the fact the Duckleheads keep winning. (And why in the world is Aberg doing so good with that team?)

  • Serious Gord

    The oil need to go 2/5 for the rest of 2018. Tonight’s game is one of the two.

    Interesting that last season the team finished 2017 on a bit of a high note and the. The wheels fell off completely.

    Maybe a more modest finish to this year will be followed by an upswing?

    • Redbird62

      Actually, last year, the Oilers went into the Christmas break on a high note winning 4 in a row and 5 of 6, but then finished 2017 losing 3 in a row between Christmas and New Years (one in OT). With the opponents the Oilers have coming up through New Years right now, minus Klefbom (and maybe Russell) a 3-2 record should be achievable, (favoured over the Blues and Canucks, at least a push against the Sharks and underdogs to the Lightning and Jets). These are all home games too. But without looking ahead, the Oilers need to take of business first tonight with the Blues to get the homestand started right.

      • OldOilFan

        Losing to Van earlier this week was “worrisome” in so far as it reminded me of similar “soft” losses against easier teams. That Oiler “tendency” was extremely costly because it meant they “had to win” remaining games against tougher teams.

        Hopefully, under Hitch, “soft losses” don’t resume -and spoil- the rest of 2018-19.

  • Oilswellthatendswell

    Seems Sportnet has Talbot confirmed for tonight. Hope they are wrong. We have 3 days off before TB. Would like to see Kosk in both games. Give him a chance to redeem the Vancouver game with the Blues.

    • TKB2677

      I would have played Koskinen tonight. They have to beat the lower in the standings Blues and Koskinen is basically an automatic at home so get the win in the bank. Plus with Tampa coming up and it being a long shot anyway to beat them, throw Talbot to the wolves. Maybe you get lucky and he somehow turns into 2016 Talbot for a game and he steals you one. If he doesn’t, OH well, you weren’t going to probably win the game anyway.

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        That’s funny. Actually that’s downright ironic. Dare I say it, laughable. You want to “throw Talbot to the wolves”. They did. Against Winnipeg. He STOLE a point because the rest of the team couldn’t be bothered to fire more than 2 shots at Hellebyuck, and yet despite ALL of that, you blamed him for the loss! You guys say Talbot is the gift that keeps on giving. No, no, no. You’re the gift that keeps on giving. You want him to play more to “raise his trade value” and then when he does get a start, you whine and moan about it!

        MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MINDS ALREADY!?