It’s the final Friday before Christmas, and hopefully you don’t become Frank Costanza this weekend.
Frank: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born. A Festivus for the rest of us.
It is a major error to celebrate Festivus early, so there will be no Airing of Grievances today. Instead, we’ll take a quick look at things around the NHL and how some scenarios could benefit or hinder the Edmonton Oilers.
1. The Oilers caught a huge break when the Minnesota Wild announced Matt Dumba will have shoulder surgery next week. GM Paul Fenton explained, “He will be out for a significant time. We don’t know (how long) until they get in there.” That doesn’t sound promising for the Wild, who are chasing the Oilers for the final wildcard spot and sit three points back with one game in hand. Edmonton has 39 points in 35 games, Vancouver has 38 points in 38 games, Dallas sits with 37 points in 35 games and the Wild are currently 12th in the west.
2. Losing Dumba is a major blow for the Wild. He is tied for second on the Wild in goals with 12, is fourth in points with 22 and he plays 23:23/game. He also leads all NHL D-men in goals. They will really miss him on the PP where he is tied for the team lead with six goals.
3. The Oilers are dealing with their own injuries on the blueline, but they should have Kris Russell back within a few weeks and Andrej Sekera is getting closer every day. He has discussed openly his willingness to want to get some AHL games in before he returns to the NHL lineup and Bakersfield has a pretty busy schedule coming up.
4. They play on December 31st, January 2nd, 4th and 5th and then again on January 9th, 11th and 12th. Sekera talked about wanting to play three games in four days in the AHL, and he will have two opportunities to do that in early January. If he gets the green light from the doctor we could see him in the AHL in the next ten days, and then possibly join the Oilers on the last leg of their California road trip in San Jose on January 6th. Getting Russell and Sekera back in the lineup would be a major boost for the defence.
5. Sekera looks much more mobile in practice than he did a year ago today, when he returned to the lineup. His knee is a non-issue, and he is just waiting until the doctor says he has enough strength in his Achilles to get in a game. Last year, when he returned wearing a knee brace, at times he looked like an Ocean Liner when he was pivoting. The brace limited his range of motion and when he tried to pivot he couldn’t extend his knee how he wanted. That won’t be the case this year.
6. Tobias Rieder is one of ten forwards in the NHL who have played 22+ games and are still goalless. Of those ten, Rieder has the most shots with 42.
Player GP SHOTS TOI/GAME
Tobias Rieder 22 42 13:22
Valeri Nichuskin 27 39 12:15
Juho Lammikko 32 32 10:55
Tim Schaller 29 26 11:49
Gabriel Bourque 28 17 10:41
Frederik Gauthier 26 19 8:25
Chris Kunitz 22 21 10:18
Brian Gibbons 27 19 10:22
Tom Pyatt 34 27 11:59
Noel Acciari 28 39 11:48
Rieder has the most assists, seven, most shots and averages the most icetime. He’s also missed three breakaways this season. You’d think he is due to score soon.
7. Milan Lucic scored on his first shot of the season, but he hasn’t scored since. He isn’t getting many chances lately either, and he only has 35 shots in 35 games this year. It is difficult to score when you don’t get many shots. In 43 games from January to April last season, he only had one goal as well, but he did have 70 shots. He needs to find a way to get more puck on net if he wants to end his funk.
8. At the other end of the goal scoring spectrum, in the 2018 calendar year Alex Oveckin has scored 54 goals in 75 games, Patrik Laine has 49 goals in 77 games and Connor McDavid is third with 46 in 77 games. McDavid has the most EV goals with 37 to Ovechkin’s 36, while Nathan MacKinnon has 33 and Jeff Skinner has 30.
9. Only three players have 100 points in 2018: McDavid (112), Mikko Rantanen (109) and MacKinnon (106). Leon Draisaitl and Niklas Backstrom are tied for 17th with 80 points.
10. The Arizona Coyotes are struggling again, but their PK has been outstanding, leading the NHL at 88.3%. They’ve only allowed 12 PP goals on 103 kills, and they’ve scored an amazing eleven shorthanded goals. They are only -1 in 175 minutes of PK time. They are -20 at 5×5, being outscored 68-48. They are ruining one of the best PK seasons we’ve ever seen in the NHL.
11. The Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL have an excellent PK as well, sitting at 89.5%. They’ve scored 17 shorthanded goals and have only allowed 17 PP goals. They are even through 34 games. It will be interesting to see if the Coyotes and Raiders can come close to being even while shorthanded this season.
MONTH OF GIVING
DAY 15: Package #1: Hockey and Dinner at Grand Villa Casino
- You and three friends will have a five-course meal at Atlas Steak + Fish in Grand Villa Casino. All wine pairings and beverages included.
- Four tickets in a suite to the Oilers/Canucks game on December 27th.
You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-5:55 p.m. today.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- Hitchcock Changes Lines
- Power Outage on Oilers Powerplay
- Attack Allen Early
- Pacific Division Surge
- Can Alex Chiasson be the next Alex Burrows?
- GDB 33.0: Another KoskiWin?
- McDavid’s 300th point puts him in rare group