The Oilers won’t have very much time to think about their horrendous effort last night against the Kings as they’ll be back in action tonight in Anaheim. Here are your game day notes.
1. Last night’s loss to the Kings was easily the Oilers’ worst performance of the season. The basement-dwelling Kings made the Oilers look like an AHL team, holding them just 16 shots in a 4-0 victory. Despite being dead-last in the league in goals for, the Kings cruised to four goals on the Oilers. It honestly looked like a game straight out of 2012 when the Kings were dominant and the Oilers were tanking.
2. Ken Hitchcock had a pretty damning quote after the game last night. He said that the Oilers only dig deep and get motivated when the team gets embarrassed. We’ve seen big outings after lopsided losses to Colorado, Vegas, and Dallas, to name a few, and there’s a good chance we’ll see an Oilers club with a bruised ego come out hard against the Ducks tonight. As Hitch said, though, that isn’t good enough. The team needs to be motivated on a night in, night out basis. They’re in a position in which every game is important and they simply can’t afford to be dropping games to teams like the Kings because they feel like taking an optional day.
3. An amazing stat from last night: Edmonton’s bottom-six forwards managed to combine for just one shot on the Kings. Seven shots came from the Big Three of McDavid, RNH, and Draisaitl, eights shots came from defensemen, and JJ Khaira was the only non-Big Three forward who managed to get a shot on goal. I’m not really sure what the solution is. The depth just isn’t there.
4. Perhaps the most embarrassing part of last night’s game was Drew Doughty getting away with elbowing Connor McDavid in the face. Remember when the Oilers needed to acquire big, tough, scary players to stop this from happening? Well, they acquired big, tough, scary players who provide virtually nothing to the team, and it’s still happening. We can complain about reffing all we want and hooks and grabs and slashes on McDavid going unnoticed, but the reality is this whole deterrence thing players like Milan Lucic, Zack Kassian, and Brandon Manning bring isn’t worth the team being devoid of skill and depth.
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) January 6, 2019
5. The Western Conference being weak has allowed the Oilers to remain alive in the playoff race. As of right now, it looks like five teams (Calgary, Winnipeg, Nashville, Vegas, and San Jose) are solidly in the playoffs and two teams (Colorado and Dallas) are good bets to get in. That leaves Edmonton battling with Anaheim, Minnesota, and Vancouver for the final playoff spot. The Ducks are on a seven-game losing streak, the Wild are mediocre and are without Matt Dumba for a few months, and the Canucks are in a rebuilding mode. The field isn’t that strong and the Oilers really should be better than those three teams.
6. The Oilers are Ducks have met just once so far this season. It came back on American Thanksgiving when the Oilers gave up a last-minute goal to blow a 1-0 lead before losing in overtime. That game was a perfect example of the Hitchcock vs. Randy Carlyle style with both teams sitting back in defensive shells and executing a tight, dead-puck-era style of play. I imagine we’ll see a similar game tonight between these two clubs.
7. Like I said, the Ducks are currently riding a seven-game losing streak. Regression seems to have finally caught up with Anaheim as they were winning games despite boasting some of the worst underlying numbers in the league. Anaheim is allowing a whopping 61.12 shot attempts against per 60 minutes at even strength, which is second last in the league ahead of only the Ottawa Senators.
8. The Ducks are putrid offensively and rely on amazing goaltending to win games. John Gibson has been incredible this year. He owns a .925 save percentage and has had only three times in 35 starts has he posted a save percentage under .850 in a game. Even backup goalie Ryan Miller has been excellent for the Ducks as he owns a .922 save percentage in his 10 outings.
9. Anaheim needs incredible goaltending because they don’t have much going for them offensively. The team rank 28th in the league in goals for with 101 on the season and Pontus Aberg, who was claimed off waivers at the beginning of the season from the Oilers, is tied for the team lead with Ondrej Kase with 11 goals. The reality for the Ducks is they’ve gotten old. Ryan Getzlaf is still a good player, Ryan Kesler is a shell of his former self. He has just six points in 39 games playing through nagging injuries. Corey Perry, another staple of the past on the Ducks, has missed the whole season thus far due to injury.
10. The Ducks will get a big boost tonight as Cam Fowler and Rickard Rakell are both expected to be activated from the Injured Reserve. Rakell, who was Anaheim’s leading scorer last year, has missed about a month of action, and Fowler, who is Anaheim’s best offensive defenceman, has been out of the lineup since November. Having both back will be a big boost to the team offensively. Still, even with those two key players in the mix, the Ducks don’t have much depth offensively.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/06/2019 – 11:00 am MST