Fresh off a frustrating 5-4 loss in overtime to the Flyers, the Oilers will be back in action again this afternoon for a matinee game in Montreal. Here are your game day notes.
(Yes, I know the Habs don’t play at Olympic Stadium. But when you have a chance to pay homage to the Expos, you gotta take it.)
1. The difficulty for the Oilers to get into a playoff spot is going to be hopping over five teams in the standings. Most nights, the teams in front of the Oilers in the standings are going to be playing each other meaning somebody is going to get two points regardless. Last night Vancouver and Colorado played and tomorrow Dallas and Arizona will play. To state the obvious, the Oilers badly need a winning streak or they aren’t going to hop over these teams.
2. Yesterday’s loss to Philly came largely due to Edmonton’s horrendous penalty kill. The Oilers outshot and outscored the Flyers at even strength, but Philly managed to score four goals on the man advantage. Edmonton blew two separate two-goal leads because their penalty kill couldn’t get a stop. The team now ranks 29th in the league on the PK, ahead of only Chicago and Los Angeles.
3. This game today will feature a match against Edmonton’s very bad penalty kill and Montreal’s terrible power play. While the Oilers are killing just over 75 percent of their penalties, the Habs are scoring on just 12.8 percent of their power plays. On the flip side, Edmonton’s power play and Montreal’s penalty kill are both in the middle of the pack.
4. The Canadiens are also coming off of an overtime road loss (they were in New Jersey Saturday afternoon) so the tired from being on the second leg of a back-to-back won’t be an excuse for the Oilers today. Edmonton has actually had a very favourable schedule when it comes to back to back games. They’ve had to play games on back to back days just five times and they have a 2-3 record in the second legs so far.
5. Montreal had a poor start to the season but they’ve managed to pull themselves back into the playoffs with good play in the past couple of months. A big key to that has been the return and great play of Shea Weber. The Habs are 17-10-1 since Weber made his season debut on Nov. 27. The Habs hoped Weber’s big shot would have helped improve the team’s power play, but Weber’s presence is mostly felt from his ability to log big minutes against the other team’s top players. Expect to see Weber on the ice a lot when Connor McDavid is out there.
6. Prior to Shea Weber’s return, Jeff Petry had filled the role as Montreal’s No. 1 defenceman. The former Oiler is quietly having the best season of his career. Petry has developed more of an offensive game than new ever saw in Edmonton as he’s on pace for 56 points. Petry, who was a solid player with some warts in his game when he was here, is yet another example of a player who got away and ended up thriving in a different environment. Hey, like Bob says, there must be something in the water here in Edmonton.
7. Another reason for Montreal’s turnaround season has been two players they picked up in the off-season. They dealt Alex Galchenyuk to Arizona for Max Domi and they got Tomas Tatar back from Vegas in the Max Pacioretty trade. Domi leads the team with 16 goals and 45 points and Tatar sits second with 16 goals and 38 points. Marc Bergevin has made many puzzling decisions in the past, but both major trades he made last summer have worked well for Montreal.
8. Montreal had the same idea as Edmonton this weekend, starting their backup goalie in the first leg of the back-to-back and saving their starter for the second. Carey Price will be in net for the Habs tonight while Mikko Koskinen will suit up for the Oilers. Price has been good this season, owning a .915 save percentage, but he isn’t the unanimous top goalie in the league like he was a few years ago.
9. There’s a lot of pressure on Koskinen since signing that big contract only days before Peter Chiarelli got fired. Koskinen has dropped back-to-back games since inking that deal and he hasn’t played well in general over the past month. Since Oscar Klefbom got hurt, Koskinen has a .888 save percentage in 13 appearances.
10. The Super Bowl is on tonight at 4:00 MT and I imagine the majority of us will be tuning in after the Oilers play. If you don’t care about New England or Los Angeles, you can pay attention to the many insane prop bets based around the game. Will the anthem be longer or shorter than a minute and 50 seconds? Which player will be cut to first by the cameras during the anthem? How many plays will Tony Romo accurately predict? Which colour liquid will be poured on the winning coach?
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.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 2/3/2019 – 9:00 am MT