The Oilers finally snapped their six-game losing streak with a win in Minnesota on Wednesday and they’ll look to keep things rolling tonight when they host the Sharks. Here are your game day notes.
1. During Edmonton’s six-game losing streak, the team allowed 30 goals against and blew three-straight third period leads. The key in Thursday’s win was excellent goaltending from Cam Talbot, who had arguably his best start of the season. Talbot stopped 35 of the 36 shots Minnesota threw at him including two huge saves late in the third period.
2. Talbot allowing just one goal against in Minnesota represented the first time the Oilers had allowed fewer than three goals in a game since their back-to-back wins against Buffalo and Vancouver in mid-January. The formula is simple for this team. Don’t allow more than three goals. In games in which the Oilers allow three or fewer goals, they’re an impressive 22-2-1, but when they allow more than three goals, they’re 2-23-4.
3. I would continue riding the hot hand when it comes to Edmonton’s goalies. While the Oilers made it very clear Mikko Koskinen is their guy moving forward when Peter Chiarelli inked him to a three-year extension days before getting fired, the team needs to roll with whichever goalie is performing right now. In three appearances since signing his new deal, Koskinen owns a .855 save percentage.
4. At this stage, Talbot is fighting for a job in the NHL next year. Koskinen’s new deal leaves Talbot in limbo in regards to his future with the Oilers, but a good showing down the stretch will build his value heading into free agency. He might actually be a good buy-low option for the Oilers to bring back on a short-term, show-me type contract. If you could get this same goalie duo back together for a similar combined cap hit to the one they have right now ($6.67 million), would you do it?
5. Talbot and the Oilers will be in tough tonight against the soaring Sharks. San Jose is coming off of a 5-2 win in Calgary in which they scored three goals in under two minutes in the first period. They’re currently riding a four-game winning streak and they’re one of the league’s hottest teams in the new year, having won 11 of 14 games in 2019.
6. The Oilers and Sharks have met three times so far this season. In the first game, Edmonton squeezed out a gutsy 4-3 win, coming back from three different one-goal deficits before Leon Draisaitl scored the winner in overtime. That was back before San Jose was rolling, though. In their other two meetings, the Sharks have won by lopsided scores of 7-4 and 7-2.
7. San Jose’s strength is their offence as they rank third in the league with 198 goals for. They have a deep attack, featuring eight different players who have scored at least 10 goals and four players (Joe Pavelski, Evander Kane, Tomas Hertl, and Logan Couture) who have already hit the 20-goal plateau (while one, Timo Meier) is right behind them with 19). Their leading scorer and most important offensive catalyst, though, is Brent Burns, who has 61 points in 55 games.
8. It’ll be important for Edmonton to stay out of the box tonight. San Jose has the league’s fifth-best power play, scoring on 24.7 percent of their opportunities. Edmonton’s 75.2 percent penalty kill ranks them 30th in the league.
9. Erik Karlsson has been out of the lineup since mid-January and it isn’t yet known if he’ll suit up against the Oilers. Karlsson has absolutely torn the Oilers apart this season, putting up seven points in the last two meetings between the teams. After a slow start to the season, Karlsson quietly has 43 points in 47 games. It took quite some time for him and Brent Burns, the two best offensive defencemen in the league, to learn how to co-exist, but it seems they’ve figured it out.
10. With a couple of assists on Thursday, Connor McDavid now has 80 points on the season. That puts him on pace for 122 points over 81 games (remember, he missed one game due to an illness earlier in the year), which would shatter his career-high of 108 set last season. Given how he’s turned it on after the All-Star breaks the past few years, there’s a very good chance McDavid will break Joe Thornton’s record for most points in a season in the post-lockout era. Thornton scored 125 points in his MVP-winning 2005-06 season when he was dealt from Boston to San Jose. Sidney Crosby came close with 120 points in 2006-07, but nobody has touched 120 points since. McDavid is also only one point behind Nikita Kucherov in the Art Ross race with one game in hand. I would put my money on McDavid.
11. In other Oilers-related news, the Bakersfield Condors have been dominating the AHL over the past month. With a 3-1 win against San Jose’s AHL team on Friday, the Condors have now won 11 games in a row and they set just one point out of first place in their division. The nice thing about the Condors is that they’re finding success with a group of young players. They’re being led by Tyler Benson, Joe Gambardella, Cooper Marody, Caleb Jones, and Ethan Bear, all of whom could be helping the NHL club sooner rather than later.
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, 2/9/2019 – 12:00 pm MT