It is always exciting when two of the best players in the NHL faceoff against each other, and the energy is heightened when it is the two players considered the best in the league. Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid will play one another for the sixth time tonight. The previous five games have all been decided by one goal with three of them needing overtime or a shootout. The individual stats of McDavid and Crosby have been polar opposite to the outcomes of the games.
1. McDavid has produced 3-6-9 head-to-head, with Crosby scoring 2-1-3. Both of Crosby’s goals came earlier this season in an highly entertaining 6-5 OT victory. McDavid has produced much more, but the Penguins have won all five games. The last time the Oilers defeated the Penguins was during McDavid’s rookie season, and he was out of the lineup with a broken collarbone. The Oilers won 3-2 in a SO on November 28th, 2015 in Pittsburgh.
2. It is remarkable the Oilers and Penguins organizations have each had two legitimate generational players in the past 30 years. Edmonton being home to Wayne Gretzky and McDavid, while Mario Lemieux and Crosby dazzled Pittsburgh fans. The Oilers and Penguins each have five Stanley Cups since the NHL expanded to 21 teams in 1979/1980, and during that time the Penguins have scored the most goals in the NHL at 10,352, while Edmonton is second with 10,222. Both fanbases have been spoiled offensively.
3. But both have had hardships as well. The Penguins have allowed the 2nd most goals since 1980 at 10,391 and Edmonton has allowed the 4th most at 10,108. The Pens have the 7th most wins and (1464) and 6th most losses (1257), while Edmonton is 12th in wins (1386) and have the 5th most losses (1281). These teams have seen great highs and lows over the past 40 seasons.
4. Edmonton has had 15 single digit first round picks (top-9). The Penguins have had 13. *If you are curious the Islanders have the most (23) and Red Wings and Flames the fewest (8).**
Edmonton selected McDavid, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov #1 overall. They took Leon Draisaitl #3, Jesse Puljujarvi and Jason Bonsignore #4, Sam Gagner, Boyd Devereaux, Steve Kelly, Ryan Smyth and Paul Coffey at #6, Darnell Nurse and Jason Arnott at #7 and Grant Fuhr #8.
The Penguins selected Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury and Mario Lemieux #1, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Stall and Craig Simpson #2, Darrin Shannon and Zarley Zalapski #4, Jaromir Jagr, Ryan Whitney and Chris Joseph #5, Derrick Pouliot #8 and Mike Bullard #9.
5. Oilersnation is hoping their beloved Oilers will once again become a dominant team, but the reality is while the Penguins were able to build up from the bottom on two different occasions and win Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992 and again in 2009, 2016 and 2017, the Oilers haven’t been able to get out of their 12, and possibly soon-to-be 13 year funk.
6. The Oilers’ playoff hopes are teetering on the brink again. They need to win five of their six games before the February 25th trade deadline to even be in the playoff mix. It is a major ask, and based on how they’ve played recently you would think it is unrealistic. They are 6-14-2 in their last 22. They are 1-5-2 in their last eight games. They need a major reboot if they hope to win five of six.
7. Edmonton will get a break with Evgeni Malkin sitting out a one-game suspension for swinging his stick at Michael Raffl on Monday night. The Pens also lost Olli Maatta. He separated his shoulder and depending on how severe it is he might be out until the playoffs. The Penguins still have a lot of talent, but the Oilers are desperate and need to take advantage of a Malkin-less lineup.
8. After tonight’s game, the Oilers might have to make a roster move. Andrej Sekera plays his third game in the AHL. He will meet and talk with Keith Gretzky and depending on how he feels the Oilers will decide if they will formerly submit an application for him to play an extra two games in the AHL. The Oilers have spoke to the league about it, but they couldn’t file the application to extend his conditioning stint from three games to five games until after Sekera had played three games. If Sekera and the Oilers feel he would benefit from a few more AHL games they will apply. But just because they apply doesn’t mean the NHL will accept it.
9. It would be odd to see the NHL take a hard stance on two extra games in the AHL, but allow teams to have players not even come to camp or be around teams and stick them on LTIR. I’m not sure the Oilers are trying to start a new trend by having veteran players play two extra AHL games. First off a player has to agree to go down on the conditioning stint. But more importantly, if a player feels they will benefit from a few more games in the AHL, why would the NHL be so against it? Again, it is two games. In this case, instead of being activated on Thursday, Sekera will be activated on Sunday. It also allows AHL fans to see an NHL veteran for a few more games. If the Oilers, or any team with a player in the situation of Sekera, applies for an extra two games, I don’t see much of an issue with it. I’ve long argued veterans coming off a lengthy stay on the LTIR, or even IR, should play a few games in the AHL to get back up to speed anyways.
10. Unless the Oilers suffer a major injury and place someone on LTIR before activating Sekera, they will need send down just over $1.2 million in actual cap space (not prorated) to activate Sekera to the roster and be cap compliant. Alex Petrovic seems like the most likely candidate to be put on waivers, but if he isn’t claimed he’d only free up $1.025 million, so the Oilers would have to make another move. If Petrovic is claimed then his entire $1.95 million salary comes off the books and they could activate Sekera. Interim GM Keith Gretzky is trying to facilitate a trade as well, but if that doesn’t happen before Sekera’s AHL stint is over then putting a player on waivers is the only way for Edmonton to get under the cap. Waiving Manning wouldn’t clear any more room than Petrovic.
11. Edmonton could send Jesse Puljujarvi to Bakersfield with Petrovic and that would clear up space and get Puljujarvi playing more. Ken Hitchcock is adamant that Puljujarvi was tired and worn down and that’s why his minutes have been reduced. He likes how he forechecks and feels he helps them more than Colby Cave would.
12. After the trade deadline NHL teams can only recall four players from the AHL — players who can go up or down. If a team runs into injury problems, then they can recall someone else on emergency, but after the deadline the NHL only allows four players to be recalled. I wonder if the Oilers put Puljujarvi on that list. I would. Bakersfield regular season doesn’t end until a week after the NHL. The Oilers play their final regular season game on April 6th. If they don’t make the playoffs, and it looks unlikely today, then their season is over. The Condors’ final three regular season games are on April 10th, 13th and 14th. Then they will start playoffs. Edmonton could send Puljujarvi down after his exit meetings on April 8th and he could get in three games before the playoffs. I would assume Brad Malone will be one of the four names, along with Caleb Jones and let’s say Cooper Marody. Add Puljujarvi as the fourth guy.
13. The Condors are a good team and it would be a great experience for Puljujarvi to play some playoff games. The Condors could win a round or two, or maybe three, depending how it goes, and I’d want Puljujarvi exposed to that atmosphere and intensity.
14. The great part about he Internet is how many cool stories you can stumble upon. This story popped up in my social media feed yesterday. People who see a void and start a business intrigue me, especially when the focus of the business can improve people’s quality of life, and in some cases save their life. I love this idea and considering four of my nephews broke an arm or elbow in their life, I know that access to quicker casting would be a huge benefit. Or do you know someone who might need an amputation. This could save their lower limbs. Check it out. Even better it is a local Edmontonian starting a business to fill the void.
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:
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 2/13/2019 – 7:00 am MT