Game Notes Oilers @ Sharks: Draisaitl Best Start In The NHL In Years

The Edmonton Oilers arrived in San Jose fresh off a victory in Anaheim with many of their mothers proudly watching. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice, and even though his mom couldn’t make the trip I’m sure she was equally as proud as those moms who were in the building.

The Oilers have continued to build on a season-opening five-game winning streak. They are now 12-5-2 overall and 3-0-1 against Pacific division foes as they prepare to battle the San Jose Sharks for the first time on consecutive Tuesdays. An odd scheduling quirk has the Oilers back in San Jose next Tuesday, and they’d love nothing more than to reach the quarter mark of the season with a victory tonight.

1. The Oilers haven’t had 12 wins in their first 20 games since the start of the 2001/2002 season when they went 12-5-2-1. This is the fifth time (eighth overall) they have at least 12 wins through 20 games. A victory tonight would give them 13 wins in 20 games which has only happened three times. They started 14-4-2 in 1985/86, went 14-3-3 in 1984/1985 and their best start was in 1983/84 when they went 16-3-1. This is only the second time since 1988 they have won at least 12 of 20 games. A win tonight would make it their best start in 34 seasons.

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2. The Oilers are off to a great start, but no player on the team has been better than Leon Draisaitl. He is ripping up the NHL with 34 points in 19 games. The list of players with more than 34+ points in their team’s first 20 games since 2000 is pretty short.

  • In 2002-2003 Mario Lemieux scored 11-30-41. (16 EV points)
  • In 2005/2006 Peter Forsberg had 6-30-36 (22 EV pts)
    Daniel Alfredsson had 18-18-36 (21 EV pts)
    Jason Spezza had 8-27-35 (21 EV pts)
    Dany Heatley had 16-18-34 (18 EV pts)
    *Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson were teammates**
  • In 2007/2008 Vinny Lecavalier had 14-20-34 (22 EV pts)
  • In 2010/2011 Steven Stamkos had 15-19-34 (17 EV pts)
  • In 2017/2018 Stamkos had 10-25-35 (20 EV pts)

3. Draisaitl leads the NHL with 24 EV points thus far. The last player to have 25+ EV points in his team’s first 20 games was Jaromir Jagr in 1999/2000 when he had 18-20-38 overall with 27 EV points. Draisaitl has been fantastic for the Oilers this season, and there is nothing in his game that suggests he is slowing down. Since January 1st, 2019, (62 games) Draisaitl leads the NHL with 90 points and leads with 64 EV points. Connor McDavid and Brad Marchand are second with 88 points, while McDavid is second with 59 EV points and Patrick Kane is third with 58.

4. Draisaitl also leads in 5×5 points this season with 21, followed by Brad Marchand (17), David Pastrnak (16) and McDavid and Auston Matthews (15). Nearing the quarter mark of the season Draisaitl would be the leading candidate for the Hart trophy. There is over 75% of the season remaining, so a lot will change, but Draisaitl’s outstanding start to the season should be discussed more than it has been.

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5. McDavid is also off to the best start of his career. He’s scored 100, 108 and 116 points the past three seasons, but he’s never had 30 points this early in a season.

In October/November of 2016 he scored 8-16-24 (18 EV pts) in his first 20 games.

In 2017 he produced 10-15-25 (17 EV pts) in 20 games.

Last year he scored 12-16-28 (18 EV pts) in 20 games.

He already had 30 points entering game #20 tonight.

6. The scary part about McDavid’s game is he is doing this without a proper summer of training. He had to rehab his PCL this summer. He worked extremely hard, but training while rehabbing is very different than training when you are healthy. Even with a summer of rehab training he is still the fastest player in the NHL and one of the most dangerous. It makes you wonder what he’d be like if he didn’t have to rehab his PCL all summer. We should never forget the challenges players face when their off-season training program is limited due to rehab. The biggest gains are made in the off-season, and McDavid put in countless hours working his tail off to get in great shape, but had he been healthy he likely could have pushed himself even further. That is how he is wired, and the fact he is having the best offensive start of his career coming off a summer or rehab is very impressive.

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7. There is one major difference between the Oilers and Sharks so far this season — goaltending.  The Oilers’ 5v5 SV% is fifth best in the NHL at .938. The Sharks are 29th at .881sv%.

San Jose really struggles at 5×5. They are dead last with an ugly .870sv%, while the Oilers are seventh at .931%.

The Sharks PK is saving them. They have only allowed six PP goals this year. They have scored three SH goals so they are only -3 when down a man. They are tops in the NHL with a .943sv%, while the Oilers are very good sitting third with a .916sv%

8. The Sharks are first on the PK at 91.2%, while the Oilers sit 5th at 85.7%. The Oilers are second on the PP at 29.1%, and San Jose is 13th at 21.3%.

9. The Sharks 5×5 play is killing them. They are last in goals allowed with 50 and they are 29th in goals scored with 28. They are an ugly -22 at 5×5.

The Oilers are 11th in 5×5 GF with 36 and are seventh in GA with 30. Tonight is a game they need to control at 5×5.

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10. I watched Don Cherry every Saturday for many years. I remember when I was 14 and Mom would let us watch Coach’s Corner while we were eating dinner. We couldn’t watch the game, but at 6:40 p.m. (HNIC used to start at 6 p.m. when I was a teenager) we could turn the TV to watch Don. He has always been incredibly patriotic. He put Canada first. I didn’t agree with everything he said, but he was always incredibly supportive of those who served, or were still serving, in the military. He pumped up kids and young men and women from all different parts of Canada. Scorers, checkers, fighters. It didn’t matter. He supported Canadians first. He reminded me to never take for granted the freedom we had.

Sure, there were things he said I didn’t agree with, but that didn’t mean he was a bad person. We are allowed to disagree on things and still respect one another. He also had a schtick. He would purposely mispronounce names. At first, I thought it was only European names, but I noticed he did it for Canadian ones as well. Calling Theo Peckham Teddy Peckman is still one of his best. People actually believed he did it on purpose and couldn’t say their names.

I respected Don for many years and agreed with his stance on many on-ice things. Over the past ten years, I haven’t watched him very often. I didn’t relate to what he said anymore, plus his segment became too Maple Leafs-centric for me. If I happened to be around a television when he came on, I’d watch, but it wasn’t the same for me. I felt he wasn’t as relevant as he had been.

It was easy for many to see Sportsnet fire him after his comments this past Saturday. Many felt he shouldn’t have had his contract renewed years ago — I did — so seeing him let go wasn’t a big surprise. However, I’m not comfortable with the fashion it went down.

What he said was wrong, no question. But it was more how he said it, than what his message was. Don has always wanted more support for Veterans and the troops. I felt like he was trying to say more of us should support the troops and be happy we live in Canada. That is accurate, but how he said it was very ignorant.

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He has used the term “you people” many times before. But usually it was in regards to “you people” who dislike the Leafs. Or “you people” who didn’t agree with him. I am not sure he meant “you people” in a racist way, but I understand why some people felt that way, and why he should have voiced it better. No question it came across in an ignorant fashion. When he followed it up with “who came here,” he made it worse. It sounded prejudiced against all immigrants.

However, we should be able to discuss why we felt that way, instead of just piling on when something is said that offends or doesn’t offend us. What offends some won’t offend others. We won’t all feel the same every time, and if we had more discussions about it — actual discussions, not people yelling they are offended or not offended and not offering up anything else — we would grow more as a society.

Did Don use those words incorrectly and insensitively this time? Yes, and he paid for it. But I take no joy in seeing someone lose their job in this way. We are in a very scary time in the world, where too many people want a pound of flesh. Some celebrated him losing his job.

What I see today is many angry and hurt people in our society. And because of that pain, when they see something that reminds them of a personal experience it irritates them even more. Sadly racist, sexist and hate-filled statements or actions happen often. Some people hold on to them. They save racist, sexist and vile tweets or emails sent to them, often by strangers. And then when a public figure makes a dumb statement, they go looking for those tweets or emails and show people, “See this happened to me and it hurt.”

I understand it hurts. But why do we keep those negative emails and tweets? Do they make us feel better? I doubt it. In fact, I believe they make us hold onto those negative thoughts, thus giving the sender more power. It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, brown, yellow, male or female, we have all received those types of hurtful messages. I’ve been on radio since 2001 and writing since 2003. I am a white male and I have received thousands of hateful emails, texts and tweets. And I have kept none of them. Why would I? To remind myself of what a faceless, often nameless, stranger thought of me. I don’t see how it helps anyone. I read a quote many years ago that summed up negative comments or criticism.

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Why care about criticism from someone you would never ask advice from? It made a lot of sense for me.

If you don’t value their opinion enough to help you, why value it enough to let it hurt you?

Don Cherry did not convey his message properly, however, I think his message had some accuracy in it. Many Canadians, whether you were born here or moved here for a better life, do not appreciate our great country. The sacrifice those brave men and women made during wars of the past, and serving today, to allow us the freedom we have should never be undervalued. I don’t think you have to wear a poppy to show that, but I also can understand how staunchly patriotic people would feel wearing a poppy is important. It doesn’t have to be one or the other all the time.

If Cherry’s final broadcast leads us to start having conversations about our country and our values, then at least something positive can come from his firing. My concern is it won’t. People posted their outrage, or support of him, on social media, because it was a major talking point, but now a few days later the focus will be on who replaces him, rather than maybe some of his message, despite the insensitivity in which he presented it, had some talking points worth discussing.

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