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Game Notes Oilers @ Avalanche: Expect Offence

When the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche play, offence is often overflowing. It probably shouldn’t surprise us considering the top-end talent on both teams, but usually when these teams play the offence has the advantage. They have averaged 7.5 goals/game in their last ten meetings and the Oilers have won seven of them.

Both teams should be rested. Edmonton hasn’t played since their 4-3 win in Arizona on Sunday, while the Avalanche have been at home since their 5-3 loss to Toronto on Saturday.

1. Colorado enters tonight fourth in goals/game at 3.52, while the Oilers have jumped up to 12th at 3.19/game. The Avs offence has continued to produce despite the absence of Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. Rantanen skated with his teammates this week and is looking at a return to the lineup this weekend, so Edmonton gets a bit of a break not having to face him again tonight. Colorado could also be without Erik Johnson. He skated in a non-contact jersey yesterday and is questionable after he was sent headfirst into the boards by Kerfoot during Saturday’s game. Kerfoot has been suspended two games.

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2. While much of the offensive discussion in Edmonton surrounds Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, and rightfully so, very quietly the depth scoring has started to contribute in November. Their depth scoring forwards have produced 12 goals in 12 games, after only scoring two goals in 14 games in October. The one goal per game average in November is what you should expect. In 2017 the depth scorers had 79 goals and in 2018 they had 80. Last year was gruesome as they produced an all-time NHL low (in 44 years of 80 game seasons) of only 43 goals. I’ve mentioned how last year was a major outlier, and despite the slow start this year, odds were high that eventually, the depth scorers would get going. Jujhar Khaira and Markus Granlund each have three goals, while Sam Gagner and Gaetan Haas have two in November. The NHL average from depth scorers the past few seasons was around 80 combined goals. I’m not sure they can get there, unless a few players get really hot, but they should be able to produce 70+ goals this season.

3. The Oilers are still waiting to see if Josh Archibald and Riley Sheahan can produce anything. Archibald doesn’t have a point in 17 games, while Sheahan only has one assist in 21 games. Patrick Russell is still looking for his first NHL goal in 27 career games. He didn’t have a point in six games last year, and then was pointless in the first 15 this season, but he has picked up four assists in his last six games, and despite his inability to finish, he has made some plays.

4. P. Russell is the only Oilers forward, outside of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian, with GF% above 50%. His GF-GA at 5×5 is 7-6. He isn’t scoring a lot, but he isn’t getting scored on very much either. And his high-danger scoring are 38-31 (55%). No question he needs to chip in some goals soon, but while he waits for his elusive first goal at least he is still finding a way to have a positive impact in the game.

5. Sam Gagner has quietly been effective when he plays. I realize he isn’t a penalty killer, so he is in tough to play in the bottom six regularly, but all of his 5×5 underlying numbers are quite good. According to Natural Stat Trick, his shots for (SF%), scoring chances (SCF%) and his high danger chances (HDCF%) are all very good. His SF-SA are 70-50, his SCF-SCA are 69-48 and his HDCF are 35-15. His GF-GA is only 5-5, but his numbers suggest when he is on the ice he is adding much more than he is giving up. With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins back in Edmonton getting his finger looked at, Gagner will be looked upon to fill Nugent-Hopkins offensive role.

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6. Here is the current Oilers goal scoring (points in parenthesis) compared to last year and to Colorado this season.

TEAM TOP-5 FORWARDS REST OF FORWARDS DEFENCE
2018/19 51 (111) 11 (33) 8 (42)
EDMONTON 61 (146) 14 (33) 8 (49)
COLORADO 46 (99) 23 (66) 12 (57)

7. Edmonton has scored three more goals than the Avs to this point, but the Oilers have played three more games. Cale Makar has 25 of the Avalanche’s 57 points from the blueline. The rookie has been outstanding and is the clear front runner for Calder trophy (Rookie of the year).

8. James Neal and Connor McDavid are both on pace to shatter the Oilers record of 20 powerplay goals in a season. Wayne Gretzky had 20 in 1984 and Ryan Smyth potted 20 in 1997. Neal currently has ten PP goals while McDavid has eight. Neal is on pace for 31, while McDavid is on pace for 25. McDavid’s career high in PP goals is nine and he could match that tonight and will surpass it easily this season.

9. Both could break the record as the Oilers PP has shown no signs of slowing down. They started great, and then had a nine-game funk between October 18th to November 4th where they went 2-for-23, but in their last ten games they have ten goals on 29 chances. They are second in the NHL at 32.4%, trailing only Boston at 32.9%, and two weeks ago in Edmonton the Oilers scored four powerplay goals against the Avalanche.

10. Only 17 players in NHL history have scored 25 powerplay goals in a season. Brett Hull did it four time, Tim Kerr and Mike Bossy three times, Mario Lemieux, Phil Esposito, Dave Andreychuk, Teemu Selanne and Michel Goulet did it twice, while Pavel Bure, Todd Bertuzzi, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Mogilny, Cam Neely, Joe Nieuwendyk, Kevin Stevens, Luke Robitaille and Alex Ovechkin did it once. Kerr holds the NHL record with 34 PP goals in 1986, followed by Andreychuk’s 32 in 1993, Joe Nieuwendyk had 31 in 1988 and Lemieux had 31 in both 1989 and 1996.

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11. David Pastrnak has 12 PP goals in 24 games with the Bruins this year followed by Neal’s 10 and McDavid with eight. Pastrnak has 12 of the Bruins 24 powerplay markers, while McDavid and Neal have combined for 18 of the Oilers 24 powerplay goals.

12. The Oilers are currently tied for 21st in PP chances with 74, but they are actually 28th in PP chances per game at 2.84. Only the Islanders (2.36), Anaheim (2.60) and Pittsburgh (2.83) draw fewer penalties per game than Edmonton. Vancouver leads the NHL with 4.12 PP/game and Colorado is 2nd at 3.95. Edmonton hasn’t seen much change in powerplay chances all season. In their first nine games they had 26 chances, in the next nine they had 25 and they have had 23 in their past eight games. If they get two or three tonight they will be right at 25 or 26. It seems ridiculous that the Vancouver Canucks have had 103 PP chances in 25 games and the Oilers have had 74 in 26 games. That is a rather large discrepancy.

THE 2019 BLACKOUT COLLECTION

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