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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes Oilers @ Sabres: New Year New Results?

Is 2020 the year the Edmonton Oilers finally begin a streak of consecutive playoff appearances? Oilersnation sure hopes so, and when the puck drops in Buffalo tonight the Oilers find themselves in a playoff position with 40 games remaining. They control their destiny and starting 2020 on a five-game road trip might be a good thing for Edmonton.

1. The Oilers have been solid on the road this season. They accumulated the ninth most road points, 23, and surprisingly they’re among the league’s best at goals allowed on the road. Their 2.66 goals against/game on the road is fifth lowest in the NHL trailing only Colorado (2.61), Boston (2.50), the New York Islanders (2.47) and Arizona (2.45).

2. Their road PP is a league best 29.3% and their road PK is also #1 at 90.8%. They don’t score a lot on the road, averaging the exact same 2.66 goals/game, which is 18th overall, but their attention to defence is much better. That will need to continue as they face Buffalo, Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary over the next 10 days.

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3. @Jack Eichel is carrying the Buffalo Sabres offensively, leading them with 25 goals and 53 points. Victor Olofsson is second on the team in goals (16) and points (34). The Sabres only have three forwards with more than 20 points. The Oilers and Sabres are mere images of one another when it comes to overall goals for and against. They both average 2.93 goals/game and both allow 3.17 goals/game. The Sabres have 41 points in 41 games, while the Oilers have 46 in 42 games. The Sabres are the lowest ranked opponent on this trip.

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4. Both teams have struggled since December first. The Sabres are tied for 26th in the league with 12 points (5-7-2) over the past 32 days, while the Oilers are tied for 28th with 11 points (5-8-1). The main reason for their demise is goals against. Edmonton is 31st in GA at 3.71, while the Sabres are 27th at 3.50. I’d bet the over (line is 6 right now) tonight for sure.

5. While 2019 wasn’t a banner year for the Oilers, it was for some of their players. The team struggled. They were 24th in points, 23rd in GA/G (3.27) and 19th in GF/G (2.85). Their PP was excellent at 25.6% (third), while the PK ranked 25th at 77.9%.

6. Leon Draisaitl led all players with 52 goals in 2019, followed by Alex Ovechkin (46), Auston Matthews (45), Jake Guentzel, Patrick Kane, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak (44) and Connor McDavid (42). Eichel was 11th with 38.

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Pastrnak did average the most goals per game at 0.65, followed by Draisaitl at 0.61. Ovechkin fired the most shots at 383 followed by Nathan MacKinnon (369), Kane (330), Tyler Seguin (325) and Matthews (320). Draisaitl was 18th in shots with 254. He scored six more goals than Ovechkin on 109 fewer shots. Crazy.

7. McDavid had the most assists with 80 followed by Marchand (74), Aleksander Barkov, Nikita Kucherov (69), Kane and Teuvo Teravainen (67), Draisaitl (66), Jonathan Huberdeau (65) and John Carlson (62).

8. McDavid’s 122 points were the most followed by Draisaitl and Marchand (118), Kane (111), Kucherov (104), Barkov (102), Huberdeau (101), Artemi Panarin (99) and Nathan MacKinnon (98).

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9. Oddly enough, McDavid “only” has eight points in eight career games against the Sabres. The 1.00 points-per-game is his third lowest behind Nashville (0.90) and St. Louis (0.79). The Blues and Predators have great D corps and are stingy, but the Sabres aren’t either since McDavid came into the league. He’s been held pointless in four of his eight games against the Sabres. Odd.

10. Here is the Oilers scoring last year compared to this season, as well as the Sabres scoring, through 42 games.

TEAM TOP-5 FORWARDS REST OF FORWARDS DEFENCE
2018/19 84 (183) 19 (59) 14 (73)
EDMONTON 85 (204) 27 (63) 11 (71)
BUFFALO 70 (150) 33 (81) 17 (85)

11. The Oilers depth scoring has 25 goals in their past 28 games. Not great, but at that rate over a full season they would finish 16th based on today’s teams. Not great, but at least it is starting to become average. They will have a ways to go, and GM Ken Holland needs to find some scoring depth soon, but after a horrible first 14 games (two goals), the depth forwards have started to chip in.

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