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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 43.0: Depth Scoring A Must in 2020 (5pm MT, SNW)

When Josh Archibald scored to give the Oilers a 6-0 lead over the New York Rangers on New Year’s Eve, it seemed like a bonus goal. A goal to keep the confidence going for the fourth line. Twenty-five NHL minutes later the goal was quite important, as the Rangers made it 6-5 before Kailer Yamamoto scored his first of the season into an empty net. You can focus on the fact the Oilers almost gave up a 6-0 lead, or you can look at how they earned the 6-0 lead. Glass half full people will remember the start, glass half empty people will focus on the finish.

I’ve written many times that this will be an emotional rollercoaster season for Oilersnation, and Tuesday’s game was that, although even I didn’t expect fans to have their guts in a knot for the final frame. The Oilers got a much-needed two points and start an important five-game road trip in Buffalo tonight.

If they hope to win three of the five games, they will need their depth scorers like Archibald to continue scoring.

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The Oilers’ depth scoring has been a topic of conversation for the past year and a half. It was record-breaking bad last season, and started off terribly this season, but since November the depth forwards have been decent offensively, producing 25 goals in 28 games. But where does that rank against the rest of the NHL?

TEAM Top-5 FWD goals Rest of FWDS Total Goals Depth FWDs goals since Nov
TOR 79 51 130 29
COL 74 50 124 32
WSH 82 39 121 28
BOS 85 34 119 24
VEG 72 43 115 26
VAN 68 46 114 31
FLO 71 42 113 27
EDM 85 27 112 25
WPG 81 30 111 23
PITT 66 45 111 27
TB 69 40 109 26
CAR 68 38 106 26
STL 63 42 105 29
NSH 57 47 104 28
BUFF 70 33 103 20
MTL 65 38 103 21
OTT 70 32 102 19
MINN 60 40 100 32
NYR 70 30 100 21
CHI 63 36 99 26
PHI 58 38 96 25
CGY 62 33 95 22
DALL 54 40 94 32
ARI 53 41 94 30
NYI 59 33 92 22
LA 55 36 91 26
SJ 62 27 89 16
ANA 55 28 83 18
NJ 50 33 83 25
CBJ 51 30 81 21
DET 51 23 74 16

The Oilers’ depth forwards have scored the 17th most goals since November first. Again, not elite, but competitive. They need to continue that, and even improve by four or five spots to eliminate some stress from the top scorers.

The bigger issue though, for this team in 2020, will be eliminating goals. They allowed the most goals in the NHL in December. That is a recipe for losing. They have to be more committed defensively.

LINEUP…

Oilers

Neal – McDavid – Kassian
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Khaira – Sheahan – Archibald
Nygard – Haas – Chiasson

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Klefbom – Bear
Nurse – Russell
Lagesson – Larsson

Smith

Mike Smith gets the start and needs to find his game or the Oilers might have to score five to win.

Sabres

Olofsson – Eichel – Reinhart
Vesey – Johansson – Sheary
Girgensons – Larsson – Okposo
Smith – Lazar – Asplund

McCabe – Ristolainen
Dahlin – Montour
Scandella – Jokiharju/Miller

Ullmark

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The Sabres are in the exact same boat as the Oilers: they give up too many goals. There is no reason the Oilers shouldn’t be able to generate offence tonight.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers start 2020 with a win in a high-scoring 5-4 game.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers score a powerplay goal. They have scored the most PP goals with 39, while the Sabres are tied for allowing the most PP goals at 33.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers get a goal from a defenceman not named Oscar Klefbom. He has three goals in his last 13 games, but is the only D-man to score a goal. Ethan Bear is goalless in 17 games, Adam Larsson has zero in 20 games, Darnell Nurse is goalless in 31 games and Kris Russell has zero in 41 games.

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