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.
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|
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.
Neal – McDavid – Kassian
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Khaira – Sheahan – Archibald
Nygard – Haas – Chiasson
Klefbom – Bear
Nurse – Russell
Lagesson – Larsson
Mike Smith gets the start and needs to find his game or the Oilers might have to score five to win.
Olofsson – Eichel – Reinhart
Vesey – Johansson – Sheary
Girgensons – Larsson – Okposo
Smith – Lazar – Asplund
McCabe – Ristolainen
Dahlin – Montour
Scandella – Jokiharju/Miller
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.
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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