Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Report: Oilers vs. Blues (31 January)

Hello Nation,

This is the Oilers Morning Report, a stats-heavy, opinion-based review of the previous night’s game. We’ve all read the wrap-ups, watched the highlights, and digested the game. Whether it’s gazing to the heavens, begging the Hockey Gods for answers as to why the Edmonton Oilers lost, or looking for more content to bask in the glory of another Oilers victory, that’s what this is here for.

Here is the review for the Edmonton Oilers vs. the @St. Louis Blues game on Friday 31 January.

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First Period

30 8 78.95 64.29 2-1 79.65

The first period was outstanding for the Oilers, coming out of the the gate firing on all cylinders. The 5v5 heat map shows that they were buzzing around the left part of the ice, which, when you look at the CF% for the left-side defensemen for the Oilers– @Caleb Jones- 66.67, @Darnell Nurse- 92.31, @Oscar Klefbom- 84.62– makes sense. The amount of opportunities that the Oilers limited the Blues to is remarkable, nearly snuffing out all of the defending Stanley Cup champions’ offense.

Second Period

16 27 37.21 38.1 1-6 37.25

An abrupt regression to the mean, as the Blues fought back with a vengeance, kickstarting their anemic first period offense by filtering it into the middle and commanding the High Danger area. Naturally, all the Oilers’ counts suffered this period. After a first period of generating only 3 shots, the Blues out-shot the Oilers 14-8, in HD areas, meaning Mikko Koskinen was a huge reason the game stayed tied heading into the second intermission.

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Third Period

20 15 57.14 45 4-4 45.43

A slight return to form to the way the Oilers played in the first period, though the Blues did have the initial push to start the period. It’s pretty fascinating to see how the Blues’ attack spread and diffused around the offensive zone, while the Oilers continued to rely heavily on the life-side blueline attack. The Oilers stymied the initial flurry of Blues offense, and with a punch/counter-punch sort of period, the Oilers more than held their own against the top Western Conference team. A late powerplay for the Blues was stopped by the Oilers sub-par home PK; a massive kill. And what a shake-and-bake by Josh Archibald to score the empty-netter.

Final Thought

This was a huge game for the Oilers, proving that their strong play recently has been not been a fluke, and that they could hang with the defending Stanley Cup champions and build some momentum heading into Battle of Alberta IV.

The Oilers’ notoriously poor home penalty was perfect again in this game, and has slowly been redeeming itself over the last few games. In the latest four game home stretch, the penalty kill has gone 3/3 vs. Nashville; 2/4 vs. Arizona; 1/1 vs. Calgary; and 3/3 vs. St. Louis, going 82% percent over that stretch. This has pulled the home PK up from third-last in the league to 27th (75.8%).

Connor McDavid has another superb game, despite playing with Archibald and Kassian, and so too did the second line of Nuge-Draisaitl-Yamamoto, with Nuge and Draisaitl finishing with CF% over 60, while Yamamoto’s was just below that threshold at 58.33; all three had a xGF% close to 75%.

But the really advanced counts darling in this game was Caleb Jones. The rookie blueliner finished with 78.13 CF%, a 85.84 xGF%, 78.57 SCF%, and 75 HDCF%. Though his growing pains have shown themselves at times this season, but his skill was on display in this game, and having a healthy @Matthew Benning might be a positive addition to his game moving forward.

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Things seem to be coming together for this team, just at the right time.

On to Calgary.