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Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes Oilers @ Vegas: Need A Better Start

The Edmonton Oilers didn’t play poorly overall against Anaheim, but a sleepy first period ultimately cost them one point. They only had two shots on goal 13:12 into the first period, which was when the Ducks scored their second goal of the game. Edmonton was outshot 10-6 and outscored 2-0 in the first period. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (three) and Patrick Russell were the only forwards with a shot on goal through the first 29 minutes.

1. Edmonton controlled the second and third periods, allowing only nine shots, but putting yourself behind 2-0, even against the 28th place Anaheim Ducks, is difficult to dig out of. Edmonton outshot the Ducks 23-9 through the final 40 minutes, before losing on a powerplay goal in overtime. More on that later.

2. This was the second consecutive game the Oilers had a slow first period offensively. Against the Kings, Leon Draisaitl did score with 30 seconds remaining in the first period, for a 1-0 lead, but it was only the third shot by a forward to that point. Edmonton controlled much of the game against the Kings, similar to the Ducks, but they didn’t have to play catch up Sunday.

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3. The strange thing about the past two first periods, is the Oilers offence has been excellent in the first period this season. They lead the NHL with 67 first period goals. They aren’t a defensive juggernaut in the first period — sixth most GA allowed at 62 — but we haven’t seen them ease into game very often. Edmonton has started the second period with a deficit 19 times this season. They are 5-10-4 when trailing after the first period.

4. Only Tampa Bay (14), Boston and Colorado (15), St. Louis (16) have started the second period in a deficit fewer times than the Oilers. Edmonton has been quite good at not having to play from behind. But last night it cost them. Despite controlling the final 40 minutes they never led for one second last night.

The data above, courtesy of SportLogiq, illustrates how much more possession time the Oilers had as well as more dangerous shots and scoring chances off the rush. Edmonton missed two assignments defensively in their own zone, however, which led to the Ducks second and third goals.

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5. Captain Obvious states the Oilers need a better start tonight in Vegas. First place is on the line. If the Oilers win in regulation they will tie Vegas with 76 points, but they own the first tiebreaker and they will have a game in hand. It is a big game. And it is important to note that Vegas has allowed the most first period goals in the NHL at 68. They are 62-68 in the first frame, while the Oilers are 67-62.

6. Vegas games have combined for the most first period goals in the NHL at 130, while the Oilers are second with 129. We should see some offence early, but Edmonton needs to waken from their two-game slump of starting slow offensively. I expect they will be much hungrier tonight against a team they are battling for a playoff spot with.

7. The Oilers are 9-5-2 against top-10 teams in the NHL. Vegas currently sits 10th. The Oilers are 18-8-3 against the other middle-10 teams (Oilers are in that group) and then Edmonton is 11-9-3 against teams ranked 22nd to 31st. They are 0-3 against 22nd place Minnesota, but the Wild have four games in hand on Arizona and three on Winnipeg who sit 20th and 21st.

8. In the midst of a playoff race every loss feels like a death blow to fans. It is devastating and awesome at the same time. The reason you are a sports fan is because of the emotion it stirs inside you. The wins are glorious and the losses frustrating. Last night after the game I can only assume your frustration was at its peak. This morning you are likely a bit calmer, and if not, don’t fret too much over the loss. Vancouver, Arizona and Nashville have each lost twice to the Ducks this season. Vegas lost once as well. I know people say the Oilers can’t be a playoff team and lose to the Ducks. But the reality is many playoff teams will lose to bad teams. Boston has lost twice to Detroit. It happens. It can be frustrating, but the teams at the bottom of the standings usually win 28-30 games.

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9. The great part about a playoff race is there is no time to moan or feel sorry for yourself. Just like after a loss in the playoffs, you have to move on. The Oilers wake up this morning with a chance to go to leave Vegas in first place in the Pacific division. They should be excited, and I suspect they will. This is a big game and while Oilersnation was upset last night, today is why you became a fan. To be emotionally invested. I guarantee most Oilers fans will be thinking, reading and talking about the game today. If you are mad, just remember you could be a Ducks fan today. Win a game last night, but wake up today knowing there will be no playoffs. You know better than any fanbase in the NHL how unsatisfying that is. Enjoy tonight.

10. Here is the Oilers’ scoring last year compared to this season, though 63 games, as well as the Golden Knights’ scoring.

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TEAM TOP-5 FORWARDS REST OF FORWARDS DEFENCE
2018/2019 114-146-260 34-57-91 22-78-100
EDMONTON 119-175-294 59-70-129 21-90-111
VEGAS 112-140-252 64-93-157 29-89-118

11. Vegas is 12th in the NHL in goals/game at 3.20 while the Oiler are 14th at 3.16. Vegas is 14th in GA/game at 3.03 and Edmonton is 19th at 3.08. Vegas has a slight edge in both. The Oilers have a distinct advantage in special teams. Their PP is 1st at 29.0% and their PK is 2nd at 84.4%. Vegas sits 11th on the PP at 21.2%, but they struggle on the PK at 77.7% which is 23rd in the league.

The Oilers have 54 PP goals on 186 opportunities while Vegas has 38 goals on 179 powerplays. Vegas’ PP is quite good at 21.2%, but they have 16 fewer goals than the Oilers. It illustrates just how deadly the Oilers powerplay has been this season.

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