The flight from Nashville to Dallas is about an hour and 45 minutes. It likely felt much quicker for the Edmonton Oilers after they crushed the Nashville Predators 8-3 last night. Now they turn their focus to the Dallas Stars, a much tougher opponent.
But the Oilers are no longer the weakling of the NHL. They are playing like one of the best teams in the NHL and they have the league’s top two scorers led by Leon Draisaitl’s 107 points.
1. Edmonton is 14-6-4 in 2020. They are tied with the fewest games played, 24, but they’ve amassed the seventh most points, 32, and have the fifth best points% at .667. The Stars are right behind them at .660 and have picked up 33 points going 15-7-3. This has the potential to be an excellent game.
2. Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid each scored five points last night. It is the second time this season they’ve combined for 10 points. McDavid had six and Draisaitl five against Colorado in November. Draisaitl had the first four-goal game of his career last night and set a new career-high with 107 points. Draisaitl needs 23 points in his final 16 games (1.43 points/game) to become the first player since 1996 to score 130 points in a season. He’d become only the 24th player in NHL history to score 130 points in a season. He is currently averaging 1.62 points/game, so 130 is realistic, but still a challenging task.
3. Yesterday I wrote how Draisaitl was close to being on pace becoming only the 16th player in NHL history to score 50 goals and 100 points in consecutive seasons. Now it seems like a certainly he will as he needs seven goals in the final 16 games. He is 13 points ahead of McDavid and 16 ahead of David Pastrnak in the scoring race. If he scores 130 points no doubt in my mind he should get strong consideration for the Hart Trophy as well. Even if he “only” scores 127-129 points he should be a guaranteed finalist. What he is doing this season is remarkable and very entertaining to watch.
4. The last players to score 130 points in a season were Mario Lemieux (161) and Jaromir Jagr (149) in 1996. If Draisaitl reaches 130 it will be amazing and awesome for the NHL. It will also inspire McDavid to want to surpass it next season. The scary part about last night’s game for opposing teams was how McDavid and Draisaitl each had five points, but they only played together for 3:34. They played most of the game on separate lines. They are both so dominant that on any given night one of them can take over the game.
5. Prior to McDavid and Draisaitl doing it twice this season, the previous teammates to score five points each in a game were @Jamie Benn (1-5-6) and Tyler Seguin (4-1-5) on November 14th, 2013 against the Calgary Flames. All four will be on the ice tonight. Last night, McDavid quietly moved into second place in NHL scoring with 94 points. Draisaitl is on such a roll right now that McDavid is their second best player on many nights.
6. McDavid is second in league scoring, despite missing six games, and also having a summer of rehab instead of proper training. Imagine how dangerous he will be next year after another full summer of training. Even with McDavid’s ridiculous dedication to his rehab, he still wasn’t able to gain much from the previous season. No player can when they are rehabbing all summer. It is intriguing to think how a summer of training, or working on specific skills he wants to improve, will make him better, not to mention Draisaitl will want to continue to improve as well. Dare to dream Oilersnation, dare to dream.
7. Draisaitl has scored multiple goals in each of his last five games versus Nashville. He has 12 goals in five games. He became only the third player in League history to record two-plus goals in five consecutive regular-season games against one franchise, joining Ottawa Senators forward Punch Broadbent (what a great name) who did it against the Montreal Canadiens in 1922 and Pittsburgh Penguins legend Mario Lemieux who did it against the Quebec Nordiques between 1987 and 1988. The Predators had won 13 games in a row against the Oilers, until Draisait’s five-game heater where they went 4-0-1.
8. The Oilers’ offence is rolling, but they face the second stingiest defensive team in the NHL tonight in the Dallas Stars. Only Boston (2.42 GA/game) has allowed fewer goals than the Stars (2.54). However, Dallas is 24th in goals/game at 2.69. They give up very little, but don’t score very much overall.
9. Edmonton has to be leery of the Stars’ powerplay though. Since January 1st, they are scoring on 30.4% of their man advantages, which is second best in the NHL in 2020 behind only the New York Rangers (32%). Edmonton’s powerplay is best in the NHL at 29.7% and they are fourth best in 2020 at 28.6%. They’ve been ridiculously consistent all season, but the Stars have been equally lethal over the past 25 games.
10. The Oilers’ PK is best in the NHL in 2020 at 86.4%, while Dallas’ PK is a woeful 76.1% (24th best) in the New Year. The Oilers are averaging 2.75 kills/game in 2020, while Dallas is at 2.68. They are 11th and ninth respectively in fewest PK opportunities. The Oilers’ PK v. Dallas‘ PP is a great matchup, but the Oilers’ PP has a distinct advantage over the Stars’ PK. Something to watch for tonight.
11. I wanted to look at results since January 1st, because it is bit more accurate look at how a team is currently playing. The Oilers have outscored teams 57-52 at 5×5 since then, while the Stars have been outscored 42-38. It is quite a contrast between the two teams. Edmonton has scored 19 more goals than the Stars, but Dallas has allowed 10 fewer. Will the offensively productive team control the game tonight, or will the defensive squad have the advantage?
12. Here is the Oilers’ scoring last year compared to this season, though 66 games, as well as the Stars’ scoring.
|TEAM||TOP-5 FORWARDS||REST OF FORWARDS||DEFENCE|
13. Edmonton has a clear advantage offensively, but the Stars have the advantage defensively. Edmonton has outscored Dallas in goals/game at 3.18 to 2.69. They are 0.49 better. While Dallas has allowed fewer goals/game from 2.54 to 3.06. A difference of 0.52. The Stars have 81 points while the Oilers have 78. These teams win in different fashions. If Edmonton scores early and the Stars have to open things up that should benefit Edmonton. If Dallas scores early then they have the ability to lock it down.
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