Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes Oilers @ Senators: Oilers Could Set A Franchise Record

The Edmonton Oilers could make franchise history tonight, and set a record that will likely never be matched. Yesterday they tied the franchise record for most wins over an opponent in a season. In 1983/1984 the Oilers won all eight games against the Winnipeg Jets. That was also part of the franchise’s longest winning streak against an opponent as they won 14 consecutive games against the Jets between April 1983 and January 1985.

The Oilers will be looking for their ninth win this season against the Ottawa Senators, and considering they might never play another team nine times in one season again, they could set an unbreakable franchise record.

— For 18 seasons between 1950-1967, Original Six teams used to play each other 14 times. The 1956 Montreal Canadiens set the NHL record for most wins, and most consecutive wins, over one team in a single season. They won 13 games against the Chicago Blackhawks, including 11 in a row — records that will never be broken. The Canadiens also own the NHL record for wins when sweeping a season series, when they won all 10 games against the Boston Bruins in 1944/1945.

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— Here are the teams the Oilers have won nine consecutive games against over multiple seasons:
14: Winnipeg (1983-1985)
13: Detroit (1983-1987)
11: Quebec (1988-1992)
10: Vancouver (1985-1986)
9: Chicago (1984-1986)
9: Vancouver (1987-1988)
9: St.Louis (1987-1989)

A win tonight over Ottawa would be the eighth time the Oilers have won nine consecutive games against one franchise. It is rare, and of course never done before in one season.

Connor McDavid joined some pretty good company with his three assists yesterday. McDavid is, not surprisingly, on pace to join the elite scorers in NHL history. Also, Peter Stastny is grossly underappreciated for how good he was. He defected out of Czechoslovakia and entered the NHL having never played in North America. He proceeded to scored 100 points in his first six NHL seasons. Wayne Gretzky (first 13 seasons) and Mario Lemieux (first six seasons) are the only other two players in NHL history who scored 100 points in their first six seasons.

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In case you are wondering, Sidney Crosby reached 350 assists in 406 NHL games.

— Yesterday, Leon Draisaitl scored the fourth hat-trick of his career and scored four points for the 12th time in his career. He now has 21 points in eight games against the Senators. McDavid has 20 points and they are only the third and fourth players in Oilers franchise history to have 20+ points against a team in one season.

Player Year Team PTS
Gretzky 1984 WPG 16-11-27
Gretzky 1986 LA 6-21-27
Gretzky 1986 WPG 9-17-26
Gretzky 1987 VAN 10-15-25
Gretzky 1984 VAN 9-15-24
Gretzky 1986 CGY 4-20-24
Gretzky 1985 LA 7-16-23
Gretzky 1982 LA 13-9-22
Draisaitl 2021 OTT 8-13-21
Gretzky 1985 CGY 7-14-21
Gretzky 1986 VAN 5-16-21
Gretzky 1987 LA 4-17-21
Coffey 1986 LA 9-11-20
Gretzky 1982 CGY 9-11-20
Gretzky 1983 VAN 9-11-20
Gretzky 1983 WPG 6-14-20
McDavid 2021 OTT 4-16-20

Gretzky did it 14 times and Paul Coffey did it once. McDavid and Draisaitl could climb even higher up this list tonight.

— In order for Evan Bouchard to be activated the Oilers would need to place a player on waivers. They are carrying 13 forwards (seven D-men and three goalies on the active roster. Kailer Yamamoto is the only player on the roster who doesn’t require waivers, and I don’t see any reason they would send him to the taxi-squad. They could waive Alex Chiasson, Kyle Turris or Mikko Koskinen, and they probably would clear, but that seems unlikely. Next Monday the roster expands. Teams can carry more than 23 players as long as they aren’t over the salary cap. It is more likely we see Bouchard recalled after the 12th, simply for roster movement. Unless an injury occurs.

Mike Smith starts tonight, but I’m not sure Dave Tippett has to change any other players on the roster just because it is the Oilers'[ third game in four nights. The Senators are also playing their third game in four nights, so fatigue is fairly even. Caleb Jones played 11:45 yesterday. I doubt he is fatigued, so while Dave Tippett could play William Lagesson, I thought Jones was fine yesterday. Up front, Kyle Turris played 11:20 and had four shots. I don’t see him coming out. Possibly Kahun, who only played 10 minutes and wasn’t on either special teams unit.

— Tippett experimented with Zack Kassian on left wing yesterday. I believe that is because he knows Kahun is not a viable second line left wing option in the playoffs. I’m not saying Kassian is for a sure a better option, but his size and speed, when he uses it, is something that could help their top six in the playoffs. Kassian had a great 2019 calendar year, but since the start of 2020 he hasn’t been as effective. In 82 game between January 1st, 2019 to December 31st, 2019 he scored 26-24-50 in 82 games. He was excellent. All his points were even strength except for one shorthanded goal.

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However in the 42 games he’s played since January 1st, 2020 he’s only produced 4-8-12. I don’t think it was realistic to expect him to score 26 goals a season, but he is also capable of doing more than he has now. But keep in mind Kahun has 6-4-10 in 32 games this season. He isn’t crushing it offensively, despite playing mainly with Leon Draisaitl. Would giving Kassian, or Gaetan Haas or Kyle Turris a shot in the top six be much worse than Kahun? Kassian needs to be more consistent, but he has the size and speed the other three don’t, and I can see why Tippett is trying Kassian on the left side in the bottom six. He wants to see how he handles his D zone responsibilities on the left side. If he’s okay, he might be an option. I recognize he hasn’t played great recently, but neither has Kahun or the other options.

James Neal is the best goal scoring option to play there, but his conditioning is the issue. He also would need to be activated from the taxi-squad and, like Bouchard, I don’t see that happening until after the trade deadline. The other area Neal would help is the net front presence on the powerplay. He is the best option to score playing there. Alex Chiasson does a good job screening the goalie and creating openings for the main shooters on the PP, but he doesn’t have the same skill set to finish in close. Neither does Jesse Puljujarvi at this point. I could see Neal being another option on the left wing, if Ken Holland doesn’t make a trade before the deadline.

Mikko Koskinen was solid yesterday. In his eight starts since Mike Smith returned Koskinen is 5-3 with a .925sv% and 2.41 GAA. He isn’t a starter, but he can give you solid performances when he isn’t overplayed. His salary cap isn’t ideal, and his tendency to allow a weak goal can be frustrating, but overall when used correctly I think Koskinen is a solid backup who could play 30-35 games. I don’t think Alex Stalock is better at this point, so playing him ahead of Koskinen isn’t giving your team the best chance to win. If the Oilers have home ice advantage locked up later this season, I can see the argument to play Stalock in one game just in case the Oilers run into injury issues in the playoffs and he will have at least played one game this season. It is rare a team has two goalies injured in the playoffs, although Colorado did last year, so I can see that reasoning, but I’d only play Stalock in a game where the outcome doesn’t impact the standings.

— The Shore-Khaira-Archibald line had another strong game yesterday. They aren’t flashy, but they play a playoff style game. The are responsible defensively and good at cycling the puck and forechecking. While they were good, the Kahun-RNH-Yamamoto line struggled. Yamamoto had an unreal hit on Mike Reilly, and they had one really dominant shift, but overall they didn’t have a strong game. They are too small and light to play together against a playoff team. Tippett loaded up his top line because McDavid and Draisaitl are so dominant against the Senators that he believes as long as the other lines don’t get outscored they will win. It is a smart strategy against Ottawa, but Tippett and everyone watching knows it won’t work against Winnipeg, Toronto or Montreal.

— After seeing RNH on the wing for the second half of last season and the start of this year, I think he is a better winger than centre at this point. I also think playing wing could extend his career, as it is less demanding physically in the defensive zone. He can fill in at centre for short stints, but he isn’t a driver. If he is your second line centre, you need really good wingers for the line to produce.

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