The unique aspect of the all-Canadian division as we near the playoffs is that different fanbases are checking the out of town scoreboard and getting excited when an arch-rival wins. Edmonton and Winnipeg fans smiled watching Vancouver defeat Toronto last night. Tonight Vancouver and Calgary fans will be cheering for Edmonton to defeat Montreal in regulation to keep the Flames’ and Canucks’ slim playoff hopes alive.
The final 12 games are going to be a wild ride in the North.
— An Edmonton victory tonight will move them one point ahead of Winnipeg and three behind Toronto with a game in-hand on the Maple Leafs. Toronto suddenly has goaltending issues and their PP has stunk for a month. All four teams in the North have obvious strengths and weaknesses, and I’m not sure it matters who you play in the opening round. It might come down to which team is playing the best when the playoffs start. I do believe home ice advantage still matters, so I think finishing as high as you can is more the priority than which team you play.
— I’ve seen some suggest the Oilers need to shoot more on the powerplay. They are actually fifth in the NHL in shots/60 at 57.98 on the PP. Shooting frequency isn’t an issue.
|January||11||28.6% (10th)||12 of 42||3.82||57.25|
|February||12||27.2% (8th)||10 of 39||3.25||59.34|
|March||14||22.9% (10th)||8 of 35||2.50||57.97|
|April||7||28.0% (7th)||7 of 25||3.37||56.95|
They have been fairly consistent all season in their shot frequency, however, in six games against Montreal they haven’t shot or scored very much. They have 23 shots in six games on (52.17 Shots/60) and they only have two goals on 24 powerplays. Edmonton has averaged four PP/game v. the Canadiens. They are getting chances, but they aren’t capitalizing. Montreal has done a good job of having the Oilers move the puck around the perimeter, especially up high, without pushing it down low or shooting very often.
— To get a comparison of their shot frequency, here is a quick look at their Shot/60 v. the North.
TEAM S/60 PP success
TOR 77.63 4-for-20 (9GP)
CGY 65.96 9-for-26 (8GP)
WGP 60.08 6-for-23 (7GP)
VAN 55.77 6-for-21 (5 GP)
MTL 52.17 2-for-24 (6 GP)
OTT 32.81 10-for-27 (9GP)
Ottawa just didn’t have enough veteran penalty killers to slow down Edmonton, but the Oilers are getting four PP chances/game against Montreal and so far have been shut down. They need to shoot a bit more, but also attack down low more as the Canadiens forwards have pushed out higher on the flanks when attacking Draisaitl or McDavid.
— Here is a quick look per month for the Oilers players who have played on the first unit PP.
|Player||Jan (TOI-S-G)||Feb (TOI -S-G)||March (TOI -S-G)||April (TOI -S-G)|
|McDavid||59:07 – 16-3||55:00 – 16-3||52:42 – 8-1||30:31 – 5-1|
|Draisaitl||59:28 – 16-4||56:13 – 17-1||53:28 – 18-4||30:36 – 9-1|
|RNH||60:16 – 12-3||54:04 – 11-2||54:10 – 9-0||13:31 – 1-1|
|Barrie||50:10 – 5-1||48:07 – 6-1||39:31 – 7-0||25:15 – 1-1|
|Chiasson||28:43 – 5-0||26:55 – 3-2||31:48 – 7-2||22:55 – 6-1|
|Nurse||18: 25 – 2-0||19:31 – 1-0||18:18 – 4-0||8:46 – 3-1|
|Puljujarvi||18:10 – 3-0||16:01 – 4-0||13:13 – 2-1||7:39 – 0-0|
|Neal||15:01 – 5-1||14:52 – 2-0||7:46 – 1-0||2:37 – 0-0|
|Yamamoto||8:06 – 2-0||2:25 – 0-0||6:52 – 0-0||13:52 – 2-1|
It is interesting to note that in seven games the Oilers have seven different players with a PP goal in April. Draisaitl only has one goal on nine shots, so it is only a matter of time before he scores again. And I expect Barrie to start shooting a bit more like he was in the first three months. The Oilers PP overall is great, but against Montreal they need to make some tweaks.
— Jujhar Khaira is a bigger loss than some might think. Since he returned to the lineup on February 6th he’s been very consistent. He is third in 5×5 pts, leads in hits and has taken the third most faceoffs and has played the second most TOI on the PK. They need him back for the playoffs. Stats via Natural Stat Trick.
— He doesn’t get talked about much, but Shore has been a useful free agent signing for the Oilers. He can play wing or centre, is 50% on faceoffs, can kill penalties. He starts in the defensive zone much more often, so his possession numbers don’t look great. He has filled a gap when needed, and I rarely see him making glaring errors that lead to goals against.
— Montreal is struggling to score goals. They are 2-6 in their last eight games and have only scored 12 goals and they’ve allowed 27. They’ve scored more than two goals once. Their PP is 1-for-19 and they’ve been outscored 20-9 at 5×5. That was the strength of their team for most of the season, but they’ve hit the skids and the Oilers need to attack a team that is lacking confidence.
— Jonathan Drouin leads the Canadiens forwards with 21 assists, but he only has two goals. He hasn’t scored in 25 games. It is great he has all those assists, but at some point you need your top scorers to score goals.
— Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was on the ice for the optional skate, but didn’t stay out late for conditioning. So good chance he could play tonight.
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