Welcome, dearest Internet friends, to a brand new GDB that I’ve prepared with great diligence to help us all get ready for the first meeting of the season between our beloved Edmonton Oilers and the Vegas Golden Knights.
Even though we’re only five games into the 2021-22 NHL season, tonight’s contest against the Vegas Golden Knights will be a huge test for our boys as they look to win their first division championship in 34 years. Ever since Vegas came into the league, they’ve been one of the best teams in this division and I think here in 2021 is the perfect time to knock them down a peg. I think a lot of us have already assumed for a while now that both the Oilers and Golden Knights will finish at or near the top of the Pacific Division, but the order they actually show up in is a story that won’t have an ending for another five months or so. Yet, here in October of 2021, the Oilers are rolling and the Golden Knights are struggling with injuries and producing offence, and I couldn’t think of a better time to kick them while they’re down than here in the first couple of weeks. Regardless of how things end up at the end of the year, this marks our first chance to see how our squads match up and whether we’re able to take the first step towards our dream of hanging another banner.
Tilting the odds in our favour is the fact the Golden Knights are coming into this game with some sizeable holes in their lineup due to injury and that’s an opportunity the Oilers have to use to their advantage, especially on the second half of a back-to-back set. With key players like Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty banged up and unavailable, this is about as good of an opportunity as one can hope for in terms of starting off the season series with a win because the Golden Knights simply aren’t the same team without them. As you’ll see in the numbers section below, Vegas has been giving up nearly twice as many goals as they’ve scored so far and that bodes well for a fiery Oilers offence that seems to be steaming ahead right now. If Edmonton can weather any early storms that are sure to come and play a simple game that limits their mistakes then I think we could be in line for a fifth straight win. Dare to dream?
It’s the early days, but let’s see what the numbers say…
|LAST 10 GAMES||4-0-0||1-2-0|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||55.24||46.26|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
Coming into the second half of a back-to-back set, I was curious to see what changes Dave Tippett would make and whether he would swap out a guy or two to get some fresh legs into the lineup. Unfortunately, there was no morning skate today so we won’t know what he’s thinking until closer to puck drop, but I will jump in and make the edits as soon as the line combos become available.
Marchessault – Karlsson – Smith
Dadonov – Stephenson – Roy
Krebs – Patrick – Kolesar
Carrier – Howden – Leschyshyn
Martinez – Pietrangelo
McNabb – Theodore
Hague – Whitecloud
The Oilers get a little bit of a break as the Golden Knights will be without their captain Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Alex Tuch, which are three players that can put the puck in the net if given the chance. Without those three guys available, we’re going to get a better idea about what kind of depth this team has and how that will match up against our boys.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Pick a stat, any stat really, and it’ll paint an ugly picture of how poor the Golden Knights have been defensively through three games. It’s something that’s been out of the norm for the Golden Knights as a franchise and even more so since Pete DeBoer took over 21 months ago.
It’s a small sample size of just three games, but the Golden Knights lead the league on a per-game basis in shots against, scoring chances allowed, and high danger chances allowed. They are second in shot attempts conceded and expected goals against, and they are in the top 10 in literally every other negative category NHL stats keep.
This team deserves the benefit of the doubt because as DeBoer said, they did win the Jennings Trophy last year. So, it’s not time to panic, but there’s been plenty of evidence to give cause for concern. It must improve and quickly, otherwise, the Golden Knights are going to start digging themselves into a hole even they may not be able to get out of.
Game Day Prediction: Despite playing last night, the Oilers are able to take advantage of a banged-up Vegas team to the tune of a 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid’s point streak continues The man is a Game Genie and no one else has access to the codebook.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Brendan Perlini has been feeling the pressure to produce since the pre-season ended and he gets a goal tonight that kicks off a scoring spree.
You know we were going to do it. Grab your Kept Nuge Forever hoodie right here.