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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes: Kraken @ Oilers G8

The Edmonton Oilers and Seattle Kraken will meet for the first time tonight. The Kraken lost 3-1 at home to the New York Rangers last night, and they are now 3-5-1 on the season. Meanwhile, the Oilers are 6-1 and will try for their sixth consecutive win over an expansion team in their inaugural meeting.

— Here is the Oilers record in their first regular season meeting against expansion teams who came to the NHL after the Oilers did in 1979/1980.

November 8th, 1991. A 6-2 loss at San Jose.
October 20th, 1992. A 6-1 loss at Tampa Bay.
November 3rd, 1992. A 5-2 win v. Ottawa.
October 13th, 1993. 4-3 loss in Anaheim.
March 09, 1994. 5-3 loss v. Florida.
November 4th, 1998. A 3-2 win v. Nashville.
February, 25th, 2000. A 5-4 win v. Atlanta (now Winnipeg).
October 15th, 2000. A 5-3 win at Minnesota.
November 5th, 2000. 4-2 win in Columbus.
November 14th, 2017. An 8-2 win v. Vegas.

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Considering the Kraken played last night, and are under .500, this is a game the Oilers should win.

— Connor McDavid leads the NHL with 39 shots. He’s averaging 5.57 shots/game. His career highest to date was 3.57 shots/game last season. McDavid has nine shots in each of the past two games, had seven in the game prior to that, and had eight against Calgary earlier this season. He has worked on improving his shot, and he’s much more willing to shoot than in previous years. It’s resulted in more goals, as he has seven goals in seven games.

— McDavid is due for a breakout game at 5×5. He has five points in seven games thus far and no multi-point games at 5×5. Last season he had 17 multi-point games at 5×5, which amounted to 30% of his games. Don’t be surprised if it happens tonight.

— In the last decade, only eight players have scored 45+ goals in a season. Alex Ovechkin has done it six times, Steven Stamkos twice and Evgeni Malkin, Leon Draisaitl, David Pastrnak, John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Patrick Kane did it once. Of those 14 occasions, Malkin (339 shots in 2012) is in the only player other than Ovechkin in the top-seven most shots. Ovie fired 398, 395, 386, 355, 398 and 311. He has been the NHL’s best goal scorer for his entire career, and he’s also a high volume shooter. His SH% in these six seasons ranged from 12.6% to 15.4%. His highest shots/game came in 2009 when he fired 6.68 shots/game (528 shots in 79 games) and finished the season with 56 goals. He also had 425 shots in 2006 (52 goals) and 446 shots in 2008 (65 goals).

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— McDavid’s willingness to shoot more is the main reason I pegged him to score 50 goals for the first time. But his current shooting rate makes me wonder if 60 goals is realistic for him. Ovechkin (65 goals in 2008) and Stamkos (60 in 2012) are the only players to score 60 goals since 1997. McDavid’s hot start has me thinking he could push for 60 goals.

— Seattle is 22nd in GF/game and 21st in GA/game. So far they are what I expected them to a be. They work hard, but lack top-end talent. Jared McCann leads them in scoring with 4-3-7 in eight games, but he missed last night’s game with an injury and is questionable for tonight. They will try to slow down the Oilers and play a tight-checking game, but they don’t possess the offence to compete with the Oilers top-two lines.

— Edmonton has only been shorthanded 11 times in the last five games and their PK has been perfect, allowing no goals. They are 90% on the season killing off 18 of 20 penalties. Meanwhile Seattle’s PP is 1-for-24 over their past seven games and is 10.3% on the season (3-of-29). The Kraken don’t shoot the puck very much on the PP. In nine games they’ve had 54:27 off PP time and have 41 shots on goal. The Oilers have had 31:46 of PP time in seven games and have 42 shots. Edmonton leads the NHL in PP shots/60 at 81.9. Seattle is 26th at 45.1.

— The Oilers’ power play is truly ridiculous right now. They’ve scored at least one PP goal in each of their seven games. The lowest PP% they’ve had in a game this season is 25%, when they went 1-for-4 against Philadelphia. In 2020 when their power play was 29.5% they scored a goal in 42 of 71 games and they had two or more PP goals in 14 of 71 games. They’ve already had four games with two goals on the man advantage this season. The PP is 47.8%.

— The Oilers’ record for consecutive games with a PP goal to start a season is nine. They’ve done it twice. In their inaugural 1979/1980 season they went 13-of-35 (37.1%) and in 1987/1988 they started 14 of 37 (37.8%). Edmonton can tie that record if they score a power play goal tonight and then Wednesday against Nashville. The Oilers have 11 PP goals thus far. Anaheim scored 11 in total last season.

— Non-hockey note: Wow, are the Elks bad. That is the worst Edmonton CFL team I’ve seen in my 21 years covering the league. Fans are showing their frustration by not attending games. The Board of Directors and President need to realize GM Brock Sunderland has done a horrible job. They have gotten worse every year under his watch and this team has very few pieces they can build around moving forward. I don’t understand why they haven’t made a change yet. Why wait until the end of the season? Show you fans you still care about the direction of the team.

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— Joey Daccord could get his second start of the season tonight for the Kraken after Phillip Grubauer started last night in Seattle. His first start came on the second night of back-to-backs earlier this season. He faced the Oilers twice last season when he was on the Ottawa Senators. He lost both games. He stopped 34 of 37 shots (.919Sv%) on March 8th, and stopped 31 of 37 shots (.838Sv%) on March 12th. Grubauer only faced 17 shots last night, so there is a chance head coach Dave Hakstol considers playing his starter again tonight.

— Duncan Keith will play his 1,200th regular season game tonight. He will tie Owen Nolan for 115th all-time in games played. He is 35th in GP for D-men and his 626 career points are 36th all time. He needs five assists to pass Steve Duchene for 25th among D-men in assists.

— Watch the guy on the left. Mesmerizing. Unreal. He obliterated that game.

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