The Edmonton Oilers skate into Detroit brimming with confidence. They are 9-1 to start a season for the first time in franchise history after overcoming 4-1 and 5-4 deficits against the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers four days ago. They lead the NHL in goals per game at 4.40, sit 13th in goals against per game at 2.80, have the league’s top-two scorers, the NHL’s best power play and the 6th best penalty kill. They’ve had a great start.
— Of course there are areas the coaches want to work on, and they will, but Edmonton couldn’t have asked for a better start. And now the goal is to remain a consistently competitive team.
— Edmonton has won 10 consecutive road games, which is a franchise record spanning two seasons, but not a single-season record. The NHL record for consecutive road wins in one season is 12 set by Detroit (2006) and Minnesota (2015). Edmonton won its final seven road games last year and are 3-0 this season with wins in Vancouver, Arizona and Vegas.
— The Oilers have had more balanced scoring this season compared to last. Which is saying a lot considering how productive Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been.
Last season McDavid averaged 1.88 points/game and finished with 105 points in 56 games. He factored in on 57% of the Oilers’ goals.
This season is he averaging 2.2 points/game with 22 in 10 games. And he’s been in on 50% of the Oilers’ goals.
He is scoring more, but has been in on a lower percentage of goals. Draisaitl (23 points) has been in on 52.3% of Edmonton’s goals. Edmonton has more scoring this season for players not named McDavid and Draisaitl.
— When you have players that productive they are going to hover around 50% of the team’s total offence. The 1980s Oilers had multiple Hall of Fame players, yet Gretzky still scored 50% of the offence. Did anyone suggest the offence was too reliant on Gretzky? I don’t recall that, and if Draisaitl and McDavid keep producing at these rates, I expect you will see them hovering around 50%. Especially when the power play stays so dangerous.
— Between 1982-1986 Gretzky scored 212, 196, 205, 208 and 215 points, and in those five seasons he factored in on 50.8%, 46.2%, 46% (missed six games), 51.8% and 50.5%. In those five seasons the Oilers PP scored 87, 86, 81, 74 and 78 goals and their PP% was 25.6%, 29.3%, 25.5%, 25.7% and 26.3%.
— Their PP accounted for 20.8%, 20.2%, 18.1%, 18.4% and 18.3% of their total goal each season. So far this season the Oilers PP has 34% of its goals (15 of 44). So when you look at 5×5 production the Oilers are getting much more without McDavid being involved. He has been in on 34.7% of their 5×5 goal and he’s been on the ice for 47.8% of their 5×5 goals. Last season McDavid got a point on 48.6% of their 5×5 goals and was on the ice for 56% of them.
— I think we all expect the Oilers PP% to drop a few percentage points, but I also expect McDavid’s 5×5 production to go up. He has eight 5×5 points in 10 games, after scoring 56 in 56 games last season. Look for an increase in his 5×5 scoring moving forward.
— Former Oilers forward Sam Gagner (6th overall in 2007 draft) will play his 900th NHL game tonight. He will tie Bob Nystrom and Rob Ray for 502nd all-time in games played and if he stays healthy he will be in the top-400 by the end of the season. He is 5th in his draft class in games played and 9th in goals (173) and points (479) and he is 8th in assists (306). He has been a solid pick from the 2007 draft class.
— Kyle Turris was taken 3rd in 2007. Tonight will be his 763rd game (13th). He is 10th in goals (168), 11th in assists (254) and 11th in points (422). He too has had a solid NHL career.
— While Draisaitl and McDavid lead the NHL in scoring, Detroit’s Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider lead all NHL rookies with 14 and 10 points respectively. Raymond is averaging 16:15/game, while Seider is playing an amazing 22:39. He has split his 5×5 time with Danny Dekeyser (100 minutes) and Nick Leddy (79). Seider has held his own quite nicely as a rookie playing big minutes and starting much more often in the D-zone. He has 36 D-zone starts, 17 O-zone and 50 in the neutral zone. Dekeyser is at 31 D-zone starts and Leddy is at 23. Seider has been outstanding, and he and Dekeyser might get the McDavid/Draisaitl matchup tonight. It will be his biggest challenge thus far.
— At Sunday’s practice Dave Tippett swapped Kailer Yamamoto and Zack Kassian. Kassian skated with RNH and Hyman, while Yamamoto skated with Ryan and Foegele. The Ryan line has allowed too many 5×5 goals lately, so Tippett might look for a new combo tonight. He didn’t want to commit to these lines playing together when asked post-practice on Sunday (team traveled yesterday), but I could see him trying it. Detroit doesn’t have a big, heavy team, so he could play Ryan and Yamamoto together.
— Have the Oilers had an easy schedule? They have had a favourable home schedule with seven at home and three on the road, but the quality of competition hasn’t been poor. Here are the records of the teams they’ve faced thus far, and if it was home (H) or away (A) game.
Vancouver (H) 5-6-1.
Calgary (H) 7-1-3.
Anaheim (H) 6-4-3.
Arizona (A) 1-10-1.
Vegas (A) 6-6-0.
Philadelphia (H) 6-2-2.
Vancouver (A) 5-6-1.
Seattle (H) 4-7-1.
Nashville (H) 6-5-1.
NY Rangers (H) 7-3-3.
Only Seattle and Arizona have losing records against teams not named the Oilers. Hard to say they have played bad teams. They have faced five backups, but Edmonton’s backup is 7-1. They are 9-1 with their starter only playing 156 minutes. It would be more accurate to say Edmonton’s backup goalie is better than most other team’s right now.
— Here is who the Oilers play in their next 10 games. Eight of those are on the road and in a span of 19 days with two sets of back-to-backs (Boston, Buffalo and Dallas, Arizona).
Detroit (A) 6-5-2.
Boston (A) 5-4-0.
Buffalo (A) 5-5-2.
St. Louis (A) 7-2-1.
Winnipeg (A) 6-3-2.
Winnipeg (H) 6-3-2.
Chicago (H) 2-9-2.
Dallas (A) 4-5-2.
Arizona (A) 1-10-1.
Vegas (A) 6-6-0.
The condensed schedule and more road games is more difficult, but the quality of competition isn’t based on current records.
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