The Oilers’ first periods have been quite the adventure this season.
They have only scored first in nine of their 23 games. They are 9-0 when they score first and 7-7 when they allow the first goal.
Despite playing from behind often, they average the second most goals/game in the first period with 27 (1.17game). Only Colorado has more at (1.31).
The first period tonight is very important. Edmonton is 9-0 when leading after 20 minutes, and their opponent tonight is 10-0.
The Oilers are 11-0 when they lead after two periods while the Wild are 9-0. Both teams play very well with the lead, and if the Oilers want to avoid a three-game losing skid a good start is imperative.
The Oilers are 0-6 when trailing after one period and Minnesota is 2-5-1.
The math is pretty straightforward. Edmonton is 16-1 when they lead (9-0) or are tied (7-1) after the first period. The Oilers play much better with the lead, mainly because it forces the opponents to play a more open game and the Oilers thrive in that situation.
“It is hurting us right now always playing from behind,” said Leon Draisaitl. “It is easy for teams to keep us to the outside. There is no point for them to open up the game or give us an odd-man rush. We have to have better starts for sure. Going into the second period with a lead would be really big for our team.”
Edmonton is a great front runner. And that isn’t a knock. It means they can control the game much easier and put teams on their heels when they get ahead early on. It gives them life, but as Draisaitl said it forces other teams to not sit back. Very few teams in the NHL can consistently come from behind and win games, and against a very good Wild team I believe the first goal is even more important.
The Wild are excellent at 5×5. They are second in 5×5 goals with 63. Like the Oilers, they excel when scoring first. The Wild are 11-1. If you enjoy in-game wagering, you might want to place an in-game wager after the opening goal. Whoever scores it likely has a very good chance to win.
While the Wild have the advantage 5×5, Edmonton has a clear advantage on special teams.
The Oilers’ league-leading power play is 34.3% and they are sixth on the penalty kill at 85.1%. The Wild PP is a lethargic 13.9% (29th) and they are 18th on the PK at 80.7%. And the Wild have been shorthanded the second most times (83) in the NHL.
The Oilers, by their standards, have struggled on the PP lately, going 22.5% in the previous month. That is still 11th best in the NHL, but for Edmonton, it is below average. I asked Draisaitl what he’d like to see them improve on the man advantage.
“We have to get back to outworking teams and that creates the five-on-five kind of hockey that I think we are the best in the league at doing that on the powerplay, in a five-on-five type of way. There are some things we need to sharpen up, but I have all the trust in the world in our powerplay, and I think we will get back to it,” said Draisaitl.
He is accurate in how the Oilers’ PP is so dangerous when they match the work ethic of the penalty killers, because Edmonton has so much elite skill on the ice, and when they have the puck more they will eventually break down any penalty killing unit. But they need to match their work ethic.
Hyman – McDavid – Puljujarvi
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – McLeod – Kassian
Shore – Ryan – Sceviour
Niemelainen – Barrie
Broberg – Russell
Devin Shore returns from injury and Tyler Benson is out. Brendan Perlini was placed on waivers to activate Shore. Cody Ceci could return skating tomorrow and if that is the case he likely will be ready to play Thursday against the Bruins.
Kaprisov – Hartman – Zuccarello
Greenway – Eriksson Ek – Foligno
Pitlick – Rask – Fiala
Duhaime – Sturm – Bjugstad
Brodin – Dumba
Merrill – Goligoski
Benn – Kulikov
Jared Spurgeon is still out for the Wild, so they will play five left D-men with Goligoski and Kulikov playing the right side. Could be a factor on the penalty kill when Edmonton pressures them and they have to move the puck on their backhand.
The Wild have been getting great production from all four lines at 5×5. The Eriksson Ek line has been a handful down low and the Oilers D-men need to try and shut down their cycle.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton avoids a three-game losing streak and squeaks out a 3-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers score a PP goal and allow two goals at 5×5.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers’ fourth line scores a 5×5 goal.
MONTH OF GIVING…
Thanks to Trevor for his great bid on the Chop dinner package. Much appreciated.
- Four Loge Ledge Seats to this Saturday, December 11th Oilers vs Carolina Game. Seats are in Loge 17, “Oily Boys” attack end in first and third periods.
- $500 GC to Guru Ice Kitchen and Bar in Ice District for pregame dinner and cocktails. (Can you use another day if you choose).
- A Leon Draisaitl Home Jersey
- Whisky Basket containing Woody Creek Real Talk Single Cask Bourbon, Boulder Spirits Sherry Cask Bourbon, Two – 4 packs of Two Stacks Irish Whiskey Dram in a Can and Taconic Maple Cask Bourbon courtesy of PWS Imports.
- The winning bidder will join Steven Shaw and Travis Watt from PWS Imports along with Ryan Jespersen from the Real Talk Podcast for evaluation of single cask samples in order to select an exclusive product for the Alberta Market. ** They guarantee it will be more memorable than a “T SHIRT TOSS.**
Package #2: Golf and Driver
- A 20-hour pass at Evolution Golf.
- A new PXG driver. (pictured)
- The pass is valid at any of their three locations in the Edmonton area.
You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today. All proceeds will help out Santas Anonymous.
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