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Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes Oilers @ Penguins: Trending In Different Directions

The Pittsburgh Penguins won the draft lottery in 2005 and selected Sidney Crosby. It was a massive turning point for the franchise.

The Edmonton Oilers made it to the Stanley Cup final the next season, 2006, and lost in game seven. It wasn’t a positive turning point for the franchise.

Between 2007 and 2021 the Penguins and Oilers were the complete opposites when it came to NHL success.

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— In the 15 seasons between 2007-2021, the Penguins won the most games in the NHL. They went 682-361-114. They also won the most playoff games, going 100-83. They won three Stanley Cups, tied for most with Chicago, and were the best NHL franchise during those 15 seasons.

— In the same 15 seasons, the Oilers lost more games than any team in the NHL. They went 488-546-125. Only two other teams, Buffalo (518) and Arizona (510), lost more than 500 games. They also only won eight playoff games in that span, tied for the fewest with Florida. It was a dreadful 15-year run for Edmonton and its fans. But finally, it looks like the Oilers are finally showing signs of being competitive. This season marks the third consecutive year they’ve qualified for the playoffs. The first time that’s happened since 1999-2001.

— For the past three months the Oilers have been getting better, while the Penguins have slid down the NHL standings.

From February 1st to today the Oilers have the seventh best P% at .671 (24-11-3). The Penguins are 16th at .571 (18-13-4).
Since March 1st Edmonton has the sixth best P% at .712 (17-6-3), while the Penguins are 18th at .540 (12-10-3).
Since April 1st, Edmonton has posted the fifth best P% at .773 (8-2-1), and the Penguins sit 25th  at .409 (4-6-1).

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The Penguins are battling Washington for third in the Metro. Whoever finishes higher will face the Rangers, while the loser will likely have the second wildcard spot and have to face the surging Florida Panthers. The Penguins are still a competitive team, but their recent play, combined with Tristan Jarry’s injury, suggests they aren’t the dominant team we saw over the previous 15 seasons.

— Tonight’s tilt means a lot for the Penguins. They’d much rather face the Rangers than the Panthers, and a victory tonight would help them reach that goal. Pittsburgh has 101 points with games against Edmonton and Columbus, while the Capitals have 100 points and play the Islanders twice and Rangers once. Third place in the Metro might not be decided until the final day of the regular season when the Pens host the Blue Jackets and the Capitals are at the Rangers, but a loss tonight could really hurt the Pens’ chances of finishing in third place.

— An Oilers victory tonight would guarantee them second place in the Pacific and home ice advantage against the LA Kings in the opening round. The Oilers will be looking to bounce back after a rough third period in Columbus. Edmonton needs two points in its final three games to guarantee home ice advantage in the first round. Nothing is guaranteed at this point, but the Oilers opening up at home against the Kings on Monday sounds like the most likely scenario.

— The Kings’ home arena currently has concerts booked on Friday, May 6th and Saturday May 7th. Kevin Hart is booked at 7 p.m. PST on Friday, while Eric Church is scheduled for Saturday night at 8 p.m. Pacific. If the Oilers open up at home Monday, May 2nd and Wednesday the 4th, they could play game three in LA Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but I’ve been told the Church set up makes it unlikely they could play before his concert. The only conflict in Edmonton is Chris Stapleton booked for Wednesday, May 11th at Rogers Place. So it isn’t a lock on when the series will begin. Oilers had wanted Monday, but it might not be until Tuesday, depending on LA schedule. Starting a day or two later would give Nurse a few extra days to recover.

— Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid entered the NHL 10 years apart. Crosby was the first overall pick in 2005, while McDavid was #1 overall in 2015. Tonight is McDavid’s 486th game. Through their first 485 career NHL games Crosby and McDavid have very similar numbers.

McDavid has 238-454-692. He has 186 EVG and 487 EVP as well as 49 PPG and 216 PPP. He’s scored three SHG and nine SHP, 13 OT goals and 53 game winning goals.
Crosby had 246-442-688. He had 171 EVG and 416 EVP as well as 72 PPG and 264 PPP. He had three SHG and eight SHP, five OT goals and 29 game winning goals.

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— Tonight will be the ninth game they’ve played head-to-head. McDavid has 4-10-14 in the first eight games and Crosby has 2-3-5. However, the Oilers are only 2-3-3 in those eight games. Edmonton has lost in OT twice and once in a shootout. The Oilers have won two of the previous three meetings involving Crosby and McDavid including a 5-2 victory in Edmonton on December 1st, 2021, when McDavid scored 1-3-4 and finished the game +5. Crosby had an assist and was -4.

Leon Draisaitl became the 40th player in NHL history to score 55 goals in a season on Sunday in Columbus. He and Auston Matthews (58) have both done it, and it is the first time since 1996 that two players scored 55+ goals in an NHL season.  Only 15 players have scored 55 goals in two seasons. Matthews and Draisaitl have many years to join that exclusive club.

One One Two Three Four Five  Six
Brian Bellows Lanny McDonald Tim Kerr Marcel Dionne Pavel Bure Phil Esposito Mike Bossy
Jimmy Carson Cam Neely Jari Kurri Michel Goulet Brett Hull Wayne Gretzky
Jonathon Cheechoo Bernie Nicholls Alex Mogilny Guy Lafleur Mario Lemieux
Dino Ciccarelli John Ogrodnick Alex Ovechkin Steve Yzerman
Leon Draisaitl Luc Robitaille Charlie Simmer
Sergei Federov Teemu Selanne
Danny Gare Steve Shutt
Bobby Hull Craig Simpson
Jaromir Jagr Steven Stamkos
Rick Kehoe Kevin Stevens
Reggie Leach Blaine Stoughton
Dennis Maruk Pierre Turgeon
Auston Matthews

To show how quickly the numbers drop off, Matthews is one of 25 players to score 58 goals in a season and only 10 have scored 58+ twice. Draisaitl needs three goals in his final three games to reach 58. Matthews needs two goals to become the 21st player to score 60 in a season.

— McDavid set a new career high with his 117th and 118th points in Columbus. He needs two points in his final three games to become the 36th player in NHL history to score 120 points in a season.

One One Two Three Four Five  Six Eight Fourteen
Sidney Crosby Bernie Nicholls Dale Hawerchuk Mike Bossy Jagr Lafleur Dionne Lemieux Gretzky
Sergei Federov Kent Nilsson Jari Kurri Paul Coffey B. Orr Esposito
Doug Gilmour Adam Oates Denis Savard P. Stastny
Michel Goulet Mark Recchi B. Trottier
Brett Hull Luc Robitaille  Yzerman
Nikita Kucherov Joe Sakic
Pat Lafontaine Teemu Selanne
Dennis Maruk Kevin Stevens
Mark Messier Joe Thornton
Alex Mogilny Pierre Turgeon

— McDavid would become the fourth active player to score 120. Nikita Kucherov had 128 in 2019, Crosby had 120 in 2007 and Joe Thornton scored 125 in 2006. McDavid is only 25 and will have many years to try and reach 120+ points again and become the 16th player to do it twice.

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