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G20 Game Notes: Edmonton Oilers host struggling Anaheim Ducks

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Photo credit:Wikimedia Commons
Cam Lewis
3 months ago
After playing arguably their best game of the season in Washington on Friday, the Edmonton Oilers are back home to face the struggling Anaheim Ducks.
1. The Oilers are back from a four-game road trip that started with three losses and was salvaged with a win at the end. They got off to great starts in Tampa and Florida but couldn’t stop the Lightning and Panthers from pulling off comebacks. Edmonton got pounded in Carolina and looked completely outmatched by the Hurricanes but bounced back with a dominant 5-0 win over the Capitals in Washington.
The trip pretty much encapsulated what the team’s entire season has looked like through the first quarter of the schedule. Two losses that probably should have been wins, one loss that made it look like they had given up on the season, and a win that reminded you why they were said to be Stanley Cup contenders in the first place.
2. The Capitals came into their Thanksgiving matinee against the Oilers with a 10-4-2 record and just 43 goals against across those 16 games played, good for an average of 2.69 goals against per game. The Oilers put up five goals on Washington, marking just the second time this season the Capitals had allowed more than four goals in a game.
3. Critical to Edmonton’s success in that win over Washington was the team’s top power-play unit performing like it did last year. The Oilers scored two even-strength goals to take the lead in the first period and then kicked the floodgates open with three goals on the man advantage in the second.
The power play is now scoring on 25 percent of its chances, which ranks seventh in the league. The Oilers set an all-time record by scoring on 32.4 percent of their power play opportunities last season, and getting back up to that level would go a long way in helping the team make a push back up the standings.
4. A 6-12-1 record has the Oilers in 14th in the Western Conference in terms of both points and points percentage. They’re ahead of only the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks and will have to jump over six teams to get into a playoff spot. That’s a significant task but it’s far from impossible given the competition.
The cutoff for a team to make the playoffs in an average season is usually 95 points, which the eighth-place Winnipeg Jets had last year. This season, it looks like it’ll take less than usual to get into the playoffs. The Arizona Coyotes are in eighth in the Western Conference right now with a .500 points percentage, putting them on pace for 82 points.
The Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, Seattle Kraken, and Coyotes stand between the Oilers and a playoff spot and none of those teams have done anything to suggest they’ll play at much better than a .500 pace the rest of the way.
Reaching 90 points is probably a safe bet for the Oilers to make the playoffs. They only have 13 through 19 games, so they’ll realistically need to pick up at least 77 points in their remaining 63 games. That’s 39 wins and 24 losses.
5. Beating the crop of middling teams ahead of them in the standings will be critical in the Oilers climbing out of this hole. The Ducks are 9-11-0 on the season and are five points clear of Edmonton in the standings. A win by the Oilers on Sunday shrinks that to just three points while a loss would stretch it to seven.
6. The Ducks had a six-game winning streak earlier in the season but have fallen back to earth. They’re currently riding a five-game losing skid with four of the losses coming at home. Anaheim is without two of their top young players, as defenceman Jamie Drysdale and forward Trevor Zegras are both on the Injured Reserve.

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