G46 Game Notes: Oilers Going for 17th Consecutive Win
By Jason Gregor20 days ago
Everyone in the NHL is aware of the run the Oilers are on. Only two other teams in NHL history won 16 games in a row, but neither had nine days off before trying for their 17th consecutive victory. We will find out tonight if the break was beneficial or a hindrance for the Oilers. Regardless of the outcome, this game will have more hype and excitement than a normal February game as the Oilers try to tie the 1993 Pittsburgh Penguins’ 17-game winning streak.
The Oilers and their fans will likely never be in this position again, and the same can be said about Vegas in regard to playing the spoiler role for a team on the verge of tying an NHL record. It creates a juicy storyline.
— The streak is one angle, and the other is the race for second place in the Pacific Division. On December 1st Vegas was 15 points ahead of Edmonton and the Oilers had two games in hand. Today Vegas is five points up on the Oilers, but Edmonton has five games in hand. A victory, in regulation, would move the Oilers within three points and they’d still have five games in hand. The battle for home ice advantage in the Pacific has intensified and the Oilers have put themselves back in the hunt. The streak and home ice make this game must-watch TV.
— “Both teams know the situation we are in, they’re in, and it is going to be a good game,” said Leon Draisaitl. “We know what they are going to try to do. What has made us so successful recently is we didn’t talk about it (the streak) and we didn’t make too big of a fuss about, and we will continue down that path.”
Draisaitl didn’t downplay the importance of gaining home ice advantage. “It is big. It is really big. The margin of error is really slim in the playoffs and a lot of the time it goes down to game seven and being at home for that game is big. It is a goal of ours.”
A few months ago, very few people thought home ice was a possibility for the Oilers. Now it is well within their reach.
— “When healthy he has Vezina Trophy numbers,” said Kevin Woodley in response to Vegas goalie Adin Hill. “He defends low slot line play very well, which is what Vegas gives up. He has great length, plays a deeper style and that allows him to get across quickly and use his arms and pads to build coverage. Against him you are better off trying to create lateral plays higher up.”
Something to watch tonight when the Oilers attack. Also important to note that Hill’s strength complements Vegas very well.
— The same can be said about the Oilers and Stuart Skinner. They’ve reduced chances off the rush, and Skinner has played in a much more predictable environment. He excels at stopping quality chances off the cycle, and from down low, and we’ve seen that during this streak. When the Oilers have had breakdowns in the low slot, he has made many huge stops. Like Hill, he plays deeper in his net, and this benefits him more down low than it does shots off the rush.
— Connor McDavid has seven points in his past two games. He had seven points in his previous eight games. Kris Knoblauch‘s decision to play McDavid with Draisaitl paid off as they produced seven and six points respectively. Neither was playing poorly, but they hadn’t been their usual dominant selves offensively. Knoblauch felt the team was in a bit of a lull, so he switched up his top-two lines and it worked well. They scored at 5×5, and the power play went 3-for-4. Knoblauch has proven he has a good read on his team and individuals. Even his best offensive stars needed a jolt and playing them together resulted in two victories and 13 points from the superstars.
— As the Oilers unofficially begin the second half of the season (technically that began in game 42), it is interesting to note which players are on pace for career highs.
Zach Hyman has 30 goals and is poised to crush his previous best of 36. He also has 47 points and is on pace for 87, which would top the 83 he had last season.
Warren Foegele had a career high 13 goals and 30 points in 68 games in 2020. He already has 26 points and 10 goals. He should breeze past both marks.
Ryan McLeod set career highs of 11 goals and 23 points last season in 57 games. He has 9-10-19 in 44 games this year. He should top 15 goals and 30 points this season.
— Evan Bouchard has already tied his career-high of 43 points, which he set in 81 games in 2022. He is one shy of his career-best 12 goals. He should become the ninth Oilers defender to score 15 goals in a season, and he has a realistic chance to be only the fourth to score 20 goals joining Paul Coffey (48, 40, 37, 29, 29), Sheldon Souray (23) and Charlie Huddy (20). He also is on pace to join Coffey as the only Oilers defenders with 70+ points in a season. Coffey has the top six seasons with 138, 126, 121, 96, 89 and 67 points. Risto Siltanen holds the seventh spot with 63 points.
— The Oilers can extend multiple streaks tonight:
Extend winning streak to 17 games.
Extend road-winning streak to 10 games (already a franchise record at nine). The NHL record is 12 set by Detroit (2006) and Minnesota (2015).
Extend streak to 15 games allowing two goals or less. Modern NHL record is 18, set by the 2014 LA Kings.
— Skinner will go for his 13th consecutive win, which would tie him for fifth longest in NHL history. Tiny Thompson (1930), Tom Barrasso (1993), Jonas Hiller (2014) and Sergei Bobrovsky (2016) are tied for the NHL record with 14 victories in a row. Skinner has only allowed 17 goals in his last 12 starts and has dazzling .950Sv%. Adin Hill also has a .950Sv% in that span, but he’s only played two games. He returned from injury before the break and stopped 76 of 80 shots in victories over the Islanders and Rangers on January 23rd and 26th.
— Vegas will be without Jack Eichel, Shea Theodore and William Carrier tonight. William Karlsson is likely to return to the lineup for his first game since January 1st. He will be a big boost to their lineup, but with Eichel out and Karlsson returning after five weeks, the Oilers have a clear advantage at the top-two centre spots with McDavid and Draisaitl going up against Chandler Stephenson and Karlsson.
— The Oilers have allowed a mere 18 goals in their last 14 games. They’ve outscored teams 51-18 over that span. They used to allow 18 goals in one week. In the three games prior to this run of 24 wins in 27 games, they allowed 17 goals in those three games. The switch to becoming a sound defensive team has been quite dramatic.
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