G61 Game Notes: Oilers Look for Sixth-Straight Win in Matchup against the Blue Jackets

Photo credit:Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers haven’t won a game in Columbus in four years. Their last victory in Columbus was exactly four years ago to the day when they defeated the Blue Jackets 4-1 on March 7th, 2020. The roster was much different then, as Alex Chiasson, Caleb Jones, and Riley Sheahan scored goals, and Zack Kassian, James Neal, Jujhar Khaira, Kris Russell, and Josh Archibald had assists. Mikko Koskinen made 45 saves.
— Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse were the only active Oilers on the roster. They’d love nothing more than to end the drought tonight in Columbus.
— Columbus is having another disappointing season. They are last in the Eastern Conference and rank 29th in the NHL with 52 points. They are 21st in GF/GP at 2.98/game and sit 31st in GA/GP at 3.66. In the four years since their last victory in Columbus, the Oilers have the sixth-highest P% in the NHL, while the Blue Jackets rank 27th. Columbus has been tougher than expected in most games. The Oilers defeated them 4-1 in Edmonton in their lasting meeting, but that was their first victory in their previous four meetings.
— The Oilers have played very well v. the bottom-11 teams in the NHL since Kris Knoblauch arrived. They are 15-1 v. those teams, with their only blemish being a 4-2 loss to Minnesota. They’ve dominated the 16 games, outscoring teams 71-23. They haven’t taken these teams lightly, and I’d be surprised if they did tonight. This is another game the Oilers should control.
— Leon Draisaitl picked up his 80th point of the season in Boston on Tuesday. It is the sixth-consecutive season he’s reached 80 points, and he is now one of only 29 players to do so. he joins teammate Connor McDavid as the only two players with an active streak of that length.
If they remain healthy, I doubt anyone would be surprised to see both have a streak of 10+ seasons.
— McDavid needs one point to reach 100 for the seventh time in his career. He will join Peter Stastny (7x), Mike Bossy (7x), Marcel Dionne (8x), Mario Lemieux (10x) and Wayne Gretzky (15x) as the only players with seven or more 100+ point seasons. I wrote two years ago that he would be the third player with 10 seasons of 100 points, and the way he plays, he will surpass Lemieux, and could tie, or even pass, Gretzky. Ridiculous. Oilers fans should feel blessed to have been able to watch them in their prime. Depending on your age, you have watched one or both. Remarkable.
The Oilers’ forward group is significantly better today than it was on Tuesday in Boston. The Oilers’ new forwards, Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick, have a combined 26 goals and 53 points this season. Derek Ryan and Connor Brown have a combined five goals and 16 points. That is a significant upgrade in offense, while both newcomers can kill penalties and have more size and physicality.
— The Oilers have won five games in a row since Kris Knoblauch changed his lines. I could see him keeping the Draisaitl-McDavid-Hyman trio together tonight, slotting Henrique with RNH and Kane, while Janmark moves down to the fourth line with Carrick and either Derek Ryan or Connor Brown. Henrique gives the Oilers another top-six forward, and Knoblauch could opt to keep McDrai together or separate them when needed. It is good to have options.
— I think many fans don’t understand what second line production looks like. I saw some on Twitter suggest Henrique is a third line player. He has 18 goals and 42 points in 60 games this season. Only 101 forwards have 18 goals, which averages out to 3.15 forwards/team. His career high is 50 points, and he’s eight shy of tying that. He is two goals away from scoring 20+ goals for the seventh time in his career. Suggesting he is only a third-line player is simply incorrect.
—Henrique gives the Oilers five forwards with 18+ goals. Only Dallas has more, with six. Dallas’ top-six forwards have 136 goals, while the Oilers top-six, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, now have 152. If you want to remove Henrique and add Warren Foegele, the Oilers are at 147. The other 14 teams currently in a playoff spot have the following top-six production: Toronto’s 154 goals, Tampa (146), Vancouver (140), New York Rangers (137), Florida (136), Colorado (131), Boston (130), Vegas (123, and I swapped Mantha for Stone), Los Angeles (112), Detroit (112), Winnipeg (110), Nashville (109), Carolina (107), Philadelphia (107). And the Oilers have between one to four games in hand on all of those teams. There top-six should be better with Henrique.
— For those who like jersey numbers: Henrique will wear #19, while Carrick will wear #39.
— Carrick has had 26 fights the past three seasons. His recent fight card includes Jeremy Lauzon, Brendan Lemieux, AJ Greer, Keegan Kolesar, Patrick Maroon and others. He’s a lefty, and while he isn’t the biggest guy, he’s a gamer. He has 137 hits this year, which would rank second among Oilers forwards behind Evander Kane’s 198. Connor McDavid has 93 and Warren Foegele 67. Edmonton needed a player with some edge in the bottom six, and he has eight goals which is the same total as Ryan, Brown and Dylan Holloway combined.
Holloway was reassigned to Bakersfield today, which gives the Oilers cap space to add a player with a $2.1m full-season AAV. They will add a depth defenceaman, but they have the option to add another player. Yesterday, I asked Ken Holland about adding another player (outside of the depth defender) and he mentioned team chemistry is something he really believes in. Adding too many pieces can disrupt it, so we’ll see if the Oilers push in more chips before tomorrow’s deadline.

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