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G9 Game Notes: November will be better

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Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
Hot take alert, hot take alert. The Edmonton Oilers will be much better in November than they were in October.
Okay, that isn’t very hot. It’s rather cold, actually, because, despite an ugly 2-5-1 start, the Oilers are still a good hockey team. They will show it this month.
— Two things can happen at the same time. The Oilers are a good team who played poorly in October. You can’t sugarcoat their play. It was brutal up until the Heritage Classic when they dominated the Calgary Flames. Every facet of the team can improve in November.
— The Oilers forwards are tied with Washington for 28th in goals/game. The forwards have 16 goals in eight games. Of course, the bottom six scoring no goals hurts, but even if half of them had a goal, the Oilers would only be at 19 and sit tied for 24th. The top six has 16 goals. Last year through eight games they had 23 goals. That is almost one goal per game less from your top six. They can and need to be better offensively.
— The power play is clicking at 24.1% and sits ninth in the NHL. Solid, but it is 5% below the 29.1% they’ve averaged the past four seasons. They are capable of scoring more and they need to. They’ve only scored three PP goals on home ice going 3-for-15. Last year they led the NHL in shots for/60 at 67.04 and the past three seasons they were first averaging 64.84. This season they rank 19th at 55.9 shots/60.
— Last season Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were second and third respectively in shots on goal on the PP with 108 and 105. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman were tied for 12th with 60 shots each. This year Draisaitl sits tied for 17th with 10 shots, Evan Bouchard is tied for 47th with eight, McDavid and Evander Kane are tied for 84th with six (McDavid missed two games) while RNH and Hyman are tied for 145th with four. Draisaitl’s shot rate is slightly lower than last year, while McDavid’s is the same, while RNH and Hyman are much lower. Bouchard is averaging one shot/game, while last season Tyson Barrie had 29 shots in 61 games before being traded and Bouchard had 13 in the final 21 games on the first unit. This PP is better when they have fewer shots from the blueline. It’s not like Bouchard is shooting way too much, just slightly more as he averages 1.00/game on the PP, while last season he and Barrie were at 0.61 shots/game on the top unit. McDavid’s absence was a factor when Edmonton went 1-for-8 in two games without him. They are 6-for-21 with him so it should start clicking close to 29% again soon.
— The penalty kill allowed goals with one and zero seconds remaining on power plays v. Calgary. Tough luck. If those goals don’t go in then the Oilers’ PK is at 78.1% and sitting 15th, instead of being 72.7% where it ranks 27th. The PK has to be better. It has been in the 70s too many months the past calendar year. They need to get on a run where they can go multiple games without allowing a power play goal.
— They need to build on their 5×5 performance against Calgary. They dominated the Flames from start to finish at 5×5.
They only allowed two high-danger chances at 5×5, their lowest of the season. In games one thru seven they allowed 10, 4, 14, 12, 6, 18 and 16.
— Against Calgary, the Oilers reverted back to a more aggressive, attacking style defensive structure. They weren’t executing the zone defence well. The system wasn’t the issue, their execution was. “It doesn’t matter what system you play, if you don’t work hard, you won’t have success,” said Cody Ceci. The Oilers were more assertive and aggressive v. Calgary and that needs to continue.
— The Oilers were the superior team against Calgary, but it was only one game. It gave them some confidence, but they can’t waste it with a subpar effort tonight. The Oilers are 0-2-1 at Rogers Place this season. They struggled at home early last season going 4-6, before finishing the year 19-6-6, including 9-0-1 in their final 10 home games. Get the crowd involved early and give them a reason to stay involved all game like you did at Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday.
— Dallas is playing their third game in four nights and the second half of a back-to-back. They won 4-3 last night in Calgary. Jake Oettinger stole them the game stopping 43 of 46 shots.  Edmonton will face backup Scott Wedgewood. He is 1-1 with a 3.54 GAA and .889Sv%. It shouldn’t matter which goalie they are facing. The Oilers have a huge rest advantage in this game. Dallas played Monday in Dallas then flew to Calgary on Tuesday, played the Flames last night, then flew to Edmonton after the game and play tonight. The Oilers have been in Edmonton since last Wednesday. They are well rested and need to take advantage of this scheduling benefit.
— The Stars’ power play is struggling. They are 8.7% (2 for 23) this season. They’ve scored a power play goal in one of their eight games when they went 2-for-5. They are 30th in PP opportunities per game at 2.87 ahead of only Seattle (2.80) and San Jose (2.66). Edmonton is 14th at 3.66. Dallas has also allowed three shorthanded goals, so their net PP is actually -4.4%.
— While Dallas’ power play struggles its penalty kill has been excellent at 92.6%. They’ve allowed two goals on 27 kills and scored one shorthanded, so their net PK is 96.3%. Their penalty kill and 5×5 play are the main reasons they are 6-1-1. Dallas has outscored teams 20-12 at 5×5. The Oilers have been outscored 18-14 at 5×5.

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