G12 Game Notes: The Basement Battle

Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
8 months ago
A matchup moniker none expected is here, as the Basement Battle between the 31st-place Edmonton Oilers and 32nd-place San Jose Sharks goes tonight. Many expected the Sharks to struggle, but not the Oilers, yet here we are. Both teams have earned their places in the standings.
— The Oilers have tied their franchise-worst start at 2-8-1. Every element of their game has underachieved. Even Connor McDavid is producing well below his usual offensive standard. It has been a collective struggle for the boys in blue and orange. They can’t score, struggle defending, and their goalies have been unable to make timely saves.
— Edmonton is only two points ahead of the Sharks in the standings after San Jose picked up its first victory of the season on Tuesday. The Sharks are not a good hockey club. The Oilers are deserving of their 2-8-1 record, but they have the skill to be better. San Jose is 1-10-1, but their skill mirrors their record. They’ve been outscored 55-14 in 12 games. They’ve scored a paltry 1.12 goals/game, while allowing 4.58. They’ve been outshot, on average, 37.7 to 24.8.
— The modern-day NHL record for lowest goals per game was set by the 2014 Buffalo Sabres who averaged 1.83 goals/game. The 1998 Tampa Bay Lightning averaged 1.84 and the 2015 Sabres were at 1.87. Thru 12 games the Sharks sit at 1.17 goals. Only two teams in history, the 1929 Chicago Blackhawks (0.75) and 1929 Pittsburgh Pirates (1.05) averaged less. They played a 44-game season. The Sharks currently rank 1,693 out of the 1,695 teams in NHL history offensively. The 2014 Sabres rank 1,670th all time in futility. The Sharks’ offence is on pace to be one of the worst in the 100+ year history of the NHL.
— The Sharks have scored three goals in a game once this year. They’ve scored two goals twice, tallied a single goal seven times and have been shutout twice. Tomas Hertl leads them with seven points followed by Anthony Duclair with five.
— They’ve been caved in at 5×5 getting outscored 37-7. Only two skaters in the lineup tonight have a GF% above 25%. That isn’t a typo. Ty Emberson and Mikael Granlund are both at 40% (2GF-3GA), while the rest of the skater are 25% or lower. They will ice five skaters who have a goal 5×5.
— One aspect of their game which has been okay has been their power play. It is 18.2% and sits 17th overall. Their PP is 28% in their last three games going 4-for-14. The Oilers’ struggling PK can’t take them lightly.
— The Oilers’ first unit PP has struggled the past eight games, scoring only three goals on 25 chances (12%). The second unit has been better with goals in the past two games from Mattias Ekholm and Darnell Nurse.
The production from the top unit has been terribly low the past eight games.
Evan Bouchard has 1-2-2 in 28:57 of PP time.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 0-0-0 in 28:37.
Zach Hyman has 1-0-1 in 27:43.
Leon Draisaitl has 0-2-2 in 27:36.
Connor McDavid has 0-2-2 in 20:48.
Compare that to their first three games of the season:
Bouchard scored 0-3-3 in 15:25.
Draisaitl had 3-1-4 in 15:13.
Hyman scored 0-1-1 in 14:10.
RNH tallied 1-2-3 in 14:09.
McDavid had 1-3-4 in 14:04.
They had five goals in three games in 14 minutes as a unit. They have three goals in 28 minutes since. The first unit needs to be much better, and they need to start shooting the puck again. They had 23 shots in the first three games, but only have 23 over the last eight. I realize McDavid isn’t 100%, but that doesn’t excuse the rest of the unit from not shooting the puck or hitting the net. They are much better than they’ve shown the past eight games and need to start playing up to their potential.
The Sharks acquired Calen Addison from Minnesota yesterday for a fifth round pick and prospect Adam Raska. Addison is scheduled to play for the Sharks tonight and he’ll be the 11th defenceman to play for the Sharks this season. Tonight is only their 13th game. Addison could draw in for rookie Emberson and be paired with Mario Ferraro. Their other pairs include Marc-Edouard Vlasic with Kyle Burroughs and Nikita Okhotyuk with Jan Rutta. If the Oilers’ offence can’t get going against the D corps they are in big trouble.
— The Oilers’ offence has been stuck in neutral for weeks. They only have 19 goals in their past eight games for a paltry 2.38 goals/game. That ranks 29th in the NHL. Only Washington (2.22), Chicago (2.14) and San Jose (1.00) have been worse. Much of the focus has been on goaltending and team defence, which has also struggled, but let’s be real, the offence has been equally dreadful.
— The Sharks are the second-best faceoff team in the NHL at 54.9%. It hasn’t helped them, but is something to monitor, especially when the Oilers are on the PK.
— The Oilers haven’t played up to their potential thus far. Not close. But tonight is a game they should win. They need to win, and if they are up three or four goals in the third period, if I was Jay Woodcroft, I wouldn’t rest my first unit PP. Usually you do, but this team’s MOJO is non-existent. Tonight is a game in which I’d disregard the “code” and not worry about offending the Sharks. The Oilers are desperate for a win, and desperate to gain some offensive confidence.
— When you host a sport talk radio show you can say many head-scratching things. Or things you regret. On Monday, while discussing the Oilers week ahead, I said it was imperative they win at least one game v. Vancouver or Seattle. I didn’t expect them to beat Vancouver and added if they don’t beat Seattle major changes should occur. I felt a victory over San Jose was a given. Lose that game and you have much larger issues. I then added that a victory over the Sharks was, and should be, guaranteed. The Sharks do not have a good NHL roster. Then the I added a comment that has me a tad stressed. I said if the Oilers lose to the Sharks, I’d grow out “The Lahey.” And I’d grow it out for seven months. Eff me.
Listener Adam showed his empathy and posted this.
Selfishly I care about a win more than I ever have in my 22 years of covering the team. If they lose, I might end up drinking like Lahey.


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