Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
G23 Game Notes: Drive for Five, Goalies, Philip Broberg, and more
By Jason Gregor2 months ago
Edmonton won 50 games last season, and half of those victories came during winning streaks of 5+ games. They won five in a row twice and also had winning streaks of six and nine games. Edmonton won 14 of its final 15 games by winning five, losing, and winning their final nine games of the season. In 2021-22 when Edmonton won 49 games, they won six in a row once and five consecutive games three times.
While another 100-point season seems a bit unlikely due to their terrible start, the Oilers need to put together some long winning streaks to ensure another playoff berth.
— Winning won’t be easy tonight v. the Carolina Hurricanes. Edmonton is 3-9 in its last 12 against the Canes and has won only once in their previous five games. Carolina is a tough matchup for most teams, but Edmonton has really struggled against them. They haven’t been able to handle their aggressiveness.
— “Usually, you need to make three good hockey plays to create a scoring chance,” said Leon Draisaitl, describing how difficult it is to generate chances against the Hurricanes. They lead the NHL in shots against/game allowing only 24.6. They are also first in high-danger chances allowed. However, they have the worst combined goalie Sv% in the NHL at .876.
The Oilers and Hurricanes haven’t allowed many high-danger chances overall, but both have been guilty of giving up quality chances at the wrong time, at least early on this season for the Oilers. They have tightened up recently. The Oilers have allowed only 12 goals in their last seven victories. They won three games, but then lost three and allowed 14 goals and three empty net goals in losses to Tampa, Florida and Carolina. The Hurricanes jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first 22 minutes of the game. They swarmed Edmonton and the Oilers had no answer.
— The first 10 minutes will be crucial for Edmonton. They’ve started well in the majority of games this season but are coming off a five-day break. They can’t feel their way into the game, or they likely will be down two or three goals. Edmonton has scored first in 13 of 22 games, but they are only 6-6-1. In their last 10 games they are 4-2 when scoring first, so we’ve seen some improvement in holding leads. They’ve been very good at coming back when allowing the first goal going 3-1 over their last 10. The only loss was to the Hurricanes.
— I mentioned Carolina goalies have the worst combined Sv% in the NHL. Here’s how all 32 teams rank in goalie Sv%. This does not include empty net goals, only goals with a goalie in the net.
Edmonton is 30th in the NHL and Carolina ranks 32nd. However, the Hurricanes are tied at 16th in goals against. Their Sv% doesn’t match their GAA, because they don’t allow many shots. If they allow three goals on 26 shots their goalie has an .884Sv%. Their goalies don’t have the benefit of facing a lot of easy shots that can pad their Sv%. But they haven’t had consistent goaltending either, so I’m not giving the goalies a free pass. Freddie Anderson is out indefinitely with blood clots and has only played six games. His .894Sv% is the best among the three Hurricane goalies. Antti Raanta has an .859Sv% in 10 starts, while Petr Kochetkov has and .881Sv% in eight starts. He does have a 2.83 GAA allowing only 26 goals.
— Stuart Skinner has a stellar .931Sv% allowing only seven goals on 101 shots during the Oilers’ four-game winning streak. A big improvement has come on the penalty kill where Edmonton has killed off 15 of 16 power plays in 27:24 of PK time.
— When they arrived, Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey wanted to focus on improving three areas: reducing rush chances, improving the penalty kill and building up the players’ confidence. They’ve achieved all three through nine games and now need to improve it. Under Knoblauch the Oilers are third best in chances off the rush, after being 32nd in their first 12 games. Knoblauch put Mark Stuart in charge of the PK, and it is 89.2% allowing four goals on 37 kills, while scoring three shorties. And the overall confidence of the team has improved drastically. Darnell Nurse explained how Coffey has used video to allow the defencemen to regain their confidence. All three will be put to the test tonight against the Hurricanes.
— Philip Broberg is looking for a change. Yesterday’s drama regarding Broberg and his agent, Darren Ferris, seeking a trade isn’t that big of a deal from my seat. I have no problem with Broberg wanting a trade. He hasn’t played much, although he’s still played the fifth-most games among D-men from his 2019 draft class. He wants to play more. Every player does, so I understand his frustration in not playing. He’s only logged a total of just over 100 minutes this season. At the same time, Edmonton doesn’t need to rush to trade him. There is a very easy solution.
Send him to Bakersfield. He needs to play. Sitting in the press box or playing nine minutes a night when he does play in the NHL isn’t helping him or the organization. He needs to play, and while he might not like the reduced salary in the AHL, he needs to look big picture. He needs to play. But the Oilers also need him for organizational depth. I’d send him to Bakersfield tomorrow and recall Cam Dineen or Tim Gleason. They can sit in the press box while Broberg logs heavy minutes in the AHL. And if the Oilers have an injury on the backend in the next month, they can recall Broberg and slot him in.
— I haven’t liked Broberg’s limited ice time since Mattias Ekholm arrived, but I understand it. I’d have sent him to the AHL sooner. It is also important to note that undrafted Vincent Desharnais was recalled after Broberg, and outplayed him for ice time. Where you are drafted is great on draft day, but I don’t put much stock into it four years later. You have to earn a spot in the NHL regardless of where you were drafted, or even if you weren’t. First round picks often get more opportunities, but has Broberg showed significant improvement? The Oilers didn’t handle his TOI very well, and Broberg got outplayed by Desharnais. I realize they shoot different ways, and Desharnais is a natural righty, but Dave Manson and Jay Woodcroft had both of them in the minors and then in the NHL. I’d argue they’ve seen the growth and development of both players more than anyone, and they played Desharnais ahead of Broberg.
— Look at these two players. They are the same age. Both are 22.
Player A: 68GP with 6-10-16 and averages 15:08/game.
Player B: 79 GP with 2-9-11 and averages 12:36/game.
Player B: 79 GP with 2-9-11 and averages 12:36/game.
Player A was just reassigned to the American League and his head coach said, “He’s a young player, and this demotion is part of his process of reaching the highest ceiling as a professional athlete. Every player goes through stages of development, and he is no exception. It’s about honing his skills and gaining valuable experience, which will contribute to his growth as a player.”
Player A is Arber Xhekaj. He was undrafted and burst on the scene last year for Montreal. Broberg is player B, and while he was drafted in the first round in 2019, that was over 4.5 years ago. It truly means very little today. He needs to play, and the Oilers need organizational depth. Unless Broberg makes the odd decision not to report, the best move for him and the organization is to get him playing in Bakersfield. Just make the transaction and move on.
— Caroline outscored Edmonton 4-1 in the first period two weeks ago, but in their other 23 games they’ve been outscored 24-19. The first period has been their worst period all season, while it has been Edmonton’s best. Despite the five-day break, the Oilers need to be ready to play and try to get ahead of the Hurricanes. Carolina is 7-1 when leading after the first period and 7-0 when leading after the second. The Oilers are 1-6 when trailing after 20 minutes and 2-9 when trailing after 40 minutes. Playing catchup is not advised.
MONTH OF GIVING..
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- 10 rounds of golf at the Ranch Golf and Country Club with a power cart for each round and use of driving range before every round.
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