G26 Game Notes: Eight Would be Great

Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
7 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers franchise has won eight games in a row on seven different occasions. The most recent came late last season when they won their final nine games of the season to tie the franchise record. They also won nine in a row in 2001, while the other five eight-game streaks occurred in 1983-84 and 1984-85 when the Oilers won their first two Stanley Cups.
The surging Oilers will face the 31st-place Chicago Blackhawks and young phenom Connor Bedard tonight, looking for another eight-game winning streak.
— It still amazes me that Edmonton, along with Detroit, are two of the six franchises who’ve never had a 10-game winning streak. Arizona, Dallas, Los Angeles and Winnipeg are the other four. The great Oilers teams never did it. Edmonton would need to beat Chicago, Tampa Bay and Florida at home this week to reach 10 games and set a new franchise record. It is something to watch for as the Oilers are buzzing.
—  Chicago has lost its last six road games and been outscored 27-11. Edmonton has won seven in a row on home ice while outscoring opponents 34-15. They’ve yet to lose a home game since Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey were hired.
— The Oilers are also riding a seven-game winning streak overall. They won in Washington, at home v. Anaheim and Vegas, in Winnipeg and home to Carolina, Minnesota and New Jersey. They’ve dominated teams in every facet. They’ve outscored them 34-12. Their PP is 43.5% (10 of 23), and their PK is 95.8% (23 of 24). They’ve outshot teams by an average of 34.0 to 26.8, and they are 54.8% in the face off dot. Edmonton is playing like the team we saw over the final 36 games last season.
— New Jersey only had two high-danger chances in the first two periods. They had a few more in the third period, when Edmonton led 3-0 and was sitting back. The Devils entered the game as the fourth-highest scoring team in the NHL and had the best PP at 34.6%. The Oilers limited them at 5×5, and only gave up three slot shots on the PP as the Devils went 0-4. The penalty kill has been outstanding recently.
—I asked Vincent Desharnais why the PK is so good lately. “I think we were connected, we were reading off each other really well and that’s what we’ve been kind of building at, not being robots and not just moving from point A to point B, but read off each other, read the play, and if you think you can go, just go,” said Desharnais. “And putting pressure, not giving them as much time and space. I think we did a really good job. We blocked a lot of shots and that’s the key for a PK. If you don’t block a lot, it’s going to be tough to be consistent. Overall, I think our PK was solid. We just need to keep building.”
— Evan Bouchard is riding an 11-game point streak with five goals and 16 points. He has tied Paul Coffey for the second-longest streak by an Oilers defenceman. Coffey had four different streaks of 11 games and holds the franchise record at 28 games. Bouchard can move into sole possession of second place tonight.
— Connor McDavid has a nine-game point streak with 6-17-23. He has seven multi-point games. He only had four multi-point games in his first 14 games this season. He is up to eighth in league-scoring with 36 points. He is four points out of second place, but still 13 back of Nikita Kucherov. It will take some time to catch the only player not named McDavid or Leon Draisaitl to win the Hart Trophy in the last seven seasons.
— Wayne Gretzky holds the franchise record for most 10-game point streaks. He had 21 different streaks of 10+ games including the franchise, and NHL, record of 51 games. McDavid is second with 12 and could make it 13 tonight. Leon Draisaitl is third with nine. Bouchard did it for the first time on Friday. Can you name the other current Oiler to have a 10-game point streak? (Answer below.)
— Calvin Pickard’s performance on Sunday means there is zero urgency, or need, to recall Jack Campbell. Campbell will need to string together multiple performances where he isn’t allowing a soft goal in the AHL to even be considered for a call up. The Oilers have nine games the rest of this month. Skinner could play seven of them, which would be seven starts in 22 days — not difficult. But Pickard’s play opens the door to give him one of the next four starts, before the back-to-backs next Thursday and Friday, if Kris Knoblauch wants. Edmonton only has 11 games in the month of January, and they have every Sunday and Monday off. Skinner could start seven for sure, maybe eight. When the Oilers return from the All-Star break and bye week, is when their schedule becomes intense.
— They have 11 games in the final 21 days of February and then 16 between March 2nd to 29th. Pickard’s play along with the remaining schedule this month significantly reduces the urgency to make a move for another goalie right away. Maybe Pickard can become the solid backup. He believes he can. “I know I can play in this league. I just haven’t been given the chance the past few years,” he said after Sunday’s victory. The Oilers don’t have to rush into a deal right now, which often is the best. Usually when you trade due to panic or a position of weakness the trade doesn’t work out like you want.
— I’d argue the bigger question regarding Campbell right now is: Does he deserve more starts in the AHL than Olivier Rodrigue? The Condors have played 17 games. Rodrigue has only started five but has stellar numbers with a 2.17 GAA and .935Sv%. Last year he started 29 games, while Pickard started 38. Both had a .912Sv% and Rodrigue had a .277 GAA to Pickard’s 2.70. They need to play Rodrigue more. Their focus can’t be on trying to get Campbell back on track. He has to earn it and with an .887Sv% and 3.37 GAA in eight starts he hasn’t shown he’s deserving of playing more.
— I understand the business side of the game and that Campbell has a massive contract, however, continuing to play him while limiting Rodrigue’s starts, when he is performing better, is only adding to the problem of Campbell. The signing has not worked out. It’s been a disaster, so accept it and stop worrying about trying to rehab his game. They need to focus on getting Rodrigue more starts. He deserves to play more.
— Young phenom Connor Bedard has 11 goals and 23 points in 27 games, which puts him on pace for 33 goals and 33 goals and 70 points. The only rookies with more than 33 goals in the salary cap era are Alex Ovechkin (52), Auston Matthews (40) and Sidney Crosby (39). Evgeni Malkin also had 33. If Bedard stays on pace, which will be difficult, he’ll be the eighth rookie since 2005-06 to score 70 points joining Ovechkin (106), Crosby (102), Malkin and Mat Barzal (85), Paul Statsny (78), Artemi Panarin (77) and Patrick Kane (72). McDavid got injured his rookie season and missed 37 games. He finished with 48 pts in 45 games.
— Bedard’s production is impressive considering the two players Chicago was hoping would play with him are no longer playing. Taylor Hall played 10 games, but had season-ending surgery, while Corey Perry had his contract terminated for an off-ice incident. Bedard’s wingers tonight will be Anthony Beauvillier and Philipp Kurashev. The Blackhawks’ first unit PP consists of Kurashev, Tyler Johnson, Taylor Raddysh, Seth Jones and Bedard. Jones is the only one with first unit PP skill.
*Trivia answer: Sam Gagner had a 10-game point streak between January 20th and February 6th, 2013.


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