GDB 29.0: Goals Against Must Be Priority (6pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
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I love offence. I prefer to watch scoring, but I also understand the need to be aware defensively. The Edmonton Oilers do not struggle scoring goals. Limiting them is a different story.
In their 8-2 victory over Arizona on Wednesday and their 5-2 win over Minnesota on Friday, the Oilers allowed only two goals in consecutive games for the first time all season. They don’t have to be a defensive juggernaut to win regularly, because they have a potent offence, but sitting 22nd in goals against isn’t a recipe for long-term success either.
“I feel we are getting closer to where we want to be defensively,” said Jay Woodcroft last week. He added they aren’t where they want to be yet, but they are making progress. Not every game will be a defensive masterpiece, and frankly it doesn’t need to be, but the wins will keep happening if their attention in the defensive zone continues to improve.
I looked at all Western Conference teams to see how often they limit the opposition to two, or fewer, goals. I looked at their record in those games and then their record when they allow three or more goals.
2GA = games allowing two goals and how many games they’ve played overall.
Record = Record in games allowing two or fewer goals.
Record 3+GA = Record when they allow three or more goals.
TEAMS2 GARecordRecord 3+GA
ANA4 of 282-0-25-18-1
ARI6 of 266-0-03-13-4
CGY10 of 288-1-15-10-3
CHI8 of 265-1-12-14-3
COL12 of 2610-1-14-9-1
DAL14 of 2813-0-13-7-4
EDM7 of 286-1-010-11-0
LA10 of 319-0-16-11-4
MIN12 of 278-3-16-8-1
NSH8 of 258-0-04-11-2
SJ10 of 307-3-02-13-5
SEA13 of 2712-1-04-7-3
STL7 of 287-0-05-15-1
VAN4 of 284-0-08-13-3
VGK13 of 3013-0-07-9-1
WPG15 of 2714-0-14-8-0
The Oilers have allowed 3+ goals in 75% of their games. Only Anaheim and Vancouver (85.7%), Arizona (77%) have done it more often. Edmonton sits fifth in goals/game at 3.64, second in the west behind Dallas (3.75), but the Oilers are 22nd in GA/GP at 3.46 and ninth in the west. Their offence has allowed them to win the most games of any Western Conference team when allowing 3+ goals. They have a .476 winning% and .476 points%.  Vegas is next with a .411W% and .441P%.
Edmonton has the offence to overcome their defensive errors, but like we saw in their final 38 games last season, when they play better defensively, with more consistent back pressure and solid goaltending, the Oilers win at a much higher rate. They proved last year under Woodcroft they can be sound defensively and still be dangerous offensively.
They aren’t at the level they want to be, but slowly they seem to be improving their defensive awareness, which sometimes starts in the offensive zone. If they can reduce the glaring error — either an offensive-zone turnover that leads to an odd-man rush, or the Santa Claus-like giveaway in their own end — then they should see a reduction in their goals against. They have the ability to play sound defensively — now it is about their willingness to do it regularly.




Draisaitl – McDavid – Hyman
Janmark – RNH – Yamamoto
Kostin – Shore – Ryan
Holloway – Hamblin – Puljujarvi
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Barrie
Broberg – Bouchard
Oilers run with the same lineup for the third consecutive game. The last time they were in Minnesota it was the second half of a back-to-back and they look fatigued and Jack Campbell wasn’t great. The Oilers are well rested tonight after having Saturday off and having a short practice Sunday before flying to Minnesota. The Wild won in Vancouver on Saturday after losing to the Oilers on Friday, and tonight is their third game in four nights.


Kaprizov – Steel – Zuccarello
Walker – Gaudreau – Boldy
Greenway – Eriksson Ek – Foligno
Reaves – Dewar – Shaw
Middleton – Spurgeon
Brodin – Dumba
Merrill – Addison
Two changes from Friday’s lineup: Calen Addison will play in place of Alex Goligoski, while Nic Petan comes out and Sammy Walker plays in his spot. The Wild are going with the same lineup that won in Vancouver.
When the Wild had the last change in their first meeting head coach Dean Evason had the Eriksson-Ek line out against McDavid’s line most of the game. In Edmonton on Friday, McDavid’s line faced the Kaprizov line for 11 minutes and only three v. Eriksson-Ek. Look for Evason to get his big third line out against McDavid again tonight. I still think that is a matchup McDavid and company can exploit.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton takes advantage of the Wild playing their third game in four nights and wins 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers’ PP remains hot. They are 8-for-17 in December and score another PP goal tonight.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid scores for the eighth consecutive game and becomes the first Oilers player to score in eight straight since Jari Kurri (10 games in 1986).


Thank you to everyone who donated in the Pyramid of Giving on Friday and to GS Construction for generously offering to match the $7500 pyramid, so we raised over $15K for The Christmas Bureau.
Day Eight: Suite for Oilers v. Kraken
Oct 7, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Darnell Nurse (25) takes a shot in front of Seattle Kraken forward Daniel Strong (91) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
  • 12 person suite for the Oilers/Kraken game on January 17th.
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  • $750 food and beverage credit to use in the suite
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