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GDB 30.0: Play Better (5:30pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
2 months ago
I’ve heard and read a lot about the Oilers being “goalied” (a way overused term) lately. Andrei Vasilevskiy stole Tampa Bay a game — that is valid. It was one of the best goalie performances I’ve seen, and worthy of the description, but some wanted to claim Ilya Sorokin did the same on Tuesday. He was solid but wasn’t called upon to be spectacular. Edmonton fired 15 shots on goal in the third period, but many were from the outside. The Oilers didn’t lose simply because the opposing goalie was great, or that Stuart Skinner was bad. Their special teams were the main culprits, and their offence didn’t produce.
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It is too easy to always point to the goaltending. Edmonton simply didn’t play well enough. The Oilers weren’t desperate enough. Their power play had one minute of 5-on-3 time and didn’t score. And an errant pass by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led to the Islanders’ shorthanded goal. The entire team wasn’t good enough. It is extremely difficult to win scoring one goal.
The NHL has played 482 games thus far. Five teams have won a game by a score of 1-0. Philadelphia won without scoring an actual regulation goal, since they defeated the Islanders 1-0 in a shootout. I’ll be generous and include it, so we’ve seen a total of six games where a team won scoring one goal, which equates to 1.24%. Safe to say you won’t win very often when only scoring one goal.
There have been 37 games where the winning team scored two goals. A whopping 7.67% of the time a team will win scoring a total of two goals. A combined total of 8.92% of the time you will win scoring two goals.
Edmonton has scored two or fewer goals nine times this season. They are 0-8-1 in those games. So, in 31% of their games, they’ve given themselves less than a 9% chance to win. I know goaltending has been an issue at times this season, as has team defence, but there have also been games where the Oilers aren’t committed enough offensively. Scoring is hard, but so is stopping pucks, and there are times the Oilers forwards aren’t creating enough quality chances. If a goalie allows a soft goal, he gets ripped, but if a forward fires three pucks into the goalie’s chest, or settles for outside shots, we rarely talk about it.
Too often we see 40 shots on the score clock and assume the offence was great, and just got stymied by a good goalie. I think that can be misleading. Edmonton has created many chances this year, but they need to be better around the net.
Zach Hyman is always around the net. He leads the Oilers with 66 inner slot shots. He’s been their most consistent forward all season. He will crash the net, he’ll bang home rebounds. He is shooting with conviction. The main reason he’s scoring more is because he’s getting more shots from the inner slot than he had last season.
Here are their inner slot shots totals (per game average).
Player2022-232023-24
Hyman138 (1.74)66 (2.35)
Kane25 (0.60)30 (1.03)
McDavid106 (1.29)27 (1.00)
GagnerN/A12 (0.70)
Foegele67 (0.62)19 (0.65)
Draisaitl48 (0.60)19 (0.65)
Holloway15 (0.29)9 (0.64)
RNH56 (0.69)18 (0.62)
Janmark33 (0.50)10 (0.52)
McLeod19 (0.33)9 (0.31)
Ryan33 (0.41)9 (0.31)
BrownN/A7 (0.30)
Hamblin2 (0.20)4 (0.21)
ErneN/A2 (0.16)
Hyman is averaging twice as many inner slot shots per game than every other forward. Kane has seen an increase from last season, and much of that is connected to him being healthy. Hyman, who was always around the net in previous years, has taken even more shots from in close this season. It isn’t a surprise Sam Gagner has four goals in 17 games when you see how often he’s getting shots from the most dangerous zone on the ice. Dylan Holloway’s increased ice time is a factor, but when he returns, he should help the bottom six. If he keeps generating shots from high danger areas, he’ll start scoring.
Connor Brown has zero goals, and his lack of shots from the inner slot are a prime reason why. If you add in TOI, only Adam Erne has a lower inner slot shot/60 of any forward. Go to the net. Get greasy, Mr. Brown. Ryan McLeod isn’t much better. Both of them need to show a willingness and desire to score.
Connor McDavid’s inner slot shot totals are down from last season. He is on pace to score 33 goals after potting 64 last year. I won’t be surprised to see him get back to more inner slot shots moving forward.

DEMAND MORE…

Maybe the Oilers demand more from each other behind closed doors, but I rarely hear them say publicly “We need to be better.” Stuart Skinner didn’t like his game v. Tampa and said it publicly, but how often have you heard an Oilers challenge their teammates? I wonder if their internal standard needs to be higher.
Colorado won the Stanley Cup in 2022. They are currently tied for fifth place in the NHL, but that didn’t stop Devon Toews from voicing his displeasure about their effort after a 3-2 loss to Chicago on Tuesday.
What I liked about Toews’ comments was he didn’t yell. He didn’t scream. He was calm, but delivered a powerful message that they aren’t playing up to their standards. Do the Oilers’ players hold each other to this level of accountability?

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH– McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Foegele
Janmark – McLeod – Gagner
Erne – Hamblin – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Pickard
Kris Knoblauch reunited the RNH-McDavid-Hyman line after separating them for the start of the Islanders game. Edmonton has scored only one goal in each of its last two games. They need to get going offensively.

Devils

Haula – J. Hughes – Toffoli
Palat – Hischier – Bratt
Meier – Mercer – Holtz
Lazar – McLeod –Bastian
Siegenthaler – Nemec
Bahl – Marino
Smith – L. Hughes
Schmid
I’m perplexed why Timo Meier is struggling so much in New Jersey. He only has two 5×5 goals in 317 minutes. His goal rate per 60 from 2018 to now has ranged from 0.84 to 1.21 and in four of the previous six seasons he was above 1.00. This year he’s at 0.38. It doesn’t make much sense why he can’t find success playing with Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier or Dawson Mercer. He scored 40 goals last year and 35 the year before. He’s had others seasons with 21, 22 and 30 goals. But he only has five in 23 games so far. They need him to get going.
Schmid has a 3.28 GAA and .883Sv% in five starts in December. Zero reason the Oilers shouldn’t be able to put a few pucks past him tonight.
The Oilers and Devils both sit 12th in their respective conferences. Both should be desperate for a win tonight.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers sweep the season series v. the Devils. It is the fourth time in the last seven years they faced each other that the Oilers sweep the series. The Devils swept it twice and only in 2021-22 was it split. Oilers win 5-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers score twice in the first period to increase their lead for most first period goals.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Derek Ryan scores. It is the 80th goal of his career.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Thank you, Jordan and Chris, for their great bids yesterday on the packages. We only have two days remaining and today is our last day with packages up for grabs. Friday will be a Pyramid of Giving.
DAY 15: 🎁 Package #1: The Canadian Brewhouse Clubhouse Package.
  • Located in South Edmonton – Address to be given to winner courtesy of The Canadian Brewhouse.
  • Amenities: Full gymnasium with volleyball, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis ball machine, Rock Climbing wall.
  • Two bowling lanes that light up, three TVs and Arcade games.
  • Can use for a staff party, a team building experience, birthday party or even stag or stagette.
  • Winner will need to book minimum a few weeks in advance.
  • Not available to the public for rental.
  • $1000.00 Food/Beverage will be supplied.
You can bid via text between 2-6 p.m. on Sports 1440 by texting 833.401.1440 (can call same number) and include your name and donation amount. Money raised will support The Gregor’s Grads.>🎁 Package #2:Wine Package:
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A custom basket honoring the #redwinelifestyle (IYKYK) courtesy of Kerry McGowan and curated by Baseline Wine and Spirits. Package includes six Krosba Splendour glasses, one decanter and these six bottles of RED:
  • — Axv Napa Valley
    — Tolaini Picconero from Tuscany
    — Orleto from Italy
    — Argot Starstruck Cabernet
    — Brand No. 95 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa
    — Dark Matter Limitless Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain
  • And a private wine tasting for ten in your home hosted by Ryan from Baseline wine and Spirits. Ryan will show up with six bottles of wine.
You can bid via text between 2-6 p.m. on Sports 1440 by texting 833.401.1440 (can call same number) and include your name and donation amount. Money raised will support The Gregor’s Grads.
🎁 Package #3: Oilers and a Sign:
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  • Four Loge ledge seats courtesy of Trilogy Oilfield for the Oilers/Senators game Saturday January 6th. Includes a parking pass. Great seats to view the Oilers attack in the first and third periods. Face value $2000.00
  • A custom 24” x 36” sign from Steel Collar CNC. Personalize your man cave, she shack, cellar, place of business, home, Zoom backdrop or other with a custom 3D sign. Package includes design consultation with Graham and Kim as well as drawing and drafting time. Previous work photos available for browsing and inspiration at steelcollarcnc.ca. Package valued at $3500.00.
You can bid via text between 2-6 p.m. on Sports 1440 by texting 833.401.1440 (can call same number) and include your name and donation amount. Money raised will support Adopt-A-Teen.

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