GDB 39.0: We want 10! We want 10! (5pm MT, SNW)

Edmonton Oilers Vincent Desharnais
Photo credit:Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
5 months ago
Could you imagine a better time for the Oilers to set a new franchise record for most consecutive wins than on a Saturday night in Montreal versus the Habs? No, I didn’t think so either. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s game day.
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Do you remember when the Oilers were 19 games into the season and sitting in 30th place overall? With a record of 6-12-1, the boys were hanging out with the likes of Chicago and San Jose in the league’s basement, and Oilers fans everywhere were melting down about the possibility of a wasted season. Now, only 20 games later, the Oilers find themselves in the second wildcard spot and closing in on some of the Pacific Division teams that very much seemed to be leaving us in the rearview mirror. As far as eventful stretches of hockey go, these past two months have been a rollercoaster, the likes of which I’ve never experienced before. The highs have been highs, while the lows have been awful. What a ride, you know?
As we all know, the bad news is that those first 19 games put the Oilers in a real pickle. The good news is that there’s little that can’t be solved when you win 17 of your last 20 games. Outside of battling teams like Seattle, who are surviving on loser points, what the boys have done is remarkable. Before reaching the midway point of the 2023-24 NHL season, the Edmonton Oilers had climbed their way back into a playoff spot, and the climb has been fantastic to watch. I fully admit that I was down and out when the boys were spiralling back in October — I think most of us had a black cloud of some kind hanging overhead — and having the Oilers erase the idea that the season was over with back-to-back heaters has been like a case of Red Bull for the spirit.
If the boys want to keep this run alive, they’ll have to get through a Montreal Canadiens team that is 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and sits seven points back of a playoff spot. A far cry from the resilient team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals a few years back, the Habs have bled goals all season, and it’s almost impressive that they’ve been able to float around .500 with the -28 goal differential they’re carrying. That said, Montreal’s most recent wins have come against the Rangers and the Stars, meaning they’re fully capable of stealing one if our side doesn’t come ready to play. While their leading scorer, Nick Suzuki, would rank sixth on the Oilers in points with 34, this Habs team that has more than a few players that can burn you if given the opportunity. The point here is that there are no gimmes in the NHL, and even I think the Oilers should probably win this hockey game, it will be up to them to compete hard, pay attention to their details, and do what it takes to get the job done.
Let’s see what the numbers say…


LAST 10 GAMES9-1-03-5-2
POWER PLAY%25.417.7
AVG. SHOTS/FOR34.228.5
TEAM SAVE%.905.926
CORSI FOR%55.4446.42
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)
  • Tonight’s game marks the first of two meetings between the Oilers and Habs this season with the next not coming up until March 19th at Rogers Place. The last time these teams met was in Montreal back on February 12th, 2023, with the Habs winning 6-2.
  • Evander Kane leads the team with 33 total games played against Montreal while Leon Draisaitl has a team-best 30 points.
  • During the Oilers’ current nine-game winning streak — something the franchise has only done one other time in franchise history (2000-01) — the boys have trailed for just 65 of the 546 minutes played and have outscored their opponents 31-13..
  • A big contributor to the win streak is the fact that the Oilers’ PK has killed off 25 of 27 shorthanded situations (95.3 %).
  • Since being named head coach of the Oilers on November 12th, Kris Knoblauch has compiled a 19-6-0 record through his first 25 games behind the bench, including the remarkable 17-3 run we’re on now. Over that span, the team has put together an eight-game win streak as well as its current franchise-tying nine-game run. Edmonton is the only team to have two such streaks this year. Knoblauch is also the first coach in NHL history with multiple win streaks of eight+ games before reaching the 25-game mark of his career.




Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Hyman
McLeod – Draisaitl – Foegele
Kane – Ryan – Janmark
Erne – Hamblin – Brown
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Seeing as Coach Knobby hasn’t adjusted the lines much at all during this nine-game winning streak, I don’t expect any changes apart from Stuart Skinner getting the start. Of course, I personally think Sam Gagner should be playing in favour of someone like Adam Erne but no one asks for my opinion so I guess I’ll just keep quiet.


Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Gallagher – Evans – Roy
Harvey-Pinard – Monahan – Armia
Pezzetta – Stephens – Ylonen
Matheson – Savard
Guhle – Barron
Struble – Harris
According to Elliotte Friedman, Josh Anderson will not play after getting banged up a little bit so Joshua Roy has been called up for his NHL debut.


From Habs Eyes on the Prize:
It seems like a long time ago that there were serious concerns about the Edmonton Oilers missing a post-season appearance. Connor McDavid had called all of his teammates to training camp days ahead of schedule to start the season off right, and the club entered the season a Stanley Cup favourites. The team then started off with six losses in its first seven games, won the Heritage Classic outdoor game that was predicted to turn their season around, then proceeded to lose their next four matches. A loss to the San Jose Sharks (how embarrassing) on November 9 felt like a breaking point for the organization, and, sure enough, a few days later, head coach Jay Woodcroft was fired.
Now under a new coach, Kris Knoblauch, the Oilers have been looking more like the team pundits expected to see when the season began. They put together an eight-game winning streak shortly after the switch, and have currently won nine games in a row dating back to December 21. That run includes two back-to-backs and seven road games. It’s a team on a tear, and one that few opponents have been able to stop.
So if you can contain their power play, you contain the team? Maybe you could say that a season ago when the Oilers finished with the best power play in league history but weren’t nearly as strong in other situations. This year they have taken their five-on-five play up a notch, and it’s largely because of last season’s deadline acquisition, Mattias Ekholm. The defenceman has an expected-goals-for percentage of 63.3%, and has allowed Bouchard to explore his full offensive potential on the top pairing. After years of getting by on talent, the Oilers are a true five-on-five powerhouse, the top NHL team in expected-goal share at 57.9%.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers extend the win streak to 10 games with a strong 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: It’s his 27th birthday so why not celebrate another multi-point game for Connor McDavid.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Since the Oilers are playing in Montreal, we will hear no less than three mentions on the broadcast about Edmonton kicking tires on Sam Montembeault.

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