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GDB 46.0 Oilers and Vegas: Lots on the Line (8pm MT, SN1)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
4 months ago
I’m amazed how many times I hear “the streak doesn’t matter.” Why does tying or setting an NHL record not matter? It is ridiculous to claim the Edmonton Oilers’ current 16-game winning streak doesn’t matter if they don’t win the Stanley Cup. The two are completely separate entities. The Oilers could lose tonight and still not win the Stanley Cup. The winning streak doesn’t guarantee playoff success or failure. It would simply be an amazing feat.
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The funny part about those downplaying chasing an NHL record is that I’ve yet to read or hear anyone claim the streak, whether it is 16, 17 or 20+ games, will guarantee Edmonton the Cup. It won’t, because nothing will. The Oilers play three different teams in five days this week. They could come up one win short of the record, tie the record or break it. However, nothing about this week is the same as the playoffs.
In the postseason, the Oilers won’t play three different teams in five days. They will play the same team three times in five days. It is completely different. The only impact tonight’s outcome could have on the playoffs is home-ice advantage, as the Oilers are within five points of Las Vegas with five games in hand in the race for second place in the Pacific division.
The most uniformed statement is saying the record doesn’t matter or means nothing. Of course, it means something.
Put it this way: How many teams have won the Stanley Cup? The answer is 104 different winners, and a total of 26 different franchises have won the Cup at least once.
How many teams have won 18 consecutive games? Zero.
I don’t believe anyone believes this record is as important as the Stanley Cup, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a fantastic achievement. The Oilers could get one step closer tonight, against a division rival and the defending Stanley Cup Champion.
“It’s a crazy feat, and not a goal you set out to do,” said Zach Hyman. “Now we’re one game away from tying a record that’s stood from the beginning of the NHL. You never set out to try and do that, but once it’s right there, it’s something that would be pretty memorable.”
As usual the well-spoken Hyman sums up the scenario quite well. It will be memorable. It doesn’t need to be connected to the playoffs. The regular season and playoffs are two completely different beasts. There is a reason why they have separate record books.
This is the 105th season in NHL history. There have been 39 different franchises in the NHL, and a total of 1, 695 teams. Only one team, the 1993 Pittsburgh Penguins, managed to win 17 games in a row. The 2024 Edmonton Oilers can become the second. Chasing records, or even milestones, whether it is a team or an individual, makes the regular season more enjoyable.
Whether it is watching Alex Ovechkin trying to catch Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record, or Auston Matthews chase a 70-goal season, or Nathan MacKinnon trying to challenge Peter Stastny’s Colorado/Quebec franchise record of 139 points in a season, watching a player or team do something that is rare makes the game more exciting, at least for me. I don’t care who the player is or the team, the quest to achieve a rare feat is enjoyable to watch.
The Oilers’ current winning streak seemingly came out of nowhere. Prior to this season, the franchise record was nine games. Edmonton was one of seven franchises that had never won 10 consecutive games, and now they are on the brink of tying the longest win streak in NHL history. Even the most ardent Oilers fan didn’t see this coming. Often times, the unexpected becomes more enjoyable to watch. The fact the Oilers streak was interrupted by a nine-day break due to the bye week and All-Star weekend only adds to the excitement.
Can Edmonton find the winning formula, and can they do it in a building where the visiting team has seven wins in 25 tries this season? Visiting teams have averaged 2.20 goals/game in Vegas, and the only playoff teams to score three goals in a game were Florida and Los Angeles as both won 4-1. Vegas is 8-0 in their other home games v. teams currently in a playoff spot. Five of their seven losses have come against non-playoff teams.
They know what is at stake for the Oilers tonight and they would love to spoil the party. Who wouldn’t? In an 82-game regular season you look for different reasons to get up for games, and ruining the Oilers’ party will be discussed in the Golden Knight dressing room.
Make no mistake, this record matters. Just don’t try to connect it to the playoffs.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Foegele
Holloway – McLeod– Perry
Janmark – Ryan – Brown
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
Kris Knoblauch felt his team was a bit stale, so he switched the top-two lines in the final two games before the break. It worked very well as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scored seven and six points respectively, and now he has them back on their own lines. Against competitive teams it makes sense to separate them, but I won’t be surprised if we see him reunite them against weaker clubs later this season. The regular season is long, and switching lines now and again makes sense, especially when your top guys were a bit sluggish (by their standards) offensively.
On top of the winning streak, the Oilers will try to extend their streak of allowing two goals or fewer to 15 games. I asked Leon Draisaitl what he’s seen as the main reasons for the defensive improvements.
“Goaltending. Both of them have been unbelievable for us, but with that being said, we are sticking to our system, everyone does their job and I think we are very dialled in as to what your job is and what you’re supposed to do in certain situations, and we are playing really good defence. When we do give something up, our goalies have been excellent for us. It is a good combination,” said Draisaitl.

Vegas

Barbashev – Roy – Marchessault
Cotter – Stephenson – Stone
Rondbjerg – Karlsson – Amadio
Brisson – Howden – Kolesar
Martinez – Pietrangelo
McNabb – Korczak
Hague – Whitecloud
Hill
Jack Eichel, Shea Theodore and William Carrier are still out for the Golden Knights. William Karlsson returns for his first game since January 1st. Nicholas Roy has performed very well in the absence of Eichel and Karlsson with 13 points in his last 13 games which ties him with Jonathan Marchessault for the team lead. It will be interesting to see which line Bruce Cassidy matches up against McDavid’s line. Knoblauch mentioned he likes starting on the road, because he can just roll his four lines and isn’t as worried about matchups. He feels it can be an advantage coming off a break.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton ties the NHL record with their 17th consecutive victory and improve to 6-0 v. the Pacific during the streak with a 4-1 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The McDavid line dominates at 5×5 in every category despite only scoring one goal at 5×5.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mattias Janmark scores his first goal in 25 games.

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