GDB 64.0: Oilers Dominant on Home Ice (8pm MT, SN1)

Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
4 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers are 19-4-1 on home ice since Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey were hired. They’ve outscored teams 101-62, their power play is 39.9%, their penalty kill is 90.2% and they are 54.3% in the face off dot.
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They won their first eight home games, lost two, then won another eight in a row before going 0-2-1, and enter tonight on a three-game winning streak on home ice. They’ve allowed two or fewer goals in 15 of the 24 starts. They’ve made Rogers Place a difficult place for opposing teams to win in, and will look to continue that against a scrappy Washington that has managed to stay in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference despite massive injury issues.
Edmonton has dominated its opponents since Knoblauch took over. The Oiler have won 11 times by three or more goals and even in their four regulation losses they outshot teams by a combined total of 174-114. They are thriving on home ice and with a four-point lead on LA and Vegas for second place in the Pacific, they need to continue their strong play in front of their fans.
The Capitals aren’t an easy out. They’ve found ways to remain competitive despite a seemingly never-ending path to the infirmary.
Only John Carlson and Dylan Strome have played all 63 games. Nicklas Backstrom has only played eight games, and his career his now over. Max Pacioretty has missed 35 games while many others have missed at least 15 games, including Sonny Milano (31), TJ Oshie (24), Evgeny Kuznetsov  (18 before being traded), Nic Dowd (18), Joel Edmundson (17, before being traded) and Martin Fehervary (16).
Rookie head coach Spencer Carbury has done a fantastic job getting the most of a depleted, and often inexperienced lineup. He should be a finalist for the Jack Adams award. He won’t beat Rick Tocchet, but he’s done a fantastic job for the Capitals as they try to transition from their Cup-winning 2018 roster. The Capitals are aging, and they aren’t close to the team that was a perennial contender for 15+ seasons, but they work incredibly hard and they are big.
They grind. They couldn’t score early in the season. They were 31st in goals at 2.29 goals/game up until December 31st, but since January 1st the are 16th at 3.07/game. However, after being pretty good defensively in the 2023 portion of this season when they had the 10th lowest GA/GP at 2.79, they have started leaking goals in 2024 and rank 25th at 3.38 goals/game. While the Oilers have dominated at home under Knoblauch, the Capitals have won only 10 of 26 road games in that span going 10-13-3 and have been outscored 86-62.
They lost 3-0 in Winnipeg on Monday, and looked rather lethargic and slow. They will get a boost to their lineup tonight as Tom Wilson, Nic Down and Martin Fehervary are scheduled to return. Dowd should help them defensively. He can take tough matchups, and in his career he has a 56GF% v. Elite players. Solid. Wilson is a rare mix of skill, speed, size and physicality and will add some much needed scoring depth to their lineup.
But this version of the Capitals doesn’t matchup to the firepower of the Oilers. Dylan Strome leads them with 22 goals and 51 points. Connor McDavid has twice as many points with 103, while Leon Draisaitl (82), Zach Hyman (62), Evan Bouchard (61) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (56) all have more points than Strome. The Capitals’ offence has improved lately, but they enter tonight with much less firepower than the Oilers.
Edmonton is coming off a much-needed two days off, and need a good start. Over the past 50 games, Washington is 25th in first period goals, are 2-15-3 when trailing after the first period and are 7-17-4 when allowing the first goal. The Oilers are seventh in first period goals with 51, are 17-3-1 when leading after 20 minutes and 20-4-1 when scoring first. The Oilers are 12-0 at home when scoring first under Knoblauch, while the Capitals are 3-11-2 on the road when they allow the first goal.




RNH – McDavid – Hyman
McLeod – Draisaitl – Foegele
Kane – Henrique – Brown
Janmark – Carrick – Perry
Ekholm (Stetcher?) – Bouchard
Nurse – Desharnais
Kulak – Ceci
Mattias Ekholm is battling an illness and will be a game-time decision. There is a good chance Troy Stecher could make his Oilers debut. Will Knoblauch slot him in for one game with Evan Bouchard or juggle all three pairs? With Ekholm likely only out for one game, I could see them just playing Stecher with Bouchard, if Ekholm can’t go.
Knoblauch said he would like to get Adam Henrique more ice time and plans to get him involved more on both special team units.


Ovechkin – Lapierre – Wilson
Pacioretty – McMichael – Oshie
Milano – Strome – Miroshnichenko
Malenstyn – Dowd – Aube-Kubel
Fehevary– Carlson
Sandin – Jensen
Alexeyev – van Riemsdyk
Wilson, Dowd and Fehervary could all return tonight. Edmonton has a major advantage at centre in the top-six with McDavid and Draisaitl over Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre. I’d expect Dowd to get a lot of minutes v. the Oilers top-two lines to try and shelter the young centres.
**Trivia answer from Game Notes. There are 13 active players with at least 10 seasons with 20 goals. Only two of them weren’t first round draft picks. Can you name them?
The 11 first round picks are Alex Ovechkin (18x, two goals shy of 19x), Sidney Crosby (16x), Patrick Kane (15x), Evgeni Malkin (14x, two goals shy of 15x), John Tavares (14x), Steven Stamkos (14x), Zach Parise and Jeff Carter (11x) and Matt Duchene, Jeff Skinner and Tyler Seguin (10x). The two who weren’t first round picks are Joe Pavelski (14x), Brad Marchand (13x) and Jamie Benn (10x). Pavelski was a seventh-round pick in 2003, Marchand a 3rd rounder in 2006 and Benn was a fifth rounder in 2007.


GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win their 20th home game in 25 starts under Knoblauch and defeat the Capitals 5-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hyman scores. He has 26 goals in his previous 23 home games.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Darnell Nurse scores a goal in consecutive games for the first time this season.

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