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GDB 17.0: Score First (8pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
17 days ago
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Some days you can look at multiple factors to determine why a team wins or loses. You can spend hours talking about what to do or how to do it, but when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers wanting success over the Los Angeles Kings, there is one constant that guarantees them success: Score the first goal.
Over the past five seasons, including playoffs, the Oilers are undefeated when they score first against the Kings.
In 16 regular season matchups the Oilers are 7-0 when scoring first. They are 3-6 when LA scores first.
In the seven playoff games Edmonton was 4-0 when they lit the lamp first and were 0-3 when LA scored first.
They are 11-0 when scoring first and 3-9 when LA scores first. Seems pretty clear what gives the Oilers the best chance to win.
While they are perfect against the Kings when scoring first, over the past five seasons and the 16 games this season, Edmonton is noticeably better against every team when scoring first. They are 132-38-13 when scoring first and 69-118-19 when allowing the first goal. Score first and they have a .721 winning% but give up the first goal and they only have a .335 winning%.
When the Oilers score first other teams feel the need to open up the game a bit more, and that plays right into the Oilers hands because the Oilers have the two most prolific scorers in the league since the start of the 2017-18 season.
Connor McDavid has 208 goals and 581 points in 376 games, while Leon Draisaitl is second in points with 213 goals and 507 points. Nathan MacKinnon is third with 466 points, followed by Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin at 240. It is a major advantage having the two most dangerous offensive players in the game on your side when the opposition has to take more chances or try to press offensively.
Scoring first isn’t easy, of course, but even the worst teams in the league win more frequently when they score first. The Detroit Red Wings have collectively been the worst team in the NHL since 2017-18 with a record of 137-200-52. They’ve won only 35.2% of their games. But when they scored first, they were 92-55-29 with a .523W%.
The Oilers have the 15th most wins in this time, but they have the 10th best winning% when scoring first. They won 51.6% of their total games, but they won 72.1% of the games they scored first. Edmonton has one of the largest increases in W% when they score first, compared to their overall w%.
TeamsW% overallSF W%DIFFTeamsW% overallSF W%DIFF
TB65.779.914.2NYI51.668.516.9
BOS62.174.212.1NYR48.866.117.3
TOR58.875.516.7CBJ47.862.614.8
LVK58.775.717LA46.268.622.4
COL58.575.917.4SJ45.862.116.3
WSH57.872.714.9PHI45.763.718
CAR56.97518.1VAN43.866.923.1
PIT56.871.415.2NJ41.855.213.4
FLO56.57013.5ANA41.358.917.6
NSH56.37720.7CHI4160.119.1
WPG55.269.514.3MTL40.658.317.7
STL5570.715.7ARI40.357.617.3
MIN54.773.518.8OTT36.853.516.7
CGY53.271.918.7BUF36.756.720
EDM51.672.120.5SEA35.753.818.1
DAL51.670.418.8DET35.252.317.1
Vancouver and LA had the largest improvements in winning when scoring first, followed by Nashville and Edmonton. For over five years the Oilers win at a 20% higher rate when they score first. And so do the Kings, so scoring first tonight, based on the past 780 games for these two teams, will be a significant advantage. Edmonton needs to be ready from the opening puck drop. Too often recently they have relied on their goalies to keep them in for the first 10 minutes before they find their skating legs. That can’t happen tonight.

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LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Foegele– Draisaitl – Hyman
Janmark – McLeod – Kostin
Holloway – Shore – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Bouchard
Murray – BarrieSkinner
The only lineup change is Ryan Murray in for Markus Niemelainen. Kailer Yamamoto is still not ready to play. If he skates tomorrow, he could be an option for Saturday. Stuart Skinner will start consecutive games for the first time this season. His .932Sv% is tied for third best in the NHL among goalies who have started at least five games. Unless he struggles, I’d strongly consider starting him Saturday v. Las Vegas.
Kings…
Kempe – Kopitar – Vilardi
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Fiala – Kupari – Grundstrom
Anderson-Dolan – Lizotte – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Durzi – Roy
Edler – WalkerPetersen
Cal Petersen gets the start for LA. He’s had a rough year. He’s allowed 22 goals in six starts and has an ugly .867Sv% and his minus 1.55 goals above expected is 63rd among 65 goalies.
I’m interested to see if the Oilers go after Mickey Anderson for his steer wrestling takedown of Leon Draisaitl in the playoffs last year.  In case you forgot here is the video.
Edmonton wasn’t going to do anything in the playoffs, and they might not tonight, but it is something to watch for. Klim Kostin wasn’t here last year, but if he wants to endear himself to his teammates he should go after Anderson. The challenge for the Oilers is they don’t have many rugged players in the lineup. I don’t see Anderson obliging Nurse, so it would have to be someone else.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win for the 10th time in their last 12 home games v. the Kings in a 4-1 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl and McDavid extend their point streaks to 12 and 11 games respectively.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan McLeod scores his first career goal v. the Kings and his first goal in 11 games.

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