GDB 79.0: McDavid-less Oilers take on Canucks for the first time since early November (8pm MT, HNIC)

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
22 days ago
At American Thanksgiving, the Edmonton Oilers were 21 points behind the Vancouver Canucks in the Pacific Division standings. Coming into tonight’s fourth and final meeting of the season, our boys have the chance to take another step toward tracking them down for the division win. That, my friends, is good sports.
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As we wind down what has undoubtedly been the wildest Oilers season in recent memory, I’m almost having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that the boys are in the mix for the division. On November 23rd, the Oilers were 5-12-1 and sitting in 30th place overall, looking very much like a team that couldn’t get wet if they fell out of a boat.
Since that horrific run of 18 games to kick off the season, the Oilers have shot the moon with a  43-12-5 over their next 60 games, effectively erasing all the stress and heartbreak we felt early on. They pulled off a complete 180, the likes of which none of us expected. It was amazing. If you had told me back in November, when the world was falling down around us, that the team would eventually push for the Pacific Division title, I would have never believed you.
Yet, after a rollercoaster season of ups and downs, the Oilers have an opportunity to climb from the league’s basement to the top of their division, provided that they can win out their remaining games. Of course, rattling off four straight wins is easier said than done, but even so, it’s hard not to get excited about this team’s potential to do something that most of us considered impossible.
Standing in Edmonton’s way of continuing their ascent up the standings is a Vancouver Canucks team that hasn’t exactly been playing lights-out hockey down the stretch. With a 5-4-1 record over their last 10 games, the Canucks have been outscored 30-29 and have struggled with consistency and keeping the puck of their net. Put another way, they’re not looking much like the juggernaut they had been earlier in the year.
Of course, I’m incredibly biased in my love for the Oilers, so maybe I’m making too much of this mediocre run Vancouver is on lately. But if the Oilers are actually going to inch their way closer to first place in the division, they will need to offer their best effort and do it for all 60 minutes. Last night against Arizona, it took Edmonton nearly two periods before their urgency levels got cranked up, and we all saw what happened in the end. That cannot happen against the Canucks.
Let’s see what the numbers say.


LAST 10 GAMES6-2-25-4-1
POWER PLAY%26.622.9
AVG. SHOTS/FOR22.828.5
TEAM SAVE%.917.921
CORSI FOR%55.0051.59
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)
  • Corey Perry leads all active Oilers in career games played against Vancouver (66), while Connor McDavid leads the team in career points (64) versus the Canucks.
  • The Oilers have picked up points in seven straight games at Rogers Place (6-0-1) and are 10-0-2 in their last 12 home games. In total, the boys have outscored their opponents 56-23 over that stretch.
  • So far this season, Stuart Skinner has established new career highs in starts (54), wins (35) and shutouts (2). His 35 wins rank 4th most by an Oilers goalie in a single season, and is just one shy of tying Tommy Salo (36, 2000-01) for 3rd overall. If you remember, Cam Talbot set the record back in 2016-17 with 42 wins, while Grant Fuhr sits in 2nd place with 40 wins back in 1987-88.
  • Coming into tonight’s game, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finds himself just two points shy of reaching the 700-point plateau in his career.
  • Since Kris Knoblauch took over as head coach, the Oilers have won 45 games, the most in the NHL. Additionally, the Oilers rank 7th in penalty killing (81.9%), 5th in GA per game (2.62), 2nd in power play (27.2%), and 2nd in GF per game (3.75) over that time.




Nugent-Hopkins – Draisaitl – Hyman
Kane – Henrique – Foegele
Holloway – McLeod – Perry
Janmark – Ryan – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Stecher
Kulak – Desharnais
As I was putting together today’s GDB, all I could think about was whether or not we’ll get an update that Connor McDavid is playing. Personally, I would be totally fine if he took the weekend off to help with the lower-body injury he’s dealing with, and I wondered if last night’s loss to the Coyotes would change the plans at all. As it turns out, Kris Knoblauch confirmed after this morning’s practice that McDavid will be sitting out again, as the team clearly plans to take it easy with their star player leading up to the playoffs.


Hoglander – Pettersson – Mikheyev
Suter – Miller – Boeser
Joshua – Lindholm – Garland
Giuseppe – Blueger – Lafferty
Hughes – Hronek
Soucy – Myers
Zadorov – Cole
According to Jeff Paterson at Canucksarmy, Thatcher Demko won’t be playing again even though he’s been practicing over the last few days, meaning Casey DeSmith will get the start. If the Canucks are going to make some noise in the postseason, they’ll likely need to lean on their star goalie, and their current results tend to tell me just how important he is to their success. I’m not trying to diminish what has been an excellent season for Vancouver, but I do absolutely think they are beatable, even with McDavid on the shelf.


From Canucksarmy.com:
As of this writing, the Canucks are sitting on an overall record of 48-22-9. But that sparkling record is not split entirely evenly into home and away success.
The Canucks’ home record stands at 26-9-5, with a point-percentage of .713. Their road record, conversely, stands at 22-13-4, with a point-percentage of .589. That’s a considerable, noticeable, and significant dip in success.
As food for thought, it’s worth noting that the entire league performs better at home than on the road, but not to this degree. As of this writing, the NHL’s cumulative home record is 680-465-119, for a point-percentage of .585, and the road record is 584-537-143, for a point-percentage of .519.
So, the Canucks still win plenty on the road. But they do lose more steam from home to the road than the average NHL team does, and that alone is probably reason to be grateful to be heading into the playoffs with at least some home-ice advantage.
At home, the Canucks have scored 140 goals through 40 games, and allowed 98 against. That’s a GF/GP of 3.50 and a GA/GP of 2.45 (fourth-lowest in the league.)
When they take their show on the road, the Canucks have scored 130 goals through 39 games, and allowed 117 against. That’s a GF/GP 3.33 and a GA/GP of 3.00.
And that seems highly significant. The Canucks score slightly less on the road than they do at home. That’s perhaps to be expected, what with the last change and all those other little advantages.
But the Canucks also allow more than an extra half-goal-against per away game, and that’s quite the discrepancy.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: No better way to exact revenge than with a 4-2 win over the Canucks.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: With the Pacific Division on the line, Connor McDavid comes out with a monster effort that results in a three-point night.
Not-so-obvious Game Day Prediction: He protec, he attack, he Brett Kulak. Give the d-man the game winner on his fourth goal of the season.

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