Game Notes Coyotes @ Oilers: Defensive Reset

Photo credit:Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
2 years ago
Not all records are the same. The Edmonton Oilers tied a franchise record during Saturday’s 9-5 loss in Calgary that they didn’t want. The Oilers allowed nine goals against at 5×5 for the second time in franchise history. The first occurred January 8th, 1986, during an 11-9 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was a dreadful defensive performance. In their first 21 games with Jay Woodcroft as head coach the Oilers averaged 1.71 GA/game at 5×5, which was seventh best in the NHL.
Then they completely imploded v. the Flames and allowed nine and now their 5×5 GA/GP is 2.01 under Woodcroft and they rank 15th. In smaller sample sizes one abnormal performance can drastically alter the stats. There were ample examples of how not to defend, and Woodcroft will show a few of them in video session this morning, but he’ll also show clips of the team defending well to ensure the Oilers don’t wallow and focus on Saturday’s loss.
— The Oilers have allowed 11 goals against twice, 10 goals against four times and 17 times the opposition has scored nine goals. It had been 13 years since the Oilers allowed nine goals. The Buffalo Sabres crushed the Oilers 10-2 on January 27th, 2009, in Edmonton. Oilers fans sarcastically chanted “We want 10,” late in the third period. Saturday’s loss was ugly, especially because the Flames scored all nine goals 5×5. Only once since 2009-10, when the NHL website started tracking 5×5 goals against, has a team allowed more. The Pittsburgh Penguins allowed 10 in a 10-1 loss to Chicago on October 5th, 2017.
— Many of the Oilers’ top-minute eaters were the culprits. Cody Ceci (-5) and Darnell Nurse (-4) had a really rough night. Ceci was on for five goals against in 12:01 of 5×5 ice time. Nurse was on for four in 15:45. Leon Draisaitl, Evander Kane and Connor McDavid were all -4. And they played 13:57, 13:31 and 16:14 respectively at 5×5.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Derick Brassard, and Jesse Puljujarvi were +1, even and even. Their line, along with Zack Kassian (even), were the only players who didn’t leave the Saddledome with a minus.
— Mikko Koskinen has been trending in the wrong direction for the past few weeks. Koskinen started out playing superbly after the coaching change. In his first three starts he was 3-0 with a sizzling .936Sv%, but that number has gone down significantly since. Under Woodcroft Koskinen has started 11 games and has an .898Sv% while Mike Smith has started 10 games with a .900Sv%.
Koskinen shut out the Flyers 3-0 on March 1st. In his eight starts since then he hasn’t had many great nights. His game-by-game Sv%, starting on March 3rd until Saturday has been .875, .987, .906, .969, .857, .893, .852 and .583.  Mike Smith has made four starts in that span and posted an .857, .964, .903 and .933. In his four starts in March Smith has a .915Sv%, although he did allow four goals in relief on Saturday. I’d expect him to start tonight. On February 24th I wrote it was Skinnnnnerrrr time, and I still believe the Oilers should give him a look. I don’t know if he is ready to be the answer, but he should at least get a few games.
— I’d start Smith tonight. He has looked better than Koskinen recently.
—  Tyson Barrie has picked up his play the past few weeks. Since the coaching change Barrie has 13 points in 19 games, and his 5×5 possession numbers have improved across the board.
He’s posted a 52.5CF%, 52FF%, 54.1SF%, 49%SCF% and a 51.3xGF%. He also has a 55.5GF% (15-12) at 5×5.
In his first 38 games he posted 48.7CF%, 44.9FF%, 44SF%, 49.9SCF% and a 48.4xGF%. He had a 46GF% (23-27).
— Connor McDavid has 14 multi-point games in his past 19. He’s picked up 31 points in 19 games. He needs 29 points in the final 16 games to reach 700 career points meaning he’d surpass the 600 and 700-point mark this season. Historically McDavid has gotten better late in the season, when scoring is supposed to be harder, and he’s doing it again. If he scores 29 points he will finish with a career-high 126 points. It seems like a foregone conclusion he’ll surpass his current career-high of 116 points.
— Leon Draisaitl scored his 19th and 20th power play goals of the season in Saturday’s loss. He is now tied for the franchise record with Ryan Smyth and Wayne Gretzky. Smyth had 20 PPG in 82 games in 1997, while Gretzky had 20 in 74 games in 1984. Draisaitl has 16 games to set the record. He likely won’t be catching Tim Kerr for the NHL record (34 PPG), but he might challenge Ilya Kovalchuk for the most PPG in the salary cap era. Kovalchuk had 27 in 2006, but he will also have to catch the Rangers’ Chris Krieder who leads the league with 22 PP goals this year.
— The Arizona Coyotes have an NHL-low 22 power play goals. They are 31st in PP% at 13.5 and 32nd in PP opportunities/game at 2.51. Draisaitl and Kreider might finish with more PP goals than the entire Coyotes team.
— Since 2010, eight players have 100+ power play goals. Phil Kessel sits seventh with 103, but he only has two this year. The main difference between the Oilers PP success (third in NHL at 26.3%) and the Coyotes is how often they shoot. Edmonton leads the NHL with 65.26 shots/60, while the Coyotes are 30th at 45.1 shots/60.
— The Coyotes lost 2-1 in OT last night in Winnipeg. Karel Vejmelka kept the Coyotes in the game stopping 38 of 40 shots. Maybe he goes back-to-back like Jacob Markstrom did for the Flames, but there was no travel for Markstrom and the Coyotes aren’t in a playoff race. Coyotes backup Josef Korenar has yet to play an NHL game this season. He started seven games last year with San Jose, and had a 3.17 GAA and .899Sv%. In 18 games this season with Tucson in AHL Korenar has a .853Sv% and 4.48 GAA.

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