Game Notes Oilers @ Ducks: A Must Win

Jason Gregor
10 months ago
The math will say it isn’t, but I view tonight as a must-win game for the Edmonton Oilers.
— Tonight’s tilt is game #43 of an 82-game schedule, and, yes, I realize there is still almost half of the season remaining, but the playoff cut line will be 95 points, which means the 21-18-3 Edmonton Oilers need to go 23-13-4 the rest of the way to reach 95 points, which equates to a .625 points%, a significant jump from the .536P% they have thus far. Without question, they need two points tonight.
— Edmonton simply can’t afford to lose this game. The math to reach 95 points is difficult and leaving Anaheim without two points will only make their quest for the playoffs much more difficult.
— Anaheim has won 12 of 41 games. Only Chicago has fewer wins. However, the Ducks are 3-3 in their last six games with wins over Dallas and Vegas. Their three losses were by scores of 7-1, 6-1, and 4-1. They aren’t a good team, but if you don’t show up and play hard, they can surprise you.
The Oilers lost 4-3 to the Ducks in Edmonton on December 17th. The Oilers didn’t play poorly overall, as they outshot the Ducks 49-17, but they made a few keys blunders that gave the Ducks good scoring chances, and they buried them. Edmonton can’t just expect to win. This should be a game they control and build confidence off of.
— Anaheim has allowed four or more goals in 26 of their 41 games. They have allowed a league-worst 114 goals at 5×5. That is 28 more than Edmonton, who isn’t a defensive juggernaut, has allowed. The Ducks have been outshot 1234-895 at 5×5. They simply can’t afford to squander two points tonight.
— The Ducks are professionals, and they get paid too. As I pointed out they are 3-3 in their last six games, so a win is far from a guarantee. But the Oilers need to play desperate. They need to outwork and outsmart the Ducks.
— This is a prime opportunity to build some confidence 5×5. The Ducks will give up chances. It is up to the Oilers to capitalize on them.
— Whoever plays with Connor McDavid needs to bury their chances 5×5. McDavid has the lowest 5×5 assist total of his career thus far, by a significant margin. McDavid has 11 assists, tied with Darnell Nurse for third on the team. Both of them have seven first assists, if you believe first assists are more important. McDavid had 17 assists 5×5 as a rookie in 45 games.
— McDavid is averaging 0.99 assists/60 at 5×5. The lowest mark in any other season was 1.60 when he was a rookie. McDavid has completed 154 slot passes this season. Last year, in 80 games he completed 260 for an average of 3.25/game. He’s at 3.66 this year. Some have wondered if his increased goal totals are impacting his passing. It isn’t. He is averaging 8.21 shots/60, which ranks fourth over his last seven seasons. He isn’t shooting way more. He has improved his shot and is shooting in motion more. But he’s still passing a lot. Guys aren’t finishing.
— The power play needs a bounce back game. The PP has been unreal all year, so it would be unexpected if they don’t rebound, but the Ducks’ PK is 87.5% over their past six games. They have some confidence, and the Oilers must squash it early. Do not give the Ducks a chance to feel good about themselves like they did in Edmonton. The Oilers scored first, but then the Ducks scored three in a row.
— The Ducks’ best period has been the first period. Their GF-GA in the first, while not great league-wise, is much better than the second and third period.
Here is their GF-GA by period:
Anaheim                        Edmonton:
1st: 36-47                      1st: 38-35
2nd: 25-58                    2nd: 55-61
3rd: 27-60                     3rd: 52-44
Do not give the Ducks any hope early.
— Jack Campbell starts as Stuart Skinner flew back to Edmonton so he can be with his wife as they welcome their first child into the world. Campbell likely starts tonight and Friday, and this is a chance for him to find his game. He does seem to be going in the right direction. He’s allowed two goals in each of his last two starts. I don’t expect him to be a saviour. Just be steady.

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