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Game Notes Oilers @ Flames: Keep Pace

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
8 months ago
In a hotly contested playoff race, things can change quickly. Last Monday, the Oilers were a few percentage points behind Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but an overtime loss to Chicago and a regulation loss to Montreal and suddenly the Oilers are in need of a victory.
They play Calgary, Washington and Tampa Bay this week. Those teams are ranked sixth, third and 14th respectively in points%. Last week Edmonton faced Philadelphia, Chicago and Montreal who were ranked 28th, 25th and 31st (in P%) last Monday. Edmonton only managed to go 1-1-1 against those three, while the teams around them in the playoff race were winning.
— Edmonton needs to win two of its three games this week. Los Angeles, Dallas, Vegas, Vancouver and Anaheim either pulled away from the Oilers or gained ground last week. If that happens again, the Oilers likely will enter must-win territory in mid-March, and that is not a good position to be in with six weeks remaining in the season.
—  Last Monday the standings in the Pacific and Wildcard race looked like this:
Pacific
TEAM  GP    P%     PTS
CGY     51    .667    68
LA        54   .602     65
LVK      53   .585     62
EDM    53   .575     61
ANA     55   .536     59
VAN     55   .527     58
Wildcard
TEAM  GP    P%     PTS
NSH     53   .604     64
DALL    52   .587     61
EDM    53   .575     61
ANA     55   .536     59
VAN     55   .527     58
Edmonton was very close to Vegas and Dallas for third on the Pacific or the second Wildcard spot.
— But after an average week for the Oilers lost ground on every team except Nashville. And they did so while playing three teams who aren’t in the playoff race.
Pacific
TEAM  GP    P%     PTS
CGY     54    .676    73
LA        57   .605     69
LVK      57   .596     68
EDM    56   .571     64
ANA     58   .543     63
VAN     57   .544     62
Wildcard
TEAM  GP    P%     PTS
DALL    55   .609     67
NSH     55   .600     66
EDM    56   .571     64
ANA     58   .543     63
VAN     57   .544     62
— Edmonton isn’t out of the race by any stretch, but going 1-1-1 every three games isn’t good enough right now. And their opponents this week are deeper and more skilled than the three they played last week. The Oilers’ effort tonight in Calgary has to be much better than it was Saturday v. Montreal.
— The Oilers didn’t play very well, but @Mike Smith couldn’t give them a big save when they needed it. Sam Montembeault robbed Leon Draisaitl in the final seconds of the first period. That save was massive. If Draisaitl scores the Oilers go to the dressing room with much more confidence and excitement and who knows how the remaining 40 minutes play out. Outside of two games, NYI and LA, Smith hasn’t been able to make those momentum-changing saves.
— Mikko Koskinen will start tonight, but he can’t win the game on his own. The skaters need to be better than they were v. Montreal. Edmonton is 7-4-1 with Jay Woodcroft behind the bench, but since he’s been hired Calgary is the best team in the NHL.
— The Flame are 9-1-1 since February 10th. They are averaging 4.36 goals/game and only allowing 2.64. Their power play is 29% (second best) and their PK is 83.8% (11th).
Edmonton is 14th in P% under Woodcroft. They’ve scored 3.42 goals/game and allowed 2.83. Their power play is 19.5% (17th), but their penalty kill is an ugly 72.7% (25th). They need to be very disciplined against a red-hot Flames power play.
— Injuries to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi and Zack Kassian are starting to catch up to the Oilers. They miss their combination of size, speed and skill, but RNH and Puljujarvi aren’t even skating with the main group yet. Kassian skated on the weekend wearing a full cage to protect his broken jaw. @Josh Archibald skated yesterday and the best-case scenario is he could play Saturday, but likely won’t be ready until March 15th v. Detroit.
— The Oilers’ penalty kill misses Archibald. He killed the most minutes of any Oilers forward the past two seasons. He was on the ice for 255 min on the PK. Nugent-Hopkins (211), Jujhar Khaira (178), Riley Sheahan (155, in one season) and Leon Draisaitl (104) rounded out the top-five in PK TOI. I realize Archibald didn’t have great possession numbers at 5×5, but his PK ability would be a huge help for this team and it’s not like Colton Sceviour, Devin Shore, Kyle Turris or Tyler Benson are performing better than Archibald. It isn’t ideal that he can only play home games, but with the PK struggling as bad as it is right now I’d insert him into the lineup when he’s ready.
— @Connor McDavid loves playing Calgary. He has 26 goals and 45 points in 32 career games. The Oilers could use a dominant game from their captain tonight.
— Johnny Gaudreau has put himself in the Hart Trophy conversation. He is fourth in the NHL with 71 points, but he leads all scorers with 47 points at 5×5. That is five ahead of Kirill Kaprizov, @Auston Matthews and @Matthew Tkachuk.
Gaudreau has played 89.6% of his 5×5 time with Tkachuk. They’ve been a deadly duo and the Oilers will need to be on high alert when they are on the ice.

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