Game Notes Oilers @ Blackhawks: Start a Streak

Photo credit:© Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
Things change quickly in a hockey game. In a span of 27 seconds on Monday night the Edmonton Oilers went from picking up no points, to getting one and then leaving with two. It was a crazy sequence and illustrated how quickly a game can be won or lost.
Evan Bouchard tied the game with 4.4 seconds remaining in regulation and then Leon Draisaitl won it in overtime. Now the Oilers skate into Chicago tonight with a record of 12-10 instead of 11-11. They have a two-game winning streak for only the second time this season and will look to push it to three tonight v. the Blackhawks.
— Over their next 13 games Edmonton plays 11 opponents who currently have a lower points percentage than the Oilers: Chicago, Minnesota, Montreal, Washington, Arizona, Minnesota, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Anaheim, Nashville, Dallas and Vancouver. Even with the injuries to their forwards, the Oilers should be able to win more than they lose before Christmas.
— Chicago is tied for 30th with Columbus and only ahead of Anaheim. Chicago is 31st in GF/GP at 2.48 and 29th in GA/GP at 3.62. They are 1-7-2 in their last 10 games and have been outscored 42-18. They are struggling and Edmonton needs to win tonight. This is a team they should beat, as they did earlier this year by a score of 6-5. Connor McDavid had a hat trick and Leon Draisaitl scored the winner with 38 seconds remaining. It wasn’t the prettiest game for the Oilers, but they won, and they have to find a way to win tonight.
— The Blackhawks are struggling offensively, defensively, and in goal.
They are 30th, 31st, or 32nd in goals for, expected goals for, shot attempts, shots on net, slot shots, slot passes, offensive zone possession time, cycle chances, and quality chances.
Defensively, they aren’t much better, ranking in the bottom five of every category except inner slot shots, where they are 25th. They allow the most quality chances against in the NHL.
— Their team defence isn’t great, and it gets worse due to subpar goaltending from Petr Mrazek. He is 1-5-1 with a .878Sv% and 4.27 GAA. He has struggled as much, if not more than Jack Campbell. Edmonton’s forwards need to bury their chances tonight. They created many great chances v. Spencer Knight on Monday, but only McDavid on a breakaway and Leon Draisaitl on a two-on-one solved him.
— Zach Hyman is due to score. He has 18 shots in his last three games, including 10 v. the Islanders and five against Florida, but he’s been unable to finish any of his great chances. He’s been all over the puck lately, and he was rewarded with three assists on Monday. He had nine goals on his first 59 shots (15.2SH%), but he has none on his last 20 shots. He’s due to breakout and I won’t be surprised if he scores tonight based on how well he’s played the past few games.
Klim Kostin won’t play tonight. He wasn’t on yesterday’s charter as he had a meeting in Calgary to get his work visa. He had a temporary one that allowed him to play last week in New Jersey and New York, but he needs a permanent one now that he is playing for a Canadian team. If it is processed quickly, he will join the team in Minnesota, but if not, he will be available for Saturday’s home game vs. Montreal.
— Tyler Benson could draw in for Kostin, or the Oilers will opt to play 11-7. I’d play Benson. He had a strong preseason and has become somewhat of a pest. Edmonton needs some energy injected into the lineup.
— After producing only five goals in the first 15 games, the Oilers’ blueliners have chipped in with six in the last seven games. Evan Bouchard and Tyson Barrie each have three and the Oilers 11 goals from their blueliners has them tied for eighth in the NHL. With injuries to four top-nine forwards, Edmonton has needed their offensive D-men to step up and fill the void, and they have.
— I’d start Hyman with Draisaitl and McDavid and keep Mattias Janmark-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi as the second line. Edmonton did a pretty good job of limiting Florida’s chances on Monday, and against weaker teams like Chicago, the Oilers can load up their top line and believe they can outscore the opposition. Their bottom three lines just need to not give up anything.
— Edmonton’s bottom six was very strong on Monday, with each player posting very good shot-for-shot against metrics: Kostin (7-1), Brad Malone (6-1), Derek Ryan (8-2), Dylan Holloway (4-1), Devin Shore (9-3) and James Hamblin (5-2). All of them were on for more scoring chances for than against, and they need to continue that tonight. Ideally, they’d chip in with a goal as well, but until Edmonton gets some injured players back in the lineup I think breaking even in the bottom six should be viewed as a win.
— This is likely the last time the Oilers will visit Chicago with Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews in the lineup. Both are pending UFAs, and with the Blackhawks in the middle of a rebuild, I don’t see either re-signing. Chicago comes to Edmonton on January 28th, so the Oilers could face them again, but it won’t be in Chicago. Both of them will have their numbers retired by the Blackhawks when their careers are over, but Toews has already stated he isn’t interested in sticking around for a rebuild, and Kane won’t either. Kane leads the Hawks in scoring with 16 points, while Toews leads them in goals with eight. Both have won three Stanley Cups. They will have suitors near the trade deadline. I think Kane is the bigger difference maker, but after a few lean years, Toews has rediscovered his game as well. It will be curious to see who acquires them. Their $10.5m cap hits make any deal difficult, but not impossible because neither is owed that much in actual dollars, so using a third team to eat 25% of the cap hit shouldn’t be that difficult.
— On Saturday Leon Draisaitl scored his 101st power play goal. He is now fifth on the Oilers and trails Paul Coffey (107), Wayne Gretzky (125) and Glenn Anderson and Ryan Smyth (126). He could be the franchise leader late next season. At his current pace he will become only the 21st player in NHL history to score 200+ career power play goals. In case you are wondering: McDavid has 58 power play goals. Draisaitl is 16th among active players and will pass Wayne Simmonds (102), Anze Kopitar (104) this season. Alex Ovechkin has the most PP goals in NHL history with 291 and counting.

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