Game Notes Oilers @ Avalanche: Slay the Dragon
Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers have improved immensely since Jay Woodcroft arrived as head coach on February 10th, 2022. They are 74-32-12 under Woodcroft and have the second most wins in the NHL behind Boston’s 88. General Manager Ken Holland has built them into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. But the one team they’ve yet to solve is Colorado.
— Since Woodcroft arrived, Edmonton is 1-4-4 v. the Avalanche. They are 1-0-4 in the regular season and 0-4 in the playoffs. The games have been close, but the Avs find ways to win. They’ve won 6-5 and 3-2 in OT this year as well as 3-2 last year and 2-1 in a shootout. Edmonton isn’t intimidated by the Avalanche, at least they shouldn’t be, but picking up a victory tonight could be a mental boost, especially if they meet in the Western Conference Final again.
— Edmonton is the hottest team in the NHL. They’ve won seven in a row and are 16-2-1 since March 1st. The Avs are also playing very well, despite numerous injuries to key players. They have the fourth-best points% since March 1st and a 15-5-1 record. In April the Oilers are 4-0 and have outscored their opposition 18-3, while Colorado is 5-0 and outscoring teams 24-14. This should be a highly entertaining game.
— Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon are carrying Colorado right now, especially in April. Rantanen has 6-8-14 in his last five games while MacKinnon has 7-5-12. Those two matched up against Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins means we will have five of the top 10 scorers on the ice tonight. It is the first game in 37 years with five 100-point players playing in the same game. It will be the 5th contest in NHL history and all of the previous four involved the Oilers between 1983-1986.
— Connor McDavid became the fifth player in NHL history to reach 151 points on Saturday. Phil Esposito (152), Steve Yzerman (155), Mario Lemieux (160, 161, 168, and 199), and Wayne Gretzky (163, 164, 168, 183, 196, 205, 208, 212, and 215) are the others. With every point, McDavid joins a more exclusive club. The big question in the coming seasons is, can he become the third player to score 150+ points twice in his career?
— McDavid is the 14th player to score 64 goals in a season. If he reaches 65, he’ll also be the 14th. Gretzky and Lemieux (4x), Esposito and Brett Hull (3x), Mike Bossy and Jari Kurri (2x) reached 65 goals multiple times, while Alex Mogilny, Teemu Selanne, Bernie Nicholls, Lanny MacDonald, Alex Ovechkin, and Steve Yzerman did it once.
— McDavid’s next assist will give him 88, which will be the most in the NHL since Joe Thornton had 92 and 96 in 2007 and 2006. McDavid needs one goal and three assists in the final two games to be only the fourth player to score 65 goals and 90 assists in the same season. Yzerman did it once while Gretzky and Lemieux reached both totals four times.
— Only two players in the last 25 years have scored 50 goals and 70 assists in the same season — McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both did it this year. They are the 16th and 17th players to achieve both joining Gretzky (9x), Lemieux (5x), Guy Lafleur (4x), Marcel Dionne and Esposito (3x), Yzerman (2x), and Bossy, Nicholls, Dale Hawerchuk. Jaromir Jagr, Pat Lafontaine, Denis Maruk, Mark Recchi, Bryan Trottier and Pierre Turgeon did it once. Draisaitl’s remarkable season should not be overlooked.
— The Oilers need one power play goal to tie the franchise record for most in a season. The 1988 and 2006 Oilers scored 88 PP goals, but they did with 402 and 485 PP chances respectively. This Oilers team has 87 goals on 268 opportunities. Their 32.5% is the best in franchise history and currently the best all time. The 1978 Montreal Canadiens hold the record at 31.9%. If the Oilers go 1-for-7 over the next two games, they finish the season at 32%.
— The Oilers are riding a seven-game winning streak for the 10th time in franchise history and only the second time since 1987. The 2001 Oilers hold the record for nine consecutive victories and if the Oilers win their final two games, they will tie the franchise mark. The 2004 Oilers had a 16-game point streak. Edmonton is 12-0-1 in their last 13 and could push that to 15 games.
— Edmonton has tied the franchise mark for most road wins in a season with 26. The 1984 Oilers were 26-13-1, while this year’s team is 26-11-3. A victory tonight sets a new high in road wins. The Oilers are averaging 4.10 goals/game on the road, which is eighth most in franchise history and the most since they averaged 4.15 in 1988. Edmonton has fired a franchise-best 33.1 shots/game on the road this season. Even if they have no shots on goal tonight, they will set a new standard for shots/game at 32.3. This is their best road season in shots/game in franchise history.
— Tonight’s game has huge implications for home ice advantage. Vegas has 107 points, Edmonton has 105, and Colorado has 104. If the Oilers win both their games and Vegas loses one of its two games v. Seattle in regulation, Edmonton will finish first in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. If Colorado wins tonight and wins one of their other two games, they finish ahead of Edmonton. If Colorado wins all three of their games and Vegas splits with Seattle (loss in regulation), then the Avalanche will win the West. Tonight’s winner all but guarantees they finish at least second in the West.
— The Avs’ blueline is banged up. Cale Makar is out indefinitely, Josh Manson has yet to be cleared for contact and Bowen Byram didn’t play in LA or Anaheim over the weekend with a lower body injury. With those three out they relied heavily on four D-men. Devon Toews averaged 28:11, Sam Girard (24:04), Jack Johnson (23:06), and Erik Johnson 19:48) over the weekend. Brad Hunt played 12:44/game and Kurtis MacDermid averaged 8:02.
— Edmonton leads the NHL in power play goals (87), shorthanded goals (17), and they are fourth overall in 5×5 goals with 188. Colorado is 15th in 5×5 goals with 167, tied for 19th in SHG with six, and fifth in PP goals with 63. Edmonton can match Colorado’s offence, but they often give up too much. Edmonton has only allowed five goals in its previous five games and tonight will be a great test to see how they handle the speed of the Avalanche.
— Colorado has scored first in 51 of their 79 games. That is the most of any team. Edmonton is ninth with the first goal 43 times. Edmonton is the third-best team in the league when allowing the first goal. They are 17-15-5, which is the third most wins and the third best points%. Only Boston and New Jersey are better. Colorado is 18th in the NHL when allowing the first goal. They are 9-17-2 with a .321P%.
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