Game Notes Oilers @ Blues: Edmonton Hits the Road for First Time
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor1 month ago
The Oilers are the only NHL team yet to play a road game this season, and tonight is only the second home game of the season for St.Louis, so both teams will be excited for different reasons. Teams enjoy getting out on the road, especially after being at home for the majority of the past six weeks, while the Blues want to establish that coming to St.Louis will mean a tough night for the opposition.
— Edmonton is 2-3 in its last five visits to St. Louis. The team split its two visits to the Show Me State, winning 5-4 in November and losing 4-2 in December. Last season the Blues had the 11th-best home record in the NHL at 26-10-5, while the Oilers were 14th best on the road at 21-15-5. Edmonton defeated Pittsburgh 6-3 on Monday, while the Blues suffered their first loss of the season 4-0 in Winnipeg. Edmonton and St. Louis played a low-event game in Edmonton last Saturday, and the Oilers will be looking to generate more offensive chances tonight.
— I still think Leon Draisaitl is under-appreciated because he plays on the same team as Connor McDavid. Draisaitl took the game over in the second period on Monday. He had two assists and scored a beautiful goal. Two years ago, when McDavid missed six consecutive games with an injury, Draisaitl put up 12 points in six games. Even though McDavid only missed a few shifts on Monday, it seemed Draisaitl decided that when McDavid left the game, after crashing into the goal post, he’d lead the team, and he did. Draisaitl has 11 points in six games this season, one ahead of McDavid. It surprises me how quickly people want to attack Draisaitl for being lazy, or making bad passes, yet are much slower to applaud his greatness. Draisaitl isn’t as fast as McDavid, no one is, but Draisaitl can dominate games, and he did so again on Monday.
— The Oilers’ 3-3 start isn’t ideal, but it wasn’t terrible. They played teams who were playing well. After defeating Vancouver on opening night, the next five opponents the Oilers faced have a combined record of 19-5-2. Pittsburgh, Carolina, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Calgary are off to great starts. Edmonton will want to win more than two out of five games against quality teams, and they will need to if they want home ice advantage in the first round, but the Oilers haven’t been losing to weak teams in the league.
— They face the Blues tonight, winners of four-in-a-row, Chicago tomorrow, and then Calgary again on Saturday. Their schedule, based on this season’s results, does get a bit easier in November, but there aren’t many free spaces on the bingo card right now. We’ll see whether the Oilers are able to crack the Blues’ defensive game after getting shut out at Rogers Place on Saturday.
— The Oilers set a franchise record in Monday’s victory over Pittsburgh with 26 shots in the second period. That is the most shots in any period, but it isn’t even top-50 all-time in the NHL. The Oilers are tied for 51st. The Tampa Bay Lightning are first with 33 shots in the second period v. Chicago on October 18th, 2018.
— The most shots the Oilers have allowed in a period is 29 in Detroit on November 7th, 1979, in the Oilers’ inaugural season. On December 16th, 2015, they allowed 27 against the Arizona Coyotes.
— Evander Kane tied the Oilers record for most shots in a period with eight. He tied Taylor Hall, who had eight shots and three goals in the third period v. Atlanta on February 19th, 2011 (the NHL only started tracking player shots per period in 1997/1998). The Oilers’ record for most shots in a game is 13 held by Wayne Gretzky (December 6th, 1987, and five goals), Paul Coffey (December 20th, 1985, and three goals) and Doug Weight (October 15th, 1997). Weight didn’t score a goal that game and didn’t have eight shots in a period.
— Over the previous three seasons Connor McDavid was held pointless 44 times. The Oilers went 7-32-5 in those games. They were 2-11-3 in 2020, 2-8-1 in 2021 and 3-13-1 in 2021. They scored more than three goals only three times, and all three came last year. McDavid was held pointless the past two games. Edmonton lost 2-0 to St. Louis, but they defeated Pittsburgh 6-3. If they could manage to go .500 in games where McDavid is held off the scoresheet that would be a major improvement.
— Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto are struggling to finish. Both have had some quality chances, but neither has been able to tickle the twine. Jay Woodcroft feels both are coming around.
“I think their games are coming,” said Woodcroft. “I saw Yamo do a lot of really good things in yesterday’s game (Monday). I saw him win a lot of one-on-one battles away from the puck which is a good sign. Beating someone to a spot and having an opportunity to score. It didn’t go in and the puck polish wasn’t there at that time. Finding himself in those positions 5×5 is something to build on. You can’t forget he was injured in training camp, missed a good portion of training camp and is working his way into it.
“For Jesse I thought it was a good sign the chance he had in the third period where he was right in the blue paint. I also think Jesse does work for other people. I see him breaking up plays on the forecheck, going to the net hard. I think over time when you start stacking good games on top of each other the offensive results for those guys will come.”
— People will debate who should play in the top six with McDavid, Draisaitl, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but right now there is no obvious answer. I see Puljujarvi and Yamamoto as complementary top-six forwards. Both have positive attributes, and both have weaknesses. Neither has outplayed the other to this point, and I’d argue Warren Foegele has done more than either of them. But like them, he’s been unable to finish. He’s hit two crossbars, and on Monday he made a great play to set up Puljujarvi and McLeod on separate occasions.
“I’m really liking what Warren Foegele is bringing to the table,” said Woodcroft. “He didn’t show up on the scoresheet, but he made numerous good, subtle plays. I thought he was a big man down low; he was tough for the other team to contain. He hit the crossbar, he set some people up around the blue paint and he did a lot of really good things. I’m happy where Warren’s game is at,” said the head coach.
— If one of Yamamoto, Puljujarvi or even Foegele could get going offensively there is an opportunity to earn a regular spot in the top six. I believe we will see players rotate in there all seasons, and Dylan Holloway might also get a look now that he is healthy again.
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