Game Notes G4: Early Season Starts, PP goals, and more
Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor1 month ago
The Oilers will look for their first winning streak of the season tonight in Philadelphia after their 6-1 victory in Nashville on Tuesday. So will the Flyers. They won their season opener in Columbus, and lost in Ottawa before winning their home opener 2-0 over Vancouver on Tuesday. One of the Oilers’ goals was to win their division, and with Vegas off to a 4-0 start, they can’t fall too far behind them early in the season.
— Despite suggestions opposing it, the Oilers have only started slowly once in the past four seasons. It was last season, so that might be why some suggest Edmonton is often a slow starter, but in truth they haven’t been.
|YEAR||5 GP||10 GP||15 GP||20 GP|
The Oilers were 1-2 and 2-3, before winning five in a row to start 7-3, but then they went 3-7 in their next 10 to be .500 thru 20 games. The other three season the Oilers started quite well.
— Edmonton was 11 points behind Vegas after 20 games last season. They finished two back of the Golden Knights, and the slow start cost them home ice advantage in the second round. Vegas is 4-0 and Edmonton needs to stay within striking distance if they want to finish first in the Pacific. There is lots of time remaining, but a victory against a team many expect not to make the playoffs is needed tonight in Philly.
— The majority of the team opted not to skate yesterday at Penn University. Only Ryan McLeod, Adam Erne, Vincent Desharnais, Philip Broberg and Stuart Skinner hit the ice. They will have a full morning skate today, and we’ll find out who Jay Woodcroft plans on starting in goal. I’d run with Jack Campbell after his excellent 42-save performance in Nashville, but I also see why Woodcroft might go with Skinner. The Oilers should be able to defeat the Flyers, without relying on their goalie to steal the game, so it might not matter who starts. Philadelphia is seemingly an easier opponent than Winnipeg, who the Oilers play on Saturday, so give Skinner a chance to find his game tonight. If he plays great then Woodcroft has a tough decision on Saturday. If Skinner plays okay, then you play Campbell Saturday. Who would you start and why?
— Leon Draisaitl set the Oilers franchise record for most power play goals when he scored his 127th and 128th in Nashville. In my article yesterday, I asked you how many of those goals did McDavid assist on? Here’s the answer, including all the players with at least five assists on Draisaitl’s PP goals.
Not surprisingly, McDavid has assisted on exactly 75% of Draisaitl’s PP goals thus far. It is clear the Oilers’ best PP success is with Draisaitl as the shooter and McDavid or RNH the primary distributors.
— Since the start of the 2019-20 season the Oilers are 29.2% on the PP. They’ve scored 262 goals on 898 opportunities. Draisaitl has scored 34.3% of the goals with 90. McDavid has 52, RNH 33, Zach Hyman 20, James Neal 13, Tyson Barrie and Alex Chiasson had 11 each, Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto had six, Evan Bouchard five and Evander Kane three. Eight others have one or two PP goals.
— Some were a bit surprised Draisaitl owns the Oilers’ record with 128 goals considering the offensive machine they had in the 1980s. It is valid when you consider that for the nine seasons Gretzky played in the Edmonton the Oilers’ PP ran at a 24.4% efficiency. They scored 702 power play goals on 2,873 opportunities. Wayne Gretzky led them with 125 PPG, which was 17.8% of their total goals. Glenn Anderson (94), Jari Kurri (87), Paul Coffey (69), Mark Messier (67), Mike Krushelnyski (23), Craig Simpson (18 in 59 games), Blair MacDonald (18) and Charlie Huddy and Brett Callighen each had 17. The Oilers’ top unit spread out its scoring a bit more, but Draisaitl scoring 128 goals in fewer games than Gretzky, with fewer PP chances, illustrates how dominant this power play unit is.
— I was curious to see where Draisaitl ranks among the 32 teams in terms of franchise leaders in PP goals. Here are the top-10 leaders in franchise PPG.
Alex Ovechkin’s next PP goal will be his 300th — a record that will be difficult to beat. Brett Hull has the highest PPG/game rate at 0.26, followed by Mike Bossy (.24) and then Ovie (0.22). For Ovie to maintain that high of a rate in almost 600 more games is damn impressive. Steven Stamkos needs five goals to become the sixth player in NHL history to score 200 PPG with one franchise.
Here are the 11-20th ranked leaders in PPG by franchise.
Tim Kerr was lethal on the power play. He has 16 more PPG than Draisaitl in 40 fewer games. But teams in the 1980s had more PP chances. Kerr holds the NHL single season record with 34 PPG. Draisaitl is tied for second with 32.
The Oilers are currently in the bottom third of the NHL in this category, but Draisaitl will move into the second tier before the end of the season.
Draisaitl will likely be 17th when the season ends. If he signs a four-year extension, similar to Auston Matthews, that means he’ll have at least this this season plus five more with the Oilers. If he averages 20 PPG/year (which he has for the past five seasons) then he’d be close to 250 PPG, which would rank second all time. He’d need 111 to pass Lemieux for second.
— Carter Hart is off to a very solid start with the Flyers. He is 2-1 in three starts with a .922Sv% and 2.35 GAA. He had one shutout at home in each of the last three seasons, and he’s already matched that as he blanked the Canucks in the Flyers’ home-opener on Tuesday.
— Sean Couturier’s last game, prior to this season, was December 18th, 2021. He hadn’t played a game in almost 22 months before the season opener in Columbus. He picked up an assist that game, and this past Tuesday he scored his first goal of the season on a penalty shot. It was his first goal at home since November 2nd, 2021. He’s had a long recovery, and I can’t imagine how happy he must be to be playing again.
— Look for Vincent Desharnais to draw in for Philip Broberg. They don’t want a player sitting out too long.
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