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Game Notes G3: Predators vs. the Terminator

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Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
The Predator and Terminator movie series were quite different, but they had a similar storyline that focused on what would happen if mankind wasn’t at the top of the food chain. Both are about surviving a hunt and while we never saw Terminator battle the Predator on the big screen, for the past five years, we’ve seen a hockey version of it on the ice, with one individual dominating an entire team.
— Since October 27th, 2018, the Oilers are 9-0-2 v. Nashville, but it has mainly been the Leon Draisaitl show. Draisaitl scored 20 goals and 30 points in the first 10 games before being held off the scoresheet in their last meeting. The Predators scored 27 goals in those 11 games, while Draisaitl had 30 points. He did is best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, dominating the Predators single handedly.
— His run of 10 games was one of the most dominant we’ve seen in NHL history.
He had eight multi-goal games and nine multi-point games. He scored on the Predators for fun, and the Oilers are hoping he continues his dominance tonight. You will notice he registered no points during the January 27th game in 2022, but then he scored a hat trick the next game followed by back-to-back five-point outings.
— He loves playing in Nashville. He has 13 goals and 17 points in his last six visits. I expect Draisaitl to have a strong game. When he walks into Bridgestone arena, he will have nothing but positive thoughts. He’s scored 2, 2, 4, 3 and 2 goals in five of his last six visits. It is impossible not to be excited and feel good when he steps on the ice. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, most of us have an opponent, and arena, a court, a field or a golf course, where we’ve had more success. And when you show up there, your confidence is high.
— Draisaitl isn’t the only one who will feel good tonight. Connor McDavid is riding a 10-game point streak v. the Predators in which he’s produced 6-20-26. And they’ve played together in many of those games, which is one of the reasons I believe Jay Woodcroft will start the game with them on the same line. They could dominate the Preds, but also McDavid has zero points at 5×5 through two games, and getting your best player going offensively early in the year is never a bad idea.
— Some view juggling the top-three lines after two games as desperate. I don’t. The team has one goal in 89 minutes of 5×5 play. Only three players have a point at 5×5. The Oilers outplayed Vancouver for long stretches 5×5 but got nothing to show for it. Mixing up the lines and getting some offensive mojo into your players is a good bet, especially putting McDavid with Draisaitl. They are the most dangerous duo in the NHL when playing together. I suspect they won’t stay together very long, but Nashville is the perfect opponent to load up your top line against, because they don’t have two or three lines that intimidate you.
— Despite the results, the Oilers 5×5 play in the two games v. Vancouver wasn’t that bad. However, the same weakness that has plagued this team for years showed up: They gift the opposition too many quality chances. Edmonton had the puck in the offensive zone and with possession much more than the Canucks did, and outshot Vancouver 42-32, but they gave up too many quality chances.
Edmonton had the puck in the offensive zone for 40:50, while Vancouver had it for 29:59.
Edmonton had possession of the puck for 13:09 compared to Vancouver’s 6:15. They had the puck twice as much.
However, Vancouver had 18 slot shots to the Oilers’ 17.
Edmonton had 15 high danger chances and Vancouver had 14.
Scoring chances off the rush were 10-10.
Scoring chances off the cycle were 11-2 in favour of Edmonton.
Scoring chances off turnovers favoured Vancouver 11-7.
— Vancouver outscored the Oilers 8-1 at 5×5 despite being outshot and having the puck in the offensive zone less than half the time of the Oilers. Edmonton’s penchant for gifting quality chances continued. They lost too many battles, but they also made some glaringly bad decisions or got beat one-on-one.
— Darnell Nurse played very well in game two, but he made one bad decision that led directly to Vancouver’s third goal. He has to recognize that he was the last man back, and the Oilers already had four players in the offensive zone, when he jumped down in the offensive zone. Yes, Warren Foegele can’t miss the net far side on that shot from the right boards, but if Nurse is in position the Canucks would have had a 2-on-1, not a 2-0. Maybe they still score, but your odds of scoring on a 2-on-1 are lower than on a 2-on-0. He has to make a better read at that moment. The rest of the game he was very good, but one glaring error cost them a goal. The Oilers need to reduce those glaring mistakes.
— The Oilers forwards need to get greasier around the net. They have one goal on 42 shots. They won’t carry a 2.3SH% all season, but they can be better around the net. They need to create second and third opportunities. Draisaitl’s goal on the first shift of game two came from hard work and banging home a rebound. The Oilers need a more consistent commitment to get to the net, have good body position to deflect pucks or hammer home rebounds.
— Last year they were fifth in 5×5 goals with 192.  They should be a top-10 team in 5×5 goals and are actually sixth over the past three years combined. I expect the goals will come, and the best way to start would be adding some greasy goals to their repertoire. They need to go to the net consistently. Too often the Oilers have the puck on a defender’s stick at the blue line with no traffic around the net. It hasn’t been a regular focus for this team, and I believe it needs to become one moving forward.
— The Preds allowed the eighth fewest 5×5 goals against (401) the past three seasons. They were tied for ninth last season at 153 averaging 1.86 against/game. The Oilers did have success at 5×5, scoring 2.66/game, and they are hopeful that continues tonight.
— The Oilers’ longest point streak v. one franchise is 24 games. They went 21-0-3 (ties) v. Vancouver between 1985-1988. They had points in 16 straight v. Minnesota between 2000-2003, 15 v. Columbus in 2001-2006, 14 v. the Winnipeg Jets in 1983-1985 and six times they’ve had points in 13 consecutive games. Their current 11-game streak v. Nashville is tied for the 11th longest in franchise history.
— The Predators are tied with the longest active point streak against one franchise at 14. They are 11-0-3 v. New Jersey since 2015. The Rangers are 11-0-3 v. Buffalo since 2021. If Edmonton picks up a point tonight, they will be tied for the fifth-longest active streak at 12 games.
— I’d start Jack Campbell in goal. Skinner has played the last 90 minutes and has posted a .750Sv%. I’d keep rotating until one of them earns a second consecutive start.

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