Game Notes Sharks @ Oilers: Win Out
Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor7 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers will begin the 2023 NHL playoffs on home ice, but they don’t know when they will start or who they will play. They are focused on finishing the regular season exactly how they’ve played the past six weeks — in dominant fashion.
— In their last 43 days, since March 1st, Edmonton is a league-best 17-2-1. They haven’t lost in regulation since March 11th in Toronto. They are 13-0-1 and are currently riding an eight-game winning streak where they have outscored the opposition 34-12. Edmonton has allowed a franchise low four goals in its last six games. They are not just an offensive team that has to outscore their defensive woes. They’ve drastically reduced their blatant giveaways and are making teams work for their goals. Edmonton is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and arguably the favourite in the Western Conference due to Colorado’s injury concerns.
— Edmonton has much to play for tonight. If they win and Vegas loses in regulation, the Oilers will finish first in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. They haven’t won their division since 1987, the longest drought in the NHL. The players just want to continue playing well. They can’t control if Seattle defeats Vegas, so their focus will be limiting San Jose’s chances and then preparing for either Los Angeles or Winnipeg in the opening round. If they play LA, the series will begin on Monday as LA needs to play at home on the 21st and 23rd, and if they play Winnipeg the series begins on Tuesday. There is a chance they could play Seattle: Edmonton would need to win, Seattle would have to defeat Vegas in OT/SO and LA would have to lose to Anaheim. Possible, but unlikely.
— A win tonight and the Oilers tie the franchise record of nine consecutive victories which was set in 2001. Edmonton has only won eight games in a row twice since 1985. The 1984 Oilers had three separate eight-game winning streaks and the 1985 team had two. The 2001 group won nine in a row and this year’s squad can tie the record tonight.
— Edmonton is one of only seven NHL franchises that have never won 10 games in a row. Edmonton, Arizona, Detroit, and LA have won nine, Seattle eight and Dallas and Winnipeg seven.
— Every facet of the Oilers game is rolling right now. During their 13-0-1 run the power play is 36.6% (15 of 41) and their penalty kill is 89.7% (killed 35 of 39), but their net special teams is actually better. The Oilers have scored five shorthanded goals, so their net PK is actually +1 and 102.6%. The PP has allowed two shorties, so the net PP is 31.7%, but the PP and PK combined are a net of 134.2%. Ridiculous
— They have outscored teams 62-31 overall and 36-26 at 5×5. They’ve scored first nine times, won them all, and they are 4-0-1 when allowing the first goal. They’ve outscored teams 20-13 in the first period, 21-7 in the middle stanza, 18-10 in the third period and 3-1 in overtime. They have won four games by one goal, four games by two goals, three games by three and one game by five and six goals respectively. They’ve proven they can lock it down, win in low-scoring games, or light up the opposition offensively.
— The scoring has been balanced. The big three continue to produce (Draisaitl 27 points, McDavid 25 and RNH 23) in the last 14 games. They have 13 players with 2+ goals. Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm have three goals while Darnell Nurse has five. The Oilers blueline has now produced the ninth most points among NHL defence cores.
— Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zach Hyman have combined for 188 goals, 275 assists and 463 points. They have more goals than the entire forward group in Philadelphia (183), Columbus (180), Nashville (177), Anaheim (171) and Chicago (167). They have more points than nine forward groups: Islanders (456), Canadiens (449), Coyotes (442), Sharks (440), Blue Jackets (435), Predators (433), Flyers (422), Ducks (410) and Blackhawks (402).
— The Oilers PP is on the verge of setting a new record for PP%. They sit at 32.4% scoring 88 goals on 272 opportunities. The 1977 Canadiens finished the season at 31.9%. If the Oilers go 0-3 tonight, they’d finish at 32%. If they go 0-4, they will tie the Canadiens at 31.9% and 0-for 5 would drop them to 31.8%. They will set the NHL record if they score one goal and have six or fewer PP opportunities. Scoring one PP goal would also set an Oilers franchise record for most PP goals in a season. The 1988 and 2006 teams each scored 88 goals, but they had significantly more PP chances with 402 and 485 respectively.
— Stuart Skinner tied Grant Fuhr’s rookie record for most wins with his 28th victory in Colorado. During this hot streak, Skinner has started 10 of 14 games and is 9-0-1 with a .926Sv% and 2.18 GAA. Jack Campbell is 4-0 with a .930Sv% and 2.21 GAA. Each has one shutout. Campbell played last Wednesday in Anaheim, and I felt Skinner would start two of the final three games. He’s started the past two, so I think Campbell starts tonight. It keeps him fresh in case of emergency in the playoffs, while Skinner will have five, or six, days between starts depending on if they play Monday or Tuesday.
This season Skinner made eight starts after four or more days rest. He was 7-1 with a .939Sv% and 2.00 GAA.
— A win tonight would be the Oilers’ 50th of the season. It would be the fourth time in franchise history they’ve won 50 games and first since they won 50 in 1987. They won 56 in 1986 and 57 in 1984. They won 49 in 1985 and last season.
— A victory guarantees the Oilers finish ahead of Colorado and Dallas, which could be important if they make it to the third round. It is wild that on the last day of the originally scheduled regular season (tomorrow’s two games are makeup games) only six teams know where they will finish in their conference and division (BOS, TOR, TB, NYR, MIN and WPG) and only one playoff matchup (TOR v. TB) is set. You couldn’t ask for more drama this late in the season. It has made the final weeks highly entertaining.
— Derek Ryan will play his 500th career game tonight. Quite the accomplishment considering he made his NHL debut at 29 and became a regular at 30. The Oilers 2023 Masterton nominee will have his parents and family in the crowd tonight. It will be a special moment. We discussed his road to 500 games here.
— Hyman will also play his 500th game tonight. He joined me for another edition of Who Are You? I learned he was the oldest of five boys and the Oilers have quite the competitive gaming competition going on right now. You can read about it here.
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