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GDB 41.0: Oilers Can Make it a Dozen

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Photo credit:Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
4 months ago
Only two teams in NHL history have missed the playoffs when they had a winning streak of 10 or more games. The 2017 Flyers and 2019 Sabres missed, but the other 61 teams made the postseason, and the Edmonton Oilers are looking to become the 62nd team.
No team in NHL history who won 11 games in a row missed the postseason, and with the Oilers looking for win number 12 in a row tonight against the Seattle Kraken, the playoffs are a very good bet. The Oilers are focused on the playoffs tonight, instead they want to continue this excellent run and beat an opponent who is on the final leg of a six-game road trip.
Seattle started their road trip with victories in Buffalo, Washington and Columbus and pushed their winning streak to nine games, but losses in Pittsburgh and New York (Rangers) on Monday and Tuesday have them arriving in Edmonton a bit fatigued and suddenly trying to avoid a three-game losing streak. Things can change quickly in the NHL, and the Oilers will be looking to make the Kraken’s flight home to Seattle less enjoyable.
The Oilers have dominated the Kraken in their brief history. They are 7-2 all-time and have won the last four games. The Oilers are 22-6 in their previous 28 games, and their hot streak began with a victory in Seattle on Remembrance Day. Seattle is a great matchup for the Oilers. They don’t possess any high-end offensive stars. They have a group of solid veterans, but no elite players to match the Oilers, and Edmonton’s top stars have feasted on the Kraken.
Leon Draisaitl has 17 points in eight games. Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman have seven goals in nine games and 16 and 14 points respectively. Evander Kane has four goals and eight points in four games. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 11 points in eight games. Seattle’s top producer against Edmonton has been Jaden Schwartz with seven points in seven games.
The Kraken offence doesn’t possess remotely the same firepower as the Oilers. The Kraken sit 27th in goals/game at 2.80, while the Oilers are 5th at 3.50. The Kraken offence did wake up during their recent nine-game winning streak, scoring 32 goals (3.56/game), but that was an outlier because, in their other 25 games, they’ve averaged 2.6 goals/game. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Vince Dunn are tied for the team lead with 35 points. Only Washington (27), Columbus (28), San Jose (30), Chicago and Anaheim (33) have a leading scorer with fewer points.
The Kraken made the playoffs last season because they got production from all four lines and their blueline. They had 13 skaters with 13+ goals, including two forwards on their 4th line. They had 17 skaters with 25 points and finished with the 4th most goals in the NHL. It was a great year, but virtually impossible to repeat. Daniel Sprong, Ryan Donato and Connor Geekie left in free agency. Geekie and Sprong weren’t qualified and became UFAs. The Kraken were worried about arbitration, but they were unable to replace their offence, and Jared McCann, Jordan Eberle, and Matt Beniers aren’t close to last season’s numbers.
McCann is on pace for 55 points after scoring 70 last year. Eberle’s on pace for 42 after a 63-point campaign and Beniers, who won the Calder with 57 points, is on pace for 37. Seattle had everything go right offensively last year. They were able to outscore shoddy goaltending, but this season the roles are reversed. The offence is bad, while they are getting solid goaltending from Joey Daccord. He’s become their starter. He has an excellent 2.28 GAA and .923Sv%, but due to a lack of offence, his record is only 13-6-8. He’s actually lost more games than he’s won despite allowing only 2.28 goals/game.
The Oilers will need to work for their goals, but their offence is due for a breakout game. They’ve only scored 13 goals on opposing goals the past five games, despite averaging 36 shots/game and many high-danger chances. They are due for a breakout game. Connor McDavid has points in all five games, but only a single point in each.
In his previous 400 games, he has gone six games without at least one multi-point game three times. Once in November of 2018, then January/February 2022 and earlier this season when he was banged up. He had four games with one point in 2018, five in 2022 and two earlier this year.  Just going six games without a two-point game is rare for McDavid. He is due for a breakout game offensively, and the Oilers have scored four or more goals in all seven wins over Seattle.
At some point, the Oilers winning streak will end, but I’d be a bit surprised if it happened tonight. They haven’t had great starts recently. They haven’t scored in the first period in their last three games, and in six of the 11 games during the winning streak. They were held scoreless in the first period only eight times through their first 29 games. They’ve had chances early; they just haven’t buried them. It’s not like they are playing well offensively, they just aren’t burying their chances.
They have been outstanding at limiting goals. They could tie their franchise record tonight at 10 consecutive games allowing two or fewer goals. This group has talked about wanting to improve defensively for a few seasons, and they are finally showing it. They’ve been very good overall, and when they have given up chances, Stuart Skinner has been excellent. He will start tonight and look to continue his stellar play. He is 18-4 in his last 22 starts with a 2.18 GAA and .920Sv%.

Jan 3, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Seattle Kraken celebrate a goal scored by forward Jaden Schwartz (17) during the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

LINEUPS…

Edmonton Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Foegele
Janmark – McLeod– Ryan
Gagner – Hamblin – Brown
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
Sam Gagner is cleared to play and will return to the lineup. Adam Erne will come out unless Evander Kane can’t go. He is dealing with an injury and will be a game time decision. If Kane can’t go, I wonder if we will see McLeod move up to the 2LW and have them slide to centre on the third line.

Seattle Kraken

Tatar – McCann – Eberle
Schwartz – Wennberg – Tanev
Tolvanen – Gourde – Bjorkstrand
Hayden – Kartye – Yamamoto
Evans – Larsson
Oleksiak – Borgen
Dumoulin – Schultz
Daccord
Defenceman Vince Dunn, who is tied for the team lead with 35 points, won’t play.  Dunn was injured last Saturday in their victory over Columbus and didn’t play v. the Penguins or Rangers, and the Kraken lost both games. Seattle’s 27th-ranked offence really misses him on the backend. However, winger Andre Burakovsky will be a game-time decision. Getting him back in the lineup would be a big boost for the Kraken.

TONIGHT…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton wins their 12th consecutive game becoming only the 19th team in NHL history to do it. They win 4-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid extends his point streak to 12 games. It will be the 8th time in his career he’s had a 12-game point streak, and the second time this season. (It will also be the 2nd time in his career he has a home point streak of 15 games).
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: While many streaks continue, Connor Brown finally ends his goalless streak at 51 games and scores his first goal as an Oiler.

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