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GDB 6.0: Oilers’ Offence Needs to Show Up (7pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
Recent history suggests the odds the Edmonton Oilers pick up a victory in Minnesota tonight are low. They’ve lost their last five visits to Minny, have been outscored 21-10 and outscored 17-5 while 5×5. Since 2005-06 the Oilers are 10-25-5 on the road v. the Wild. The only thing rarer than an Oilers’ victory in Minnesota has been a goal from their bottom six this season.
They are hoping both trends change tonight, and they skate into Minnesota at a time when the Wild are struggling more than they regularly are.
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The Wild have allowed 21 goals in their last four games. Toronto and Los Angeles each scored a touchdown v. the Wild, while Columbus scored five goals on 54 shots. Their only victory was 5-2 over the lowly Montreal Canadiens.
The Oilers are far from a juggernaut themselves right now, but you could argue their overall game has been better than Minnesota’s thus far. The Oilers’ problem, which has been their main weakness for the past few seasons, is they continue to gift their opposition easy goals. It crushed them early last season, and it is again this year. Unforced errors, major gaffes, noticeably bad turnovers or losing battles too easily have cost the Oilers.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins expressed how vital it is to change that.
“No matter who is in the lineup, the individual plays here and there have cost us early in the season,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “We will get better for it, and without him (McDavid), it is more important to clean up those mistakes.”
The numbers show how the Oilers haven’t been awful overall, but the glaring errors of easy goals against are killing them. So too is their inability to score.
The Oilers rank 23rd in goals scored but are 14th in expected goals. The Wild are the opposite. They are ninth in goals scored while ranking 31st in expected goals. The Wild are 29th in inner slot shots, 25th in slot shots and 20th in offensive zone possession time. The Oilers are ninth in inner slot shots, 17th in slot shots and first in offensive zone time of possession. Edmonton has had the puck a lot in the offensive zone but hasn’t been able to finish. Their forwards need to bury more of their quality chances.
Defensively, the Wild have really struggled. As the SportLogiq above table shows, the Wild are bottom five in the league in seven of 13 defensive categories. They are leaking scoring chances from all different areas — off the rush, off the cycle and off rebounds. The Wild have three defenders dressed tonight with limited NHL experience, one in each of their top-three pairs. Rookie Brock Faber has played quite well, but tonight is still only his eighth NHL game. Dakota Mermis is a great story, having spent seven seasons in the NHL and playing his 31st NHL game tonight, but he’s inexperienced at the NHL level while Calen Addison will play his 81st NHL game. Addison is a very good with the puck, but he struggles defending and the Oilers have to put all three in uncomfortable positions tonight.
The Wild have spent too much time in their defensive end thus far. They’ve been outshot 88-60 at 5×5 in three home games. Last change hasn’t done them any favours thus far. Meanwhile the Oilers sit eighth in expected goals against. Better goaltending would help, no question, but their skaters need to be better reducing the number of slot shots. Edmonton ranks 31st in slot shots allowed. They were better against Winnipeg, allowing nine after giving up 17 and 22 to Philadelphia and Nashville.
The new NHL Edge site is a good way to compare players in similar roles on each team. Leon Draisaitl and Kirill Kaprisov are expected to be the offensive leaders of each team.
Draisaitl has spent more time in the offensive zone and his stats at 5×5 reflect it. He’s outscored the opposition 5-3, outshot them 45-39 and produced 1-3-4 at 5×5. Kaprizov has been outscored 7-4, outshot 46-29 while producing 1-1-2.
Minnesota as a team has spent more time in their defensive zone, but they have capitalized for more on their chances than Edmonton has offensivley.
Edmonton and Minnesota each have six goals from the inner slot, but the Wild have scored six on 26 shots compared to the Oilers’ six on 37. The Oilers must start burying more of their quality chances. Look at the difference in shooting percentage from the same locations between Edmonton and Minnesota.
Draisaitl from the right inner slot on the power play is one area they are clearly better, but Minnesota has done a much better job of finishing their chances. They also have nine goals from mid to long range compared to the Oilers’ two. Minnesota does a good job of creating traffic in front of the net. Edmonton needs to be prepared to battle hard in front of their net, and Jack Campbell needs to find the puck from distance. He has been good on mid-range and long-range shots so far this year. He’s stopped 33 of 35 from midrange and 11 of 11 from long range.
Filip Gustavsson has allowed five goals on 41 mid-range shots (.878Sv%) and stopped all 19 long-range ones.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Kane – Draisaitl –Janmark
Foegele – RNH – Hyman
Holloway – McLeod – Brown
Erne – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Broberg
Campbell
Oilers will run 11-7 until McDavid returns, unless they have more injuries. With McDavid out that is 22 minutes of ice time the forwards will split amongst themselves. Kane, McLeod and Holloway could see the biggest increases in TOI, and all three need to elevate their play in different areas.
I’m not seeing what Woodcroft sees in Janmark, especially offensively. His spot in the top-six must be due to his defensive decisions and his overall decisions with the puck. He rarely makes a bad play with the puck; however, he also doesn’t finish many chances either. If this was Vegas or Dallas, I’d understand it, as he almost always scores against them. Ultimately, the entire top nine needs to produce better. Kane and Janmark should get some good looks playing with Draisaitl.

Wild…

Kaprisov – Hartman – Zuccarello
Johansson – Ericksson Ek – Maroon
Foligno – Rossi – Gaudreau
Duhaime – Dewar – Lettieri
Brodin – Addison
Middleton – Faber
Mermis – Merrill
Gustavsson
The Wild will be without Jared Spurgeon and Alex Goligoski on the backend, while Matt Boldy, who scored 31 goals last season, is also out. This Wild blue line has some holes. Edmonton needs to show some desperation and attack.

TONIGHT…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: I think Edmonton has a good chance to win, but some teams can’t win in certain cities, and the Oilers’ woes continue. They lose 4-3 in OT.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl scores two points. He rises to the challenge of not having McDavid in the lineup.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton scores a third period goal for the first time this season. How is that even possible? No third period goals in five games.

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