The Day After 59.0: Oilers run roughshod on Penguins as Zach Hyman paces for 60 goals

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
4 months ago
This one was over before it started, and the Oilers called game early.
Fresh off coughing up a 3-1 Saturday night to the Calgary Flames, losing their second straight game, the Pittsburgh Penguins just didn’t have it.
And to be fair, that’s no major surprise. Pittsburgh had been 4-6-1 in their last 11 games and while Sidney Crosby has fought and clawed to keep the Penguins in the playoff picture, the Oilers’ thrashing Sunday night will only point GM Kyle Dubas towards selling off more assets as they look to retool.
Last night’s 6-1 victory was just what the Oilers needed. It extended a winning streak to four-games and allowed them to further extend their hold on second place in the Pacific Division.
And for these Oilers, where the goals came from was a key factor in the win. Corey Perry, Ryan McLeod, and Cody Ceci all got on the board for some much needed, and often hard to find depth scoring. But most importantly, and by-far most interesting, was another big performance by Zach Hyman.
Scoring the opening goal 14:07 into the game, he added one more goals before the end of the night, and is now operating on a 58-goal pace through the rest of the season. What he’s accomplished in Edmonton over the past three years is nothing short of incredible, matching the tried-and-true “bring your lunchpail to work” as if he were a modern-day Ryan Smyth.
But this generations Ryan Smyth is seemingly able to score at will these days, only growing a career-high goal total that’s increased since he hit his career-high mark on February 27th.
“There’s not much he hasn’t been doing for the Edmonton, or the City of Edmonton,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch after the game. “He’s capitalized on his opportunities because he’s doing so many things well on the ice.”


Where Hyman’s goals have come is impressive, too. 28 of Hyman’s goals have come at 5v5 this season, with a 1.86 goals per hour pace that sits first in the league among all forwards with over 750 minutes of ice time. The only player close? His old linemate, Auston Matthews, with 1.85 goals per hour at 5v5, with Jonathan Marchessault sitting third with 1.58.
One spot whee Hyman trails Matthews is goals scored while trailing. Matthews has scored a staggering 21 in that situation this year, but Hyman’s 14 still rank second in the league. And when the Oilers have the lead, Hyman’s had a penchant for being a nail in the coffin, with 21 goals coming in that situation this season. That number is tops in the league, and three up on the next closest player.
Zach Hyman may not catch Matthews in the Rocket Richard Trophy Race, but he has a very real shot at scoring 60-goals this season. Yes, he’s 18 back right now with 23 games to go, but Hyman has been consistently racking up goals since the New Year.
Over the course of the 25 games since, he’s scored 21 goals giving him a 0.84 goal per game pace. That means if he’s able to continue at it over the Oilers remaining 23 games, he would be able to total 61 goals on the season. It would be nothing short of a massive milestone.
And while Leon Draisaitl took credit for helping Connor McDavid get to the 64-goal mark last year, saying ahead of the season he could break 60, the German wasn’t able to take credit for Hyman nearing the 50-goal plateau this year.
“I can’t say that I said that to him, but he’s well on his way and obviously as a group, we’re going to look to do whatever we can to get him there,” Draisaitl said.
More chances for him to rack up goals are coming, too, as the Oilers will run through a soft stretch of their schedule between Tuesday and March 21st. Edmonton is set to embark on a four-game road trip visiting Boston, Columbus, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, before a four-game home stand against Washington, Colorado, Montreal and Buffalo.
The only two playoffs teams out of those eight? Boston and Colorado, with the rest being a group of struggling teams giving up too much to others.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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