The Day After 77.0: Despite loss to Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers clinch home ice advantage

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
22 days ago
Sometimes, there are bigger things at hand.
For the now Arizona Coyotes, soon-to-be-called Utah what-cha-ma-call-its, relocation looms.
For the Edmonton still-to-be-called Oilers, it’s a Saturday night date with the Vancouver Canucks that could determine the winner of the Pacific Division.
Credit to the Coyotes: Hours before puck drop, their general manager addressed the team, informing them of their impending move to Utah. It was enough motivation to help push them to a 3-2 overtime win over the Oilers later Friday night.
The Oilers’ game wasn’t sharp at all. They looked flat for most of the first and second before pushing late. They got two goals from their second line: Adam Henrique scored early in the second, and then his wingers Evander Kane and Warren Foegele joined forces to set up Darnell Nurse early in the third.
But an early goal from Josh Doan 5:20 into the game, a marker from Logan Cooley 5:37 into the second and Matias Maccelli’s game-winner in overtime pushed them over the top.
It’s not something you’d often hear a team or coaching staff admit, but that was a game the Oilers clearly didn’t have their heads in. It makes sense, as Arizona’s summer starts in a week and next year they’ll be in a whole other state and Edmonton has much bigger fish to fry.
And after the game, Kris Knoblauch spoke about their distraction.
“You look at last weekend, having a great game aginst Colorado then going to Calgary, and it wasn’t nearly as well played as the previous game because there was a high,” he said. “Very similar this weekend, just the games are reversed.
“The big game is on the second one, and the first game is just another game. I think we found our game, I thought we played well enough to win it. It wasn’t the start we liked, but no matter if you’re playing those back-to-backs, I think you always get up for the ones that you’re playing the elite team, or you’re fighting for in a position. Yeah, there might’ve been some of that but I don’t think that’s the reason why we’re winning or losing tonight.”
But there’s a silver lining in Friday’s game for the Oilers, as they clinched home-ice advantage for the playoffs. It’s something that would’ve been hard to believe earlier in the season, but having the most wins and the league’s best record since Kris Knoblauch was hired will do that.
Over the last two post-seasons, the Oilers are 3-3 both at home and on the road, posting an even goal differential at Rogers Place, and going +2 away from it.
The last two regular seasons have been different. At home, the Oilers have gone 50-20-10 with a +95 goal differential. Their .688 home points percentage is fifth in the league, behind the Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins. Edmonton has dominated the 5v5 play there, too, controlling 54.29 percent of the shot attempt share (fourth), 56.21 percent of the scoring chances (third), 56.76 percent of the expected goal share (second) and 56.4 percent of the goals scored (sixth).
The Oilers have also remained strong on the road, going 48-27-5 with a +33 goal differential and a .631 points percentage, the seventh-best rate in the league. At 5v5, they’ve controlled 52.98 percent of the shot attempt share (second), 53.48 percent of the scoring chance share (third), 53.48 percent of the expected goal share (third) and 52.66 percent of the goals scored (10th).
While I don’t think it would’ve been crucial for the Oilers to have home-ice advantage, there’s no denying they’ve been a better team in front of their home crown. They’ll look to put that to good use with the playoffs only weeks away.

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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