The Edmonton Oilers won all three games during their three-game homestand. Next up, they’ll head to California for a three-game road trip. The trip kicks off on Sunday night in Anaheim with a game against the Ducks.
The Ducks snapped an 11-game losing streak on Friday night with a 5-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The highlight of the game came when Trevor Zegras again scored doing “The Michigan
.” Later in the game, Coyotes’ scrub Jay Beagle took exception to the play and gave Zegras a cross-check from behind and then got into it with Troy Terry.
Beagle having a meltdown over this is embarrassing in itself, but the most cringeworthy part of the whole situation was Arizona’s broadcaster clapping along like a seal and saying that players should prepare to get punched in the mouth if they “skill it up.”
No, actually, good players shouldn’t be getting attacked by bad players after the whistle because the good player made the bad player feel insecure by scoring an exciting goal. I’m fairly certain that none of the fans in attendance at Gila River Arena showed up to watch Beagle, who has one goal in 25 games this season. I would guess that they’re there to watch Zegras do something cool. Or, well, ideally they’re there to watch somebody on the Coyotes do such a thing.
Long story short: If you don’t want to get scored on, be better!
2. That win for the Ducks was their first in regulation since all the way back on March 1. Their month of March went like this: 4-3 win over the Bruins, 5-4 loss to the Golden Knights, 3-2 shootout win over the Sharks, 11 losses in a row.
Anaheim was in the mix for a playoff spot a month ago, albeit a longshot, and that’s no longer the case now. They’re 28-30-12 for the season, 12 points back of Vegas for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
It feels like ages ago, but the Ducks were in first place in the Pacific Division one month into the season thanks to an eight-game winning streak. Since that streak, the Ducks have gone 18-26-9. Their longest winning streak since that eight-game heater is two games.
3. The Ducks and Oilers have played each other twice this season and Edmonton will be able to sweep the season series with Anaheim if they win on Sunday. The last time the Oilers swept Anaheim in a season series came all the way back in 2005-06 when they were still called the Mighty Ducks. The Oilers would also go on to knock the Mighty Ducks out in the Western Conference Final in five games.
Winning on Sunday night and sweeping the season series would be a good omen.
4. Edmonton beat Anaheim by a score of 6-5 back in mid-October in a game in which Mike Smith allowed four goals on 15 shots and then left in the second period due to an injury. The Oilers beat the Ducks again in mid-February by a score of 7-3, as they erased an early 2-0 lead that Anaheim built up with two first-period power-play goals.
The Oilers tagged both of Anaheim’s goalies in those wins. In the first game, they scored five goals on former Oiler Anthony Stolarz on 36 shots. In the second game, they scored seven goals on John Gibson on 41 shots.
Stolarz has actually been the better of the two Anaheim goalies this season. Through 22 games, he has an impressive .921 save percentage, while Gibson has a .905 save percentage in 49 games.
5. The biggest issue for the Ducks during their terrible month of March was keeping the puck out of the net. Over the course of 14 games, the Ducks allowed 54 goals. Only twice in those 14 games were the Ducks able to hold their opponent to fewer than three goals. The shutout that Stolarz posted against the Coyotes on Friday was the first by the team since December 7, a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
7. Part of Anaheim’s struggle with keeping the puck out of the net more than likely has to do with the fact they traded away two of their veteran defencemen before the trade deadline. Josh Manson went to the Avalance and Hampus Lindholm went to the Bruins and immediately inked an eight-year, $52 million contract extension.
Remember when the Ducks beat the Oilers in the playoffs in 2017 and they had a blueline overflowing with young talent? Looking at the defencemen who dressed for Anaheim in Game 7… Shea Theodore went to the Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft, Sami Vatanen was traded to the Devils for Adam Henrique, Brandon Montour was traded to the Sabres for a first-round pick, and Manson and Lindholm were dealt this year. The only one left is Cam Fowler.
6. Meanwhile, on the other side of this conversation, nobody has scored more goals than the Oilers since the beginning of March. They have 66 goals over their last 16 games, an average of 4.125 per game. Only two teams during this stretch have been able to hold the Oilers to fewer than three goals in a game: Calgary and Colorado.
All signs are pointing to the Oilers scoring quite a few goals on Sunday night, so let’s hope these trends continue.