The Oilers begin a three-game road trip against the below-average Dallas Stars. The Stars are 7-7-2. They are 25th in points and 23rd in points%. Only Arizona (2) has fewer regulation wins than the Stars’ three. And the Oilers play both of them tonight and tomorrow. There are no guaranteed win nights in the National Hockey League, but if the Oilers play like they did v. Winnipeg and Chicago their chances of winning are high.
— Dallas can’t score. They are 23rd in goals/game at 2.62, while Edmonton sits third at 3.88. And Dallas, usually a sound defensive team, is leaking goals, allowing 3.13/game, which ranks 21st in the league. The Oilers aren’t where they want to be defensively, sitting 16th in goals against/game, and they are still 26th in 5×5 goals/against per game. I wrote last week it will take a long time for them to move up the rankings in 5×5 GA on the season. And if you want to see improvement it will be more accurate to look at a 10-game stretch that began on their recent two-game homestand. They were better in those games, but it was only two, so we’ll see if it continues tonight.
— The difference in the offensive output of these teams is very noticeable when you take a quick look.
Edmonton has seven players with 10+ points. Dallas has two.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have combined for 30 goals. The Stars team has 42.
McDavid (20), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (18) and Draisaitl (17) have more assists than the Stars leading scorer, Miro Heiskanen has points (13).
— It will be a battle of young goalies tonight between Stuart Skinner and Jake Oettinger. Skinner is 2-2 with a .939Sv% and 2.08 GAA while Oettinger is 2-0 with a .955Sv% and 1.43 GAA. Both started in the minors, but were recalled due to injury and performed very well.
— The Stars aren’t off to a good start, but I’m a huge fan of their neon green and black jerseys.
Oettinger’s neon pads, blocker and glove combination is pure fire. I hope he wears them tonight.
— McDavid’s 17-game scoring streak to start the season is tied for the eighth-longest all-time with Dave Andreychuk (1992-93) and Henrik Zetterberg (2007-2008). Here are the 10 players with the longest streaks to start a season. Their points-per-game is in parenthesis.
If McDavid picks up a point tonight he will tie Dionne and Cowley for the sixth-longest point streak to start a season.
— Leon Draisaitl scored his 18th goal on Saturday. He’s off to one of the best starts in the last 35 years.
— Draisaitl needs six goals in his next three games to tie Gretzky, Mike Bossy and Dino Ciccarelli for most goals (24) in the first 20 games of a season. This is in the modern era. In 1918-1925, many players like Joe Malone, Cy Denneny, Babe Dye, Newsy Lalonde, Punch Broadbent and Reg Noble scored between 25-44 goals in the first 20 games.
— Edmonton is 5-3 on the road. They’ve outscored opponents 28-24. Their PP is 41.7% and the PK is 92%.
Dallas is 4-2-1 at home and have outscored teams 22-18. Their PP is 33.3% and PK is 77.3%.
— Edmonton is the only undefeated team in the NHL when they score first. They are 7-0. They have the fifth-best points% when allowing the first goal at .600. Edmonton is 6-4 when giving up the first goal. The Oilers need to start games better. Only five teams have scored first fewer times than the Oilers. They have been good at coming from behind, but history shows it is very difficult to win even half your games when you allow the first goal.
— In 2016-17 only Pittsburgh was able to win more than half the games they trailed. They won 20 of 35 and had a .571 points% in those games.
In 2017-18 no teams won half their games. Boston had the highest P% at .467. They were 21-18-6 in the 45 games they allowed the first goal.
In 2018-19 only Tampa Bay was above .460P%. The Bolts dominated that season and went 23-12-1 (.639P%) when allowing the first goal.
In 2019-20 Boston was 18-7-4 (.621P%) and the only team above .472P%.
Last season Florida was .607P% (17-8-3) and Pittsburgh finished .519P% (14-12-1). But in only 56 games.
It is possible to remain at .600P% when allowing the first goal, but only three teams have done it in the past five seasons, and only five teams were above .500P% in five years, so the Oilers must improve their play from the opening face-off. They have allowed the first goal in 10 of 17 games.
— Edmonton and Dallas are two of the nine teams in the NHL that have yet to allow a shorthanded goal. And both teams scored two shorthanded goals in their last game.
— Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto scored shorthanded on Saturday v. Chicago. It was only the second game since 2009-10 the Oilers produced two shorties in the same game. Roope Hintz had both shorthanded goals for Dallas during last Friday’s 4-1 win over St.Louis. It is the fourth time since 2009-10 the Stars scored two or more shorties in a game.
— Edmonton now has three shorthanded tallies this season. They’ve only allowed six power-play goals, which means their goal for differential is only -3 when shorthanded. Their PK is second best at 88.9%, but their net PK leads the NHL at 94.4%. The Oilers combined PP and PK% is currently 128.5%. The best combined PP/PK% was 114.9 by the 1977/1978 New York Islanders. Their PP was 31.4% and their PK was 83.5%. The Oilers special teams is having an incredible start and they could set an NHL record this season.
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