I can’t confirm if @Mike Smith was listening to the 1990 jam, “Mamma Said Knock You Out,” by LL Cool J yesterday, or if he will pregame, but if he is looking for inspiration or motivation the opening few verses are fitting.
[LL Cool J:]
C’mon man
[News Report]
And with the local DBT news. LL Cool J with a triumphant comeback
[Mumbling]
But tonight…
[LL Cool J:]
Don’t call it a comeback
I been here for years
Rocking my peers and putting suckers in fear
Making the tears rain down like a monsoon
Listen to the bass go boom
Smith is a fiery guy and he’ll be out to prove the doubters wrong after he struggled in his three games in late December and early January when he returned from a two-month ankle injury. The Oilers desperately need consistent goaltending.
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But what are the realistic numbers to expect from Edmonton’s goaltenders over the final 40 games?
Here is a quick breakdown of the numbers during Edmonton’s three different stretches this season.
Record
GF-GA
SF/GP
SA/GP
PP%
PK%
SV%
Game 1-21
16-5
80-61
32.2
34
35.9
87.7
0.918
Game 22-36
2-11-2
35-62
33.7
30.6
18.4
65.2
0.868
Game 37-42
5-0-1
24-15
36.2
30.8
21.4
76.9
0.919
Edmonton’s goalies allowed 60 goals in those troublesome games #22-36. It didn’t matter who was in goal — all three goalies struggled.
— Smith started three games and posted a .877sv%. Stuart Skinner started five and finished with a .882Sv%, while Mikko Koskinen started seven games and had an .855Sv%. No team is going to win very often with an .868Sv% over a 15-game span. Look at it this way: If the opposition has an .910sv% in that span (league average) that means the Oilers allowed 4.2 goals more on every 100 shots. It takes just over three games to allow 100 shots, so the Oilers were giving up four more goals every three games than the league average. Ugly.
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— Look at the difference from those 15 games to their other 27 games where they had a .918Sv%. They allowed five fewer goals on every 100 shots in those 27 games. Five more GA every three games is a massive difference. It equates to 25 more goals over 15 games. If Edmonton can just get average goaltending (.910Sv%) in their final 40 games their odds of winning increase.
— Last season, Smith made his debut on February 8th. He started 30 of their final 43 games and was outstanding going 21-6-2 with a .923Sv% and 2.31 GAA. He doesn’t need to be that good, but could his return — exactly one year to the day he returned last season — kickstart the Oilers to a productive second half? As outlined above, Smith doesn’t need to be all world, just league average, and the Oilers should be fine. If Smith plays well, then Koskinen likely plays better because he won’t be overused. Koskinen can’t sustain solid play if he plays too frequently.
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— Another factor for the brutal 2-11-2 stretch was allowing the first goal. Edmonton allowed the first goal in 14 of the 15 games. Sub par goaltending combined with playing from behind is a recipe for losing. Including last season the Oilers lead the NHL in win% when scoring first. They are 35-3-1. They are 12-0 this season. When they get a lead they are hard to beat. The problem is they’ve only scored first in 39 of their last 98 games. That is the lowest scoring first % in the entire NHL. Again, if they can just be close to league average for scoring first (50%) their odds of winning increase again. Avoid playing catch up 70% of the time, get average goaltending and Edmonton will have a successful second half.
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— Edmonton is 10-2, v. Pacific division opponents this season. They are 2-0 against Vegas. Edmonton won 5-3 and 3-2 in Vegas on October 22nd and November 27th. The Oilers have dominated their division thus far and starting this difficult eight-game-in-13-day-stretch with a victory over Vegas would be huge. A regulation win over Vegas would put the Oilers six points back of Vegas with four games in hand.
— Edmonton and Vegas are very equal offensively, and Vegas’ defensive play hasn’t been much better. Vegas has a .906Sv%, while Edmonton sits with a .902Sv%. Vegas hasn’t been a defensive force this season and this could easily be a 4-3 game.
— Vegas is averaging 3.35 goals for/game while the Oilers average 3.31. Vegas is allowing 2.96 goals/game (19th) and Edmonton is 22nd at 3.29. But Edmonton actually has a lower expected goals against at 2.84 to 2.98. Edmonton will get its fair share of chances tonight, but Vegas likely will as well.
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— Edmonton has to be aware of Vegas off the Rush. The Golden Knights are second in the NHL with 7.5 rush chances per game, while the Oilers rank 31st allowing 7.2 The Oilers need to limit turnovers high in the offensive zone tonight in hopes of limiting transition rushes for Vegas.

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