The Edmonton Oilers will have their first meeting of the season with the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.
1. The Golden Knights have bounced back nicely after missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season. They’re 14-4-0 out of the gate and rank third and fifth in the league in goals scored and goals allowed respectively. Vegas is five points clear of the next highest team in the Western Conference standings, the L.A. Kings, and they’re 10 points up on the Oilers. It’s early, but it looks like the Golden Knights are the team to beat in the West this year.
2. The Oilers did well against the Golden Knights last season. They won by scores of 5-3 and 3-2 in Vegas in October and November, they lost 4-0 at home in February right before their coaching change, and then they won 4-0 at home in April. This year will be a different animal, as the Golden Knights are pretty much fully healthy.
Advertisement
Ad
3. There was always talk last season that the Golden Knights would hit their stride when they were able to get Jack Eichel and Mark Stone on the ice at the same time. That never really happened, as Vegas spent was constantly playing Long-Term Injured Reserve musical chairs to stay under the salary cap ceiling, and Eichel and Stone only played a handful of games together.
This year, they’re the driving forces behind one of the best lines in hockey. The line of Eichel, Stone, and Chandler Stephenson has outscored opponents 14-to-4 and outshot opponents 112-to-51 at even strength so far this season.
4. The biggest question mark for Vegas coming into 2022-23 was goaltending, as it was announced in August that Robin Lehner would miss the entirety of the season after undergoing hip surgery. The Golden Knights have rolled with a tandem of Logan Thompson, who was their third-stringer last year, and Adin Hill, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks for a fourth-round pick after Lehner’s injury was announced. Through 18 games this season, Thompson and Hill have combined for a .920 save percentage.
Advertisement
Ad
5. The goalie duo in Vegas deserves credit, for sure, but the Golden Knights have done a good job making things easy on them. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Golden Knights rank fifth in terms of expected goals against (based on shot volume and quality), behind only the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, L.A. Kings, and Boston Bruins. The Oilers, meanwhile, are third-worst by this metric, ahead of only the Anaheim Ducks and New York Islanders.
6. The last time the Oilers outshot an opponent was all the way back on November 1 when they handily beat the Nashville Predators. There was one close game in November in which they were outshot by the Washington Capitals 31-to-29 but the Oilers have largely been giving up more than they generate this month. To be fair, the Oilers aren’t a volume-shooting team, as they hold onto the puck looking for high-danger chances in the offensive zone, but they badly need to tighten up defensively because their goalies are facing a lot of rubber night in and night out.
Advertisement
Ad