Everyone is talking about the Oilers impressive and near unfathomable 5-0 start to the season. Fans are mainly enjoying the ride while experts around the league are voicing their own thoughts and concerns. Some have taken already to calling for Holland to win Best GM of the year and that Tippett should win the Jack Adams. Others are stating that this won't last and Edmonton will soon fall back to reality.
Right now the ride is fantastic for Oilers fans but I lean more to agreeing with the latter rather than the former. The reason being is some high percentages that will almost certainly come down.
Currently the Oilers powerplay is second in the league at 41.18%. In the 17 powerplays that Edmonton has had, they have scored 7 goals. James Neal has scored five of those goals. To put into perspective how high that percentage is, last season the Tampa Bay Lightning had the best PP in the league which was running at 28.24%. It's unrealistic to expect Edmonton to stay at such a torrid pace.
Still on special teams, the Oilers have only allowed one powerplay goal against in 17 chances with a PK% of 94.12%. Again, looking at the Lightning last season, they had the best PK in the league at 85.02%. The special teams have been a massive strength for Edmonton thus far and it is great to see how vastly superior they are compared to last season, but the rate that they are performing at will drop down. When that happens, the team will need to rely more on their 5 on 5 play.
Right now Edmonton is allowing more EV scoring chances against than they are generating. Hockey Reference has the Oilers allowing 173 SCA (scoring chances against) while mustering 158 themselves. Edmonton also has a 14.1 S% at 5 on 5, another rather high number.
Scheduling has also been kind to Edmonton. Rosters have changed through the summer but the Oil have only played one of their five games this season against a team that made the playoffs last year. These are games that Edmonton should win.
That's enough of the down talk though; Edmonton is one of two undefeated teams in the league and have ten points in the bank. No one can take that away from them, and there is plenty of season left for this team to tighten up at five on five and continue to grow. Right now we are not discussing goaltending as a weakness, Neal as another anchor, or the unproven defense as being rushed. There are plenty of positives right now as Edmonton wraps up their road trip against a very beatable Chicago Blackhawks team.
- Edmonton outchanced the Rangers for most of the game so unsurpsingly Tippett is returning to the same roster.
- A couple days ago Colby Cave was placed on waivers... no surprise there as Cave does little in terms of offensive upside. Granlund, Sheahan, and Haas are all better options.
DeBrincat – Toews – Caggiula
Shaw – Strome – Kane
Saad – Kampf – Kubalik
Smith – Carpenter – Nylander
Keith – Murphy
Maatta – Seabrook
Koekkoek – Gustafsson
- It's curious seeing Crawford getting starts over Robin Lehner right now.
OILERS PLAYER SPOTLIGHT - ZACK KASSIAN
Kassian has quietly put up five points through the first five games of the season, including three goals. So far Kassian has been a strong complimentary player alongside Draisaitl and McDavid and has brought more than just toughness to that line.
BLACKHAWKS PLAYER SPOTLIGHT - ANDREW SHAW
Shaw currently leads the Blackhawks in goals (2) and shots on net (11). Both goals came against the Sharks but the former Canadien, former Blackhawk, current Blackhawk is off to a strong start on the second line. With McDavid getting the power line likely of Toews and DeBrincat it will be up the the other Oilers lines to shut this player down.
3 KEYS TO VICTORY
1.) Finish Strong - It isn't uncommon to see teams looking ahead to their homestand near the end of a long road trip and mail in the final game. The Oilers locker room has to be a fun place to be right now and the guys are going to be talking about keeping this streak going as long as they can. Keep to the systems and come out of the gates strong and maintain that pressure.
2.) Black Hawk Down - The Hawks have not fared well to start their season. Through three games they have yet to win, managing only a single overtime point. They are at the bottom of the league in 5 on 5 goals with 6, the third worst penalty kill in the league at 60% and managed a total of only 90 shots on net. By the numbers Edmonton should continue to be the dominant team.
3.) Hold The Lead - Another record Edmonton has broken this year is winning their first five games of the season, coming from behind in each game. Edmonton scored first against Vancouver and LA, before allowing each team to score two unanswered goals. Against the Islanders, Devils, and Rangers, they were scored on first and had to in turn come back themselves. Again, that is not a long term recipe for success; score first, hold a lead, and then score again.
FILM OF THE DAY
Already alluded to this one in the Keys To Victory. Edmonton needs to push through this game, regardless of how tired they might be after a four game road trip this early in the season. Other players need to pick up the slack from the top end guys and continue pressing on. Such is the case with this great scene from Black Hawk Down.