G21: Flames @ Oilers - Putting It All Together
As far as excitement goes, last night's Battle of Alberta was about a 2 in terms of entertainment. Neither team brought any high octane offense, highlight worthy goals or really any animosity of note.
Watching the game I felt it was the exact kind of game I have watched other teams play against Edmonton. The Oilers did an excellent job of stifling any momentum for the Flames, capitalized on some key chances, and absolutely shut the door on Calgary in the third period. The Flames have played some disinterested hockey as of late and the Oilers took advantage of that. It was a great road game by the Oilers.
Once again neither McDavid nor Draisaitl were on the scoresheet and for the second time in a row it was a game the Oilers won when neither player produced. This year Edmonton is starting to shake the assumption that they are a two player team.
Edmonton are 6-2 in the month of February. In that time here are the team leaders for goals at 5 on 5:
Jesse Puljujarvi - 7GP - 5 goals
Leon Draisaitl - 8GP - 3 goals
Darnell Nurse - 8GP - 3 goals
Alex Chiasson - 6GP - 2 goals
Jujhar Khaira - 7GP - 2 goals
Aside from Leon, these are not the names we are accustomed to seeing here. Yamamoto and RNH only have one goal apiece and McDavid has a shocking 0 goals on 18 shots. There is some bad puck for the captain right now as it isn't as if his actual play has dropped off. A year ago the Oilers had a brutal December when Connor and Drai were struggling to find the back of the net. Right now we are seeing real depth both in thr bottom six and on defense.
Tonight I expect more offense from both sides. The Flames will be looking to salvage some points after their recent string of losses and Edmonton will be looking to continue building on a run that sees them currently in second place in the North Division.
OILERS LINE COMBINATIONS
- Purely guessing on Jones right now but Tippett alluded that there may be an injury on defense that would move Jones back into the lineup.
Lucic-Bennett for probably like 3 minutes-Ritchie
4 POINTS TO CHECK OUT
1.) Home Ice Advantage - McDavid has had some bad puck luck but credit where credit is due as the Backlund, Tkachuk, Mangiapane line did an excellent job of limiting that lines chances while pressuring themselves. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tippett use his last line change to get McDavid away from that line, opting more for the Lindholm matchup.
2.) It's Gaetan Haas in Here - The Haas and Khaira lines both won their respective matchups last night but today we are going to focus on Haas. The speedy Swiss born player scored his first goal of the season last night. Haas has only appeared in 4 contests this season due to injuries but even before yesterday he has made a strong impact in the lineup with his speed and defensive awareness. The Oilers bottom six are winning their matchups at home or on the road and Haas deserves some credit for this.
3.) Give No Slacky to Mackey or Valimaki - At 22 years old Juuso Valimaki is taking steps to becoming a regular NHL defenseman as is 24 year old Connor Mackey but there are still big growing pains. The duo last night posted the worst CF% of any defensemen and only produced 2 scoring chances to the 10 they allowed. Edmonton should get their top guys out against this pair whenever possible.
4.) Obligatory One Opportunity To Use the Phrase "Powerless Play" - The Oilers have scored only 3 times on their last 18 PP opportunities. It's great seeing this team relying more on their 5 on 5 play but their powerplay should be gravy for stringing together a bigger lead against their opponent and right now it isn't happening. Sometimes it has been trying to force cross ice passes while other times the team has simply struggled to get set up. The Oilers need to get back to basics with their 5 on 4 play and just with the pressure they can create the chances will come.
THE OILERS WIN IF...
They can continue with their ability to gain an early lead and McDavid gets back on track with a goal or two.
THE FLAMES WIN IF...
Markstrom comes back well rested and prepared and the Flames out attack the Oilers out of the gates.