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The one big reason why the Edmonton Oilers haven't won more games this year – Edmonton Journal

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Goaltending has cost the Oilers about three wins this year

There’s one big reason why the Edmonton Oilers haven’t won more games this year, and all the rest is chit chat.

We faithful fans of the team are constantly ablaze over team performance. Debates boil up hourly and long reports come out each day on every decision the coach makes on Oilers forwards and d-men, along with in-depth summaries on the pros and cons of each player.

But when I think about the Oilers record of nine win and eight losses after 17 games, one fact hits me over the head, that it’s goaltending, goaltending, goaltending that has cost the Edmonton Oilers wins this year — and no other factor is close.

Simply put, Edmonton’s goalies have made significantly fewer big saves this year than have the goalies of their opponents.

Opponents are converting on 32.6 of their Grade A chances, while the Oilers are converting on 26.7 per cent of their Grade A chances.

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If I were to put a number of how many wins this has cost the Oilers, I’d say it’s about three wins in 17 games.

The Grade A scoring chances gap

How can I put so much on the Oilers goaltenders? Because in most games the Oilers significantly out chance the opposition, but their won-loss record doesn’t reflect that dominance.

Overall, the Oilers have averaged 13.2 Grade A scoring chances per game but have given up just 10.4 Grade A chances.

That’s a huge positive differential for the Oilers.

That’s a massive gap.

The Oilers have a Grade A Scoring Chances For percentage of 55.9 per cent.

Yet when it comes to scoring goals, Edmonton has scored 3.53 per game but given up 3.41 per game. That’s a Goals For percentage of just 50.9 per cent. Very tight. Very close. Not much of an edge for the Oilers.

Stealing games

Monday’s 6-5 loss to the Winnipeg Jets was the kind of defeat that has been all too common for the Oilers, a game where their goalie(s) were the second best on the ice, even as the Oilers were the more dangerous attacking team.

Starting goalie Mike Smith was beat on four difficult shots, not one of them an easy save to make, but he let in every single one of the difficult shots he faced before he was pulled in the second period. He failed to make those two or three big saves that are often the difference between winning and losing a game.

At the other end, Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck wasn’t perfect, but he came up with the huge saves, such as him blocking a wicked Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ one-timer off a Leon Draisaitl power play feed late in the second period.

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It was the fourth time an opposition goalie stole a win for his team against the Oilers this year in such a game where Edmonton had significantly more Grade A scoring chances.

Meanwhile, in 17 games this year, Oilers goalies have only stolen one game, Smith last week in Edmonton’s 3-2 win over Ottawa.

To understand this in more detail, let’s dig into the three types of games the Oilers have had this year.

3 close games: 1 win, 2 losses.

In these three games, the Oilers had the same number of scoring chances, or were within one scoring chance, as the opposition team. Edmonton lost to Montreal 5-1 in a game where both teams had 14 Grade A chances, they lost to the Leafs 4-3 when the chances were Oilers 14, Leafs 13, and they beat the Senators 4-2 in a game where each team had seven chances.

3 games where opposition had major edge: 1 win, 2 losses

In each of these three games, the opposition had two or more Grade A chances than the Oilers. The Oilers earned one win and two losses in these contests. In Edmonton’s recent 3-2 road win over the Ottawa Senators last week, Smith’s first game back, he stole a win for his team. Ottawa had 13 Grade A chances that game, the Oilers only nine. The Oilers lost the other two games 6-4 to the Jets and 3-1 to the Habs.

11 games where Oilers had major edge: 7 wins, 4 losses

I would expect the Oilers to win most of these games. And in the 11 games where the Oilers outchanced the opposition by two or more Grade A scoring chances, the Oilers have seven wins and four losses. That’s a great record but it’s about what you’d expect from a team that has a significant edge in Grade A scoring chances. Perhaps the more notable and troubling aspect is that in four games where the Oilers had that significant shooting edge, they still lost.

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Those games were: the first game of the year, a 5-3 loss to Vancouver, where the Oilers outchanced the Canucks 19 to 17; the sixth game, where the Oilers outchanced the Leafs 17 to 10 but lost 4-2; in game thirteen, with the Oilers outchancing the Flames 16 to 14 but losing 6-4; and in the 17th game against Winnipeg on Monday, where Edmonton had 15 Grade A chances to 10 for the Jets, but lost 6 to 5.

In those four games, opposition goalies Braden Holtby, Frederik Andersen, Jacob Markstrom and Connor Hellebuyck arguably stole games. In total, the Oilers had 67 Grade A chances and 14 goals, while the opposing teams had 51 chances and 21 goals.

The good news?

If there’s any good news it’s that Mikko Koskinen was much better last season, and can maybe be expected to return to form with Smith’s return, now that Koskinen isn’t forced to play almost every game.

Smith is also off to a hot start, even with his iffy performance against Winnipeg. Koskinen can get his save percentage to move north of .900, the Oilers should make the playoffs, given the otherwise strong performance of the team.

Recently at the Cult of Hockey

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4 Potential Forwards Toronto Maple Leafs Could Trade For Next Week – Editor in Leaf

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TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 17: Auston Matthews #34 and the Toronto Maple Leafs   (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The NHL Trade Deadline may be more than one month away but it’s possible the Toronto Maple Leafs strike a deal next week.

Elliotte Friedman mentioned on Sportsnet’s Wednesday night broadcast that the Leafs may be adding a player as early as next week. Since the team only plays two games from March 15-25, there’s a gap in the schedule that would beneficial for a trade with an American team.

As everyone’s most likely aware at this point, any American player entering Canada has to participate in a 14-day quarantine before joining the team. With teams playing sometimes as many as five games in seven days this season, there’s only a few spots in the schedule where a Canadian team can acquire an American club’s player and make sure he doesn’t miss a lot of action.

With limited practices this season, teams have been using games to find chemistry and work out their kinks more than any campaign before. As a result, any Canadian team making a trade needs to be strategic if they’re looking for a dance partner south of the boarder.

The Leafs are the best team in hockey, but it’s clear they want to add to their roster.

They still have Wayne Simmonds and Nick Robertson, who’ve yet to return from the minors or injury, but Kyle Dubas and company still want to make sure their depth is strong.

More injuries are bound to happen and when the playoffs hit, you need to be as deep as possible to win a Stanley Cup. This means that players like Pierre Engvall, Jimmy Vesey, Nic Petan, Alexander Barabanov and Travis Boyd are going to have to play their best hockey to stay in the lineup moving forward.

Even if the Leafs continue to win games, it feels like management isn’t going to be complacent with this roster. Sometimes you don’t want to fix something that’s not broken, but in this situation, if the Leafs can actually grab a top-six forward, it’s worth making the trade.

Here are four potential forwards the Leafs could trade for next week.

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Ramblings: Coaching Change in Calgary, MacKinnon Out Friday, Wilson in More Trouble? (Mar 6) – dobberhockey.com

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It shouldn’t be much of a surprise given his current injury situation, but Brent Seabrook has announced his retirement. Seabrook will be remembered as a top-pairing blueliner on what might have been the most successful team of the past decade. His career ends with a long list of accomplishments, including three Stanley Cups, World Junior and Olympic gold medals, and over 1000 games over a 15-year career. All the best to him in retirement.

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In case you missed it, I wrote a fantasy take on the late-night coaching change in Calgary. Geoff Ward is out, and Darryl Sutter is back in the saddle(dome).

Sutter is expected to report to the Flames on Monday after clearing COVID protocol, so assistant coach Ryan Huska will be the interim coach for the Flames’ weekend games on Saturday in Edmonton and Sunday against Ottawa.

To expand on what I wrote last night, I think there’s going to be a major shakeup in Calgary if this team does not make the playoffs or even exits the first round early. I wonder if it will involve general manager Brad Treliving, who has overseen high turnover behind the bench since he took over in 2014. Remember all those trade rumors surrounding Johnny Gaudreau? Watch his numbers, as he will be one step closer from being traded out of Calgary if he doesn’t thrive under Sutter’s defensive system.

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Some good news for the Rangers, as Igor Shesterkin is considered day-to-day with a mild groin strain. Alexandar Georgiev is expected to start Saturday’s game in New Jersey, however. For more starting goalie updates, be sure to check Goalie Post.

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Nathan MacKinnon was not in lineup Friday. You may remember that he took a hit to the head during Wednesday’s game against San Jose. With MacKinnon out of the lineup, Nazem Kadri moved up to the top line alongside Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. Tyson Jost moved up to take Kadri’s spot between Brandon Saad and Andre Burakovsky.

With all the line juggling, Saad had success in scoring a goal and adding two assists. It seemed to help him break out of his funk, as he had not recorded a point in his previous six games. Who knew that Jost would be an upgrade on Kadri?

I’m going to give you lots of overtime highlights today. Valeri Nichushkin scored two goals on seven shots, including this overtime winner while wearing the Nordiques jerseys. Debate whether the Avalanche should be wearing those jerseys if they took the team from Quebec City, but they look amazing anyway.  

Credit where credit is due: Rickard Rakell recorded an assist, extending his point streak to four games. He’s recorded six points and taken 15 shots over that span. Rakell is far and away the Ducks’ leader in shots with 76 (over three shots per game). Even though he has only three goals, the fact that he’s shooting the puck is a great sign. With just a 3.9 SH%, more of those shots eventually have to go in. For that reason, he might be worth a pickup in your league.

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Speaking of hits to the head, here’s Tom Wilson doing Tom Wilson things again. It seems inconceivable that Wilson did not even receive a penalty on the hit, at least for charging if you don’t think Wilson was aiming for the head or that Carlo moved. Given Wilson’s history, a suspension should be forthcoming, as long as the NHL’s wheel of justice doesn’t land on the wrong number. You love all that he can provide in your bangers league, but this is the risk you take in owning him.

According to Bruce Cassidy, Carlo was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Even if the league doesn’t think this hit is as ugly as it looks, that won’t help Wilson’s cause.

Jarred Tinordi earned the respect of his new teammates by taking on Wilson in the second period.

If revenge is best served on the scoreboard, the Bruins got theirs with a 5-1 win. Brad Marchand (of all people) powered the Bruins with two goals and an assist, which gives him 27 points over 21 games. That scoring pace (1.29 PTS/GP) is similar to what he has produced in the past three seasons. However, his 24.5 SH% is much higher than normal. I don’t think this is a case of selling high on Marchand, since this is his usual pace.

Marchand also gave his thoughts on the hit (Spoiler: Even he thought the hit was ********).

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Alex DeBrincat scored twice with five shots on goal in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 shootout win over Tampa Bay. I was going to write about DeBrincat, but Frozen Tools took care of that for me. Maybe they’ll take care of my entire Ramblings if I ask nicely.

Okay, I’ll pick one out on my own. Alex Killorn scored a goal and an assist in a losing cause. More notably for multicategory leaguers, he took eight shots. This is notable because Killorn took a total of eight shots over his previous six games combined. Killorn has two points in each of his last two games while playing on the Steven Stamkos line.

Although no goals were scored, this sequence is worth watching anyway because there was so much going on.

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David Perron scored twice on Friday, extending his point streak to five games. He’s been hot for most of the season (according to Frozen Tools), scoring 24 points in his last 20 games.

Mike Hoffman scored the overtime winner on a delayed penalty call. He also added an assist on Perron’s game-tying goal with under a minute to play.

Ryan O’Reilly assisted on all three Blues goals, which gives him nine points over his past seven games.

For the Kings, Dustin Brown fired eight shots while scoring a power-play goal. Brown had been held without a point in his previous three games.

Rasmus Kupari, who has scored nine points in eight AHL games this season, made his NHL debut on Friday. He received 10 minutes of icetime while on a line with Adrian Kempe and Trevor Moore. View Kupari’s Dobber Prospects profile.

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Just another Kirill Kaprizov highlight – one of his two assists in this game. Who says assists are boring?

At 6’3″, 223 lbs., Marcus Foligno provides hits, and lots of them. So when I needed help in the hits category in my multicategory league and didn’t want to sacrifice scoring, I decided to add him earlier this week. He continued to provide that scoring touch, adding two assists on Friday to give him six points over his past three games and 10 points in his last seven games.

The Wild are finding scoring from all kinds of different sources this season, and the Foligno – Joel Eriksson EkJordan Greenway line has been surprisingly strong. All three players are now within the top five in Wild team scoring, while more familiar names such as Kevin Fiala, Zach Parise, and Matt Dumba are not.

As for hits, which is the reason I added Foligno? Just one in this game. Can’t have it all, I guess. Foligno is also a plus-10 and is even picking up power-play time. The advanced stats (33.3 SH%, 5-on-5 SH%, 3.0 PTS/60, 1055 PDO) scream regression, which makes sense for a player whose 25 points last season is his highest over a 10-year career. Still, he’s a legitimate bangers league option with his hits and penalty minute totals combined with the recent scoring touch.

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One more overtime winner for you. Should we be surprised that it’s a goal from Max Pacioretty and an assist from Mark Stone? It’s the third overtime winner of the season for Patches, who scored twice in this game and added another assist with five shots on goal.

Yes, I realize Alex Pietrangelo fed him the pass this time. However, Stone’s point total (5 G, 21 A) has become rather assist-heavy. It shouldn’t be a major gripe if you own Stone, as he’s currently in the top 10 in points.

Vegas had a 3-0 lead in this game, but the Sharks managed to creep back after that. Kevin Labanc scored with just over a minute to play to tie the game. With also adding an assist, Labanc now has eight points over his past six games. He’s receiving first-line minutes with Logan Couture and Evander Kane and first-unit power-play time, so he doesn’t have to worry about making things happen on his own anymore. He’s owned in just 6 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he might be worth adding to your watch list at minimum.

Erik Karlsson‘s assist on Matt Nieto‘s goal on Friday was his first primary assist since January 22. That’s a span of 11 games without a primary assist, interrupted by injury of course. Karlsson picked up another helper, which gives him three points in the four games since returning from injury.

After allowing three goals on eight shots, Martin Jones was pulled for the fifth time in 15 starts. That’s as much as you need to know about Jones and why he shouldn’t be on your fantasy team.

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For more fantasy hockey discussion, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding

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Mark Messier on Walter Gretzky: He made you ‘feel good about yourself’ – Sportsnet.ca

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Many Canadians have fond memories and stories of meeting Walter Gretzky, whether it was in a hockey arena, at a charity event or perhaps somewhere in Brantford, Ont. Mark Messier is no different.

The six-time Stanley Cup champion got to know Walter and the Gretzky family while he played with Wayne Gretzky on the Edmonton Oilers in the 80s. Walter, known as Canada’s beloved hockey dad, passed away at the age of 82 on Thursday.

To Messier, Walter was a good friend to everyone.

“Walter always had a way of making you feel good about yourself,” Messier told Arash Madani and Stephen Brunt on Friday’s edition of Sportsnet Today. “Even after we’d be down on ourselves after a tough loss, he had a nice way of keeping things in perspective. He’d always turn the page and [be] looking forward to the next game.”

There was a big focus on family in Edmonton, Messier said, with not only teammates becoming great friends but also the players’ parents forging their own relationships with each other.

Messier said that Wayne and Walter had a “beautiful relationship,” noting that Walter along with wife Phyllis Gretzky were instrumental in making The Great One the person he is today.

“Walter and Phyllis did an amazing job of keeping Wayne grounded, protecting him when they needed to, exposing him when it was needed,” Messier said. “But I think the life lessons that Walter and Phyllis passed down to Wayne has shone through his career. Wayne had time for everybody.”

Just like many other Canadian families, Messier said the Gretzky family was hard-working and always made an effort to be good citizens.

“They didn’t lose sight of the fact that the most important things were keeping your integrity and being honest and being truthful, and I think those are the Canadian characteristics that we all can recognize in great people, and Wayne had it because of his parents.”

With Wayne’s massive success in the NHL, Walter quickly became a public figure and a Canadian icon on his own. In hindsight of the celebrity status he developed during his life, Messier said Walter was “pretty shy” when he first got to know him and that Walter tried to stay out of the spotlight.

“It became evident to him later on—he became a celebrity in his own right,” Messier said. “He was on the speaking circuit, the charity circuit, watching youth hockey games, being invited to events. I think he really embraced it after a while.

“I think he actually really felt responsibility to give back. He understood the gravity of the situation where he could be helpful to young boys and girls.”

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