Matchups are such an important factor in the outcome of games, and I think at times we undervalue their importance. There is a lot of truth to having a good matchup, and this season the Edmonton Oilers have matched up very well against the Winnipeg Jets. They are 6-2 thus far, and a win tonight would put them firmly in the driver’s seat for home ice advantage in the opening round of the NHL playoffs.

— Winnipeg plays an up-tempo, attacking style and that is the strength of the Oilers, especially their elite players. Edmonton’s best players have simply out-skilled Winnipeg’s this season. If Winnipeg wants to have success against Edmonton in the playoffs, Paul Maurice will need to come up with a different game plan. He won’t have time to implement that tonight, but if they meet in the opening round the Jets will have to alter their style if they hope to win. They can’t win playing an open style against Edmonton.

— The Oilers have even dominated reigning Vezina winner Connor Hellebuyck. He is 2-4 with a .870sv% and 4.29 GAA against Edmonton. In his other 33 starts he is 19-10 with a .921Sv% and 2.33 GAA. Edmonton has owned him, mainly because the Jets allow the Oilers too many chances off the rush. Edmonton had nine rush scoring chances last night to the Jets’ three. Shots from the slot were 12-11 in favour of Winnipeg, but Edmonton didn’t have any in the third period when they were leading 6-1 and didn’t attack.

— All three of McDavid’s goals were scored on the rush. Same with Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse’s goals. Only Alex Chiasson’s game-opening goal, and 100th of his career, started off the cycle. Winnipeg is a good skating team, but their elite stars don’t possess the same skill as McDavid and Draisaitl, and ultimately that has cost them. Last season the Jets controlled the Oilers because Edmonton couldn’t stop their forecheck. This season, the Jets’ forecheck is still a concern, but Edmonton’s added speed and puck moving skill on their blueline has allowed them to not get hemmed in their zone for long periods. It will still happen, and actually did a few times on Monday, but Edmonton has adapted to thwart the Jets’ main strength. Winnipeg has yet to find a way to slowdown the Oilers — mainly McDavid and Draisaitl.

— Here are McDavid’s point totals against Winnipeg this season starting with their first meeting:


I’d say he has consistently dominated the Jets and his response to my question about his late season production should have Oilersnation excited.

— I asked him why historically he has been better later in the season. His points/game in March is higher than in any month. In a normal year, that is the sixth month of the season and where fatigue might set in.

“I think for me, kind of just getting into a rhythm is important,” said McDavid. “I like those stretches where you play lots of games in not too many days, and you’re playing every other day and stuff like that, so you know, I kind of like that. March historically is always the busiest month as well so, I think maybe that’s something to do with it.”

— His answer should end any discussion of the Oilers needing to rest him once they clinch. He might play less minutes in a game or two, but McDavid doesn’t want to sit out and I see no reason to even consider it. Would you risk him getting out of a rhythm just to rest a game? I wouldn’t.

— Alex Chiasson become the 1,160th player in NHL history to score 100 goals with his first period tally on Monday. He is only the ninth player since the 1967 expansion to have 100 goals but not 100 assists. He currently has 98. Since 1967, Ron Sedlbauer has scored the most goals (143) without registering 100 assists (86). Chiasson has grinded out a solid NHL career and will play his 555th game tonight.

— Leon Draisaitl is on his way to a Hall of Fame career. He became the highest scoring German player in NHL history on Monday.

He surpassed Marco Sturm with his 488th point on his 191st career goal. Draisaitl is giving young German kids the chance to dream that you can not only play in the NHL but dominate. He is one of the top-five players in the NHL and never played against elite competition until he came to the WHL — a good reminder for hockey parents that they don’t need to rush their young hockey player to play against the best. Developing confidence and enjoyment is just as important.

— Interesting to see five current or former Oilers among the top-11 German players: Draisaitl, Jochen Hecht, Tobias Rieder, Brian Glynn and Dominik Kahun all played for Edmonton.

—Dmitry Kulikov had a solid debut with Adam Larsson. They were +2 at 5×5 and had a 66.7CF% and FF% and 68.75SF%. Kulikov was more active in the offensive zone than I expected. Ryan McLeod was solid in his NHL debut as well. His speed was very noticeable and as he gets more comfortable I think he is going to be a solid third-line centre in the future. When Jujhar Khaira returns I think Gaetan Haas will be the odd man out.

— Admittedly I’m skeptical of the Expected Goal For percentage (XGF%) stat. I think it has value, but I think some overrate it. Look at McDavid’s numbers from Monday. He had a 100%GF (4-0), outshot Jets 14-9, but only had scoring chances at 11-10 and a 51.8XGF%. They actually had McDavid’s high danger chances at 3-4. Somehow he was only 42.86HDCF%. McDavid missed two partial breakaways that he didn’t score on and he scored three goals and assisted on Nurse’s goal. The Jets did not have the more high danger scoring chances, nor did I see them having almost the same amount of scoring chances to make his XGF%, just above 50%. I question the accuracy of it, and to me it illustrates why I’d be leery of using it as a clear indicator of a player’s on-ice play.

What do you think?

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