This is the Oilers Morning Report, a stats-heavy, opinion-based review of the previous night’s game. We’ve all read the wrap-ups, watched the highlights, and digested the game. Whether it’s gazing to the heavens, begging the Hockey Gods for answers as to why the Edmonton Oilers lost, or looking for more content to bask in the glory of another Oilers victory, that’s what this is here for.
Here is the review for the Edmonton Oilers Vs. Arizona Coyotes game on Saturday 18 January.
After the Coyotes’ failed to record a shot on the early powerplay from the Sam Gagner slashing penalty– a kill on which Archibald scored the game-opening shorthanded goal– they did continue to apply solid pressure from strong 5v5 cycling, but Mike Smith stopped quality Scoring Chances to end the play. Though he nearly cost the team a goal with a dicey play of the puck– a shot that was ultimately stopped by Oscar Klefbom– he made some important saves, notably stopping a Scoring Chance that lead to a transition play that resulted in Leon Draisaitl scoring the third goal of the period.
The Oilers defense struggled a bit at 5v5, despite winning the possession battle: the Klefbom-Larsson pairing finished with a 1CF-4CA (20.00%), while Caleb Jones finished with a 1CF-3CA (25.00%), and Kris Russell did no favours silencing his haters, finishing the period with 0CF-3CA. The offense was buoyed by Ethan Bear’s 15CF-4CA (78.95%) 87.84 xGF% and Darnell Nurse 16CF-4CA (80.00%) 88.96 xGF%, 7-2 SCF (77.78%)and 4-0 HDCF%; Ryan-Nugent Hopkins was the best forward, with a 7-3 (70.00%) CF, 83.79 xGF%, and 2 HD chances.
The Oilers scored early on the powerplay, and Joakim Nygard scored during a low-event moment of the period, so it was the Coyotes that controlled most of the 5v5 possession in the second, with Taylor Hall’s goal coming at the expense of the Russell-Jones pairing, an obvious mismatch.
It was during one of the Coyotes’ stages of 5v5 cycle-possession that Hall missed in the High Danger area, leading to Connor McDavid’s goal off the Archibald feed on the two-on-one.
After two periods, the Nurse-Bear pairing was still far-and-away the best players for the Oilers. Continuing their strong play from the first period, they finished the second period with a 22-11 and 21-11 CF advantage, respectively. They did allow the most amount of High Danger chances, 3 each, but they also were among the team leaders in HDCF, Bear with 4 (along with Josh Archibald and Connor McDavid), and Nurse with 5 (along with James Neal).
Despite being down 4 goals, the Coyotes really took control of the period, having one 5v5 goal rescinded after an offside review and putting some pressure on the Oilers.
The Coyotes pulled the goalie with 5:00 left in the game, and put the Oilers on their heels momentarily before the Sheahan empty-net goal, forcing Mike Smith to make a High Danger save on Vinnie Hinostroza at 3:22, followed by Clayton Keller earning a good chance in the High Danger slot, but Smith remained solid.
Nurse and Bear continued their strong play throughout the game, finishing with Corsi ratings well above average– Bear actually ended up edging out Nurse in terms of CF%, with a 57.89 to Nurse’s 56.10.; Nurse finished with a 61.50 xGF% and 62.50 HDCF% and Bear with 61.70 xGF% and 57.14 HDCF%.
Despite the seven goals by six different scorers, the bottom six all struggled at 5v5, all finishing the game below a 45 CF% (not good). However, goals are what matter and four of the seven Oilers goals came at 5v5, two of which were from Gagner (31.82 CF%; 38.11 xGF%) and Nygard (28.57 CF%; 59.78 xGF%.). Sometimes it’s about opportunity (and luck) more than lineup-wide domination, but it’s something the bottom six needs to shore up.
The penalty against McDavid was clearly questionable, as was the pick run on Nuge at the defensive blueline, but the Oilers’ 6th-overall penalty kill weirdly continues to struggle at home. They counteracted the issue slightly today with the game-opening, shorthanded goal by Sheahan, but the home PK still dipped from 27th overall going into the game against the Coyotes, to 29th (74.2%) when the 7-3 rout was all said and done.
Mike Smith earned his fifth straight win with an unspectacular .900 SV%, but two of the goals-against came on the Oilers’ for more unspectacular home penalty kill. He was perfect in the High Danger areas, only the lone 5v5 goal from a very good Taylor Hall shot.
The Oilers head into the 11-day long bye/All-Star break with a 6-1-1 record since the near-historic collapse against the New York Rangers on New Year’s Eve; they’re tied for the Pacific division lead and can take a commanding control following the break in the six games after the time off when they face the Flames, Blues, Flames, Coyotes, Sharks, and Predators.
But first, a break.
Then, onto to Calgary.