Ottawa Senators @ Edmonton Oilers – Game 35

After what felt like an eternity, the Edmonton Oilers will be back in action on Saturday night when they host the Ottawa Senators.

1. The Oilers have won just two of their last 13 games dating back to early December. They lost six in a row in December, won consecutive games against Columbus and Seattle before Christmas, but lost five in a row since coming out of the break. Most recently, the Oilers were dropped with a score of 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a valiant effort considering Connor McDavid was in the COVID-19 protocol.

2. Since the loss to Toronto, the Oilers have not played a game for nine days as the NHL tries to dance around buildings in Canada that are not running at full capacity. While the Oilers are out, life for the American teams goes on as a few California division rivals jumped Edmonton in the standings.

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3. Having won three games in a row, the LA Kings now have a 19-13-5 record, good for third in the division, while the San Jose Sharks are right behind them with a 20-17-1 record. . The Oilers are five points behind LA with three games in hand and three points behind San Jose with four games in hand. Edmonton needs to start winning some games so that the gap doesn’t widen.

The only positive thing for the Oilers is that their provincial rival, the Calgary Flames, has also gone completely flat. The Flames lost 4-1 to the Senators on Thursday night and have now dropped four games in a row. They hold a record of 17-11-6 and are two points ahead of the Oilers with both teams having played 34 games.

4. Let’s hope the Senators can be the collapsing doormat they were for the Oilers last season.

Edmonton’s complete dominance of Ottawa was one of the most exciting things about the 2021 once-in-a-lifetime All-Canadian Division. The Oilers faced the Sens nine times, beating them in every encounter, becoming the first team since the league expanded beyond six teams in 1967 to go 9-0-0 against a single opponent. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both scored 21 points in those nine games against Ottawa, which would have placed them seventh in the Sens over the course of the season.

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5. The funny thing about Ottawa in 2021 is that they really weren’t that bad outside of their Edmonton games. They started the season with a miserable run that saw them finish 2-12-1 in the first month of play, but things turned after a stunning come-from-behind win over the Leafs in mid-February. All told, the Sens went 23-28-5 and they were a respectable 23-19-5 against the other Canadian teams.

6. Ottawa’s solid finish to the 2021 season provided some cause for optimism that the team could be quite decent in 2021-22. That has not been the case. The Sens won their first game of the season against the Leafs, then won only three of their next 19 games. The most impressive part of Ottawa’s season was a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, followed by an 8-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Ottawa is 10-18-2, fourth last in the league in terms of points percentage.

7. What’s wrong with the Sens? Pretty much everything. Their offense is below average as they rank 19th in the league in goals per 60 minutes against equal strength and their power play is 20th at 18.5 percent. Their defense and goaltending are even worse, as they are 26th in the league in goals against per 60 minutes and their penalty kill is 20th at 78.3 percent. Ottawa’s goalkeepers have achieved a combined save rate of 0.893 in all situations, good for 27th place in the league.

8. Looking at these equally strong target percentages, the Oilers and Sens look shockingly similar. Ottawa scores 2.37 goals per 60 minutes, while the Oilers score 2.45. The Sens actually allow fewer goals per 60 than the Oilers as Ottawa allows 2.87 goals per 60 while the Oilers allow 2.89.

That said, Edmonton has much better underlying numbers than Ottawa, as the Oilers have a respectable 50.6 percent forecast target, while the Sens is near basement at 45.8 percent. Edmonton should be doing better than they are, but the targets for and against rates are in the same ballpark as the humble Sens, which helps paint a picture of how difficult it was for the tea oil press to find results that matched. were strong.

9. While a plethora of games postponed at the same time can pose a challenge when moved later, this hiatus has given the Oilers time to take a deep breath and heal themselves. Zach Hyman, who missed a few games before the Christmas break due to injury, noted that having some free time has helped him get through some nagging issues with his shoulder.

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10. On the other hand, the Oilers will again have to be without Mike Smith for a long time. Smith is dealing with a partial rupture of a tendon in his thumb, sustained during Edmonton’s loss to the New Jersey Devils on December 31, and will apparently be out for one to two weeks.

In his place comes Stuart Skinner, which is probably not a bad thing. In three games since returning from his mysterious two-month injury, Smith has racked up a 0.877 serve. Skinner, on the other hand, has been Edmonton’s best goalkeeper this season as he has a save rate of 0.916 in 10 games.


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