Four wins in a row, being three of them on the first road trip of the season. The Edmonton Oilers are for sure in the best possible moment into the season, so far.
Especially because the fourth win of this sequence was against the Calgary Flames, at the Saddledome in Calgary. Because winning is good, but winning against the Calgary Flames is even better!!
But how the Edmonton Oilers managed to improve from 2-3-0 to 6-3-0? How the team will face the Nashville Predators in search of the fifth straight win? And how the Preds will arrive in Edmonton? All these questions are answered below:
After the 0-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues at home, on October 22nd, in a game where the offense simply didn’t go to the ice, the Oilers doesn’t know how it is to not play La Bamba. And it wasn’t an easy sequence, with the team beating the Penguins (6-3) at home, having the rematch against the Blues (3-1), beating the Blackhawks (6-5) and of course, the Flames (3-2).
To make it possible, we saw some changes on the lines. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins playing on first line, with McDavid couldn’t be a better match. The first pick of 2011 draft has already 11 points (5 goals and 6 assists) in 9 games, and is helping Connor McDavid to improve even more.
Speaking of McDavid, he just doesn’t stop scoring. With 18 points on the same 9 games (9 goals and 9 assists), he has already two Hat-Tricks and three games with 4 points. Having these numbers, he is leading the whole league on points and goals and, if it’s still possible, improving his skills game by game.
Just like Nugent-Hopkins, another player that is worth of more ice time is Zach Hyman. With the same 11 points on 9 games (6 goals and 5 assists), he delivers with McDavid on the first line or with Draisaitl on the second. The former Toronto Maple Leafs is on pace of having his best numbers on NHL, and his linemates can help him getting there and vice-versa.
But one of the best improvements is on the third line. Warren Foegele and Ryan McLeod are being great, and opening the possibilities for Nuge to be on the first line. Jesse Puljujarvi really seems to be finding himself on that line too, after a slow start. Those three closing the top 9 can make the Oilers offensive power be even more powerful than before.
And the defense is helping too, especially the goalie Stuart Skinner. In 4 games played, being the starter on three, the 23-years-old hometown boy just excelled at it! If McDavid is leading the league on points and assists, and if Draisaitl is the one leading in assists (12), Skinner puts the Oilers on the sv% leaderboard, being the best of the NHL with .955% and the second best on GAA, having 1.59. Long time that the Oilers fan could feel safe in the goalie position, and Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell brought this excellent feeling back. On the defense, there’s still room to improve, but it is really better, compared to the start of the season.
The Predators are coming from a loss to the Washington Capitals in Nashville (3-0) and has yet to win a game away from home. They only played two games so far outside the Bridgestone Arena and lost both of them (DAL 5-1 NSH and CBJ 5-3 NSH).
The Preds are facing a lot of problems on the Power Play, having the 3rd worst of the league, with only 8.3%. And that’s excellent news to the Oilers, who suffered Power Play goals on the first eight games of the season. On another side, they have the 6th best Penalty Kill percentage, with 84,8% against the 76.7% of the Oilers (22nd of the league), so the Oilers will need to play a great game on 5 Vs. 5 to get this win.
The Oilers have to be careful with Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Nino Niederreiter especially. Forsberg and Duchene are the leaders of the team in points, having 7 in 9 games played, and Duchene leads the team on PIM, with 18. Niederreiter has less ice time than these two, but already has four goals.
Their goalie should be Juuse Saros, who still managed to get 32 saves on the 3-0 loss to the Capitals on Saturday. He has .910 sv% and 2.75 GAA on seven games and it’s always a difficult goalie to score on.
Last season the Oilers and Predators played three times, and the Oilers swept them with three wins, with the last of them being a 4-0 win in Nashville with a Hat-Trick from Leon Draisaitl. And in the 2019-20 season, the Oilers swept the Nashville Predators again. The last time Edmonton lost to Nashville was on February 25th, 2019.