The Week In Review is a weekly compilation of hand-picked NHL stories selected by members of WinColumnSports deemed important or impactful from the week that was. Additionally, there is also a running pool amongst the contributors based on our picks for Saturday’s match-ups.
Stories From the Past Week
Generally, a team breathes a sigh of relief when tasked with facing a team’s backup goaltender, but to quote the team itself, Here Comes the Oilers! After being shutout on Thursday by the Nashville Predators and backup ‘tender Juuse Saros, the Oilers face the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. With regular netminder Devan Dubnyk out; the Wild will turn to Alex Stalock - who posted a shutout of his own on Thursday, blanking the Maple Leafs 2-0. With the Oil struggling against 2nd stringers, how will they make out with not only a backup, but a hot backup?
The Oilers overcame their lack of scoring on back-up goaltenders this afternoon with a 3-2 victory over the Wild. This victory also marked Cam Talbot’s first game back from a lower-body injury. Talbot hadn’t dressed since November 28th and has missed the past 7 games. Here in Oil country, we’re hoping the return of Talbot maybe gives the Oilers a breath of life. The team as a whole is overly inconsistent and that has resulted in the Oilers playing from behind in the majority of their games.
The importance of special teams in the NHL is sometimes looked over. In most cases when a team is in the basement for special teams they’ll also find themselves near the bottom of the standings. The Edmonton Oilers currently sit at 18.39% and 15th in the NHL when it comes to the power play. The Oilers sport the leagues worst penalty kill (72.11%) and The Oilers penalty kill was brutally exposed on Thursday resulting in the Oilers surrendering 2 power play goals against the Nashville Predators. These statistics don’t completely tell the story on the Edmonton Oilers early season woes, however; Special teams go hand in hand with a teams success. The Oilers need to improve in both special teams categories in order to compete for the Stanley Cup. The Oilers were highly ranked favorites before the season begun.
The success of the Tampa Bay Lightning shows the importance of special teams. Tampa sports the NHL’s best power play (27.82%) and the 12th ranked penalty kill (82.29%). Having a successful special teams is the key to being seen as an elite NHL team. It’s very rare that you’ll see a successful team struggle on either the penalty kill or on the man advantage.
A story that has gone unnoticed or underappreciated comes to a head tonight. The Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens will play in the 2017 Scotiabank NHL 100 Classic in an outdoor game at Lansdowne Park. Back on December 19th, 1917, on the leagues opening night, The Sens and Habs squared off. This game alone will be a lasting memory for both of these organizations as they were founding members of the NHL. I personally enjoy watching these outdoor games as it provides a different element, not only for the fans, but the players. It’s very likely that players that have an opportunity to play in games like these will only have one chance in their careers.
Montreal is 2-1-0 in three prior outdoor games. Montreal defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton in 2003 and the Boston Bruins 5-1 at the 2016 Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusett. Montreal’s only loss (4-0) at the hands of the Calgary Flames at the 2011 Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
WinColumnSports Saturday Picks
|Games||Spencer Love||Arik Krause||Ben Ferguson|
|Oilers @ Wild||Oilers||Wild||Oilers|
|Rangers @ Bruins||Rangers||Rangers||Rangers|
|Jets @ Blues||Jets||Jets||Blues|
|Canadiens @ Senators||Senators||Canadiens||Canadiens|
|Kings @ Islanders||Kings||Kings||Kings|
|Stars @ Flyers||Flyers||Stars||Flyers|
|Blue Jackets @ Hurricanes||Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets|
|Penguins @ Coyotes||Penguins||Penguins||Penguins|
|Ducks @ Capitals||Capitals||Capitals||Ducks|
|Lightning @ Avalanche||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning|
|Predators @ Flames||Predators||Predators||Predators|
|Last Weeks Record||8-4||8-4||7-5|
|Record to Date||14-10||16-8||15-9|
This running pool is open to readers and WinColumnSport contributors. If you are interested in joining you can contact me on twitter (@WCS_BFerg). Ultimately, if you join the pool, you must be willing to contribute a developing story from the week that was.
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