Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs Anaheim Ducks|12/31/23

Last night was a really fun postsea– I mean, regular season game. Maybe it’s the back-to-back Round 1 appearances between the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings, but it did have the feeling of a postseason game. Edmonton were vastly outplayed in the first period and went down 2-0 because of it. You couldn’t have faulted Stuart Skinner for the deficit. L.A. was all over the team in front of him, and he made plenty of key saves throughout the whole game to keep the Oilers in it. Since November 11th, heading into that game, Skinner led the league in Wins with 12 and Percentage of Team’s Wins at 85.7%. He’s also tied for second in shutouts with 2, tied for tenth in Goals Against Average with 2.43 and is seventh in Save Percentage with .909. He still needs a good enough backup to give him a break, but he has definitely started looking more like last season’s Calder Trophy nominee. However, the biggest save of the night wasn’t even made by Skinner. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stopped a shot on the goal line in Overtime. It was also Connor McDavid’s 600th NHL game. He celebrated with a goal and assist in the second period to erase the two goal deficit, as well as the first Oilers goal scored in the shootout. Derek Ryan, who turned 37 the day before, scored the shootout winning goal. “He’s a leader in this room. His voice carries a lot of weight”, said by McDavid about Ryan.

Ken Holland has been watching the Bakersfield Condors in California lately. One reason is, of course, to see how Jack Campbell is doing. He made 31 saves in a 4-2 win over the San Jose Barracuda last night. Another reason is to look at Oilers goalie prospect Olivier Rodrigue. There’s been talk by Oilers analysts and insiders about potentially bringing up Rodrigue at some point this season. He currently leads the American Hockey League with a .938 SV%. Those stats may’ve been much higher if they weren’t trying to resurrect Campbell’s season with starts. Edmonton drafted him in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft, a year after they drafted Skinner. If he continues to develop this well right now, the franchise could be perfectly set between the pipes for a long time. But I’m not sure I like the idea of calling him up. I think I’d rather just keep letting Rodrigue dominate the AHL and perhaps go after a current NHL goalie with an expiring contract. If Holland is still adamant that Soup can bounce back to decent NHL form, he’d better keep working on that consistency with the Condors. Here’s hoping 2023 is closed out with a fifth straight win. Happy New Year, everyone. The keys to the game are…

Zeg Zag: Trevor Zegras missed more than a month of games due to injury. He came back just before the Christmas break and has a modest two points in three games. He scored one of his patented Lacrosse goals in his first game back, so he seems no worse for wear. People normally say to protect the front of the net, the Oilers should also protect the back of the net whenever Zegras is on the ice.

Here’s Johnny: John Gibson is someone who some Oilers fans have liked the idea of acquiring the past couple of years, were it not for the money and term on his contract. He has posted a .939 SV% in his last three starts. Throughout the whole season, he has a .909 SV% and 2.77 GAA. Gibson has always been a pretty good goalie and still puts up solid stats even during Anaheim’s current rebuilding phase. I’d imagine him getting the start against the high octane Oilers offense. Calvin Pickard needs to have himself a game on our end while Skinner gets a night off.

A Better Start: Last night, Edmonton played one of their worst first periods that I’ve ever sat through. The Kings are a good team so you’d expect them to play well; always give credit where it’s due. But the Ducks are not the Kings, with all due respect. The slow start against Los Angeles was understandable, but a slow start or bad loss against Anaheim would be unacceptable.

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Christian Humphreys, USNTDP (Rena Laverty / USA Hockey’s NTDP)

2024 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Christian Humphreys

Christian Humphreys has shown consistent performance as a two-way forward. Standing at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, he is a promising prospect who has the potential to exceed expectations and become a steal in the draft.

Read More

Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 Recap: New York Rangers vs. Florida Panthers

It’s only one game, but the New York Rangers will need to be better if they want to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive. The President-trophy winners 3-0 loss to the reigning league runner-ups, Florida Panthers, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden wasn’t as bad as the score indicated, […]

Read More

Three Takeaways From Florida Panthers Shutout Victory

“At the end of the day, we’re here for wins. That’s it.” Matthew Tkachuk means business. Even after a dominant display during game one, he knows the Panthers have a long way to go. But it is hard not to laud the performance just put forth. Paul Maurice’s men came into Wednesday playing their first […]

Read More