Congrats to Cody Ceci for playing his 700th NHL game on Saturday night. He has notoriously been a whipping boy for the analytics community and has not played his best hockey paired with Darnell Nurse throughout most of this season. But it’s still a significant accomplishment for any player, and there’s still a lot of time for the 29-year-old defenseman to play 300 more and reach 1000 games. I, of course, can’t forget about Connor McDavid’s milestone. He became the fourth player in the salary cap era to have a 60 goal season. The other three players are Alex Ovechkin(65 in 2008), Steven Stamkos(60 in 2012), and Auston Matthews(60 in 2022). In the summer, he took Leon Draisaitl’s advice to heart, becoming a greater goal scorer and a bigger on-ice phenom than he already was. He’s currently at 139 points and could pass the highest points total of any player not named Gretzky or Lemieux. That honor belongs to Steve Yzerman, with 155 points in 1989. Ten more goals and McDavid could also be the first player to have a 70 goal season since Alex Mogilny and Teemu Selanne both scored 76 goals in 1993. Connor will focus more on officially clinching a playoff spot before answering questions about his milestones. Still, we’re some of the luckiest fans on Earth to witness such a historical season in the modern NHL. It was another long week of later evening games, but we at least went to bed late, happy. This week’s opponents are…
Monday, March 27th at 8 pm VS Arizona Coyotes
This is the first game of a back-to-back, and it’s against a bottom feeder. You’d think this is where Jack Campbell would get the start in net. But against San Jose last week, even if the goals allowed weren’t his fault, it was hard to trust him with an easier workload. The second predicament is Stuart Skinner looking burnt out the last few games he’s played. If Campbell rebounds well enough in this game, maybe he will get to play a second straight day. I know that’s wishful thinking, but he’s done it already this season and won both games. I’m also happy for former Oilers prospect defenseman Michael Kesselring having an NHL roster spot after being part of the Nick Bjugstad trade. Good to see him earn his opportunity elsewhere.
Tuesday, March 28th at 8 pm VS Vegas Golden Knights
Before LA Kings icon Jonathan Quick was traded to one of Edmonton’s other division rivals, he was one of the worst goalies in the league. Sporting a horrendous .876 SV%, he’s been fixing his last third of the season on his new team with a .908 SV% since the trade. Though he didn’t play on Saturday night, his rejuvenation is certainly welcome for Vegas, with Logan Thompson losing some games to injury the last little while.
Thursday, March 30th at 7 pm VS Los Angeles Kings
The third meeting between these teams, first with new acquisitions on both sides. We’ve talked about Mattias Ekholm and Nick Bjugstad. LA has been getting solid play from defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. With this meeting and the one coming next week, it’s likely that the Oilers and Kings will have their playoff rematch from last year in round 1. Edmonton has to treat these remaining meetings as if the rematch has already started.
Saturday, April 1st at 8 pm VS Anaheim Ducks
In the first meeting against Anaheim, Edmonton got goalie-d. In the second meeting, they recorded a blowout win. I always say, “Do not play to the level of their opponents.” But from the perspective of their opponents, there is no pressure on them to win games when their season is already over. Teams that spend a year in this position learn to embrace the spoiler role over time. Expect the Ducks to embrace it more, considering where the Oilers are now.