Welcome back to Part 7 of the ongoing series. We are now at 33 games and almost halfway. Small sample sizes are no longer a thing. As a disclaimer, I was going to do this at Game 32 but Game 33 was the next night so I thought I’d wait till that was over.
After 24 games we were 3 points out of a playoff spot with 2 games in hand on Las Vegas and Anaheim. I wrote:
A 3-0 run against the Pacific teams and 2 other wins would get us right back into it. I predict we score 16 goals, allow 16 goals and go 4-4.
Let’s see how it went!
Game 25 - We defeated LA 3-2 in regulation. Koskinen started. Jesse scored. Spooner had fewest minutes on team. Klefbom with back to back GWG’s. (1-0)
Game 26 - We defeated Las Vegas 2-1 in regulation in a MASSIVE win. Spooner with the winner. Jesse got 10 minutes. Koskinen was .969. Klefbom with another point. (2-0)
Game 27 - We lost to Dallas 4-1. NO CONNOR. Drai did not step up to my eye. Kassian taking dumb penalties. Koskinen was excellent but had a .875. (2-1)
Game 28 - We defeated St. Louis 3-2 in a shootout. Talbot’s first win in 7. Klefbom with another big goal. Klefbom’s Dad with an awesome celly! (3-1)
Game 29 - We destroyed Minnesota 7-2. Talbot got back to back starts (to my dismay but he played very well and it worked as we have 2 hot goalies going now). Kassian, Nurse, Chiasson all with goals. (4-1)
Game 30 - We defeated Calgary 1-0. Connor with the winner. Mikko with another shutout. Jesse, Ty, Valentin and Spooner were bottom 4 in forward minutes. Chiasson with another point. (5-1)
Game 31 - We defeated Colorado 6-4. We were up 5-1 after 2 periods. Mikko played amazing. We lost Klefbom for ‘weeks’. 17 goals in 4 games since loss to Dallas. (6-1)
Game 32 - We lost to Winnipeg 5-4. This was our first game without Klefbom and Russel. We even had a lead. Thrilled to get a point. Cam was .865 and allowed 5 goals. (6-2)
Game 33 - We defeated Philly 4-1. Caleb Jones first game. No Russel/Klefbom. Second of back to back games and we won. Mikko allowed 1 goal and was .967. (7-2)
We ended up going 7-1-1 in a sensational run. We also scored 30 goals and allowed 21.
We were in a wildcard spot after 32 games yesterday (when I’d normally write this article). We won again and are now 3rd in the Pacific division!
I asked, after 25 games, if the readers thought we’d make the playoffs. The Poll results were 61% yes and 39% no.
So I’ll ask again after 33 games.
Do you think the Oil will make the playoffs?
This poll is closed
Stats from this segment:
We were the 3rd best team in the NHL since November 29th. Our PK was 9th. Our PP was 14th. Our 30 goals for was 4th. Our 21 goals against was 10th best. You might also note that 5 of the Top 10 teams in this stretch are all in the Pacific. Our Division is really improving and no longer the whipping boys of the NHL. In fact, 4 of the top 11 NHL teams overall are in the Pacific right now.
Here are the scorers:
Connor, Drai and RNH continue to run the offence. Nurse with 8 points in 9 games might be the best stretch in his NHL career. Khaira is now contributing and clearly has the coaches trust. Chiasson is not slowing down (his shooting percentage is now 30%). Klefbom was on pace for 40 points but that won’t happen now. Another injury plagued year with 30 or so points seems to be in the cards. In his career, Klefbom has played a full season once. He’s also never got more than 21 points in a season outside of 2016/17.
If you are wondering about Minutes. Zykov had the least followed by Spooner, P Russell, Chris Wideman, Ty Rattie, Rieder and Jesse P.
The goalies for the 9 game segment were both quite good:
Talbot and Koskinen have now almost started the exact same number of games. For goalies that have played a minimum 10 games, this is what their stats are:
Koskinen sits 2nd in the entire NHL with a .930, 3 shutouts and a 2.12 GAA. He is 11-3-1. I needed a separate image to show Talbot as they both wouldn’t fit on the same screen:
Talbot sits 44th in the league with a .894, 3.22 GAA and 0 Shutouts. He is 7-9-2. It should be noted he does have 1 assist which gives him more points than Zykov.
I thought I’d say this early to get it on the record. I don’t want Hitch long term. He’s getting the most out of a terrible lineup and, if this keeps up, I hope he wins coach of the year. I’d rather see Chia fired. Have the new GM do some good changes in the offseason to the roster, hire his coach and surround Connor and Leon with much more talent. Fill in our Top 4 and Top 6. I want a good lineup with Cup potential and not a soccer type team when we have McDavid and Drai. We play hockey like Switzerland (hard working, disciplined, well structured) and I want us to be like Canada. I know I’m alone in this. I understand I sound crazy. I think Hitch is a great fixer but I don’t want him as a long term option. I could see him keeping Chia his job and being signed to a 3 year contract and this isn’t good. I can only watch so many pucks blasted off the glass. I’d rather have a high octane team that has a Top 6 and a Top 4.
Things I said from the last article:
If I were Peter Chiarelli, Cam Talbot, Ty Rattie, Jesse P or Ryan Spooner I would be very worried about how the next 8 game segment looks for me.
Well, Chiarelli still has his job and I haven’t heard anyone complain about him (except me) in a few weeks. He’s safe. Talbot had his best stretch (if 2 games is considered a ‘stretch’) of the season but still sits in the absolute basement of the league. He hasn’t ‘regressed’ back to .918. He hasn’t even regressed back to .908. He had 2 very good games and 1 poor one in this stretch. Hitch has made it clear that he doesn’t like backups to sit too long (unlike his predecessor). He currently has both goalies getting us points. Ty Rattie is on death’s door and averaging under 10 minutes a game. Ryan Spooner has a few points but is on the 4th line. Jesse P is getting LESS minutes under Hitchcock than McLellan. He’s not getting any PP or PK time (I’d like to see him used on the PK). An optimist would point out his 2 points in this 9 game stretch doubled his previous seasons total and he’s earning his coaches trust.
Optimist: Jesse needs more Top 6 minutes and PP time. He’ll get 8 points in the next 8 games. Mikko should start all 8 games and he will win at least 7. Klefbom has now scored and this will ignite the return of the Klef-BOMB! The identity line is due to start scoring soon. Chiasson will continue his 40% shooting rate. Sekera will be returning soon. Hitchcock is a ‘fixer’ and now knows what to do. We’ll catch Las Vegas in the next 8 games for sure. We have 2 games in hand and Ken will lead us.
Jesse didn’t get Top 6 minutes or PP time. He got 2 points. Mikko started 6 of the 9 games (and won 5 of the 6, he is also undefeated at home, he is also 2nd in the NHL for save percentage). Klefbom had a nice run with 4 points (including 2 very timely goals) but is now out for ‘weeks’. The identity line didn’t really score at all but everyone loves them. Chiasson is still scoring and is the new Patrick Maroon. Sekera is not in sight currently. Hitchcock fixed everything and clearly knows what to do. We did catch Vegas (and Anaheim). Ken did lead us. Along with Connor, Drai, RNH and Mikko who are my MVP’s for this 9 game segment.
Here are the next 8 games:
Canucks, Blues, Lightning, Canucks, Sharks, Jets, Coyotes and the Kings. This is a very friendly stretch as 5 of those teams are not playoff teams. Dare I suggest we’ll be in the Top 3 in the Pacific at the halfway point of the season?
My Predictions: Jesse will get 4 points and some special teams. Koskinen will get 6 starts (and 5 wins). Cam will get 2 starts and 1 win. We go 6-2 as a result and will be 2nd in the Pacific next time. We play Calgary the very next game that will put us in first in the Pacific. We won’t see Klefbom. We will see Russel. Sekera rumours will be swirling. RNH will be at 40 points. Draisaitl will be at 50. Connor will be at 60.
Guys I’m worried for in the next 8 games: Zykov, Rattie, Spooner and Cam Talbot.
Guys I think will have a nice run in the next 8 games: Nurse, RNH, Drai, McDavid, Rieder, Mikko and Jesse.
I noticed Colton Parayko is available. If Chia could package together something not involving RNH, Larsson, Klefbom, Nurse, Drai, Bouchard or McDavid and get him I’d be thrilled. I would even consider trading some combo of things we don’t want to trade like Jesse, Kailer, McLeod, our upcoming first round pick, Benning, Chiasson, Talbot and Bensen. Toss Parayko into the Healthy Top 4 with Larsson, Nurse, Klefbom, Russel and a returning Sekera (at 5/6) and we’ve really got something.
Back to reality. Everything is fantastic. Let’s win a few more for Hakan! Merry Christmas