If the Calgary Flames exploit some of the frailties that have contributed to Edmonton’s downfall, they’ll almost certainly leave Rogers Place with two vital points.
If Calgary fans were worried, prior to the big win over the Panthers, about their club’s four-game losing streak, imagine how Oilers’ faithful feel about seeing their team lose 11 of their last 15 games. That 2-11-2 record makes for rancid reading. Unless of course you’re a Flames fan, who is rejoicing at the very mention of Edmonton’s woeful run.
While everything for the Oilers has been dismal of late, there are a few particular frailties Calgary will look to expose tonight.
All of the below stats are since Dec. 2
3. Edmonton’s league worst penalty kill
The Oilers, with a 63 percent success rate, have the league’s worst penalty kill. Since that fateful date, Edmonton has conceded 17 goals while on the kill, the second most in the NHL. Only the Chicago Blackhawks (18) and Los Angeles Kings (18) have allowed more. David Tippett’s team is allowing 1.13 goals per game with the man disadvantage.
The Flames haven’t exactly ripped it up on the power-play in those six weeks, but made some promising strides against the Panthers, scoring two with the man advantage. The Flames are 19.5 percent, the 21st ranked team, since Dec. 2. What better time to improve that efficacy than against the league’s most abject kill.
2. Edmonton’s league worst goals allowed per game
The Oilers can take a bow for holding on to another dubious record. In the last 15 games, Edmonton has allowed 4.13 goals per game. Their defence is as porous as the city’s sewage drains. It’s not a recipe for success, and the Flames will want to capitalize on their arch nemesis’ defensive vulnerabilities.
While six other teams have conceded more goals than the Oilers since Dec. 2, all of them have played either three or four games more. The Oilers inability to keep the puck out of their own net poses another opportunity for the Flames to improve their goals-per-game output. The Flames have scored 2.85 goals per game since Dec 2, the 13th fewest in the NHL.
1. Edmonton’s league worst save percentage
I’d say a distinct trend is developing. The Oilers are reinforcing their bottom feeder moniker with yet another worst-in-the-NHL stat. An overall 0.865 save percentage showcases Edmonton’s goaltending tandem’s inability to stop the puck. It’s not really fair to blame Mike Smith, though, as he has only played once since Dec. 2, an away loss to the Leafs.
So it’s Mikko Koskinen to blame.
Maybe he’d have better luck with a beach ball. Though I’m not sure after taking a more thorough look at Koskinen’s recent numbers.
Koskinen’s save percentage since the Oilers’ deep rot began is .866, with a goals-against average of 3.99. And now for the pièce de résistance. He owns a 0-6-1 record since Dec. 5. His worst save percentage, .786, came against the Panthers in his last outing, on Wednesday night. He exceeded a .900 save percentage just once in that disturbingly bad spell, a .903 save percentage on Dec. 11 against the Hurricanes.
Based on those numbers, Koskinen will probably give way to Mike Smith, who the Flames know all too well. That could in its own right prove advantageous for the visiting Flames. While I’m sure Darryl Sutter doesn’t need my advice, I’m going to offer it anyway. Fire rubber at the net from anywhere. And do it with relentless frequency.