In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, the Oilers get set for their first back-to-back of the season. One of the questions heading into the game versus the Vegas Golden Knights is which goaltender to play? Meanwhile, Zach Hyman impressed in his first regular shot playing on a line with Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi and there are positive signs when it comes to special teams and faceoffs.
Koskinen to Get Back-to-Back Starts?
Mikko Koskinen played extremely well Thursday night as the Oilers downed the Arizona Coyotes. He allowed only one goal on 28 shots, looked comfortable and kept the Oilers in the game early before they picked up the offense in the second and third periods. The question on Friday is whether or not to run with Koskinen again or to give Stuart Skinner the start against a struggling Golden Knights team?
Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic tweeted on Thursday night following the win: “The expectation is Mikko Koskinen will start again Friday at Vegas, Dave Tippett said. Final determination will be made in the morning.” Koskinen deserves the start if he wants it. He should be plenty rested even though the typical thing to do is not start the same netminder in back-to-back games.
Hyman Gets Shorty and a Power Play Goal
Interestingly, Hyman was getting a bit of a first look on the top line with McDavid on Thursday, but it wasn’t during 5-vs-5 play that Hyman scored either of his two goals. He got one marker short-handed to put the Oilers up 2-0. He scored his second on the power play.
All that said, Hyman did look good on that top line and the second line looked dangerous, even if it didn’t produce on the scoresheet. Hyman said he doesn’t think he’s ever done that before in his career (score short-handed and on the power play in one game) but it goes to show how versatile a player he is and why he’s so critical to the Oilers early success.
Oilers Power Play Is Deadly
Speaking of the power play, everyone knew it would be good. But did anyone predict it would be clicking at a rate of 50% through four games? It’s not likely to stay that high, but the Oilers are quickly making it clear that you can’t beat this team if you give them opportunities on the man advantage.
It’s not just the fact the team is scoring, but it’s the ease in which they’re often scoring that is the most impressive. When the Oilers get set up, the puck movement is incredible and the fact the team now has multiple options and different looks they can roll with makes them even more effective than they were the last two seasons when they led the NHL.
Honestly, how can teams stop this team when you take penalties against them?
Oilers Winning Faceoffs
One of the areas Edmonton has struggled in over the past few seasons is their faceoff percentages. At times, they’ve not been able to win the important draws. This season, they’ve gotten off to a great start in that regard. Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now tweeted that the team is third in the NHL in faceoff percentage so far.
The team is 56.9% on draws with Derek Ryan leading the team at a 63.3% success rate. Not far back are Leon Draisaitl (62.9%) and Connor McDavid (61.3%). For all the talk of McDavid working on his one-timer, it seems to have gone relatively unnoticed that he’s improved tremendously in the faceoff circle.
Can McDavid Get 164 Points?
Early predictions were that McDavid might be able to reach 150 points in a single season. Through four games, it appears some pundits might have been underselling what he could achieve if he stays healthy. Through four games, McDavid has 11 points. It’s way too early in the season to use a phrase like, ‘he’s on pace for…’, but it certainly isn’t unrealistic to suggest he scores at a two-points-per-game clip this year.
When you consider that McDavid is still getting better and hasn’t reached the pique of what he’ll do as an NHL player, it’s mind-boggling to think about what his point totals might look like at the end of the year. All that said, he’ll be the first to tell you he’d trade it all for a Stanley Cup win as a member of this team.
McDavid scored his 200th goal as a member of the Oilers on Thursday. Only three franchise players have reached the 200 goal mark faster: Glenn Anderson (348 games), Jari Kurri (328), and Wayne Gretzky (242).
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”