Weekly Lost & Found: Oilers, Sabres, Penguins & Canucks

As the holidays inch closer, with it comes the ninth edition of the Weekly Lost & Found. Some of the teams may have already prepared their Christmas lists. Meanwhile, two teams that found themselves in the “Lost” category in the third Weekly Lost & Found have played their way to recent praise. Here’s a look at the latest in the NHL.

Lost: Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres Winless

Oilers Winless Week Fuels Five-Game Slide

The Oilers are in a rut that culminated in an 0-4 week and a five-game losing streak. They’re holding on to third place in the Pacific Division but have three teams within four points of them, including the Vegas Golden Knights, who are tied with Edmonton at 32 points. Their lack of secondary scoring, outside of superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, has been apparent, as they scored eight goals in the five losses.

McDavid and Draisaitl have combined for 39 of the team’s 90 goals this season and 90 points. Aside from them, Zach Hyman is the only other player with double-digit goals. No one is stepping up, and other than the duo, the Oilers’ forwards have contributed just two goals over this five-game skid

Edmonton Oilers Celebrate
Jesse Puljujarvi #13 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates a goal against the Vancouver Canucks with teammates Darnell Nurse #25, Connor McDavid #97, Leon Draisaitl #29 and Tyson Barrie #22 (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

However, the team has a trio of defenders putting up decent point totals, but they need more from other players. Kailer Yamamoto, who scored 26 points in 27 games during the 2019-20 season, has just five goals and six points this year, while Darnell Nurse has a lone goal after putting up 16 last season. 

As much as the team has struggled to score, they have also struggled to prevent goals. They’ve given up 19 in five games for a minus-11 goal differential. Mikko Koskinen has suited up for most of the Oilers’ games this season, and three of the past five, with a 3.05 goals-against average (GAA) and .907 save percentage (SV%).

The Toronto Maple Leafs come to town on Tuesday to kick off the Oilers’ three games this week. It’ll be a tough test, considering the Maple Leafs’ stars and stellar goaltending, but there may be no better time to find their game than against one of the top teams in the league.

Sabres Can’t Catch a Break, Winless Streak Extends to Seven Games

The Sabres are on a bad stretch with a 1-7-2 record in their last 10 games, winless in their last seven, and 0-2-1 in three games last week. They came close to ending that streak, but a controversial disallowed goal against the New York Rangers and a shootout loss to the Washington Capitals kept it going. 

Tage Thompson is the only player to score at least 10 goals this season, and the team has yet to have a 20-point scorer. However, they have the 16th-ranked power play in the NHL, at 18.8%. Their 72 goals for rank 22nd in the NHL, so while they don’t score a lot, it’s not as bad as it could be. Six teams ahead of them in the standings have scored fewer goals than the Sabres. 

Tage Thompson, Buffalo Sabres
Tage Thompson, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Their 97 goals-against is fourth-most in the NHL, which could be partly due to a lack of consistency in net. Dustin Tokarski has seen the most games but recently entered COVID protocol. The Sabres have had some bright spots in the crease, such as  40-year-old Craig Anderson sporting a respectable 2.50 GAA and .921 SV% in six games. 

Related: Sabres Are Unlikely Candidates to Trade for Joonas Korpisalo

Buffalo is in a hole, sixth in the Atlantic Division, and 10 points out of a wild-card spot. All three of this week’s games are on the road, and none of them will be easy, playing the Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, and Pittsburgh Penguins. They are better than projected to be by the THW staff, but there’s still a lot of hockey left to be played. The longer they stay competitive, the better for the development of their younger players.

Found: Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks Perfect Week Contributes To Win Streaks

Unexpected Heroes, Familiar Faces and Solid Goaltending Fuel Recent Penguins Run

The Penguins had a strong week; they are on a four-game winning streak, and three of their four wins came last week. They are now 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, have scored 15 goals while giving up just four, including a shutout against the Anaheim Ducks. 

Captain Sidney Crosby is back to his point-per-game production rate, and Kris Letang is having a strong offensive season. However, Jake Guentzel is leading the way with 15 goals and 27 points in 24 games. Evan Rodrigues has had a fantastic start as well, with 19 points in 27 games and no penalty minutes.

Evan Rodrigues Pittsburgh Penguins
Evan Rodrigues, Pittsburgh Penguins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Goaltending has been one of the biggest stories for the Penguins. Their 2.44 goals-against average ranks third in the NHL, and Tristan Jarry has been leading the way. His 1.92 GAA is second in the league, and his .934 SV% is fifth among goalies with at least five starts. 

They have managed to beat up on teams they should have, including a 6-1 win over the Seattle Kraken, and also defeated the division-leading Washington Capitals. They slot into the first wild-card spot in the east, and if they continue their strong play, could find them pushing for a spot near the top of the division. 

The Penguins matchup against three struggling teams this week and should be eager to capitalize. They’ll play the Montreal Canadiens, Sabres, and New Jersey Devils. This should give them ample opportunity to pad their cushion in the wild-card spot.

Canucks’ Management Overhaul Paying off Out of the Gate

The Canucks were lost in a big way heading into last week. They cleaned house, firing general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green and replaced them with Jim Rutherford and Bruce Boudreau. 

In the week since, they’ve gone on a four-game winning streak, starting with a shutout win against the Los Angeles Kings in Boudreau’s debut. In four games, two were shootout wins, and they’ve allowed just five goals. They held the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes to just a goal apiece. 

Bruce Boudreau Vancouver Canucks head coach
Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver Canucks head coach (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Outside of J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes and Conor Garland, the rest of the team’s stars are slumping. No player has scored more than nine goals. However, the coaching change has already benefited a few of them. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson scored in their win over the Hurricanes, who have allowed the fewest number of goals this season.

Related: Canucks’ Bruce Boudreau: 5 Interesting Facts

It’s hard to blame the team’s top goalie, Thatcher Demko, for the Canucks’ struggles. They’ve given up 85 goals, 63 against him. He has a 2.66 GAA and .917 SV% with one shutout. Jaroslav Halak has okay numbers as the backup with a 2.85 GAA and .910 SV% but has yet to earn a win.

They’ll have a tough test against the Maple Leafs this week. While there are no guarantees in the NHL, the Canucks should really try to keep rolling in their matchups against the Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes. Even if the team drops a few games, look for their slumping top players to continue to find their form.

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