EDMONTON, Alberta — The Edmonton Oilers showed signs of breaking out of an extended team scoring slump with Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The Oilers hope for more offensive fireworks when they host the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday.
The Flyers will limp into Edmonton having scored just four goals in their last five games, including Wednesday’s 3-1 loss in Calgary.
So, maybe the safe bet is to take the under when the Oilers and Flyers clash. Chances are they won’t equal the goal total the two teams put up when they met in Philadelphia last December, which the Flyers won 6-5.
Article continues below ...
In the previous four games before the win over Arizona, the Oilers had scored just two goals. But coach Todd McLellan shuffled his lines, including separating NHL assist leader Connor McDavid and team goal leader Leon Draisaitl, who had been together on the top line. They both responded Tuesday with multi-point efforts, and spread goals throughout the lineup.
Draisaitl is now centering the team’s second line, though he was effective as McDavid’s right winger on the first line.
“It would be nice to cut him in half and put half of him at center and half of him at wing, but it doesn’t work that way,” McLellan said of Draisaitl, who has 21 goals this season and had a three-point night Tuesday.
McLellan said he told his charges that, despite the pre-Arizona scoring slump, he felt they had the majority of the scoring chances in those games. He told them he felt the Oilers were one of the top 10 teams in the league. And the power of positive thinking took effect.
“There’s always pressure, exterior pressure from media and that kind of stuff when you go on a bit of a dry spell,” said McLellan. “But you just don’t throw a bomb into it and come up with successful solutions. We’ve done some good things this year, we just needed to polish it up a little bit.”
“We’ve got to be a little more greasy, to score some greasy goals,” said Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom, who had a goal and two assists in the win over the Coyotes. “We have so much potential here, so many guys that are so skilled and so good. We knew it was just a matter of time before the goals were going to come.”
Klefbom also took his first penalty of the season against Arizona, in his 57th game played.
The Flyers are embroiled in a fierce battle for one of the Eastern Conference wild-card positions, while the Oilers remain in a three-way battle with Anaheim and San Jose for top spot in the Pacific Division.
And, after Tuesday’s loss in Calgary, center Jordan Weal said the Flyers can’t afford to get down on themselves.
“It (the game in Edmonton) will be a good bounce-back for us,” said Weal. “If we did a lot of the things we did tonight creating chances and controlling the puck down low like we did, I have a feeling that a couple more will go in.”
Of the four goals the Flyers scored in the last five games, two have come off the stick of right winger Wayne Simmonds, who has 23 on the season. But the Flyers’ two top point-getters this season, Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux, have been ice cold. Voracek has two points in his last two games. Giroux is pointless in five consecutive games.
“We can’t get too frustrated,” said Giroux. “I think a little frustrated is good, we’re doing a lot of good things lately, we’ve got to look at the bigger picture here.”