Oilers try to halt home woes vs. Ducks
EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers host the Anaheim Ducks Saturday. They'll also host the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
Host is the key word here. The Oilers are playing their first season at the new Rogers Place, but it's been anything but home sweet home. At 8-4-2, Edmonton has the best road record in the NHL, but has won just one of its last six home games.
Maybe the Oilers can find a way to paint a Ducks logo at center ice before Saturday's puck drop and ask to wear their road white jerseys at home.
"I don't have an explanation for that," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said about the huge drop-off between his team's road and home performances. "Our road record is better than our home record. No explanation for it. It's something that we're looking to work on and improve. There is no rhyme or reason for it. There's nothing we can find statistically or in the play that we can put our fingers on."
That's not entirely true. There is a statistical anomaly. The Oilers' power play, despite the presence of NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid (34 points in 25 games), only has a 10.5 percent success rate at home, third worst in the league. It's at 26.8 percent on the road, third best in the league.
On Thursday in Winnipeg, Edmonton got three man-advantage goals, including two from center Mark Letestu, who was promoted from the fourth line to the power play.
"I had success last year doing it here, did it in Pittsburgh, played with good players before," said Letestu. "And I know I am out there for a reason and not just defer to guys who might be more skilled than myself."
As for McDavid, who is now building a cushion atop the NHL scoring race, McLellan has run out of superlatives.
"He's a tremendous player," said the Oilers coach. "I don't know what to say about him anymore. You guys ask me every day and I'm kind of running out of comments. You just have to watch him play."
The Ducks (12-8-4) arrive in the Alberta capital on a three-game winning streak, despite scoring just eight times over those games. They've only given up four goals during the streak -- and they know that to be successful, they can't be one of the more exciting teams in the NHL to watch.
"That's what we're trying to sell, that we're not really an offensive juggernaut by any means," said Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle. ""We're just trying to buckle down and have our group win games 2-1, 1-0, that's going to be enough to win. If we can do that over the course of the next 55-60 games, then hopefully going into the playoffs and, being a playoff team, we don't have to change our style much."
"We're getting better at playing as a group night in and night out," said Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, who has just two goals but 17 assists in 21 games played this season. "Our guys are doing a great job surrounding our net and not giving a whole lot up."
The Ducks defeated the Oilers 4-1 in Anaheim on Nov. 15. It was one of the few blemishes on the Oilers' road ledger.