The Buffalo Sabres host the Edmonton Oilers tonight at the First Niagara Center. Let the worst team win! The first pick in the NHL draft, that is.
Tonight’s Opponent: The Edmonton Oilers
Record: 18-33-6, 42 pts.
Standings: Fourteenth in Western Conference
Current Streak: Lost one
In all seriousness, the Edmonton Oilers are an example of why Buffalo fans should not get too excited about the possibility of the Sabres “winning” he first pick in the upcoming draft. After all, Edmonton “won” the first pick two years in a row, and picked 7th last year – and look at them! They’re still terrible!
Of course, the fact that the Oilers ignored their defensive deficiencies for a while before picking up Darnell Nurse this season has an awful lot to do with their poor play, but unlike the Sabres, Edmonton actually has players who can the puck int eh back of the net. Taylor Hall (19-35-54), Jordan Eberle (19-26-45), and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (15-27-42) easily top the Sabres’ top-three scorers, and second-year player Nail Yakupov (10-10-20) was one of the NHL’s best rookies last season, netting 17 goals in the shortened 52-game season. The Oilers score a fairly-healthy rate of 2.54 goals per game this season, which means their offense is on par with that of the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers.
Problem is, their defense gives up 3.37 goals a night, and they have been outscored by 47 goals so far this season. Good lord – there’s a defense in the league WORSE than Buffalo’s? (Actually, Buffalo’s D gives up just under 3 goals per game, but we all understand a huge reason for that is the play of their goaltenders this season.) Edmonton: that’s putrid. The Oilers have given up 192 goals on the season, 5 more than the second-to-last worst D in the league (New York Islanders, 187) and 22 more than the third-to-last worst D (Ottawa, 170).
So: to recap. The Oilers can score. They also apparently don’t skate blueliners every shift, so they tend to get scored on a lot. Let the race to the bottom of the NHL begin in earnest tonight!
Fun fact: Edmonton leads the league in empty net goals allowed, at ten. You’re welcome!