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Preview Blues at Oilers: All Lubed Up

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Blues vs Oilers tonight at 8:00 CT on FSMW

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Blues travel to Edmonton for their second game in as many days. Puck drops at 8:00 CT and can be seen on FSMW.

I want to go on record as saying that back to back games in the NHL are dumb. Who is the brainiac who said “Lets take the hardest, most physical game on earth and play it on consecutive nights, multiple times”?

And if back to back games are dumb then back to backs at Pacific division opponents are even more dumber. I am sure being the hard core fan that you are you stayed up until the bitter end of last nights game and your reward for that much appreciated dedication is another night sans quality sleep. I blame Bettman.

Inorder to raise awareness to this dumbness I am not waiting until after Wednesday’s game to write this preview. How does that raise awareness you might ask? Because it shows how much a back to back diminishes the quality of everything associated with the team.

The players are exhausted and hurt and do not have sufficient time to recuperate. The coaches do not have adequate time to game plan for the second match let alone enough time to have a serious practice in which they could implement any necessary changes.

The reporters that cover the teams don’t have the time or energy to do a quality job informing the fanbase of anything that is worth reporting on. And I don’t get any sleep, which sucks the will out of me to log on to this stupid website and put together a few coherent sentences.

Absolutely a brilliant strategy from the NHL.

Did the Blues win or lose Wednesday night? Beats the hell out of me.

Did they play good or bad? Yes.

How many goals did Tage Thompson score? 14.2.

Is Jake Allen in net tonight? Probably after that shitty/awesome performance by Carter Hutton last night.

As for tonights opponent, to say the Oilers have had a disappointing season so far would be like saying Alexander Steen may be overpaid.

At 15-17-2 they are currently in second to last place in their division and 6 points out of a playoff spot.

Who would have guessed that any team with Connor McDavid on it is fighting just to get back to .500 but here we are.

And really when we look at the team’s metrics it’s a little hard to understand why.

Their even strength Crosi For% of 53.65% is second best in the league and best in the western conference. Both of their Fenwick For% and Shots For % are above 50% and are ranked 1st and 4th (respectively) in the NHL.

They have scored more goals than they have let in and they have logged the third most Scoring Chances For in the entire league.

So what gives?

Mostly, when this team hit the skids they fell off a cliff.

McDavid got hurt and sick but still managed to play. Cam Talbot’s numbers fell along with the team’s record. They weren’t getting any secondary scoring because they put all of their talent on one line. Their defense includes Kris Russell.

And that is why everyone is still a little hesitant to write this team off, regardless of the hole they have dug themselves in.

In fact, during the month of December they have gone 7-4 in their last eleven games and according to oilersnation.com they have outscored their opponents 41-33 and have scored 4 short handed goals during that time frame.

The reason for the Oilers recent success?

Some would argue that they are returning to the mean. With analytics as good as this team has, even while they were losing, it is almost impossible not to eventual start winning games. Along with their even strength possession numbers their goaltending and defense have improved. Likewise, as the Blues possession numbers have taken a dive so has their record. Do you see a pattern here?

Others would argue that spreading out the Oilers offensive talent has led to their recent improvement.

McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have all three been playing down the middle, instead of Draisaitl flanking McDavid like he did earlier in the season which has led to a more balanced attack and some much needed scoring depth.

This is important because there is a divide inside the hockey community about whether a team should group their talent together (like having Schwartz, Schenn and Tarasenko all on the same line) or should spread them out like the back to back Cup winning team Pittsburgh Penguins do it.

However, regardless of the line combinations this is still a team that has Connor McDavid on it and that is reason enough to believe that the Oilers season may not be over just yet.

Thanks for reading and Go Blues.