The Edmonton Oilers have lost 17 of their last 18 games.
I am going to count again, but it sure seems like they're on a 1-12-5 streak. How does that happen? Don't ask their head coach. He was fired last week, despite the Oilers having decent possession numbers, sub-par shooting percentage numbers and OK save percentages at even-strength.
That seems to indicate a team that's having some bad luck, but it's the Oilers, and the bad luck has spanned too many seasons after too many high draft picks.
So they roll on, having scored just 31 times in those 18 games (well-under two per), and having been pummeled by Western Conference competition (in the last couple of weeks- Two losses to Anaheim, two losses to Arizona, two losses to San Jose...)
Their most recent exploit is, perhaps, emblematic of their season: They hung tough with the Sharks but just fell short in getting out-shot 30-28 in a 4-3 loss. Right there,so close, but unable to close the deal.
"We're not getting blown out and the boys are starting to come together now," Pinizzotto told media. "Everyone is playing well. Now we have to figure out a way to get on the other side of that."
The Stars will look to avoid the, err, discomfiture of being the ones who let them on that other side.
Ben Scrivens could get the start, bringing his .893 save percentage and 3.08 GAA.
As for the mood in Edmonton these days? The fans there paid for an ad in a local newspaper, opining thusly:
The 330-word-long missive declares it's time for changes to be made at the highest level of the Oilers organization, pointing out that Lowe is the only individual that has been with the team through its past nine years of heartache and "sub par performance."
"The laundry list of fired coaches, general managers, equipment managers, trainers, and players is evidence that there is only one man who remains untouchable and unaccountable in this organization - Kevin Lowe," it reads.
So you wonder how that plays around the office.
As for the Stars, three games into a winning streak there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to tinker, but the options are there.
They could play Anders Lindback, like they said they might when the road trip began- But Kari Lehtonen has stated his opinion about all of that through his play.
They could put Jordie Benn back into the defensive lineup after missing a game with illness, but Lindy Ruff said he liked Jamie Oleksiak's game Friday.
Or they could put the newly eligible Ryan Garbutt back into the forward group after the expiration of his three-game suspension. When asked if he had learned his lesson, Lindy Ruff responded, quite frankly, "I don't know."
"We just feel it's that important that he change the way he approaches some of those situations when he's on the ice," he told media . Because when he plays the way he can play, he's been a very good player for us. But we have to find a happy medium for him."
Travis Morin has played well. Curtis McKenzie was sent back down minutes after the win in Calgary. Travis Moen skated and could come back- So we'll see what Ruff opts to do, but it's safe to say Ryan Garbutt has at least a little work to do to re-gain the trust he had in spades last season.
On the blue line, Alex Goligoski continues to be a gameday player only, sometimes opting out of even morning skates. He is clearly battling something and you have to wonder how long it will be before it finally catches up with him- But he's coped well to this point.
According to Mike Heika, those participating in an optional skate Saturday were "Erik Cole, John Klingberg, Jamie Oleksiak, Ryan Garbutt, Colton Sceviour, Travis Morin, Antoine Roussel, Jordie Benn, Jyrki Jokipakka, Travis Moen, Kari Lehtonen and Anders Lindback."
Early start time at 5:00pm CST today.