# GDB 9.0: IS IT TOO EARLY FOR A MUST WIN

Jason Gregor
October 19 2013 08:05AM

Is game nine of an 82-game season too early for a "must-win" scenario? Mathematically it is, but what about mentally for a team that has lost five straight and has yet to win a game in regulation?

The Oilers haven't played awful, but they also haven't played well enough to win, and you wonder about the psyche of an organization with a young team, a new coach and a new general manager if the losses continue to mount.

One theory suggests you can't make the playoffs in October, but you can miss them. Statistically the odds are against you if you are too far out of the playoff cutline at the end of October, and while many players try to focus only on the next game it is virtually impossible to be unaware of your team's place in the standings.

Elliotte Friedman pointed out that over the last seven full length NHL seasons, only three of 32 teams that were four points out of a playoff position on November 1st managed to play a postseason game. I was curious to see which teams made the comeback.

In 2011, the Boston Bruins were 4-7-0 with eight points, four back of the 8th place Lightning, but finished the season in 2nd place in the Eastern conference. The Bruins went 45-22-4 in their final 71 games.

In 2010, the Buffalo Sabres were 3-7-2 with eight points, four back of 8th place. They went 40-22-8 in their final 70 games to finish in 7th place in the east.

In 2006, the Calgary Flames were 3-7-1 and seven points back of 8th place, but they managed to finish in 8th place. The Flames went 40-22-9 in their final 71 games to make the playoffs.

History shows it will be very difficult for the Oilers to make the postseason, if they aren't close to the playoff cutline in 13 days.

The Oilers are already seven points out of 8th place with six games to play before November 1st. This afternoon's game isn't mathematically a "must-win" game, but in order to stay within four points of the playoff cutline they have to win at least four, likely five, of their next six games.

Some have stated fans need to remain calm and don't panic, however, the statistics paint a different picture. The Oilers need wins, and they need them quickly.

# LINEUP

Yakupov-RNH-Eberle
Hall-Arcobello-Perron
Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
Brown/Gazdic-Acton-Jones

Head coach Dallas Eakins switched up his top two lines, by moving Nail Yakupov and David Perron away from their off wings. Eakins moved Yakupov to the left side, because he feels Yakupov can get more pucks to net, now that the puck won't be as exposed to the middle of the ice like it was on his off wing.

It will be interesting to watch and see if that is indeed the case for both Yakupov and Perron.

As I stated yesterday, Marc Arcobello's hockey sense has really impressed me. He's 2nd in the NHL in assists with eight, and despite not having any goals so far he has put himself in great positions to score. If he keeps playing like this it will be hard for Eakins to take him out of the top-six.

Smid-Petry
Ference-J.Schultz
Belov-N.Schultz/Grebeshkov

The final two pairings are a guess. Eakins might keep Belov and J.Schultz together, or he could switch things up. Denis Grebeshkov was recalled from OKC and he could play today. The Oilers didn't have a morning skate, so we won't know who is scratched until the warm up or moments before puck drop.

Dubnyk

He played his best game of the season in New York on Thursday, and if he plays like that today he'll give the Oilers a chance to win.

# OUR CRYSTAL BALL

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have to win eventually don't they? They've won two straight in Ottawa, and they will make it three with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Arcobello's surprising start to the season continues as he picks up two more helpers and takes over the NHL lead in assists with ten.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The PK doesn't allow a goal for the first time this season, and to cap off their perfect afternoon of penalty killing Nugent-Hopkins scores a shorthanded goal, on a nifty assist from Arcobello. The shortie comes with Ryan Jones in the penalty box for instigating a fight with Joe Corvo. Neither player had any PIMs prior to the dust up.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
#101 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 01:04PM

I like that penalty by Smyth. Perron was laying on the ice with a 230 pound d man leaning into him with his stick. Glad this oilers team is finally standing up for each other.

#102 Craig1981
October 19 2013, 01:07PM

I am enjoying Im a fan that didn't turn on Dubnyk right now. He looks great, and though its too early, might be making people wanting him out of town look foolish

#103 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 01:09PM

@Craig1981

I'm relieved he's back. But he was scary bad. Hard not to understand the lets run dubnyk out if town crowd.

#104 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 01:09PM
Craig1981 wrote:

I am enjoying Im a fan that didn't turn on Dubnyk right now. He looks great, and though its too early, might be making people wanting him out of town look foolish

For me it was never about getting Dubnyk "out of town" it was about upgrading the goaltending.To a more consistent money goalie.

#105 DoubleA34
October 19 2013, 01:16PM

This power play is painful to watch

#106 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 01:16PM

Oilers are drawing a whole lot of penalties. Let's get that pp clicking now.

#107 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 01:17PM

Oilers are going to the net hard today drawing lots of penalties.Good to see, perhaps they feel this is an early must win game.The effort is there today.

#108 Craig1981
October 19 2013, 01:20PM
Spydyr wrote:

For me it was never about getting Dubnyk "out of town" it was about upgrading the goaltending.To a more consistent money goalie.

At 3.5M for Dubnyk, bringing in a different starting Goalie would of meant for sure he would of been gone

#109 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 01:24PM
Craig1981 wrote:

At 3.5M for Dubnyk, bringing in a different starting Goalie would of meant for sure he would of been gone

That 3.5 million might be why Mac-T is having such a hard time making a goalie trade no team wants a 3.5 million backup.Chances are he is gone this summer anyhow.He is UFA.

#110 Wax Man Riley
October 19 2013, 01:30PM

Hall's knee :(

#111 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 01:32PM

This is what is wrong with the Oilers the last few years.A guy takes a run at Halls knee and not one player on the ice does anything about it.Makes me want to puke, to many pussies on the team.Now it looks like Hall is out with a bad knee.

#112 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 01:42PM

Gangner is close to coming back so of course hall gets hurt. Stupid hockey gods

#113 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 01:42PM

Gangner is close to coming back so of course hall gets hurt. Stupid hockey gods

Edit. See hockey gods. You got me so upset I had to say it twice !

#114 Yep
October 19 2013, 01:47PM

It's not the hockey gods, its the fact that the oilers are a bunch of push overs...

#115 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:10PM

OK show some killer instinct put the game away boys.

#116 Gkpoil
October 19 2013, 02:13PM

what a bunch of f*cking meatheads!!! Eberle should forfeit 10k every time he's too fancy and turns the puck over on the power play!!

#117 Darrell
October 19 2013, 02:13PM

Who runs the PP in practice for Christ sakes ? I smell melt down again :(

#118 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:16PM

That was pitiful.A chance to put the game away and they can't even gain the zone 5-3.

#119 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:16PM
Darrell wrote:

Who runs the PP in practice for Christ sakes ? I smell melt down again :(

From the looks of the PP Buchberger.

#120 Jordan McNugent-Hallkins
October 19 2013, 02:24PM

Dubnyk is stealing this game for us. Who'd a thunk it?

Edit: DAMN YOU, HOCKEY GODS

#121 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:28PM
Jordan McNugent-Hallkins wrote:

Dubnyk is stealing this game for us. Who'd a thunk it?

Edit: DAMN YOU, HOCKEY GODS

And there it is "Dubnyk's weak goal of the game"™

#122 Wax Man Riley
October 19 2013, 02:28PM

Don't worry boys.... plenty of time for us to get Oiler'd(TM)

#123 Wax Man Riley
October 19 2013, 02:30PM
Spydyr wrote:

And there it is "Dubnyk's weak goal of the game"™

I think after 35 shots or how ever many Ottawa has had, that wasn't really the weak goal. More of just a goal.

#124 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:33PM
Wax Man Riley wrote:

I think after 35 shots or how ever many Ottawa has had, that wasn't really the weak goal. More of just a goal.

A weak goal is a weak goal be it on the first shot or the forty-first shot.

#125 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 02:33PM

There's always something wrong with this club. When pp is on dubnyk is off. With the way dubs has played and the pp chances this game shouldn't be close. Just get it together already.

#126 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:35PM

What would they have to leave behind to take Karlsson home with them? Would one of the kids do if so which one?

#127 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 02:38PM

Karlson is to Ottawa what Hall is to Edmonton. He isn't going home with anyone.

#128 WONGER
October 19 2013, 02:38PM

Here come the Senators!!! Size and Toughness throughout their lineup and the KASSAsINATOR to boot!!! BIG, HUGE,BAD Defense and BIG Skilled and TOUGH forwards, even a Monstrous, Tough goalie!!! Boys against MEN again and Wonger smells another loss coming!!! Oh YEAH, HALL gets gooned and injured andNO RESONSE from OIL!!! GYRBA cheap shorted Stajan in pre-season and got DROPPED by zmCGRATTAN on his next shift!!! That is the difference between the Oil and the Flames!!! Where is BIG, BAD STEVE MACINTYRE? Where is GAZDUC??? Can we trade for MCGRATTAN or BIG JOHN SCOTT!!! PLEAS!EM!!

#129 Wax Man Riley
October 19 2013, 02:38PM
Spydyr wrote:

A weak goal is a weak goal be it on the first shot or the forty-first shot.

I just don't see it as a weak goal. I think Ottawa could have had 6 breakaways and used the Mighty Ducks Triple deke to score and someone would call it a weak goal because it is Dubnyk.

He has played great this game.

#130 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:40PM

First good game Dubnyk played all year(props to him).First win in regulation.Coincidence I think not.Now if only Dubnyk can play like this every game not every sixth he might become a legit starter.

#131 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 02:40PM

Thanks for that one Dubby. Makes up for one of those games you lost. Glad to have you back!

#132 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:41PM
YFC Prez wrote:

Karlson is to Ottawa what Hall is to Edmonton. He isn't going home with anyone.

So your saying Hall for Karlson ? Would you do that?

#133 Wax Man Riley
October 19 2013, 02:41PM
WONGER wrote:

Here come the Senators!!! Size and Toughness throughout their lineup and the KASSAsINATOR to boot!!! BIG, HUGE,BAD Defense and BIG Skilled and TOUGH forwards, even a Monstrous, Tough goalie!!! Boys against MEN again and Wonger smells another loss coming!!! Oh YEAH, HALL gets gooned and injured andNO RESONSE from OIL!!! GYRBA cheap shorted Stajan in pre-season and got DROPPED by zmCGRATTAN on his next shift!!! That is the difference between the Oil and the Flames!!! Where is BIG, BAD STEVE MACINTYRE? Where is GAZDUC??? Can we trade for MCGRATTAN or BIG JOHN SCOTT!!! PLEAS!EM!!

lol

Dude... ritalin.

#134 Wax Man Riley
October 19 2013, 02:42PM
Spydyr wrote:

So your saying Hall for Karlson ? Would you do that?

I hope not.

Karlsson is really good, but he's also like 5'9"

Oilers have enough puck movers and need some shutdown.

#135 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 02:43PM

@Spydyr

Not a chance in h e double hockey sticks

#136 Momay_Phudian
October 19 2013, 02:43PM
Spydyr wrote:

From the looks of the PP Buchberger.

Whoever is running the PP need to be fired immediately!!! How the eff do you not gain the zone on a 5 on 3 let alone score? Effen idiots!!!

#137 Gkpoil
October 19 2013, 02:45PM
WONGER wrote:

Here come the Senators!!! Size and Toughness throughout their lineup and the KASSAsINATOR to boot!!! BIG, HUGE,BAD Defense and BIG Skilled and TOUGH forwards, even a Monstrous, Tough goalie!!! Boys against MEN again and Wonger smells another loss coming!!! Oh YEAH, HALL gets gooned and injured andNO RESONSE from OIL!!! GYRBA cheap shorted Stajan in pre-season and got DROPPED by zmCGRATTAN on his next shift!!! That is the difference between the Oil and the Flames!!! Where is BIG, BAD STEVE MACINTYRE? Where is GAZDUC??? Can we trade for MCGRATTAN or BIG JOHN SCOTT!!! PLEAS!EM!!

#138 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:45PM
Wax Man Riley wrote:

I hope not.

Karlsson is really good, but he's also like 5'9"

Oilers have enough puck movers and need some shutdown.

Do you think Ottawa would make that trade?

I'm not so sure they would.

October 19 2013, 02:47PM
WONGER wrote:

Here come the Senators!!! Size and Toughness throughout their lineup and the KASSAsINATOR to boot!!! BIG, HUGE,BAD Defense and BIG Skilled and TOUGH forwards, even a Monstrous, Tough goalie!!! Boys against MEN again and Wonger smells another loss coming!!! Oh YEAH, HALL gets gooned and injured andNO RESONSE from OIL!!! GYRBA cheap shorted Stajan in pre-season and got DROPPED by zmCGRATTAN on his next shift!!! That is the difference between the Oil and the Flames!!! Where is BIG, BAD STEVE MACINTYRE? Where is GAZDUC??? Can we trade for MCGRATTAN or BIG JOHN SCOTT!!! PLEAS!EM!!

I smell a narcissist.

Dude, therapy.

#140 flyricky
October 19 2013, 02:48PM

@YFC Prez

Gagner for Chris Neil and Lehner?

October 19 2013, 02:49PM

Just checked the score. What happened to Hall?!?!?!?!

#142 Mac962
October 19 2013, 02:49PM

The Gods were with us,

WTF kind of PP is that, this was a fluke is all as much as it pains me to say it.

#143 Clarko
October 19 2013, 02:50PM
Momay_Phudian wrote:

Whoever is running the PP need to be fired immediately!!! How the eff do you not gain the zone on a 5 on 3 let alone score? Effen idiots!!!

How about holding the players accountable instead of always blaming the coaches. I'm sure they didn't tell Nuge, "Here's what I want you to do on the 5-on-3. Attack two Senators players, try a spin-a-rama, and then give the puck away."

The coach can give you the greatest strategy, bu the execution has been very poor.

#144 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 02:50PM

@flyricky

Adds a lot of mean to the roster doesn't it?

#145 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:52PM

Just checked the score. What happened to Hall?!?!?!?!

Knee on knee hit when no one on the ice came to his aid he took a weak slash at the guy that hit him and got a penalty. Not one oiler on the ice happened to notice.They were to busy looking at their skates.

October 19 2013, 03:03PM

Eberle (our best player thus far) takes over the game and leads the team onto victory . Dubbie does and Dubbie Do , yahoo . Time to restart planning the parade .

#147 dougtheslug
October 19 2013, 03:13PM

Outshot, outchanced, outhit, 40 % on the faceoffs,lose Hall, can't enter the zone on a 2 minute 2 man advantage. And its a win. So much for advanced stats. But I think the parade planning might be a tad premature.

#148 Mikey
October 19 2013, 03:14PM
Spydyr wrote:

This is what is wrong with the Oilers the last few years.A guy takes a run at Halls knee and not one player on the ice does anything about it.Makes me want to puke, to many pussies on the team.Now it looks like Hall is out with a bad knee.

Don't be a homer, that was not a run at Halls knee.

#149 thepenskefile
October 19 2013, 03:22PM
Mikey wrote:

Don't be a homer, that was not a run at Halls knee.

Yeah to me it look like Hall was trying to skate through the check instead of taking the hit. Gryba was not going after his knee, just an unlucky play.

#150 Mark B
October 19 2013, 03:23PM
Spydyr wrote:

A weak goal is a weak goal be it on the first shot or the forty-first shot.

That was a weak goal??????