# 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
#51 Alsker
October 19 2013, 09:12AM

@Spydyr

You know what a bold move would be? Fire Lowe.

Bold maybe, but one of those occasions when once it's done, everyone will say it was so obvious why wasnt it done sooner.

#52 Citizen David
October 19 2013, 09:34AM

For everyone who wants to fire Lowe: Lowe has a good deal of responsibility for the hole that the Oilers fell into. (Not all of it but a good chunk) Perhaps he should have been fired for that but he wasn't. I got news for you he isn't the GM anymore. He just hired a new one that so far has done some pretty good things. (Gordon, Ference, Nurse, going hard after several goalies but refusing to be fleeced, backing Arcobello, bringing in defensive depth, clearing some deadweight, and not just sending away Hemsky for nothing) of course not everything a GM does will be good but Mac T has done well so far. If you expected a lot more you don't get GMing.

Back to Lowe: unless this horrible start last the whole season, which I don't think it will, he's not going anywhere for at the very least 2 seasons probably more like 3-4. Because that's how long a rope MacT will get to right the ship if things stay bad.

Of course there is also the possibility that the Oilers with all their young blossoming talent become a great team. And Lowe will still be here. So stop wasting your time griping about Lowe and come back to liking the Oilers cause right now Oilers fans seem as bad as Vancouver fans.

#53 Darrell
October 19 2013, 10:12AM
MattL wrote:

Hey Gord, I feel bad for you, I think you take this hockey business more seriously than the rest of us. You know it's just meaningless entertainment, right? I mean, we all pretend it's important all the time, cuz it's fun, but it doesn't have to get you down. You CAN have fun and enjoy it if you want to. Team sucks, doesn't mean you have to be miserable and make everyone else around you miserable too.

What were you like in the 80's, mildly impressed? Reasonably satisfied?

Dude - if you think it's just a game there are plenty of teams out there you can cheer for but the Oilers are not one of them. As someone already mentioned - it's a sickness .... GO OILERS !

#54 Johe
October 19 2013, 10:58AM
Spydyr wrote:

They picked up Rollie later in the year because the goaltending sucked.Sound familiar?

We can only hope Mac-T can find another Rollie.

The Oilers found someone better than Roli. His name is Dubnyk. You'll see.

#55 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.

#56 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

#57 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!!

#58 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.

#59 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.

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

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

#61 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 .

#63 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.

#64 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 03:53PM
Mikey wrote:

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

Your right it was not a run but it was a knee on knee hit to one of the teams best players and no one backed him up.They so need some toughness in the top six.

#65 michael
October 19 2013, 08:29AM

We need something good to happen to us. My only concern is that we have to beat Death in net to get that win. Anderson is to Ottawa what Kipper was to Calgary. He is their meal ticket. Winning tonight will take an event of Biblical proportions. I just think Anderson is that good right now.

I watched Brodeur the other night and boy he looks beatable. Then I tuned in the Ottawa game and it was like "right that what it looks like when the goalie makes the saves he is supposed to".

Oilers lose 3-2 once again. PP 1-6.PK 1-5

Perron and Hemsky score

#66 rob
October 19 2013, 08:41AM

Not going to be pretty,oil lose big this afternoon,but hope its enough to make mact make a bold trade

ps can we sit kevin lowe?or trade him

#67 Alsker
October 19 2013, 08:43AM
Spydyr wrote:

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: It is an afternoon game.The Oilers record in afternoon games is atrocious.Can't see that changing today.

~Always the optimist~ granted history has taught us a matinee game is nothing more than an opportunity to hear all the cliche excuses for another loss. If these early games are truly bias to teams than why do they still exist? @JG Since when has any game not been a must win here if we havn't been eliminated from post season?

#68 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 08:59AM

They have to get from seven points behind to four in six games to even bein the one-in-ten chance category of making the playoffs. And if I understand it - no one has made it in if they wer five or more behind.

That means - as Jason points out winning four or five of the next six games (likely five as there are several teams between is and eighth)

They play OTT MON WAS TOR LA and PHX. Not a weak team in the bunch (arguably)

So we have a slim chance of having a slim chance of making the playoffs.

And if they fail to gain ground in the next six games - the season is as good as over.

What will the fan reaction be?

Apathy - already seeing that. Empty seats - paid for but empty nonetheless - seems likely.

Anger - some of that already too.

Sorrow - some if that on this site to be sure - lots of wallowing in the good old days - pathetic IMO.

Undying love and rooting for them - god knows there is plenty of that in this site - esp by some if the hosts - Lowetide being the poster child. But they have been conspicuously less vocal of late and that is a good sign.

We will know the work has truly turned when Al changes his nickname from a play on the false god that is Lowe to something that does not point the person most to blame for this dark era.

And Katz will know that he has to act when their is loud booing and chants of fire Lowe in much the same way leafs fans chanted fire Wilson. Hopefully by Xmas.

#69 Citizen David
October 19 2013, 09:05AM

3-2 Oilers: Hall, J Schultz, and Perron with the Goals.

#70 Citizen David
October 19 2013, 09:19AM

I agree if this losing continues the Playoffs won't be in the cards. But as of this moment they still can be. An interesting search would be what teams that made the playoffs in history every had an 8 game stretch with only 3 points in their season.

Slumps come and go we got one off the bat. As was pointed out in an earlier thread, the last time the Oilers made the playoffs they started the season 3-6-1. So if the Oilers won their next two games they will have the same record.

The problem with using percentages to determine playoff chances is that winning/ losing doesn't have a percentage chance of happening. Flipping a coin is 1/2 rolling a dice is 1/6. But the Oilers winning a game doesn't have a fixed chance. So there is no memory of past occurrences. If the Oilers win the next ten games all of a sudden it looks like they probably will make the playoffs.

To answer the question yes today is a must win. But I for one will never give up hope on the Oilers or start hating them. I stick with my team through it all and don't have to come running back to them pretending I never left once things start looking up.

#71 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 09:32AM
Jordan McNugent-Hallkins wrote:

I could go for a 'fire Lowe' chant. With 6 Rings in the building, it might bring him down to earth a bit.

To make Alsker and others happy here is an optimistic chant. How about a "We want seven for Lowe or he has to go" chant."

#72 27Ginge
October 19 2013, 09:39AM

Oil get out played for forty minutes and go into the third down 2-0. Yakupov scores a natural hatty to steal a victory on his own. Caps it off by celebrating in a fashion that would make Joe Thornton cringe.

#73 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 09:55AM
Citizen David wrote:

I agree if this losing continues the Playoffs won't be in the cards. But as of this moment they still can be. An interesting search would be what teams that made the playoffs in history every had an 8 game stretch with only 3 points in their season.

Slumps come and go we got one off the bat. As was pointed out in an earlier thread, the last time the Oilers made the playoffs they started the season 3-6-1. So if the Oilers won their next two games they will have the same record.

The problem with using percentages to determine playoff chances is that winning/ losing doesn't have a percentage chance of happening. Flipping a coin is 1/2 rolling a dice is 1/6. But the Oilers winning a game doesn't have a fixed chance. So there is no memory of past occurrences. If the Oilers win the next ten games all of a sudden it looks like they probably will make the playoffs.

To answer the question yes today is a must win. But I for one will never give up hope on the Oilers or start hating them. I stick with my team through it all and don't have to come running back to them pretending I never left once things start looking up.

Is this a slump or the oil just a bad team with bad management and a sub par coach? I think the evidence is pointing towards the latter.

And it isn't a case of "hating" the oil but demanding corrective action to end this chronic failure syndrome.

The answer is obvious to almost everyone - including, I think, the very top levels of management. And those top levels having been in survival mode for sometime now - keeping friends and Favour-owers close in mgmt - to hell with the consequences on-ice.

And so it will go on and on - stumbling from squandered hope and failure to squandered hope and failure - that is the syndrome that is favoritism and cronyism.

So stop dividing oil fans into lovers and haters and unite to demand that the titular owner Mr. Katz - and to be sure he is only titular - we - the fans - Edmonton hockey fans - OWN this team- remove Kevin Lowe from his position of president of hockey ops.

#74 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 10:14AM
MattL wrote:

Hey Gord, I feel bad for you, I think you take this hockey business more seriously than the rest of us. You know it's just meaningless entertainment, right? I mean, we all pretend it's important all the time, cuz it's fun, but it doesn't have to get you down. You CAN have fun and enjoy it if you want to. Team sucks, doesn't mean you have to be miserable and make everyone else around you miserable too.

What were you like in the 80's, mildly impressed? Reasonably satisfied?

In the eighties i was euphoric about the greatness of the team and the pure joy that was the type of unregulated hockey that was played league-wide.

But I also cheered knowing that oilers management were \$hit-assed lucky to aquire the team that it did. IMO Sather does not deserve to be in the HOF and the seeds of our teams failings today were sown in the easy success of that era.

As for how hard I am taking it - to me it is a mental exercise - I get to analyze a company/organization and enjoy some hockey while doing it. I don't take it seriously other than knowing that fans can effect change and I hope that in some small way I am part of that process.

#75 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 10:24AM
Citizen David wrote:

Moving Hemsky for peanuts would have been the colossal mistake. Gagner is good, and you're judging a coach after 8 games in which he got really bad goaltending?

By move hemsky I meant buy him out - tambo - another Lowe hire - made him untradeable.

Gagner - a good player of some market value - has talents that are very much I surplus on the oilers and he too should have been moved sometime ago - and it should have been one of MacT's first acts to trade him. Instead, because MacT brought him into the nhl and he feels affection for him he signs him to a long nt contract making him unmovable surplus.

And as I said re: Eakins ; "quite possibly "

#76 k
October 19 2013, 10:41AM
2004Z06 wrote:

Fire Lowe, fire Mac T, fire Eakins.....blah blah blah. Its all I ever read here nowadays.

Put your money where your mouth is, boycott a few games, don't buy the merchandise, start a petition....Do something productive with your angst of shut the hell up!

Most Oiler fans don't have the guts

#77 bhlazo
October 19 2013, 10:45AM

I'm an eternal optimist. So I'll say this, *drinks on me for all if the oilers lose 1 out of the next 6.....

*hiccups and slurs thine words

#78 Momay_Phudian
October 19 2013, 11:02AM
Smokey wrote:

The first lines a head scratcher. Having one winger outta position, but two? I understand the reasoning, maybe its this backwards thinking that will turn around Yak.

Grebby on the backend could pay dividends or blow up. Schultz Sr. been ok the past bit, and he's an assistant captain. I think he continues to draw in.

Arco has shown he's NHL quality in terms of ability. Been a bright spot, and arguably the Oilers best forward. Hope he gets the assist hatty tonight and takes over the assist lead. I'm fine with him going 0-82 this year. Other the Hertl train in SJ, and Monahan you might have to have Arco in the Calder consideration. I hope this is the year we win the Calder.

You should learn to read. Both Yak and Perron were playing on their off wings. Now they are being switched to play on their "correct" sides. For example, Yak, who is left handed, was playing on the right wing. Now he will be playing on his left wing. Comprehende???

#79 K_Mart
October 19 2013, 11:15AM

Gordon, Perron, and Belov all look like great moves by MacT.

Not bringing back Whitney was also a great move. There is still time for him to get something for Hemsky, and waiting was clearly a good move so,CE his value is definitely higher now than it was a month ago.

Signing Gags was lateral, IMO. Hiring Eakins was great, but losing 7 of the first 8 sure makes it look bad. No rash decisions need be made until AT LEAST Nov 1.

#80 Gkpoil
October 19 2013, 11:34AM
Johe wrote:

The Oilers found someone better than Roli. His name is Dubnyk. You'll see.

Nice!!

Dubnyk is Markkanen caliber

#81 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.

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

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

#83 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.

#84 Darrell
October 19 2013, 02:13PM

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

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

@Spydyr

Not a chance in h e double hockey sticks

#86 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.

#87 Wax Man Riley
October 19 2013, 04:23PM
Spydyr wrote:

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.

It didn't look like a dirty hit. I agree that there is no pushback at all..... ever.

This one I don't think was deserving though.

#88 Smokey
October 19 2013, 08:25AM

The first lines a head scratcher. Having one winger outta position, but two? I understand the reasoning, maybe its this backwards thinking that will turn around Yak.

Grebby on the backend could pay dividends or blow up. Schultz Sr. been ok the past bit, and he's an assistant captain. I think he continues to draw in.

Arco has shown he's NHL quality in terms of ability. Been a bright spot, and arguably the Oilers best forward. Hope he gets the assist hatty tonight and takes over the assist lead. I'm fine with him going 0-82 this year. Other the Hertl train in SJ, and Monahan you might have to have Arco in the Calder consideration. I hope this is the year we win the Calder.

#89 Alsker
October 19 2013, 09:42AM
rob wrote:

Not going to be pretty,oil lose big this afternoon,but hope its enough to make mact make a bold trade

ps can we sit kevin lowe?or trade him

Sit Klowe...but he sits every game, on his throne in the pressbox overseeing his vast empire and flashing the rings of power for all to see.

#90 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 10:03AM
Citizen David wrote:

For everyone who wants to fire Lowe: Lowe has a good deal of responsibility for the hole that the Oilers fell into. (Not all of it but a good chunk) Perhaps he should have been fired for that but he wasn't. I got news for you he isn't the GM anymore. He just hired a new one that so far has done some pretty good things. (Gordon, Ference, Nurse, going hard after several goalies but refusing to be fleeced, backing Arcobello, bringing in defensive depth, clearing some deadweight, and not just sending away Hemsky for nothing) of course not everything a GM does will be good but Mac T has done well so far. If you expected a lot more you don't get GMing.

Back to Lowe: unless this horrible start last the whole season, which I don't think it will, he's not going anywhere for at the very least 2 seasons probably more like 3-4. Because that's how long a rope MacT will get to right the ship if things stay bad.

Of course there is also the possibility that the Oilers with all their young blossoming talent become a great team. And Lowe will still be here. So stop wasting your time griping about Lowe and come back to liking the Oilers cause right now Oilers fans seem as bad as Vancouver fans.

MacT has also made some colossal mistakes - not getting better goaltending , not moving hemsky - signing rated than trading gagner and quite possibly hiring a rookie coach to coach a rookie team.

And MacT was hired by Lowe. The chain of causality is clear and the blame leads straight to Lowe.

Fire him. It is long overdue and now is about as good a time as any.

#91 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 10:15AM
NewfoundlandOil wrote:

So not much different from their night game record then.

"Rimshot"

That is all time though even through the glory years when their overall record was much better.

#92 k
October 19 2013, 10:31AM
Serious Gord wrote:

MacT has also made some colossal mistakes - not getting better goaltending , not moving hemsky - signing rated than trading gagner and quite possibly hiring a rookie coach to coach a rookie team.

And MacT was hired by Lowe. The chain of causality is clear and the blame leads straight to Lowe.

Fire him. It is long overdue and now is about as good a time as any.

@ S Gord

Agreed not moving Hemsky, signing Gags and hiring a rookie coach are all mistakes. I would add not buying out Smyth as another.

I was against Smyth re-signing with the Oilers for exactly the same reasons some fans are seeing on a nightly basis. Hard to fathom he was making 5M +

Gagner making 5M+ is equally unsettling, Arcobello is a better fit at 20% of Gagner's salary.

Until these three are gone don't expect anything different from the Oilers

#93 Chongler
October 19 2013, 10:50AM

The 05/06 Oilers started the season 3-6-1 Granted they had Pronger and Roli but still, it goes to show that nothing is written in stone.

#94 Spoils
October 19 2013, 11:08AM

I am feeling pretty Zen about this. The fact that MacT hasn't traded one of the young stars for Ryan Miller and a bag of pucks, or off loaded Hemsky and missed out on the upside production. The fact that Eakins isn't playing RNH 28min a game still. The fact t that Dubby is back...

So we lose another couple games before Gags comes back...

The levy is going to break.

BTW these are the end state lines

(Hall-RNH-Eberle) (Yak-Gagner-Perron) (Joenssu-Arcobello-Hemsky) (Gazdic/Smyth-Gordon-Jones)

October 19 2013, 11:13AM

Oilers Plummets : PK gone from 9th overall last year to dead last in league . PP gone from 3rd overall 2011-12 , to 8th overall 2012-13 , to 19th overall this year . You think the new GM ,coach and system has anything to do with this ?

#96 Smokey
October 19 2013, 11:56AM

Serious Gord,

I'm not arguing with you bout your comment, but if your correct, how is it that we have the 4th highest cost of season tickets. Is that because of corporate buying is making up for the dwindling regular Joes.

I am curious as to where you got your information.

#97 Wonger
October 19 2013, 12:11PM

Look Denise Garbagekov is starting! Just what the Oil need- ANIOTHER STICK CHECKING DAFODIL FAIRY!!!

#98 Soyder
October 19 2013, 12:13PM

@Wonger

Put him with J Schultz and you have 2 stick checking DAFODIL fairies back there!!

#99 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 12:18PM
Wonger wrote:

Look Denise Garbagekov is starting! Just what the Oil need- ANIOTHER STICK CHECKING DAFODIL FAIRY!!!

Too funny.Pat Quinn is that you?

#100 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 12:19PM

Wicked hot chick sitting right behind Eakins...