# 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 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:10PM

OK show some killer instinct put the game away boys.

#102 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"™

#103 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.

#104 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?

#105 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.

#106 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.

#107 Rob...
October 19 2013, 10:15PM

@Wax Man Riley

Easy does it. There was pushback after the Perron goalie interference non-call. Smyth took exception to the treatment Perron was getting.

I'll take the win over a game where we didn't win but 'taught the other team a lesson'.

#108 Reagan
October 19 2013, 08:28AM

This team needs am enigma...

#109 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 08:37AM
michael wrote:

What is their record in afternoon games?

46-63-9-5

October 19 2013, 08:56AM

I don't know if I can bare to watch...

#111 BaldOldMan
October 19 2013, 10:16AM

When an Oil fire starts, it burns hot and last as long as there is oil being supplied. You need to cut off the source to contain it. See you later Kevin Lowe. Your oily hands have kept this fire going.

#112 Hammers
October 19 2013, 10:58AM

Problem is Eakins questioning himself on trip to Ottawa re the Swarm (per his words).Moving Perron & Yak is just Fluff . They have both played off wing there whole carrers but Eakins know's best .I always thought in any sport the best coaches looked at there team then decided style of play or system to use but many like Eakins & Torts ++ have to play My Way . I think McT looked at what he had then decided so I'm wondering if he agrees with coch Eakins .

#113 Serious gord
October 19 2013, 11:32AM
K_Mart wrote:

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.

G,P, & B so far have been good moves - not great and not pivotal.

Whitney was already out the door before MacT showed up - so hardly "great"

Hemsky should have been bought out and the funds and roster spot used to address one of the many holes this team has. And hemsky this season has gone cold and has done little to nothing to improve his trade value which is currently negative. Not doing that may be the worst thing MacT has done thusfar with the possible exception of:

Signing gagner. He is surplus goods. He is now untradeable.

Thus with hemsky and gagner now unmovable one of the young stars may be jettisoned to save management. And it will be MacT's fault.

Eakins is - so far - a bad move. The jury is out. But the bush league way that he was hired is a black mark against MacT.

#114 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 11:37AM
Smokey wrote:

I don't think we will see empty seats. The Oilers have the best fans in the league. What other small market team could live with this garbage for nearly 20 years.

Seasons tickets are almost entirely corporate-owned or written off by the small business / self-employed owners. The secondary market in these tickets has been drying up for a couple of years now. At some point giving them away could even be difficult. The northern Alberta area is one the strongest hockey markets in the world - making the reservoir for demand prodigious.

Will it decline to the point that they cannot be given away?

We shall see, but oiler management would be hard pressed to do a better job at emptying the building if they tried.

#115 Smokey
October 19 2013, 11:42AM
Momay_Phudian wrote:

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???

I should to learn read. And you should learn what its like not being an ass. My bad. Chill

#116 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 11:42AM
Johe wrote:

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

Silly me , guess I was not paying attention the last nine years.Dubnyk was drafted in 2004 and is still not very good.

#118 Smokey
October 19 2013, 12:15PM
Jason Gregor wrote:

In the article you'll see that Calgary made playoffs after being 7 points back at end of October. Very rare, but it happened once in last 7 years.

Gregor gets lucky about once every seven years also!!!

#119 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 12:52PM
The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33 wrote:

Grebby's +2 so far. Never would've guessed that.

Small sample size...

Lousy corsi.

#120 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.

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

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

#122 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?

#123 flyricky
October 19 2013, 02:48PM

@YFC Prez

Gagner for Chris Neil and Lehner?

#124 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.

#125 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 04:02PM
Mark B wrote:

Son what you want is a sheet of plywood!!

No , just some consistency.

#126 Wax Man Riley
October 19 2013, 04:21PM
Spydyr wrote:

Do you think Ottawa would make that trade?

I'm not so sure they would.

I'm not so sure either. It would be similar to MTL trading PK. That is a Norris winner.

#127 PlayDirty
October 20 2013, 09:00AM

@sizedoesmatter

Not if you maintain that stance as you approach the hit and through it. A wide stance gives you stability prevents you from being knocked on your own a\$\$.

Seriously people - this was a dose of bad luck - completely incidental. Let's not whine about it.

#128 michael
October 19 2013, 08:31AM
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.

What is their record in afternoon games?

#129 Alsker
October 19 2013, 09:19AM

I don't know if I can bare to watch...

Fear not! Simply bring enough of your favorite artificial joy and you'll be fine. Besides Oil shock all of us with boring but pleasurable 4-3 victory. Go Oil!!!

#130 oilers2k10
October 19 2013, 09:21AM

I don't know how hungry the Sens are right now, but the Oilers are hitting that point on a road trip where they've been on the road long enough that all distractions off the ice are gone and it's just about playin the game..probably been extremely hard on themselves and cannot stand the thought of another loss. I bet the Oilers are the hungrier team today, doesn't always translate to wins but I'm sure that they play a solid 60 minutes today.

#131 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 09:22AM

Today I'm going to try and watch with my layman eyes how both of these coaches make out. It seemed pretty clear that Eakins got his clock cleaned in the last couple of games. Let's see how he does against newest great coach.

As for GDP - Ottawa wins 5-2. But the gambler/statistician in me screams out take the dog

#132 OttawaOilFan
October 19 2013, 09:30AM
michael wrote:

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

I'm pretty sure it's Lehner (spelling?) in nets tonight. Def. gives us a fighting chance. Spezza known for no look drop passes to no one so we need to take advantage. Ottawa was off to a rocky start as well so they're beatable!

#133 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 09:33AM
Serious Gord wrote:

Today I'm going to try and watch with my layman eyes how both of these coaches make out. It seemed pretty clear that Eakins got his clock cleaned in the last couple of games. Let's see how he does against newest great coach.

As for GDP - Ottawa wins 5-2. But the gambler/statistician in me screams out take the dog

We are Oilers fans of course we all love the dog.

#134 Mlcselli
October 19 2013, 10:02AM

Feeling optimistic. Today the winning streak starts . When the puck drops this afternoon, the Oilers are going to come out flying and give 60 minutes of playing hockey. They will get 50 shots on net. They will have 6 different guys scoring , with Yak scoring twice and Dubby gets the goose egg. Hope come alive today. Let's go Oilers!!!!!!!!!!!!

#135 Dog Train
October 19 2013, 10:07AM

If we don't start a winning streak right now, we will be in the dust in before Hallowe'en. That would be a new low, even for us. I'm a homer so Oilers win 4-2.

October 19 2013, 10:49AM

Projectionism if 95 points required to make playoffs next year . On our current pace of 3 points in 8 games , I believe we are eliminated Jan. 14/2014 . If we lose next two games in regulation and still have only 3 points and keep that going , I believe we will be officially finished New Years Eve 2013 -this year (Happy New Year ). I wonder how far we might extend the cutoff date ?

#137 Dave
October 19 2013, 11:10AM
Momay_Phudian wrote:

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???

Why would the coach play them on their off wing in the first place ? Just a question. I do not know the answer.

#138 Jordan McNugent-Hallkins
October 19 2013, 11:15AM

@Dave

Their sticks would be facing the inside, ie up the middle. Makes it easier for one timers and to get quick shots off. Eakins figures that now they'll have their bodies between defenders and the puck, so maybe that extra distance can help them get pucks deep and to the net.

#139 Smokey
October 19 2013, 11:29AM
Serious Gord wrote:

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.

I don't think we will see empty seats. The Oilers have the best fans in the league. What other small market team could live with this garbage for nearly 20 years.

#140 Oiler Al
October 19 2013, 11:31AM

You want to have a chance at beating Anderson, and winning, will have to play bodies around the blue paint on all posessions.You wont beat him too often shooting from 20-40 feet out.Problem is that most nights Oilers don't know where the blue paint is.

#141 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 12:22PM

I don't really miss Krueger. But I do miss his power play. No where near as good this season.

#142 Pat Quinn
October 19 2013, 12:26PM
Spydyr wrote:

Too funny.Pat Quinn is that you?

Just because I live in Vancouver and hae more Chins than Vancouver phone book doesn't mean I call myself the Wonger! Ottawa has BIG FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS throughout their line up!!! How did you know???

#143 Smokey
October 19 2013, 12:34PM

Is it just me, but does Nuge look just a little like Butthead if he had braces? Nice goal there by the way.

#144 Smokey
October 19 2013, 12:52PM
The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33 wrote:

Grebby's +2 so far. Never would've guessed that.

There's time for him to throw a grenade up the middle. He usually doesn't disappoint.

#145 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 !

#146 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.

#147 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!!

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

@flyricky

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

#149 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 03:49PM
Mark B wrote:

That was a weak goal??????

Short side is the AHL side hold the damn post he is 6'6"

#150 D-man
October 19 2013, 04:09PM

@Jason Gregor

The end of October was when they acquired Kiprusoff. He probably stole half of the remaining 40+ games the Flames won that year. Maybe MacT should be looking at San Jose's third string goalie.