# 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

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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 ?

#102 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.

#103 Smokey
October 19 2013, 11:42AM
AnythingThatCanHappenWillHappenCuzOilers 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

#104 Serious Gord
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.

Thx for the info.

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

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

#106 Darrell
October 19 2013, 02:13PM

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

#107 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.

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

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

#109 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.

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

@Spydyr

Not a chance in h e double hockey sticks

#111 OilFaninVan
October 19 2013, 02:49PM

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

#112 Clarko
October 19 2013, 02:50PM
AnythingThatCanHappenWillHappenCuzOilers 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.

#113 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.

#114 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.

#115 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.

#116 DrunkGuyTy
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.

October 20 2013, 09:51AM
sizedoesmatter wrote:

Sorry robin taking a wide stance is exactly the same as sticking your leg out. He should be suspended.

Yes , but almost all players do it including Hall on Clutterbuck . Not often does it create injuries , however . More bruising and charley horse type stingers . It's an action easy to disguise , and thus suspension very seldom applied unless very flagrant which this was not , even if it was purposeful .

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

What is their record in afternoon games?

46-63-9-5

#119 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 19 2013, 09:03AM

@Reagan

This team needs an enema...

fixed

#120 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!

#121 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.

#122 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.

#123 NewfoundlandOil
October 19 2013, 10:13AM
Spydyr wrote:

46-63-9-5

So not much different from their night game record then.

#124 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.

#125 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

#126 bhlazo
October 19 2013, 10:50AM
Darrell wrote:

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 !

Hi, my name is Rip and I'm an Oilers addict

#127 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)

#128 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.

#129 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.

#130 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.

#131 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.

#133 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?

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

Wicked hot chick sitting right behind Eakins...

#135 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.

#136 Jimmie
October 19 2013, 12:28PM
Serious Gord wrote:

Wicked hot chick sitting right behind Eakins...

Gregor's girlfriend???

#137 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 19 2013, 12:43PM

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

#138 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.

#139 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.

#140 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.

#141 DoubleA34
October 19 2013, 01:16PM

This power play is painful to watch

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

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

#143 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.

#144 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

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

Hall's knee :(

#146 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 !

#147 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:10PM

OK show some killer instinct put the game away boys.

#148 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.

#149 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.

#150 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