GDB 28.0: Clinging to life

Jonathan Willis
March 17 2013 01:01PM

Sunday’s game finds two teams in more or less the same place. Nashville has been terrible on the road and find themselves in danger of falling out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Edmonton, meanwhile, has struggled mightily at home and is two points back of the Predators in the post-season race.

The Playoff Picture

Adjusting for games played, San Jose is on pace for the final playoff spot in the West and a team hoping to catch them will need 54 points. The chart below shows the current standings projected over 48 games and the record necessary to get to 54 points.

For any of the teams on the outside looking in, it’s going to take an impressive run to make the post-season, one that has to start almost immediately. One of Nashville or Edmonton can knock off one of those needed wins tonight.

The Lineup

Because the Oilers held an optional skate today, it isn’t clear exactly what the lines will be – and Ralph Krueger’s comments yesterday indicated that some players are gameday decisions. Based on yesterday's practice lines and Krueger’s press availability, the following are a good guess for the forwards:

  • Taylor Hall – Shawn Horcoff – Ales Hemsky
  • [Jones or Hartikainen] – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
  • Magnus Paajarvi – Sam Gagner – Nail Yakupov
  • Mike Brown – Ryan Smyth – Lennart Petrell

The defence is less clear, but Mark Fistric is expected to return to the lineup in place of Corey Potter. Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry will likely be one pairing; my guess would be that Justin and Nick Schultz are reunited on one of the other two and that Ryan Whitney and Fistric form the third.

Predictions!

Game day prediction: After getting blanked 6-0 in Nashville, the Oilers will be out for blood, but because the Predators have their backs against the wall it will be close. A 3-2 shootout victory after a blown third period lead helps the Oilers stay alive.

Obvious game day prediction: Mike Brown and Rich Clune find each other for a rematch of the fight they had in the first period the last time these two teams played. Clune manages to keep it closer than he did last time around, but Brown still finishes with the takedown.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Nashville is one of two teams that Jordan Eberle has played regularly and has a 20% or better shooting percentage against (Chicago is the other), but last time around he went pointless and minus-3 with just a single shot. He scores in regulation on one of three shots he takes, then pots the game-winning goal in the shootout, ending a recent funk in that department.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 DSF
March 17 2013, 08:15PM
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Dennis wrote:

Someone is asleep at the wheel on the Oilers site too since none of the people who were on ice for our goal got an increase in plus minus. It took a long time for the points to even show up on the boxscore.

You know you don't get a + on the PP. right?

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#52 Harlie
March 17 2013, 08:19PM
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@NewAgeSys

Take a damn seat already.

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#53 Dennis
March 17 2013, 08:22PM
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DSF wrote:

You know you don't get a + on the PP. right?

Yeah I thought of that after I'd typed it. Mah bad!

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#54 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:24PM
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Now thats what we want to see from Yakupov. Nice support to set him up by Horcs.

Someone tell Hall to take it to the middle top speed, come hard from our zone telegraphing boards and in the n-zone cut hrd laterally to suck the d-man to the middle then go back outside and take him the long way, you will get to the net you have the speed to do it, take him inside out but start with a hard lateral cut to force him to match your lane.

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#55 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:30PM
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Not so deep on the mini-dump ins you are doing it from the right spot in the n-zone but you need to drop them in the middle and softly, so they fall behind the d-men who are stepping up, we want the puck in the middle behind their d-men with one upspeed man of ours coming fast hard and late into the playaction so he can bust through the mob and pick up the puck after we dump it softly to the middle, just curl it in and leave it sitting 15 feet ir 20 ft in front of the tender he cant go for it because we will have an upspeed man streaking in and the d-men cant turn around as they have engaged already.

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#56 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:33PM
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The chips are down now Ralph, pressure them on the blueline and go for the shorty.

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#57 Alsker
March 17 2013, 08:35PM
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WOW..did you see the Nashville bench freak @ Kostityn asking for a change on the 2 on 1..lol good for Petrell

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#58 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:36PM
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Now thats what you call delivery huh? Ha ha ha ha.

Nicely played gentelmen, now pressure them more the PK isnt done yet go for two,ha ha ha.

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#59 They're $hittie
March 17 2013, 08:36PM
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paajarvi >>>>> granlund

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#60 Dennis
March 17 2013, 08:37PM
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Nice pass by Gagner there! Great shot by Petrell. Gotta love the enthusiasm in the celebration after.

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#61 The Soup Fascist
March 17 2013, 08:38PM
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Quite an effort by kostitsyn. Not sure why he was a healthy scratch last game. Oy vey!

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#62 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:40PM
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I must say that was a very fast delivery on the shorty,ha ha ha, like less than two minutes, beautiful.

It sure looks good when we pressure them up high on the blueline, ha ha ha. They are to slow to match our speed one on one.

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#63 Alsker
March 17 2013, 08:42PM
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Ebersqueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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#64 Dennis
March 17 2013, 08:44PM
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Sweet goal by Ebs! Keep it comin boys!

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#65 Oilfred
March 17 2013, 08:44PM
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Ebs has lost his shot.

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#66 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:44PM
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Lets settle down now, if things get wiggy use the TO.

Remember to pressure them high and to try to strip them when they try that shot from the middle.

We cannot let up now, even if they get a quick one we need to have our minds set to keep the pedal down right to the end.

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#67 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:44PM
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Lets settle down now, if things get wiggy use the TO.

Remember to pressure them high and to try to strip them when they try that shot from the middle.

We cannot let up now, even if they get a quick one we need to have our minds set to keep the pedal down right to the end.

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#68 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:48PM
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Get Yakupov out there remember hes in the Calder race , come on already.

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#69 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:51PM
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Big deal, the game is over we wont dwell on the goal they got with the extra man, lets relax and just absorb our reward for once, no critiques, just breath baby breath, ha ha ha.

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#70 Alsker
March 17 2013, 08:52PM
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Nice tough solid win when both teams really needed it...way to go Oil!!!

Now thats a learning experience

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#71 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 08:57PM
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Harlie wrote:

Take a damn seat already.

Harlie is that you back there in the peanut seats where you belong? Play nice or Shaddup already.

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#72 Dennis
March 17 2013, 08:57PM
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Nice win by the boys! Good to see Ebs get one, as well as Maggie, and Petrell.

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#73 NewAgeSys
March 17 2013, 09:04PM
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Well coached and well executed game by the coaches and the men, a real nice group effort.

Nice way to close out a game at this level of play.

Nice energy by Hall and Ebbs tonight and Dubby was there when we needed him to be.Gagners line just keeps getting better and better, things look good.

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#74 Dog Train
March 17 2013, 09:13PM
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Huge win. It's amazing what a little streak can do for you in the tight western conference. 7 of our last 8 points now and we are within striking distance of a playoff spot. Not to mention, we are playing the current 8th seed on Wednesday in a huge game. We need to keep this streak going but our play of late is very encouraging. We have 3 solid lines and our fourth line doesn't hurt us. Not the funnest game to watch but we've lost more than our share of snoozers over the years so it's nice to win this one. GO OILERS GO!!

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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Quite an effort by kostitsyn. Not sure why he was a healthy scratch last game. Oy vey!

Im not sure I've ever seen anything like that. If I'm a Predator, I would not want this guy on my team.

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#76 DSF
March 17 2013, 09:27PM
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@Dog Train

Playoff chances WC:

CHI – 99.99

ANA – 99.99

LAK – 91.9

STL – 89.8

VCR – 83.4

MIN – 82.5

DET – 70.0

SJS – 49.6

PLAYOFF CUTOFF

PHX – 44.5

CAL – 24.1

NSH – 18.1

DAL – 16.6

EDM – 16.5

CLB – 7.8

COL – 5.2

Clearly, the only team currently in a playoff position the Oilers have any chance of catching is the Sharks.

The Sharks need to go 11-7-3 to hit 55 points.

The Oilers need to go 12-5-3 to hit 55 points.

Problem is the Coyotes are between them.

I would think Wednesday’s game against the Sharks is about as “must win” as you can get although the Sharks will be using their game in hand tomorrow in Anaheim.

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#77 Alsker
March 17 2013, 09:37PM
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@DSF

Every game is a "must win" regardless of who we're playing...as was tonite and fortunately we prevailed. If the next 20+ games are as meaningful as tonites was I for one will be satisfied with our teams progress. Tho i'm not giving Klowe/tambo the thumbs up by any means,there is still much work on there behalf to accomplish

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#78 James
March 17 2013, 09:58PM
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I thought this tweet was interesting, since some people have been bagging on Gagner for his "horrible" defensive play. Looks like he's one of our best PK options. .

OrrHockeyGroup ‏@OrrHockeyGroup @89SGagner with a beautiful set up on Petrell's SH goal 2nite. In 28 games on the PK, Sam is +3 & has yet to be on ice 4 a PP goal against

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#79 Quintana
March 17 2013, 10:05PM
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James wrote:

I thought this tweet was interesting, since some people have been bagging on Gagner for his "horrible" defensive play. Looks like he's one of our best PK options. .

OrrHockeyGroup ‏@OrrHockeyGroup @89SGagner with a beautiful set up on Petrell's SH goal 2nite. In 28 games on the PK, Sam is +3 & has yet to be on ice 4 a PP goal against

Some people like DSF.......since last year!!!

oh another one: MPS 6 2 8 +3 Granlund 1 5 6 -3

Good Grief!!

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#80 Jsmes
March 17 2013, 10:09PM
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@Quintana

Among others, especially in the article Brownlee just wrote on Sam. Too bad they will try and argue around it but it's pretty tough to argue against not having a single goal scored on you when you're killing penalties every game, plus being in on 3 shorties.

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#81 Butters
March 17 2013, 10:33PM
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@DSF Why are Nashville's playoff odds better than the Oilers? Can't see why, am I missing something?

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#82 Dangilitis
March 17 2013, 10:40PM
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Hey DSF, I am still waiting for your response on our debate (I am being polite, it was more like a TKO from me) about your statement "Dubnyk sucks and won't accomplish anything and isn't a starter, blah, blah, blah" - He is 9th in the league in your save percentage - he now has Lundqvist in his rearview mirror. Pretty good company. Of goalies playing in 20 or more games, he is 4th (behind Crawford, Niemi, Lehtonen). Still waiting for a decent counter argument...

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#83 wiseguy
March 17 2013, 10:51PM
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James wrote:

I thought this tweet was interesting, since some people have been bagging on Gagner for his "horrible" defensive play. Looks like he's one of our best PK options. .

OrrHockeyGroup ‏@OrrHockeyGroup @89SGagner with a beautiful set up on Petrell's SH goal 2nite. In 28 games on the PK, Sam is +3 & has yet to be on ice 4 a PP goal against

Ralph must not agree with the notion of Sam's defensive shortcomings as he was on the ice for the 6 on 4 at the end of the game while Eberle, Rnh, and Yak were sitting.

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#84 Alsker
March 17 2013, 11:04PM
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Next half dozen St.Louis,SanJose,Col.,Vancvr,6 points seperate all of us, meaningful games in the 2nd half of March. Not since '06,finally we might actually hope for April snow so we can watch the playoff run instead of yardwork

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#85 yep
March 18 2013, 12:08AM
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Oil were lucky to win. Pretty hard to be happy when you get badly outshot by the worst shots-for team in the league.

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#86 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
March 18 2013, 07:26AM
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Dangilitis wrote:

Hey DSF, I am still waiting for your response on our debate (I am being polite, it was more like a TKO from me) about your statement "Dubnyk sucks and won't accomplish anything and isn't a starter, blah, blah, blah" - He is 9th in the league in your save percentage - he now has Lundqvist in his rearview mirror. Pretty good company. Of goalies playing in 20 or more games, he is 4th (behind Crawford, Niemi, Lehtonen). Still waiting for a decent counter argument...

dont hold your breath

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#87 Dave Lumley
March 18 2013, 08:34AM
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Dangilitis wrote:

Hey DSF, I am still waiting for your response on our debate (I am being polite, it was more like a TKO from me) about your statement "Dubnyk sucks and won't accomplish anything and isn't a starter, blah, blah, blah" - He is 9th in the league in your save percentage - he now has Lundqvist in his rearview mirror. Pretty good company. Of goalies playing in 20 or more games, he is 4th (behind Crawford, Niemi, Lehtonen). Still waiting for a decent counter argument...

Dubnyk plays behind a superior defence... hey wait a minute!

4 points out of third place in the west!!!! A fine place to be on a cold morning in March. As he takes another long sip of the kool-aid. Mighty fine this morning, mighty fine.

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#88 James
March 18 2013, 08:43AM
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@wiseguy

Yes he was, but he wasn't on for the goal against so that's not on him.

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#89 DSF
March 18 2013, 08:52AM
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Butters wrote:

@DSF Why are Nashville's playoff odds better than the Oilers? Can't see why, am I missing something?

Good question...looking at the standings they should be the same but SCS has Nashville with better odds.

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#90 DSF
March 18 2013, 08:56AM
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Dangilitis wrote:

Hey DSF, I am still waiting for your response on our debate (I am being polite, it was more like a TKO from me) about your statement "Dubnyk sucks and won't accomplish anything and isn't a starter, blah, blah, blah" - He is 9th in the league in your save percentage - he now has Lundqvist in his rearview mirror. Pretty good company. Of goalies playing in 20 or more games, he is 4th (behind Crawford, Niemi, Lehtonen). Still waiting for a decent counter argument...

Why would you disqualify every goalie who hasn't played 20 games?

Many teams have two good goaltenders and platoon them.

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#91 Oiler Al
March 18 2013, 09:52AM
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KIss the pipe, take the two points and move on.

This was not a stellar game by the team! After being burned 6-0 in Nashaville, you would think the team would come out with guns a blazing.

Got out shot badly, and totally lost the "keep away game". This team has no idea what kind of effort and energy, "hard on the puck" game you have to play in this league. By now you would think they got the message or were coached into knowing skill with out hardwork.. means nothing.

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#92 Wax Man Riley
March 18 2013, 09:52AM
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Butters wrote:

@DSF Why are Nashville's playoff odds better than the Oilers? Can't see why, am I missing something?

Because it is the Oilers. Have you watched Oilers hockey in the last 20 years? The 2% difference is the Oilers Handicap

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#93 Mikey
March 18 2013, 11:05AM
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DSF wrote:

Playoff chances WC:

CHI – 99.99

ANA – 99.99

LAK – 91.9

STL – 89.8

VCR – 83.4

MIN – 82.5

DET – 70.0

SJS – 49.6

PLAYOFF CUTOFF

PHX – 44.5

CAL – 24.1

NSH – 18.1

DAL – 16.6

EDM – 16.5

CLB – 7.8

COL – 5.2

Clearly, the only team currently in a playoff position the Oilers have any chance of catching is the Sharks.

The Sharks need to go 11-7-3 to hit 55 points.

The Oilers need to go 12-5-3 to hit 55 points.

Problem is the Coyotes are between them.

I would think Wednesday’s game against the Sharks is about as “must win” as you can get although the Sharks will be using their game in hand tomorrow in Anaheim.

One way around the oilers having to go 12-5-3, they just need to beat VAN and MIN, and have the same record as them at the same time.

I am surprised CAL has a batter chance than us.

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#94 geoilersgist
March 18 2013, 11:18AM
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@Mikey

Its just because they have games in hand on us

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#95 Old Retired Guy
March 18 2013, 11:20AM
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RexLibris wrote:

On a somewhat unrelated note, NHLNumbers has a great article up right now predicting that at their current pace the Oilers will likely be finishing 24th overall (drafting 7th). The current ISS rankings would put Barkov, Monahan, and Zadorov all within range of that selection.

If the team were to improve enough to climb five spots in the standings and still have a chance to draft one of those two centres (not Zadorov, please), that would be a win/win in my books.

Here's the article: http://nhlnumbers.com/2013/3/17/nhl-power-rankings-stats-blackhawks-ducks-bruins-blues-canadiens

If you find yourself in some kind of moral dilema over wanting the Oil to win but also wanting a decent draft pick, keep in mind that if we finish in the bottom 5 we get a shot at the elites, McKinnon, Seth Jones, Barkov,

5-10 we get a Monaghan or a Lindholm

10-15 we get a Wennberg, Gauthier or a Lazar

All good centers......

So lets hope we squeek into the playoffs and let the chips fall where they may!

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#96 Old Retired Guy
March 18 2013, 11:26AM
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NewAgeSys wrote:

Nail needs to be reminded to pursue the puck immediatly after the playaction moves, he is not following through and he needs to adjust right now, he is making life easy for the defense, and it looks like he is giveing up on the play, he needs to stay engaged longer and with wayyy more explosive puck pursuit after he is out of the playaction.

Hey NewAge.....Props for attempting to keep it short....This is improvement.

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#97 Old Retired Guy
March 18 2013, 11:42AM
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Dangilitis wrote:

Hey DSF, I am still waiting for your response on our debate (I am being polite, it was more like a TKO from me) about your statement "Dubnyk sucks and won't accomplish anything and isn't a starter, blah, blah, blah" - He is 9th in the league in your save percentage - he now has Lundqvist in his rearview mirror. Pretty good company. Of goalies playing in 20 or more games, he is 4th (behind Crawford, Niemi, Lehtonen). Still waiting for a decent counter argument...

NICE.....DSF seems to be dodging this one day in and day out......keep tossing it out there ....he's gonna bite sometime soon.....I can feel it!

In the mean time, it's like chinese water torture for him ......drip..........drip.......drip

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#98 Oilfred
March 18 2013, 12:22PM
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DSF wrote:

Why would you disqualify every goalie who hasn't played 20 games?

Many teams have two good goaltenders and platoon them.

Goalies who play more have more value.

You spend a lot of time on hockey blogs without much hockey knowledge.

Don't worry DSF, stick around we'll school you.

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#99 Quicksilver ballet
March 18 2013, 12:56PM
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What will the Oilers get in that projected 7-9 range at the draft, a kid whose 2-3 yrs away from helping the Oilers? The fail rate outside of that top 3-4 increases dramatically as well.

Maybe this will be the summer the Oilers actually accomplish something at the draft, or the Ifinilbuild is confirmed. Sitting on their hands again means much the same thing next yr as well.

More deadwood out, bring in a new kid who can help sooner rather than later is what's needed.

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#100 Dangilitis
March 18 2013, 02:35PM
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Oilfred wrote:

Goalies who play more have more value.

You spend a lot of time on hockey blogs without much hockey knowledge.

Don't worry DSF, stick around we'll school you.

As usual, you missed the point. Your initial argument was that he's not a good goalie and will never prove himself as a starter. He has played top minutes in the league right now (Kiprusoff-esque, really), and is in the top 1/3 in the league in save percentage, which you told me was the best measure of how a goalie is doing. I took out goalies who played less than 20 goalies to prove your point. Most teams are nearing 30 games, so if you haven't played 20 games, I wouldn't call you a legitimate #1 (of course there are exceptions, e.g. injury) - that usually implies tandems - ala Canucks (both goalies well below Dubnyk, by the way). If you want to include Jake Allen as a qualified goalie who has a better save percentage right now that Dubnyk, then fine. Dubnyk's still 9th in the league. Does that not give the Oilers a chance to win? Answer the question, and choose wisely. If you don't, then you are implying that Lundqvist, Rinne, Backstrom, Price, etc. should not be considered good #1 goalies...

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