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, 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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#101 Dangilitis
March 18 2013, 02:35PM
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Dangilitis wrote:

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...

Woops, I meant to reply to DSF, obviously

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#102 Old Retired Guy
March 18 2013, 04:26PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

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.

I'm way more optomistic than you are on all of this. I think they have a better than 50/50 chance of drafting a player that will be in our active roster in 2014/2015.

I also think the rebuild is exactly where they have repeatedly stated it would be time wise, talent wise, and standings wise.

I'm also confident they'll add one or two much needed pieces via trade and free agency.

All this will lead to playoff hockey in Rexall in the spring of 2014.

None of this is pie in the sky. In fact to the contrary....statistically... it is probable.

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#103 Old Retired Guy
March 18 2013, 04:40PM
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I get that the only thing we probably disagree on strongly is the idea that I think the rebuild is proceeding on predictable time line....

And differences of opinion are what makes all of this interesting...

I guess I wonder what odds you would put on the Oilers to be make the playoffs in 2014 and by that I mean if your were to wager, what odds would you give for or against.

Personally, with real money, I'd take a bet at EVEN ODDS that they will make the playoffs in 2014.

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#104 Old Retired Guy
March 18 2013, 04:51PM
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Also PROPS to Jonathan on the pre-game call of a 3-2 victory for the Oil!

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#105 Old Retired Guy
March 18 2013, 04:56PM
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Even more impressive was this pre-game prediction by Johnathan Willis

"Jordan Eberle 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."

It wasn't in OT, but it was the GWG!

And it did END THE FUNK!

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