GDB 33.0: STAYING IN THE RACE

Jason Gregor
March 28 2013 12:49PM

According to sportsclubstats.com the Oilers have an 8% chance of making the playoffs. Before the St. Louis game it was 4%, so the good news for Oilers fans is that your chances of watching a playoff game at Rexall Place has improved in the last 48 hours. However, the site gives the Blue Jackets a 10% chance, even though the Jackets suck on the road (3-9-2) and play 10 of their remaining 15 games on the road. So use the % at your own discretion.

Either way, both teams are longshots to make the playoffs, but if the Oilers want to keep their faint hopes alive they must beat the Blue Jackets; one of the four teams between them and 8th place.

If there was ever a night you'd expect the Oilers to win it would be tonight. The Oilers are 17-4-1 at home vs. Columbus. and they've won the last four by a combined 19-8. The Blue Jackets didn't have Sergei Bobrovsky in the pipes the past two seasons, and right now he's the hottest goalie in the league.

Bobrovsky os 8-1-3 in his last 12 games. During this stretch he has 4 shutouts and he's only allowed 14 goals on 350 shots for a stellar .960 SV%. He blanked the Canucks on Tuesday, but lost in the SO.

The Jackets don't have a lot of skill, but they work incredibly hard and they allow lots of shots from the outside. The Oilers aren't great at going to the net for rebounds, so they have to avoid getting sucked into Columbus' game plan of allowing shots from the outside. The Oilers need to attack the defenders and take pucks to the net.

LINEUP

Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle
Jones/Horcoff/Yakupov
Paajarvi/Gagner/Hemsky
Brown/Smyth/Petrell

Smid/Petry
N.Schultz/J.Schultz
Whitney/Potter

Khabibulin

No changes after the 3-0 shutout in St. Louis, which isn't a surprise. Ralph Krueger said the Oilers will evaluate after tonight's game if they will recall anyone, likely Anton Lander, from OKC. Smyth is more effective as a winger in my view.  

QUICK HITS

  • With Jarome Iginla landing in Pittsburgh, not Boston like it was reported last night, you wonder if the Oilers/Bruins trade talks will continue. Two sources told me that nothing was imminent, but that some minor "tire-kicking" had gone on between the Oilers and Bruins. Ryan Whitney's name was involved, and then Boston reporter Joe Haggerty tweeted that he heard a forward was also involved. He mentioned Ales Hemsky in one tweet and then Magnus Paajarvi in another. A source from Edmonton suggested there has been no talk regarding a forward.
     
  • If Hemsky or Paajarvi is involved the Oilers would have to get a roster player in return. I don't see any scenario that has either of those two moving without the Oilers getting someone with NHL experience in return. The Oilers are aware they need to change the dynamics in their top-six, but they won't rush into any deal.
     
  • Here is what the Flames received from Pittsburgh for Jarome Iginla. The Penguins 1st rounder in 2013 & two college kids, Ben Hanowski (3rd round, 2009) and Ken Agostino (5th round, 2010). Agostino has 96 points in 97 games over three years at Yale University. Hanowski has played 4 years at St. Cloud State, and in his final two years he tallied 39 goals and 72 points in 73 games.
     
  • The one thing that surprises me the most in this deal is that there were no conditional picks involved. If Iginla re-signs in Pittsburgh, maybe another pick or if the Pens win the Cup, similar to what the Oilers got in the Pronger deal.
     
  • I see many suggesting Iginla will re-sign in Calgary. I don't see that happening. He'll get a taste of playoff hockey and success, and I seriously doubt he'd want to return to Calgary as part of their rebuild.
     
  • Solid work by Ray Shero for being able to acquire Iginla and Brendan Morrow without giving up Scott Harrington or Olli Maatta. The Penguins didn't give up any of their top-five prospects in those two deals.
     
  • As you get set for a long weekend, ask yourself if you know someone like this... Hilarious. When the girl asks the guy to go outside, his reaction is the best. 

  • "This is an unbelievable four-point game. If we want to remain in the playoff hunt, we need a win," Ralph Krueger said this morning. Even when a scenario like tonight is obvious to everyone coaches rarely say it publicly. Krueger also stated the Blue Jackets have been the hardest working team in the west conference the last month and the Oilers need to match that work ethic if they hope to win. We'll see if the player's understanding of the situation is as clear as their coach.
     
  • The Penguins have $53.6 million committed to16 players for next season. Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Doug Murray will all be UFAs at the end of the season, along with Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy and Pacal Dupuis. If they re-sign Iginla for $5 million they would only have $5 million to sign 6 players. Which isn't great, but not impossible. Then they'd have to hope the Cap goes up for 2013/2014 when Malkin will get a slight raise on his $8.7 cap hit and Kris Letang will need a bump on his $3.5 cap number.
     
  • This morning in the dressing room Jim Matheson and I were discussing the cap situation of the Penguins, when two Oilers players mentioned that Iginla should sign here if Pittsburgh can't afford him. "Get it started," they said with a slight laugh, but both were serious. I doubt it would happen, but wow that would sure ignite some fire into the Battle of Alberta.
     
  • Do you want some of the stylish Nation gear? The Nation on-line store has opened and you can get one of the limited editions hoodies here. Wanye isn't very organized so he only orders a few at a time. If you want one before they sell out click here. As always portion of proceeds go to charity.

LEAP FROG...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers continue their home dominance over the Blue Jackets with a 3-1 victory and leap frog the Blue Jackets into 11th place.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ales Hemsky ends his 12-game goal scoring drought in the first period. Hemsky has 13 goals vs. the Blue Jackets (most against an opposing team) and he pots his 14th on a nice pass cross-ice feed from Sam Gagner.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Late in the 2nd period Ryan Whitney leaves the bench and heads to the dressing room. No replay can show him suffering any sort of injury, so during the intermission twitter erupts in speculation that he has been traded. Even the panel on Sportsnet suggests this is very likely. Two minutes into the 3rd period Whitney is back on the ice, and the speculation appears to be false. After the game Whitney explains that the strap on his jock broke. "I'm single it's too risky to play with no can. I have to protect my boys," he says. As I'm walking away he adds, "Make sure everyone knows I didn't veto any trades," he says with a laugh. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

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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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#101 Butters
March 28 2013, 10:23PM
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Gotta admire Columbus, that is one hardworking hockey club.

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#102 Butters
March 28 2013, 10:24PM
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Hemmmer!!!!!

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#103 NewAgeSys
March 28 2013, 10:27PM
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Nice of Hemmer to take it to the net, but that power forward move by MPS taking the middle and busting them open was beautiful to watch, that is what you are supposed to do when you dont have the puck,use your sphere of influence as a weapon. Well done.

Hemmer has divine timing as usual, he is just showing us what he can do if we can carry him to the playoffs, he reminds me of Petr Klima, so talented and so needing the moment to do his best work.

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#104 Clyde Frog
March 28 2013, 10:28PM
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Hemsky just Jeberle'd ALL over Columbus!

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#105 NewAgeSys
March 28 2013, 10:31PM
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If we get possesion we need to skate that puck down and score no long shots drive it in seriously and seal the deal,NO PASSES.

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#106 outdoorzguy
March 28 2013, 10:34PM
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Got tired of seeing that idiot in pink jump up all night on tv. And that is one ugly blond behind the Oiler bench. Can't we find someone better looking to fill out that t-shirt?

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#107 NewAgeSys
March 28 2013, 10:34PM
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That is called taking care of business Silent Sam, very nice finish no screwing around.

Well done men.

Nice adjusting bench.

Lets get ready for the next game and try to be better prepared in the 1st period maybe eh?

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#108 oldhippy
March 28 2013, 10:35PM
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Poolanov wrote:

Lame response DSF

You'll have to forgive the DSF PMS. He's in mourning. Iginla traded and the return was magic beans. He has finally showed his true coluors. Just a Cow town troll.

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#109 outdoorzguy
March 28 2013, 10:36PM
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Did Khabibulin get pulled at the beginning of the third because he may have been traded between periods? Or was it because he's asleep at the wheel for the first couple minutes of each period?

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#110 outdoorzguy
March 28 2013, 10:38PM
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Does a 13th place team really deserve a standing ovation after beating an 11th place team??

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#111 Bucknuck
March 28 2013, 10:40PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

Did Khabibulin get pulled at the beginning of the third because he may have been traded between periods? Or was it because he's asleep at the wheel for the first couple minutes of each period?

he got pulled because he's a fossil and was letting in all the shots aimed at him.

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#112 Bucknuck
March 28 2013, 10:41PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

Does a 13th place team really deserve a standing ovation after beating an 11th place team??

can you please just go away. that was a great game. piss off with all your negativity for a night please. jeez.

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#113 northof51
March 28 2013, 10:45PM
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Good win by the boys! But WTF is with the 3 stars? Must be DeBrusk's picks. Calvert, Anisimov and Atkinson shouldn't have got snubbed like that, they played an incredible game.

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#114 oldhippy
March 28 2013, 10:46PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

Does a 13th place team really deserve a standing ovation after beating an 11th place team??

Comeback win. Dubnyk held the fort, and the players played well. Yakupov played physical. Easy to fold down two goals early. For the fans it was probably a relief more than salutung an awesome display. Khabi was not on his game. Don't hang it on the rest of the players!

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#115 outdoorzguy
March 28 2013, 10:47PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

can you please just go away. that was a great game. piss off with all your negativity for a night please. jeez.

You've drank the kool-aid Timid Tambellini and Loser Lowe hand out. This was your Stanley Cup win tonight wasn't it? It was Columbus for god sake. It was a good game for 11th and 13th place teams. I think Yakupov got on the ice once in the third with about 4 minutes left but I may be wrong. Can't figure this coach out.

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#116 James
March 28 2013, 10:48PM
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@northof51

Nevermind the kid that got 4 points and wasn't a star either. Sheesh!

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#117 Rocket
March 28 2013, 10:48PM
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Wow two enjoyable games in a row!

If only the Oilers could play Columbus every night.

The Oilers are such teases. Don't they know I have emotions to overreact to?

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#118 Crusty Grit
March 28 2013, 10:51PM
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The fourth line in that game and especially Brown, had the answer for letdowns tonight. They re-established momentum and kept the team in the game.

Also, Great game yak-city!

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#119 Bucknuck
March 28 2013, 11:01PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

You've drank the kool-aid Timid Tambellini and Loser Lowe hand out. This was your Stanley Cup win tonight wasn't it? It was Columbus for god sake. It was a good game for 11th and 13th place teams. I think Yakupov got on the ice once in the third with about 4 minutes left but I may be wrong. Can't figure this coach out.

I am not drinking kool-aid. I will me AMAZED if this team makes the playoffs. However. I am a fan and I can enjoy the win without being a big bag of crap.

As far as the coach goes. He's turned a crappy PK into a top ten PK and a mediocre PP into a top ten PP and has gotten the team to playing meaningful games in April. He also pulled Khabibulin tonight. That makes him kind of awesome in my books.

Lay off Kreuger. If you need to complain, then complain about Tambellini. I can support that any day of the week. The Oil are winning in spite of him, not because of him.

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#120 outdoorzguy
March 28 2013, 11:09PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I am not drinking kool-aid. I will me AMAZED if this team makes the playoffs. However. I am a fan and I can enjoy the win without being a big bag of crap.

As far as the coach goes. He's turned a crappy PK into a top ten PK and a mediocre PP into a top ten PP and has gotten the team to playing meaningful games in April. He also pulled Khabibulin tonight. That makes him kind of awesome in my books.

Lay off Kreuger. If you need to complain, then complain about Tambellini. I can support that any day of the week. The Oil are winning in spite of him, not because of him.

Krueger at best will be an assistant coach next year in the NHL or a head coach in the KHL. He has proven all season long that he is not capable of handling NHL calibre players. Changing the lineup on a nightly basis is not effective. So he pulled Khabibulin. Big deal. That makes him a good coach? Even his post game comments recently show he doesn't understand the game.

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#121 Rama Lama
March 28 2013, 11:13PM
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Im starting to think that Magnus has finally figured out where to score from in this league,

Great to see him having success now........also ,makes me think trading this guy now would be a mistake.

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#122 David S
March 28 2013, 11:15PM
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@Bucknuck

Not to mention Krueger has explained his reasons for shortening the bench and sitting Yakupov late on several occasions in post-game scrums. All people have to do is slide over to the Oilers site and listen.

Kid is 18 and not strong in his own zone yet at a time when the other side is pouring it on. I'm not really understanding what people don't get about that.

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#123 Poolanov
March 29 2013, 12:08AM
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#124 Rod from Viking
March 29 2013, 06:53AM
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I think last nights game was what most of us real fans of the Oilers thought we would see on most nights this year, lots of excitement with our speed and skill and losing a fair number of games 6-4 as well because of our youth and not a great defense, it was good to see the no quit attitude last night and the coaching decisions made sense (eg the goal tending change in the third).It would be a miracle if this team made the playoffs but I am going to try to just enjoy the last month of this season.It will be real interesting what decisions will be made in the next week,Hemsky looked like a $5 mil player last night and I thought Smid played one of his best games of the year as well. I also hope they don't trade MPS, it looks like the coaches and management did do the right things for his development.

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#125 NewAgeSys
March 29 2013, 09:53AM
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@ Rod from Viking Great comments, I agree wholeheartedly.

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#126 Quicksilver ballet
March 29 2013, 12:05PM
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Great play by Yakupov to set up Horcoff for an empty netter. Can't help but think Krueger isn't using him as much as he should, almost as though the Oilers are unprepared to handle a kid of his caliber.

After what the Oiler faithful have been through these last 7 years it's good to beat anyone, even if it was just the lowly Bluejackets.

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#127 NewAgeSys
March 29 2013, 07:52PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Great play by Yakupov to set up Horcoff for an empty netter. Can't help but think Krueger isn't using him as much as he should, almost as though the Oilers are unprepared to handle a kid of his caliber.

After what the Oiler faithful have been through these last 7 years it's good to beat anyone, even if it was just the lowly Bluejackets.

I agree with your comments , Ralphs had his opportunity to trust Yakupov and to stick with him , but he didnt take it, he made a conscious decision to bounce Yakupov around from linemate to linemate preventing chemistry form developing, to his credit he has kept him playing but I believe he made an error and should have solidified Nails 2nd line spot with mPS and Gagner and indirectly asked Nail to shoulder more respinsibility not less.

It has been a lot longer than ten years since Oilers fans could hold their heads up higher than everyone else, we have had no reason to carry ourselves like champions for decades.

Nail looks like he is ready to be much more nvolved in the playaction and I believe we will see more of this in the games to come, but it has been our system that has held him back, his creativity has been harnessed by a complicated set of system responsibilitys tht often leave him seemingly stranded alone and pulling on an invisible chain that holds him back, this is what we should be seeing because nail is recognising the times his offensive side wants to jump in but he is holding back to support the syste, this must be hard to do for a player like him, he reminds me of Nuge that way he will do anything he is asked to do and do it as well as he can.

I do believe we need to let him freelance and learn to pursue the puck after he loses it more so he can learn NHL finer points as fast as he can he needs to learn how to make more than one NHL level player react during the playaction to really learn properly, as it is he wont be fully indoctrinated next year unless we up his minutes and ask him to follow the playaction longer and turn into a checker who looks for takebacks after plays die on his stick. Right now he is darting back to system safety immediatly as asked and its hurting his development now, he knows the gamespeeds now and he is ready to be asked to provide more goals. he has gotten better at finishing and recovering first from his checks and he has also gotten better at going into and out of hotspots to stretch defenses. Ralphs doing a good job ,a very cautious one, overly cautious maybe.

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