GDB 76.0: This Should be Fun

Jonathan Willis
April 01 2014 04:18PM

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The San Jose Sharks are one of the best teams in the NHL. They’re in a desperate battle with Anaheim for the Pacific Division crown (and the right not to play Los Angeles in the first round). Big, skilled, and motivated, they have every incentive to win every point from here on out.

The Edmonton Oilers, to borrow from Lowetide, are also a team in the NHL.

Lineup!

800px-Waiting_in_line_at_a_food_store

So the top line’s pretty good, while the fourth line consists of an AHL’er, an AHL’er who is also a defenceman, and whatever body parts still function on banged-up Matt Hendricks. The other lines fall between these two extremes.

The defence is three rookies, an AHL’er, and a pair of mid-tier NHL defencemen.

The Coach

“We’ve got to be desperate, we’ve got to find a way to stay in the games,” said head coach Dallas Eakins, “and eliminate that big head-shaking mistake.” He went on, apparently seriously, to say that the team should be fine if they can do that.

A little later, he talked about having “guys playing out of position, guys that are going to end up playing more minutes than they normally would,” and cast it as an opportunity for these players to show what they can do.

This is a video we’ve seen before. The person talking was different, from Pat Quinn to Tom Renney to Ralph Krueger. Quinn would have thrown in a Barbara Ann Scott reference, Renney would have unmemorably said sensible things, and Krueger would have been unfailingly positive to the point where frustrated fans were begging for him to throw a chair or something.

All of those coaches have been tasked with trying to put the best face on an impossible situation. Now it’s Eakins' turn. The reality, as demonstrated by every other edition of the roster to play these pointless games, is that a whole bunch of these players will prove unequal to the “opportunity.”

Remember Johan Motin and Ryan O’Marra and Alex Plante and Chris Minard and Charles Linglet and Dean Arsene and Liam Reddox and Taylor Chorney and Marc Pouliot and Aaron Johnson and Ryan Potulny and Ryan Stone? Their names are all permanently in the record books as NHL players, which is a whole lot farther than most aspiring hockey players get, but none of them ultimately ended up helping Edmonton in the long-term (that list, btw, is just from the 2009-10 team).

There’s nothing to be done about it for either the coaches or the players; the situation is what it is. Some of the fill-in types playing tonight might be like Colin McDonald (114 NHL games and counting, thank you) and even those who aren’t are fighting to stay in the league just one day longer; these games matter to them but they’re playing in situations they can’t be expected to excel in. The coaching staff has to put a good face on things and talk about development and opportunity and winning jobs; they don’t have a choice either.

The simple truth is this is a hard place for any team to find itself and that the Oilers have been here far, far too often over the last few seasons. The fault for that lies to some degree on the current roster and coaches, but the majority of the culpability lies with the people who made the decisions that resulted in this roster. 

Predictions!

36-Larsen-3

Game day prediction: 5-1 San Jose.

Obvious game day prediction: Edmonton’s defence will cough up pucks and be overrun by San Jose’s big, talented forwards.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Philip Larsen scores his third goal of the season off a nice pass from Will Acton.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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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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#51 RexHolez
April 01 2014, 08:25PM
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Tonight Larsen on the wing... Next game Eager's getting called up to play defence!

It's part of the swarm... To confuse and amuse

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#52 Brian
April 01 2014, 08:47PM
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What took them so long?

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#53 Walter Sobchak
April 01 2014, 08:57PM
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Over under on SOG?

I got $15 on SJS getting 50+

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#54 TheresAlwaysNextYear
April 01 2014, 09:03PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Over under on SOG?

I got $15 on SJS getting 50+

i predict 42-24 sharks

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#55 Gk1980
April 01 2014, 10:06PM
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Wow, oilers put together a few good shifts. Nice to see.

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#56 Mason Storm
April 01 2014, 10:09PM
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Wham bam what the f*ck just happened?

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#57 dougtheslug
April 01 2014, 10:14PM
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Gk1980 wrote:

The goal tonight is to not embarrass themselves. They will lose, bit maybe just maybe they can keep the shots respectable and the goals down. Maybe.

Mission accomplished

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#58 kale
April 01 2014, 10:17PM
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Eakins should be fired just for not playing nuge, hall and eberle together earlier, especially when he makes the comment that he knows they can do damage when they play together...also, notice how ineffective Gagner is when he does not play with Hall or Eberle, I wonder how many points he would have if he did not play with them this year

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#59 Gk1980
April 01 2014, 10:47PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Mission accomplished

Agreed! Boys don't look bad tonight. Or is San Jose just playing that bad? Million dollar question.

Scrivens is in San Jose head

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#60 Gk1980
April 01 2014, 10:50PM
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I like belovs game, he is a monster out there tonight. Fraser needs to go.

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#63 admiralmark
April 01 2014, 11:15PM
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Perron cost the game with his inopportune lazy penalties. Also, i've seen enough of Gagner for a lifetime. I pray somehow he is not on the team next year.

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#64 RexHolez
April 01 2014, 11:16PM
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These guys are gonna win the cup next year!!!

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#65 Rod from Viking
April 01 2014, 11:16PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Well that was fun while it lasted.

Fought back, Nuge has a break out game and don't lose draft position. David 57 has to cut down on bad penalties.

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#66 Burnward
April 01 2014, 11:18PM
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Hey, they actually tried tonight! Moral victories.

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#67 kale
April 01 2014, 11:18PM
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RexHolez wrote:

These guys are gonna win the cup next year!!!

Lol are you the real Jay Brown (joking)

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#68 Serious Gord
April 01 2014, 11:22PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Awfully impressive game by the Oilers through 50 minutes.

They deserve an awful lot of credit for what they've done so far.

Sort of. The big three playing well. Scrivens not so much. The other lines disappeared.

I've seen it more than once - San Jose sometimes gets away from their winning gameplan - physical puck possession hockey. How many hits did we see tonight?

The sharks got Lured (no pun intended) into a bit of a run and gun game and their defense got exposed for being slow and not that good at handling the rush - especially one as potent as the big three can deliver. This has been a flaw of the sharks for years going back to when the oil beat them in the playoffs when iPhones weren't invented.

Tomorrow they play the kings and I doubt that the kings will deviate from the physical grinding play that works for them. Could be a very different story for the oil.

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#69 RexHolez
April 01 2014, 11:23PM
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Atleast tonight's game gives our media somthing to work with when they try to tell us how good they are. Haven't seen anyone so excited about a loss. Yay they played a game without getting completely blown out! Plan the parade!!!

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#70 Oiler Al
April 01 2014, 11:31PM
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At least they looked like they belong in the same league as the Sharks.

Was a great effort by the first line, and so it should be.. your best players , play the best game. Great to see Nuge out of his funk. This line should have stayed together all season long. Idiot coach.

To bad no scoring from the rest of the team,or defense, could have won this one.

Penalty kill was solid. Perron needs to grow up. Taking penalities like a peewee.

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#71 BobbyCanuck
April 02 2014, 10:02AM
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admiralmark wrote:

Perron cost the game with his inopportune lazy penalties. Also, i've seen enough of Gagner for a lifetime. I pray somehow he is not on the team next year.

And now you know why St. Louis felt that Perron was expendable. Don't get me wrong, I like what he brings to the Oilers

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