GDB XXI: Garon swathed in a blue jacket

The Oilers will try and salvage their five game road trip with a win tonight against their former goalie, Mathieu Garon and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Oilers enjoy playing at Nationwide Arena racking up an impressive 9-3-3-1 record since the Jackets came into the league in 2000. The Oilers have scored 56 goals in 16 games while giving up 38.

Special teams are pretty much a saw off between these two. The Oilers are 79.2% on the PK and the Jackets are 79.3%, while the Oilers’ PP is clicking at 21% and Columbus is 21.7%.

The Oilers PP percentage wise has been okay, but yesterday they couldn’t get the timely goal from the man advantage. In fact, their PP looked awful yesterday, never setting up and rarely getting a shot. It was Souray’s first game back and he looked understandable rusty. I’d guess he will look better tonight.

The second quarter of the season starts tonight, and as I stated in my report card, the Oilers need to have a better second quarter to stay in the hunt. Columbus will be one of the teams the Oilers have to beat out if they want to make the playoffs, and heading into tonight the Jackets are four points up with two games in hand. A regulation loss would put the Oilers six back and the potential for the gap to be bigger if the Jackets win one or both of the games in hand.

Sure it’s only game 21, but don’t fool yourself Oiler fan, the Oilers can’t be in ten-point hole come January and expect to make up that much ground in the three-point-game era. They need to keep treading water, stick close to the pack and hope that they can get on a run and get production from some forwards not named Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner.

Tonight Pat Quinn will go with Nikolai Khabibulin, which is a bit of a surprise considering Quinn wanted to avoid playing him in back-to-back games. I think it shows that Quinn understands the importance of this game and really wants a win. Or he doesn’t have any confidence in Deslauriers, which is a topic for another day.

The Oilers don’t want to go to a shootout, because Mathieu Garon is the best in the league in the SO, with a career record of 17-4. Garon has been playing well at 3-1 with a 2.60 GAA and a solid .923SV%.

More injuries

The Oilers might be without Sam Gagner tonight. Gagner blocked a shot in Atlanta and according to Quinn he is doubtful for tonight. If Gagner can’t go, then Quinn has to a choice to make. Would he move Gilbert Brule up and slot him in between Mike Comrie and Patrick O’Sullivan. Or will he put O’Sullivan in the middle and insert Robert Nilsson on the wing with Comrie.

Andrew Cogliano will play with Ethan Moreau and Zack Stortini on the other line it looks like.

Nilsson hasn’t been good so maybe Strudwick might move up to the wing and Dean Arsene could slot in for his first NHL game after seven and a half seasons in the AHL. The reason Quinn might go with Strudwick and Arsene and keep Nilsson out is because the Blue Jackets have lots of size dressed tonight.

Columbus’ fourth line will consist of Jared Boll, 6’3” 210 pounds, Tom Sestito, 6’5” 220 pounds and Michael Blunden, 6’4” 211 pounds. Quinn might be concerned his team could get taken advantage of tonight, so he might go with Strudwick on the wing and Arsene on the blueline.

Look for Hemsky to be productive tonight. Hemsky loves playing the Jackets. He had eight points in four game last year and has 25 points in 21 games over his career.

  • Ender

    Westcoastoil wrote:

    Nilsson is eating cap space and can't even outplay Reddox.

    Wow; I haven't heard it put quite that way before, but it's true; if a forward draws a healthy scratch tonight, it's going to be the $2M Dollar Man and leave the two Springfield guys on the ice. Tell me that isn't going to sting just a bit, Robbie.

  • Shaun Doe

    Anyway you shuffle the deck, it's not a particularly frightening forward group to play against. A quick look at injuries says Gagne and Pisani are the only forwards not playing that were expected to be a part of the line-up going into TC. What could not have been predicted at the start of the year was Penner's dominance (thank you big fella)and a good showing from Brule. Otherwise: weak on the draw, check; too small, check; lack of intensity, check, face pressed up against the cap, check.

    What does it say that our inability to pull out of our swoon is related to the absence of Stone and JFJ. Nilsson is eating cap space and can't even outplay Reddox. Meanwhile back at mission control the GM does…….nothing.

  • Librarian Mike

    Okay…

    Final Score: 4-1 Oilers. Goals by Penner, Souray, Smid, and (naturally) Nilsson with the empty netter, who slides down the ice like T. Fleury after he gets it.

    Obvious Prediction: The Real Housewives of Columbus will be sitting behind the Oilers bench hoping to get their claws into Souray.

    Not so obvious Prediction: After the game, Nilsson's punishment for being a jackass after scoring will be that he has to wear a 'kid leash' and be led to the team bus.

  • Ender

    Based on Sportsnet and Jason, I figure tonight's line-up will be:

    Penner-Horc-Hemmer

    Comrie-Brule-Sully

    Struds-Potulny-Reddox

    Moreau-Cogs-Storts

    Souray-Staios

    Arsene-Vis

    Smid-Gilbert

    Khabby

    My only comment: What a waste of Cogs. It's obvious by now that the kid can't win a face-off to save his life, so how does saddling the fastest skater on the team (did I mention he's tiny?) with the job of centring the fourth line make any sense? I get that someone's got to do it, but I just don't see how it's him. Make Potulny do it for a game or two; latrine duty should be a shared thing, you know . . .

    My forward lines would be:

    Penner-Horc-Hemmer

    Cogs-Brule-Sully

    Struds-Comrie-Reddox

    Moreau-Potulny-Storts

    And I can't believe I'm voluntarily putting my goat on the top-line. Penner continues to make me look all kinds of stupid, but I guess I'd rather have that than have him prove me right.

      • Ender

        Yeah, I gave a lot of thought to the botton two lines, but quite frankly

        Moreau-Comrie-Reddox

        Strudwick-Potulny-Stortini

        didn't inspire me with any more confidence. Rock = Hard Place.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          Yeah… seconded. Still, though – yikes.

          Looking at the timing, I won't even be able to watch this game. It starts at 6 local and I'm not off until 8:30, won't be home until after 9.

    • I'm a Scientist!

      I agree. Why doesn't Comrie do more face-off's? Hasn't he played most of his life as a center? Why not move him to the middle, and put Cogs on the LW? Then just shift the centers down? That is something i would like to see.

  • After this last weekend for Edmonton sports fans I'd be happy with any ice girl. I'm gonna try to have a drink every time Khabby goes to his water bottle. I'm sure I won't make it to the second intermission.

  • blu

    A non-PPV win would be just what the me sitting at home with a bottle of tequila ordered.

    How much longer can Nils sit around here doing not much of anything? Isn't it time we traded him, only to have him score at least 1 against us every time he plays us?

    *scratches head*

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      He could feature the blonde ice girl and her mom that were bookending Principe last night. Ha!

      New Oilers drinking game idea: take a shot every time Khabibulin does that weird shoulder twitch thing and makes that one-eye-half-open-I'm-going-to-eat-your-soul face:

      hxxp://4.bp.blogspot.com/_bZ6_dJTSS-8/Seyu1U_0pDI/AAAAAAAABXQ/k9PHUS_SlBM/s400/the+dialogue+-+khabibulin.jpg

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Oilers need a win to salvage the road trip! hopefully the PP can get going tonight as we NEED our PP goals to win games!

    GO OILERS!

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Game Day Prediction: Oilers win a doozy. 7 to 3, with so much offensive production that tomorrow will be standing room only on the bandwagon! Goals from Hemsky (x2), Horcoff, Penner, Souray, Brule and Cogliano.

    Obvious Game Day Prediction: The fact that the game is NOT on PPV and we win a blow out, will mean that fans in the capital city will rejoice, filling the streets with jubilations not seen since the Cup run!

    Not So Obvious Game Day Prediction: Ken Hitchcock will be driven bonkers by the vibrations and waddles of his extra neck as he yammers at his team to skate harder and pass the puck better. This leads to emergency surgery to remove his chin sail between the second and third period.

    Go Oilers!

  • Librarian Mike

    Sigh! The injury parade continues. Hopefully it's short term. Don't know much about this Arsene kid, but I know Bobby shats the bed too much for my liking. I'm gonna say Struds to forward and bring in the new kid for some grit, or crust or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days.