GDB 07: BE AWARE OF SHARKS

Last Tuesday the Oilers played the role of the seal as the San Jose Sharks devoured them 6-1. The feeding frenzy was over in 20 minutes. The Oilers were bloodied, Devan Dubnyk was given a seat at the end of the bench and most fans numbed their pain by crushing a few extra Rexall Place heroin beers.

It was the worst first period imaginable for a home-opener, and tonight the Oilers will be looking for redemption against the undefeated, 6-0, Sharks.

Despite playing back-to-back for the first time this year, I doubt fatigue plays a factor. The Oilers are young, they are riding a two-game winning streak, and last night’s game was far from high-energy. The Oilers will want to play a much better game, and with that embarrassing first period still fresh in their minds, I expect they will be ready to compete.

The Oilers need to play well to even stay in the game. The Sharks are first or second in almost every NHL category it seems:

  • They are the only remaining undefeated team.
  • Second in goals for with 4.67.
  • Second in goals against at 1.67.
  • First in PP efficiency at 35.3%.
  • 2nd in F0% at 58.2%.
  • NHL-best 5-0 when they score first.
  • Have the top-two leading scorers, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau each with 14 points.

The Oilers are 4-2, and despite struggling to score 5-on-5, and turning over too many pucks at the offensive blueline, they’ve only allowed 10 ES goals.

Edmonton has played 371:53 of hockey this year. If you exclude that awful first period v. San Jose, 5.4% of their total ice time, in the remaining 94.6% of their minutes played they have allowed only nine goals. And the team’s SV% is .948 and their goals against is 1.76.

When you add in those 20 minutes, their SV% drops to .919 and their goals against almost doubles to 2.50. It is amazing how one bad period can alter their defensive statistics, especially because they’ve only played six games.

For the majority of this season the Oilers have had great goaltending, and their defensive zone coverage has improved immensely from last season.

The key tonight is to avoid turnovers in the neutral zone or at the offensive blueline, and ensure they don’t leave Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture wide open in the scoring lanes.

LINEUP…???

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Petrell
Hartikainen-Belanger-Paajarvi

Shane Doan crushed Shawn Horcoff late in the 3rd period last night. It happened after the whistle and it was from behind. Horcoff stayed down for a minute, but then skated off with the trainer at his side. He stayed on the bench, but didn’t take another shift. He likely won’t dress, and that will be a big hole to fill.

**UDPATE***

Anton Lander has been recalled and he will dress, but to make room for him Magnus Paajarvi has been sent to OKC. Lander will likely play between Hartikainen and Hordichuk, with Belanger between Smyth and Petrell.  Petrell blocked a shot late in the game and is a game-time decision, so if he can’t go the Oilers will dress seven D-men.

Smid-Petry
N.Schultz- J.Schultz
Fistric-Whitney

Corey Potter struggled last night, and while he wasn’t the only one, he doesn’t have the luxury of the forwards, who don’t have anyone currently pushing them for icetime. When Krueger re-inserted Potter into the lineup he said, "I don’t want guys sitting out too long. Corey coming in is not a reflection of how Mark played." If that was the real reason, then I’d assume he’ll do the same with Fistric and put him in tonight.

The Sharks have the 2nd biggest forward group in the NHL, so Krueger should want a more physical D-man in as well.

Dubnyk

I’d stick with the hot goalie. Dubnyk was great again last night, and you know he’d love some redemption against the Sharks.

QUICK HITS

  •  I feel sorry for the diehard Phoenix fans, but it is obvious that team will never flourish or break even. Jamison doesn’t have any money, and he is now out as the potential new owner. The NHL should just cut their losses. They have a 10-year TV deal signed, so I don’t see how relocating would impact their TV numbers.
     
  • I’m not surprised by Dubnyk’s play. I felt he took a big step in the 2nd half of last season. The key for him now is to remain consistent. If the does, the Oilers chances of being in the playoff hunt in late March increase drastically.
     
  • My Nationdraft just went down the drain. Jason Spezza is having back surgery and will be out close to two months. Good luck to everyone else. &*(*$%!!!!
     

GAME DAY PREDICTION: After last night’s boring game v. Phoenix the Sharks and Oilers will put on a dazzling display of up-tempo hockey. It will be more enjoyable to watch, but the Oilers will lose 4-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Marleau and Thornton combine for four points, but Hall and Eberle match that with four of their own. It will be the most exciting game thus far.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the second period Sam Gagner and Scott Gomez exchange slashes in front of the net. Words are exchanged and Gomez shocks everyone by shedding his mitts for his first regular season fight since February of 2000. (Gomez fought Tom Poti in 2010 playoffs). Gagner is pumped to be fighting a guy smaller than him, and he gives Gomez the business. After the game, Gagner tweets to Ryan Whitney, "I wonder if Gomez prefers ice cream sandwiches or a right from Samwise."

If you don’t get the icecream sandwich joke check out Gagner and Whitney’s twitter timelines from last night..

  • Rocket

    Good to see some optimism tonight. I was disappointed. I think they very well could have won but if you think back to last year, they wouldn’t have been close and this game wouldn’t have gone to a shootout.

    Kudos to the Oilers. We’re way ahead of last year. things are looking up!!

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Just woke up.Fell asleep in the second. Hey a point in San Jose after the beat down they put on us is a huge win. Getting it 2-2 was an achievemnet. The fact that Kreuger reconized the moment and took a time out didn’t hurt either. got their game back on track and it paid off. Good to see Hall pot one. The top 2 lines continue to produce. The PK was good again.The PP not so much. I am pleased with the effort. Onto Colorado and a “day game”. Which usually means loss for the Oilers. they don’t play well in afternoon tilts.

  • O.C.

    Maybe it is early but the second line is -3-4-4 . Should the Oilers shake up the second line ? Of course I am not a Gagner fan but maybe move Hemsky ? Any ideas or am I out to lunch here.

  • Well, one thing for sure, when that first line figures out how to score 5×5 and RNH gets going……look out, that line dominated at times last night.

    On a different note, how about those Flames, wow! I can’t believe we lost to that team. That my friends is what he Oilers looked like just before the big thud.

  • geoilersgist

    Really like the depth this team is building…..Tonight it was Dubnyk and Hall that carried the load…In Colorado it will be some other combo…

    I know it has been a stated goal of the Oilers management to get in place a development system that creates depth both on the big club and in the farm system, using what they refer to as the Detroit Red Wings system…..

    A system that recognizes that some guys just take longer to develop than others…our farm system is deeper than it looks on D with Klefbom, Gernat, Marincin, Musil, Tuebert, Fedun, and others, all of whom may take 2 or 3 more years to be NHL ready ( and may just be solid 5-6 type of guys). And same in goal with Bunz and Roy and others. And in forwards…where guys like Pajarvi and Lander and others will be exceptional third and fourth liners in a year or two…..

    Point being that it takes organization depth to win championships and that we are no longer in panic mode and that we seem to be very committed to the “Build from Within” model…which takes time and dedication….

    Depth is looking really, really good.