GDB 30.0: Three in four

Tonight’s game kicks off a stretch of three games in four days – the Oilers host St. Louis this evening, go to Nashville to play Monday night, and then play again on Tuesday in St. Louis. To keep up with the playoff pack, they probably need to win two of three, with tonight’s match and the Monday game representing their best chances to come away with two points.

The Standings & Action Today

Today’s games:

  • San Jose @ Minnesota
  • Vancouver @ Los Angeles
  • Columbus @ Nashville
  • Colorado @ Dallas

From an Oilers’ playoff perspective, the most important game here is the one at the top of the list: a regulation loss for San Jose to the Wild would make a lot of teams happy. If cheering for the Wild to win even one game bothers the hardcore fan, feel free to spit after that sentence, so long as you aren’t in a library or something. Meanwhile, Nashville vs. Columbus is a two-edged sword; the Blue Jackets are on the precipice of the post-season but the Predators are still in the conversation. Given how few home games the Blue Jackets have left, I’d suggest a regulation win for them is probably the best case scenario here – sure they’re ahead of Nashville right now, but it’s hard to believe the other shoe isn’t about to drop.

From both a playoff perspective and a draft position perspective, a regulation win by Colorado over Dallas is the Oilers’ preferred outcome. Speaking of the latter view – both Tampa Bay and Buffalo play today; a win for both (combined with an Oilers’ loss) would move the Oilers into the eighth overall pick range, and tied in points with the team’s slated to make picks five through seven.

The magic number for the Oilers to make the playoffs entering action today (and assuming all teams maintain their current paces) is 54 points; they likely need either 12 wins and a regulation loss or 11 wins and three regulation losses in their final 19 games for a post-season berth.

The Lineup

The Oilers’ official Twitter feed had the lines from the morning skate, which were as follow:

  • Hall – Horcoff – Hemsky
  • Paajarvi – Gagner – Eberle
  • Jones – Belanger – Yakupov
  • Brown – Smyth – Petrell

On defence, the same six – Smid, Petry, the Schultzes, Whitney and Fistric – will dress, while Nikolai Khabibulin gets the start in net.


Game day prediction: St. Louis is a very good team and jump out to a two goal lead, but the Oilers fight back in the third, force overtime and ultimately win 3-2 in the shootout.

Obvious game day prediction: Nail Yakupov, who has just one goal in his last 21 games, scores both of the Oilers’ regulation goals. Asked about the goals after the game, Yakupov shrugs and says ‘We win. We scored more goals. We win.’

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Ralph Krueger wears a bright orange blazer and borrows the green hat Don Cherry wore last week for his post-game press availability. Before anyone can ask a question, he yells ‘WHAT DID I TELL YA? DIDN’T I SAY WE COULD WIN IN THE PENALTY SHOTS? SMITTY, SHOW THEM WHAT I SAID.’ At this point a much more conservatively dressed Steve Smith, who nobody had noticed until just then, fires up a monitor and a clip from Friday’s availability of Krueger saying “We just have a lot of confidence in our penalty shooting ability” and “we believe in our ability to win in penalty shots.”

Recently around the Nation Network

  • Slapshot

    There is a losing culture that has been brought to this organization right around the same time Tambellini arrived.It is time there is a complete overhaul starting at the top and working its way down,look at what Montreal has done in this last 10 months.The Oiler’s propaganda machine is great at telling everyone we are going to have a great team at the beginning of the season, only to have us watch the team sh*t the bed year after year after year…

  • Rob...

    To me it is the level of management’s ‘don’t-give-a-sh*t-o’meter’ that concerns me most. Lowe and Tambs have known full well for a couple years what this team was lacking on and off the ice and did not do enough in the off-season to address it with good planning. Tambs has been out-managed by almost every GM in the west. What is he, the Western Conference’s 2.0 version of the town fop?

    The player’s lack of pride and caring about the outcome is just a case of the player’s collective attitudes following suit with management. I wonder if Taylor Hall and his agents have a calender marked with the exact date of his free agency? Hall certainly cares but the majority of his teammates don’t seem to. I can’t see him sticking around after that date.

    I can’t believe what some folks are willing to pay to watch the AHL in Edmonton. If you want to watch the AHL fly to OKC and watch the Barons…it would likely be cheaper!

    Katz/Lowe/Tambs have no collective inkling of how to build a successful organization and have no clue where to go from here…betcha.

    ‘Oil Change’ should be re-titled ‘Chump Change’.

    • We’ve got a bottom six that offers ZERO support to our young guys scoring-wise, maybe (maybe) 2 NHL quality D-men and Khabibulin in net.

      This going up against a fully developed and competent NHL forward lineup, more than competent D-Men throughout the rotation and Halak as a backup (!).

      And lastly, we were up against a management team that apparently values this “winning” thing above all else.

      Game, set and match.

      But by all means, let’s wash it under the bridge by talking about “the process” and “patience”.

      Fans boo at the end of games like these, but it’s these same fans that have allowed management to ice a team this poor for so long without a whiff of retribution.

      You really should ask yourselves if this would EVER be allowed to happen in a place like Montreal.

      • m3sh

        Agreed…..except that part about the Habs…..They’ve sucked for the better part of a decade…and did little to address it….

        The Habs were dynasties in the 60’s and 70’s (just like the Oilers were in the 80’s)

        Comparing the modern day Habs to the 60’s and 70’s Habs is like comparing the the “Habs” the to the “Hab Nots”….. or the “Habs” to the “Hab Beens”…..

    • Bonvie

      The problems have a lot to do with coaching, too much buddyness with these young guys and blowing smoke up their a$$es after a good game.

      Watching the Toronto and Ottawa games recently emphasized how effective teams can be with any lineup if they are willing to outwork the other team. Essentially the Oilers team reflects their coach… boring and void of passion. This is by far the worst coach in those regards that I remember in Oilers history. Slats was awesome and had the us against them mentality and always had his head up, and had his boys fired up. Muckler much less so but he was a smart man with a veteran team. Teddy Green had a few too many bumps on the head and was handed a declining roster, Lowe was the same type of personality as Sather, Ron Low the goalie even had a lot of emotion, I did not like his coaching but his boys usually played like they cared and outworked their opponent. MacT a bit less emotion but still demanded his players work and called out his players. The teams during the Low McTavish years didn’t always win but the fans were usually happy because they worked hard it was the small market work ethic that we could hang our hats on. Lastly I think of Renney he seamed frustrated but at least he held them accountable and got some mileage out of them. I was quite surprise when he got fired, because it did not appear that they were going for the playoffs that year. Than this lifeless stiff Krueger comes along that we will have to watch till the season is done… good grief. I have not been able to watch his interviews for at least a month because I can not stand the guy. I cant think of one coach around the league who is that boring and uninspiring.

      Of course there are some serious holes in the roster they have because of there also lifeless GM, who is currently assessing the roster. The GM will probably soon discover that the trade of Brodziak and Stoll for magic beans left a hole at center, and also cleverly running Souray out of town left a large gap on defense. ALthough he did change the culture I guess we now are more liberal and a less blue collared get to work type of team.

      Well all of this said the Oilers have more than enough talent to win, but they need to play like they want to win. They sure don’t have depth the way teams like LA and Chicago have depth, but they have had few key injuries and their rosters look stronger than both Ottawa and Toronto with much different results. I see only one player that the Oilers have gotten huge gains from and that is MPS. Who should be credited with MPS new drive to the net and go to the traffic area type play and general effective style of play? I chose to look at the Oklahoma Barons and will credit Rocky Thompson and head coach Todd Nelson as he played there at the end of last year and the playoffs as well as half the season this year.

      What Kevin Lowe should be doing if Katz does not fire him first, is fire Tambellini tomorrow and figure out how he can trade Smyth, Eager, Omark, Whitney, Khaby, Hemsky, possibly Jones and the seldom used Peckham to get some picks or young players (near NHL ready) to improve this team. Did we really just hire Howson after the nice job he did in Columbus. Howson looks, speaks, and acts like he works at the local Funeral Home.

      Last year Tambelini did nothing at the trade deadline not one veteran was sold off for a pick or prospect. All he did is trade Gilbert for Shultz which puzzled me, and I initially though the trade was very lopsided against us now I think it was just a useless trade between two non playoff teams. Maybe Gilbert tried to initiate contact with Souray and needed to be banished from the Island.

      • m3sh

        Nice full bodied post, thanks it was nice to have something to sink my teeth into for once.

        I dare you to find MPS and ask him EXACTLY what the factors were that helped him change his game, ask him WHERE he got the advice and WHO he decided to listen to when he decided how to approach his games evolution, I DOUBLE-DARE you to ask. Use Twitter, find his e-mail ask a friend to do you a favor but find out EXACTLY who MPS listens to for advice, and then post his answer here please, you will be surprised at the answer you get from him I think.

        It was partly Nelson and OKC but there was an overriding influence bigger than those things, ask the man.

  • Rob...

    You all are acting like they were suppose to compeat the last few years. They weren’t.hThe goal was to give the fans enough hope that filled the seats. But tank to build future assets. Next season is when they try to win.

  • outdoorzguy

    i understand it’s a rebuild, but shouldn’t we be seeing some progress in the right direction? we’re in our 4th year of the rebuild, they still can’t score consistently, they still can’t defend, they still can’t win faceoffs, they still can’t put in a 60 min effort or close out a game, every so often we see brief flashes of what they might become but they can’t sustain it. in short were is the progress?, i don’t see any being made year to year.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      this is sort of where im at too. in my mind, this year should have been a year with lots of stumbles but also lots of positives to show some steps towards actually becoming a decent team. we have seen the stumbles but the positives have been few and far between.

      the more this goes on, the more this is turning into an islanders type rebuild more than a blackhawks type rebuild.

      but hey, on the bright side, we can look forward to another steve tambellini press conference where he splashes that sh*t eating grin on his face and talks about how exciting the future is and how proud he is to have the first overall pick again.

      he can be excited to see his personalized draft lottery chair at the tsn studios once again. the oilers can hold another draft lottery party to celebrate. it is becoming a yearly tradition.

  • OilLeak

    I don’t think anyone should be surprised we lost to St Louis, the first goal was way to soft and there was no big hits or anything to try to give the team or the fans some energy.Booing was very much deserved and was I think directed at the coaching and management.

  • Lofty

    I saw this Krueger quote in the Journal this mornining:
    “Losing to the Blues is not a problem, it’s how you lose to teams. We didn’t compete with them.”

    I think loosing is a problem. Maybe management and the coaches don’t think so.

    Can we replace Tambo, Lowe and Krueger with Herm Edwards?

  • outdoorzguy

    Woke up this morning to hear a coach had been fired. Then I saw who it was. Oh well, at least one teams’ management actually is concerned for their team’s performance. Do you think Loser Lowe has to phone Katz after every game to tell him what happened? Maybe Loser Lowe lies to him and Katz really thinks things are fine in Edmonton.

  • I can’t really comment on the last part of the game last night as I turned it off, the first time I have ever voluntarily turned an Oilers game off.

    I’ve been ripped on Oilersnation and on Lowetide for comments on the Oilers all year.

    To me there not negative comments but an indictment of what this team is.

    I stand by what I say, but it doesn’t mean I like it.

    Players have to go, some because its time, other because it’s a necessity if the Oilers want to get better.

    The Oilers got leaned on last game by a playoff team, what was the end result?

    The Oilers are nowhere near competitive enough to be in the playoffs. If by miracle they were to get into the playoffs they would get beat as bad as last game.

    These players must be changed out if there is going to be an overall improvement.

    Whitney – Petry – Smid – Schultz Sr. – Petrel – Jones – Smyth – Belanger – Paajarvi – Gagner – Hemsky – Peckham – Khabibulin – Hartikainen

    This team is a borderline lottery team and management has to know this, what they are waiting for is beyond me.

    • outdoorzguy

      Your crazy if you want to give up Paajarvi, Gagner and Hartikainen. The others I get. But Paajarvi and Gagner were two of the four players last night that looked like they cared. Brown and Fistric were the other two.

      Hemsky will be gone at this deadline.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        You have to give up something, to get something in return. If Edmonton needs something, they’re going to have to overpay for it.

        Time will reveal who overpaid/underpaid for what. Management knows exactly where the deficiencies are on this team. They’re not ready to put forth their best efforts yet till they feel they’re close enough.

        I can’t help but feel the worst part is over. This is finally going to be the summer of something special for Oilersnation. One more lotto pick at their disposal to allow them the freedom to seek what they desperately need to help this hockey club longterm.

        • I agree, I also think the worst is over, I honestly think they will rid themselves of the players they feel wont cut it long term this summer.

          I think this summer is going to be a very happpy one for the Oiler fans who have stuck by them through this.

      • Crazy! Crazy!

        Crazy is having these players develop on your team while you burn through ELC contract years of your elite players!!!

        Not to mention by the time these players (Paajarvi or Hartikainen) are done developing the Oiler’s will be well into burning contract years off there elite players.

        That’s crazy!

        Trade them for established NHL players now.

        Edit: Gagner spent a lot of time on his ass last game, was -2 and had a grand total of one shot on net, how come?

        Paajarvi had more TOI then Eberle or Hall……That can’t happen….Ever! Do you want to know why Paajarvi shooting percentage is so low, because goalies will always save a shot from the perimiter.

    • m3sh

      Wes, I appreciate your passion, but maybe the reason you continuosly get “ripped” by the Nation is that your views are often overly emotional and extreme. Now, maybe your exagerating a little to make a point…ok fine. But….for example you’ve just listed 14 guys who HAVE to go…..Wes…..It’s not going to happen…so really…if you NEED these 14 guys to go in order to be satisfied, you’ll NEVER be satisified!

      Otherwise, I agree with much of what you said. The Blues played a regular season game in a style that resembled playoff style hockey…and what we saw from the Oilers is probably pretty much what we could expect from them if they made the playoffs. No doubt that the team needs substantial change over the next 18 months…..needs to get older, more experienced, deeper, stronger, bigger, tougher, meaner, and even more skilled (i.e. on D, in the net, and in the faceoff circle).

      But somehow swapping out the 14 players you mentioned above A) isn’t going to happen and B) wouldn’t solve the problem …. it would lead to the infinitbuild that Quicksilver talks about and even the collapse that DSF continuosly predicts.

      I think the best you can realistically hope for is 2 or 3 significant changes each year and maybe 7 or 8 of the guys you listed aren’t hear 2 years from now.

      Anyway……Keep on Keepin on!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    All the earmarks of a team being held back intentionally by management. Assess, re-assess and then do nothing to address the flagrant needs of this club is still the plan, Lowe’s obviously still in tanking mode. They want one more kick at the can with this next lotto pick, which may not be a bad thing. This abundance of wealth will help alleviate having to surrender one of the fab 5 for a top pairing blueliner in the next 16 months. What a luxury to have.

    The Oilers did compete quite well with the Blues last evening. A one goal game for 40+ minutes. Wasn’t close to being their worst effort this year. The Blues would’ve steamrolled over 25 other teams last night with that effort.

    The booing last night was laughable. No passion or volume to speak of. A very weak effort to send a message to management on behalf of the fans last night.

    • I never found that they did not compete last night. They were forced to play St. Louis’ tight checking game, and Hitch is a master and Kreuger got out coached. Playing against the Kings, Blues, San Jose, Anaheims who have gone to tight checking grinding type games and the Oiler’s don’t have the horses in the stable to compete.

      Khabby let in an aweful goal at a bad time and the Oiler’s were forced into St. Louis gameplan. They sat and preyed on the Oiler’s TO’s. The Oilers actually mustered up a response, but St. Louis turned their chances into one and dones. Effort wasn’t a problem. St.Louis had better gameplan, bigger team, better coaching and played hard knowing the Oiler’s would have trouble. We are just not there yet. Not even close.

  • The St Louis Blues are what we want to be. Goodness they are are a wretched team to play against. We checked and we checked and we failed to finish. End result was St Louis checked and finished and won 3-0. They are a heck of a team. They need better goal tending from Halak and Elliott but Hitch has them all in and they are playing like a “team”. We wish the Oilers played like that. We competed last night. Simple fact is that we are not good enough. we are not at that level. And with some of the dead wieght still on this roster still to be removed we will not be for a few years yet.Boo all they want. The Oilers fans should know in their hearts that we are not good enough. In their minds they should know that a team like St Louis is that much better than us. Suck it up and move on.

    We play Nashville and St.Louis back to back this week. My GDP. A loss to Nashville 3-1. A loss to St Louis. 3-2.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    If Katz ran his other businesses like he ran the Oilers, he wouldn’t own most of the new arena district, he’d be squeegeeing cars around it. But then, the 16,838 enablers every night aren’t helping things, either.

    So glad we have Horcoff’s leadership to take us to the finish line. He challenged the boys, and they’re really pulling through!

    Boy, do I miss the pre-bought-and-paid-for Bob Stauffer. Old Stauff would have been ripping off apoplectic two-hour diatribes on this clown circus every day… until they bought him off, of course. Instead, we have the Oiler Brownnose Hour with Bob, Jack, and Milhouse, guest-starring the 1985 Golden Bears and tree-planting.

  • m3sh

    @Bonvie… ” now I think it was just a useless trade between two non playoff teams”

    Umm, well Minnesota is leading or tied for our division right now, so at least one of the teams involved in the gilbert/shultz trade is in the playoffs.

    But I digress…

    In other news, the Belanger triangle has now expanded it’s reach to the entire team, now nobody can score. On home ice. In a “dogfight” for the playoffs. Now they need 11-12 wins in the final 17. Simply not going to happen.

    Most frustrating part of this year: Eberle, and the Nuge. Everyone said at the beginning of the year, for this team to make a splash, Whitney would have to be back to 110% of his original form, Hemsky needed a good year, Dubnyk needed to prove he was a starter (which honestly I think he is, put a useful defence in front of him and he looks fine) and everyone else needed to maintain last year’s pace. The vets are unable to carry the weight (though we’ve clearly improved with Horcoff’s return) cuz most of them can’t score ****-all, so if the kids aren’t rolling, we’re losing, cuz we don’t have the defense to win low scoring tight games.



    • m3sh


      As for Ebbs and Nuge, they’ll be fine. They are world class talent but there progression will not be linear…they will have thier ups and downs.

      Dubnyk may or may not be a bonafide starter, this we will not know until he has some semblence of a solid defensive TEAM in front of him. SO we bide our time.

      And, yes the playoffs for this year are a near impossiblity……so….let’s hope for a decent draft spot and some significant deadline or offseason ACTION!

      P.S. Favorite Line in this string of posts is from Cable Guy when he says “at least Tambellini cange get excited to see his personalized draft lottery chair at the tsn studios once again.”