GDB 37.0: DOWN TO THE DIRTY DOZEN

The Oilers took care of business and swept the Flames, two games they had to win, and now the real games begin. Nine of the Oilers remaining 12 games are against playoff teams, and this is the scenario the Oilers desperately wanted their young team to experience.

The intensity will increase, and the youthful Oilers will need to match the consistency, smarts and veteran savvy of the Canucks, Ducks, Blackhawks, Wild and Kings.

These games matter. The players know it, management knows it and the fans know it. This should be fun.

You can sense the excitement in the city and on the Nation. Fans are jacked up. The scar tissue you’ve obtained from seven seasons of watching an over-matched, under-talented, uninspiring team is starting to breakdown. You actually look forward to the games, because you believe your team has a legitimate chance to win.

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If you are under 30 it is likely a feeling you’ve never truly experienced during the regular season. The Oilers are still a few players short of being a dominant team, but their first line is the hottest line in the NHL, and when one line is that good you have a chance to win any game.

During this five-game winning streak Taylor Hall has 14 points, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 10 and Jordan Eberle has 8. They’ve combined for 32 points, and the scary part is that they’ve missed some glorious chances. Their speed, skill and smarts are a deadly combination right now, and it will be interesting to see how Alain Vigneault, Darryl Sutter and Bruce Boudreau try to slow them down on this road trip.

LINEUP

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

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

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Dubnyk (Although Krueger hinted he hasn’t made up his mind and Khabibulin might play. I don’t see any reason not to play Dubnyk)

Magnus Paajarvi is banged up, but Krueger said this after the game last night, "It’s not a serious injury, it’s a manageable one. He’s probable for tomorrow." Hemsky has been playing with a minor knick, and I suspect Paajarvi will dress tonight. If the injury is more about pain-tolerance than impacting his play he’ll go. Players can play hurt, but it isn’t wise to play injured, especially if the injury will limit your performance.

Jerred Smithson, acquired yesterday from Florida, will be in the hospital today as his fiance is scheduled to give birth. He told me yesterday that if things go as planned, he’ll join the team in either Los Angeles or Anaheim. "Family comes first, once we get the baby figured out, I’ll join the team as quick as I can. I can’t wait to play in Edmonton," Smithson told me on my radio show yesterday.

I’d play Smithson when he gets here. He shoots right and his FO% the last four years is: 54.8% in 2013, 56.1% in 2012, 57.4% in 2011, 54.9 in 2010, 52.6% in 2009. He can win draws, and you can use him and Horcoff on different sides.

QUICK HITS

  • The Oilers nine remaining games against playoff teams are all against the top-six teams in the west. They will have to play one of them in the playoffs if they make it, so they might as well get used to it.
     
  • The Oilers are 8-2-2 since Shawn Horcoff called a player’s only meeting and returned to the lineup in Chicago. I know the 4/93/14 line is carrying this team offensively, but Horcoff’s message sunk in. The Oilers have cut down on their turnovers in the defensive and neutral zone. And they rarely turn it over at the offensive blueline anymore. Those plays were killing them early in the season.
     
  • The other big change is their willingness to drive the net. Guys without the puck are finally going to the net and creating havoc. 
     
  • The Oilers are 2nd in combined special teams at 108.3. They are 3rd in PP effeciency at 23.8% and 7th on the PK at 84.5%.
     
  • It is hard not to like Roberto Luongo these days. His twitter feed is hilarious, and yesterday, when the Canucks made the idiotic decision to make him hold a press conference to discuss why he wasn’t traded, he was very honest and classy. When asked why he wasn’t traded he replied, "Cause my contact sucks. If I could rip it up now I would."
     
  • You could tell not playing is killing him. He’s handled this situation extremely well, and when the Canucks finally trade him to the eastern conference I suspect many fans will be cheering for him. Tonight of course, you hope the Oilers light up him and Corey Schneider.
     
  • Derek Roy will help the Canucks. They desperately needed a 2nd line centre, and he will give them some much-needed secondary scoring.
     
  • I liked the Columbus decision to acquire Marian Gaborik, especially because it didn’t cost them any of their three first-round picks. Even if they don’t make the playoffs this year, the Blue Jackets added a proven sniper. Basically, the deals between the Rangers and Blue Jackets look like this…Nash, Brassard, Dorsett, Moore and a 6th for Gaborik, Dubinsky, Erixon, Anisimov and a 1st rounder. I’d still say the Blue Jackets did well.
     
  • Very interesting move by George McPhee to trade away Filip Forsberg, 11th pick in 2012, for Martin Erat. The Capitals will win the South East this year, because they are rolling and the Jets and Hurricanes are on the skids, but how will this trade look in a few years. I’ve gotten very differing views from scouts. Some really like him, while others think he’ll never produce more points than Erat. Time will tell. Caps win trade today, but Preds could benefit greatly in the future.
     
  • Don’t look now, but the Oilers playoff chances, according to sportsclubstats, are up to 42.1% after last night’s victory. Before the five-game winning streak they were at 4.1%. That is quite the jump. Detroit is at 72.7% and St. Louis 70.4%, but the Oilers have closed the gap considerably.

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL….

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Have to go with the hot team considering I’ve picked them to win the last four. I know how superstitious the Nation can be. Oilers win in OT, 4-3.

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OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Hall, RNH, Eberle line combine for six points.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:  Ryan Smyth ends his 20-game goal scoring drought with a deflection early in the 2nd period. Smyth does a triple combination fist-pump, look-to-the-heavens, glove-slide-on-the-ice celebration afterwards. His young teammates love the "celly," especially Yakupov who says to Smyth, "Prunes is going to love that and use it during Hockey Night in Canada,"

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

***This will be a DSF comment free section today. From your quiet editor/tech producer who needs a break from it all. Any comment with mention of him will be quietly deleted. Enjoy the game and one free day…***


  • Spydyr

    11 points for the kid line last night. Hall was a beast.

    GAME DAY PREDICTION :Tonight he adds to the early legend of The Hallinator. and destroys Bieksa in the corner.Leaving him a crumpled mess.At the post game interview he says i was just trying to knock the puck free.

  • vetinari

    As we’ve gone further and further on this 5 game win streak, the team looks more comfortable playing as units, rather than individuals. I do note that we average a billion “toe drag” plays a period but they do work once in a while to gain separation around a defenceman. The kids are getting strong enough to withstand initial contact by defenders and keep possession of the puck longer and the secondary lines are adding some points to take the heat off. Look forward to the game tonight.

  • Metal&Oil

    How efficient have the Oilers been:

    During Oilers 5 game win streak the teams has gone from 29th in Goals4 (74G) to 13th in Goals4(99) 25 freaking goals in 5 games & Hall was apart of 14 of em.

    When we Nuke the Nucks tonight I’ll be sold!!!

  • Concur

    People keep say that the playoffs are a long shot or that if they make that is all they want. I say the hell with that. Bring on the playoffs and if we are there I am cheering all the way. I want what was missed in ’06. Any team can win and I will be on the Oiler bandwagon all the way. The goal is to win every game and to win the Cup every year. Aiming lower is a defeatist attitude that I don’t subscribe to.

  • 27Ginge

    I hope Krueger splits up the top line. Need more balanced scoring. This idea that having one good line that scores a whole bunch goals has little to no merit. Since when does scoring goals help win games? Hockey is about systems and balance and equal ice time. Letting good players play lots and be creative is a recipe for disaster.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Yeah, I’ve been impressed. Gagner has gotten better every year and seems to have turned a corner this season.

    I think you’re right it is more fun not knowing what his ceiling is. Keeps the suspense.

    Tonight he plays against his Dad’s team. I wonder if they are throwing sh*t at each other during lunch today.

    Kid’s got some fire in the belly. I want to see more, however. But, he’s got it in him I think.

  • vetinari

    I had fun trash talking our Flaming counterparts last night, but what can we say about the Canucks for tonight?

    *ahem

    “Hey, Nuckleheads, your team is like the milk carton in my fridge… the best before date was October, 10 2009!”

    [looks around, giving thumbs up to ON]

    • Eddie Shore

      Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I for one believe that matchup would be great for us. That being said it could be just as easily Anaheim or out of the playoffs altogether. I for one like to believe, but let’s take this one game at a time. We have a whole 25% of the season left to play.

      Target: Canucks.

  • Eddie Shore

    It’s a lot of fun being this excited for Oilers games again. There is a tangible goal right in front of us and you can definitely see the intensity level rising on the ice. This will be a real test tonight. A win tonight would set us up really nicely down the stretch. I’ll say the Oilers keep it going and win 4-3 in a SO. GO OILERS GO!!

  • Eddie Shore

    You are dead on the Money, the system dictates the type of and volume of scoreing chances for and against.Every game.

    The real key to winning NHL games and championships is to have a superior SYSTEM for everyone to “buy into”, but it is ALL ABOUT THE SYSTEM.

    The way the Oilers remain unstoppable is by consistantly for 60 mins executeing a simple system presentation and by doing EXACTLY as the coaches say when they say it.

    I believe the Oilers are finally subscribing to the NewAge Hockey Systems core values accurately for the first time, they are embracing the constellation of philosophys not just bits and pieces, this evolution should be permanent. Note- Halls is managing his game much differently since the 1st line exploded, the dynamic managment has been absolutely different, thanks to the NHS.

    6-2 Oilers, in a physical grindfest, the Nucks will lose a Sedin tonight and Bieksa will be two-handed across the wrist and be gone by the 2nd period, no more BS, we will give pain to get the 2 pt gain. Not a good time to screw with us. We can add physicality to our game without losing any offense, its a bad idea to cheapshot us because once we have a 4 goal lead we will cut the dogs loose on you and begin doing surgery on your top stars with our sticks and elbows. We are getting tough. Eberle erupts for his first hattrick tonight to push Hallsy even higher than he has gone on his own

    • vetinari

      @NewAgeSys – buddy, I defended your right last night to speak as you do to some Flame trash talkers, but really, you would benefit from a personal editor and your comments should be more concise to be effective on this type of forum.

      Here’s what I took from your post #101:

      “You need to develop offensive and defensive systems that work with the players you have, and that they can execute. The Oilers did great last night because they are playing as a team and not as individuals. Now that we know positioning we can try to up the physical aspect against Vancouver. Hall and Eberle are warriors.”

      See? More concise and to the point.

      On a side note, I always envisioned your day job as being either a cult leader, an angry drifter who posts from public libraries or a coffee fuelled auctioneer… any hints?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      What “System” did the Oilers use in the 80’s?

      ….and why is a system so important?

      Is this the only card teams (that are lacking in talent) teams have to play?

      • ginganinja

        Obviously system isnt everything. If that was the case, any of us could be playing in the NHL. But I have a hard time believing that a team like the Sens under Maclean dont have a superior system. How else does that team keep winning without their top four players?

          • ginganinja

            A save percentage inflated by their system. Which is why all three goalies playing for them have such high numbers. I dont know though thats the way I see it any way. On the flip side Bischop got a shutout tonight for Tampa. And we all know system couldnt have had anything to do with that.

      • Romanus

        The Dynasty Oilers played an adjusted hybrid for the first three years and then they evolved into a more NHS style of system based 100% on Gretzkys brain. They played an aggressive stand-up defense and used an fast explosive backchecking forward style to dominate the neutral zone, you didnt dare give it up in the n-zone because everyone was a finisher and they all played defensive roles so they got more pucks than other offensive guys, people wont aknowledge the hard work double-shifting or PKing is on offensive players.

        The System is so important because it contains as a core component a philosophy that influences everything it does on and off the ice. The system catalyses the tactics and decisions of the players coaches and managers and ensures they are all working together in a paralell direction and in unity. The system is the glue that bonds and the Gates of the City to defend, the system itself can vary techniclly but dyamiclly there is a winning template that must be followed for it to produce consistant wins and championships,there is not just one system tha can potentially win, there is of course a superior system. The system is the tatoo that everyone on the team has somewhere on their bodies either hidden or visible as per personal taste or Scars on the visible areas. It is where you fall back to to regroup and reenergise so you can reengage in battle.

        Top of the scale is a superior system, bottom is a team of players who are ALL NHL average min. skillsets, now just find your spot on the scale where those two factors balance in your room and you are accurately assessing yourself for optimal potential resultswise.

          • Alsker

            “Not that New Age is it?”…hmm lets see system was: BE READY BE PROUD!(yes NAS 4 words)I think it dates back to Spartans maybe even Neanderthals, proven time and time again.

          • O.C.

            No the Dynasty Oilers were in front of me or on my television,and because I created the NHS of course Wayne Gretzky influenced me a lot and especially his PP dynamic tactics.

            You may piss off if you are inferring that the NHS isnt new or original.

            I dont want to discuss the NHS here and now, not tonight with this game on the line, We cant implement the full NHS this year anyways, its to late for that and we dont really need to at this point.

            The NHS is based off of 100% Intuative Dynamic Analysis, that happens to be how Wayne managed the game on the ice. There is no other system exclusively built and designed that way. It is an offense only system that doesnt use a conventional defense at all.

            The Oilers need to stick to what they have found to be working right now, tweak a few small plays, but stay consistant. keep hitting the same spots and adjusting bit by bit.

            Maybe we could see someone try for a deflection or two on the PP, lets get greasy already boys, we arent going to win them all nice and clean. Lets get some shots on net, two pretty trys and one big ugly one in that order.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Initially I scoffed at the Brown pickup and was pissed about the wasting of time with Eager and Hordichuk, but I’m loving Brown’s play.

    Not only can he fight, and he swings em’ quick! But, I like his speed and his positional play and how he’ll rag a guy down until he gets a puck or our zone is clear.

    It hurts me to say it..but props to you Mr.T

  • RexLibris

    NSOGDP – All the alluded-to previous commenters who have gone AWOL over the last few years make a triumphant return to the ON tonight and entertain us all with witty, insightful, and scathing remarks on our opponents, their fan base, municipality, legacy of letdown, and general proficiency towards inflammatory civil disobedience.

  • O.C.

    Did someone who is just plain annoying and not worth responding to, just get banned? I see a bunch of “replies to xxx” but no original post.

    Note: The last GDB is almost at 500 – someone push it over please.

  • ginganinja

    Guys, this is the chump change fans we are going up against…pull out your tinfoil hats!

    Apr 4, 2013 2:02 AM in response to: sportsnet_ca

    Re: Commodore takes shot at Canucks fans

    The Canucks didn’t lose because of Colin Campbell. They lost because of Jeremy Jacobs, Gary Bettman, Colin Campbell, Mike Murphy, Brian Burke, Terry Gregson, Stephen Walkom, Kelly Sutherland, and lingering support for Stephane Auger in the officiating community.

    Their sheer corruption wouldn’t have been possible without the tacit support of the CBC and its pro-Boston commentary from Milbury, Stock, Cherry, McClean and even Simpson.

    The lone voice of reason was Jim Hughson but he got drowned out by the rest of them. It was a travesty.

    LINK: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/commodore-takes-shot-at-canucks-fans/