GDB 40.0: STAYING IN THE RACE

At the start of the season the Oilers’ goal was to be in the playoff hunt, and they are, but they need to win tonight to stay near the pack. So far, the Oilers are 0-3 in this stretch drive, and I suspect the players will be hungry to show they can win a meaningful game, not just play in them.

The first goal will be crucial tonight.

The Coyotes have been shut out in five of their last nine road games. Even Wanye doesn’t get blanked that much during his final tour of the bar at two in the morning.

Lately both the Coyotes and Oilers are getting outshot. The Oilers have been outshot 256-202 in their last eight games, but they are 5-3. The Coyotes have been outshot 285-231, but they are 4-2-2. Neither trend will last, and the Oilers must take advantage of a team that lacks any serious offensive punch.

Prior to their loss in Vancouver on Monday the Coyotes had won three straight, with three different goalies registering the win. Mike Smith blanked Colorado 4-0 on Saturday, Chad Johnson beat Detroit 4-2 last Thursday and Jason LaBarbera made 39 saves to beat the Kings 3-1 on April 2nd.

Smith will get the start tonight, but due to injuries he has yet to find the consistency he had last year when he led the Coyotes to the conference final. The Oilers need to get after Smith and the Coyotes.

LINEUP

Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle

Paajarvi/Gagner/Hemsky

Smyth/Horcoff/Yakupov

Brown/Smithson/Petrell

 

Smid/Petry

N.Schultz/J.Schultz

Whitney/Fistric

Dubnyk

Ales Hemsky’s foot is good enough to play, so he’ll draw back in and Jones will sit. Dubnyk is 5th in SV% amongst goalies with at least 20 starts and he’ll start his 32 game, good for 9th most in the NHL.

QUICK HITS

  • You wonder how much the uncertainty of their future impacts the Coyotes? Dave Tippett doesn’t have a contract extension, and even though Gary Bettman says, "There is more interest than ever in purchasing the Coyotes," I won’t believe it until a deal is done. That uncertainty has to wear a guy down eventually, no?
     
  • Dubnyk and Khabibulin each have a .923 SV%. The team SV% is .918 due to empty net goals and Yann Danis’ 110 minutes of .881SV%. The only teams with a better SV% than the Oilers are: Ottawa, .934, Boston, .926, Chicago .922 and the Rangers with .920. Those who believe goaltending is one of the Oilers’ main issues need to realize that isn’t the case. Goaltending isn’t the problem in Edmonton.
     
  • The Oilers will re-evaluate Eric Belanger tomorrow and if he is healthy enough to play then Anton Lander will be sent to OKC. I doubt Belanger draws in for Smithson, but the Oilers want to have a centre around in case of emergency.
     
  • Justin Schultz is a lock to make the all-rookie team, but he will need an excellent final 9 games to be a finalist for the Calder I suspect. In a short season, nine games is almost 19% of the season so how he finishes will play a big role in voting.
     
  • The Oilers outshot the Ducks 11-2 in the first 11:49 on Monday, but then the Ducks had 17 consecutive shots. The Oilers next shot didn’t come until 4:55 into the 2nd. They went 13+ minutes without a shot, and gave up 17. The Ducks did have two powerplays during that time, but the Oilers can’t afford unproductive stretches like that if they plan on beating top teams.

DO YOU HAVE THE CHOPS?

Are you good at karaoke? We will find out who is the best on May 17th. Submit a short video of you skills and the top-12 will perform May 17th at On The Rocks. Send video to gregor@theteam1260.com. The top-12 will compete with a few special "celebrity" guests. It will a be a great night, and the winner will also perform on stage with the band after being crowned King or Queen of Karaoke. No ballads allowed. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow for this  charity event.

TONIGHT….

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Both teams are desperate for a win, and instead of playing it safe they play run and gun to the delight of the crowd. Oilers win 5-4.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: With last change Krueger will get even better matchups for the 4/93/14 combo and they will combine for three goals. Hall picks up three points to move into a tie for 6th place in NHL scoring.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After nailing two NSOGDP (Flames quote and Nick Schultz goal) on the four game road trip, it will be difficult to accurately predict the unexpected…However….

After watching N. Schultz light up the Ducks on Monday Ryan Smyth is inspired. Smyth hasn’t scored in 23 games, the 2nd longest goal-scoring drought in his career — he went 25-games between Oct 20th-Dec 15th, 1998–, but he ends that tonight. Smyth has more points vs. Phoenix than any other franchise, 59, and he picks up his 60th point and 26th goal vs. Phoenix. It will be a patented wrap around.  

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • DSF

    Just wanted to point out that there is a discussion over at Lowetide about raising funds to take out a full page ad in an Edmonton newspaper which would be an open letter to Katz about changing management of the team.

    • BigE91

      Why not just flush your money down the toilet? Which is not so different from buying Oilers tickets……

      Katz has his toy, he’s got all his little buddies to play with it. They sit at the house, talk about the good old days and don’t have a worry in the world. Why mess with a good thing? There is no such thing as accountability to the fans unless we are willing to stop buying tickets. It would be a simple waste of money.

      At one point I thought that Daryl Katz onwership would be a good thing for Edmonton. The longer this goes on the more I question that thought.

      With the downtown arena ticket prices are GOING to rise. Parking will be atrocious and expensive. $8 heroin beers at Rexall will be a fond memory. Maybe the team will provide an exciting season once they make the move but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      The Katz blueprint is less of a plan and more akin to Jay Feaster’s comment of wandering in the desert for X number of years.

      It’s sad really. To have seen an organization crumble the way this one has. Especially with the potential of the kids, they will be here just long enough to watch Tambellini start another rebuild after 1 miraculous run to the playoffs and a 1st round exit.

      ~I’ll be at the High Level Bridge if anyone needs me~

  • DSF

    ON THE BRIGHTSIDE : Going into next season we hopefully should see a marked improvement in stats and game play from Hopkins , Eberle , Hall , Yakupov , J.Schultz and Paajarvi . I’m not so hopefull on the others improving however and being or remaining subpar in comparison to other clubs . Not sold any on farm will do much better either .

    Our new division next year will be even tougher next season than this in more ways than one . When are we going to develop a veteran core capable of above par hockey to compliment emerging talent ? Time to focus on new veteran core moreso than draft picks to develop this next season – that should be our priority . I think we already know we over value most of our veteran and AHL talent , making it difficult and nearly impossible to make needed trades .

  • geoilersgist

    I would love to hear the fans calling for Tambi to be fired at the game. Look what happened in Taranna when fans started calling for Wilsons head.

    Dare to dream something changes with management this golf season I mean offseason.

    I also want to add, this team needs more piss and vinegar like what Hall and Yakupov have. Hall is champ and I want him to call out management for not helping this team. Again dare to dream.

    • DSF

      Shades of Souray and Moreau that all seem to loathe and blame on player ? It has not worked in past and is unlikely to work in another futile attempt . Might end up getting him traded away or worse like they did to Souray .

  • DSF

    Good Quote by Blackdog

    “We’ve known for years that this club’s management is garbage. Lowe is our Pulford and like Chicago our club is going to be garbage as long as he’s around. It took Bill Wirtz DYING to resolve that issue in Chicago. We’re doomed.

    Because here we are, seven years out of the playoffs, with three #1 overall picks plus three more top tens in Smid, Gagner and Paajarvi plus Eberle, Dubnyk, Justin Schultz, Petry and Hemsky and still management has shown that they have no idea how to build a team.

    Not a single clue.”

  • BigE91

    Everyone should take a pill. For God’s sakes we are in the 3rd year of the rebuilt. Taylor Halls third year, which followed our first overall pick, which was the year tambo started to clean house. To argue any different would be to say that the Flames rebuild started in 2009, the year they missed the playoffs and started cleaning house with the Phaneuf trade.

    THE BIG DILEMA.
    Edmonton is the most northerly city in the NHL and certainly not a destination. We have seen that players we trade for want to get moved; Pronger, Vishnovski, Gilbert(?). We have to overpay for free agents ; Souray, Belanger, Eager, and many of whom don’t want to be here at all Heatley, Hossa, Nelander etc… and probably many whom we never hear about.

    As tambo said, in Edmonton we have to build with the draft and then develop, create competition below to push the guys above. That is our choice. As we get close to winning only then can we add some players. IT SUCKS, but that is our reality.

    Any major moves come at a heavy price to our cap which will seriously affect the ablility to keep a descent team together.

    Like Tambo or hate him, he at least has not sold out the rebuild for a cheap fix and has stuck to his guns. I don’t know if I like him or not but I agree that, for Edmonton, this is the way we need to build the team. Regretfully IT SUCKS, but it is the way it is.

    Hoping for a top ten pick this year, the lower the better. Did I mention that IT SUCKS.

    • GVBlackhawk

      This is year 3 of the rebuild, eh? So 09-10, when the team finished 30th doesn’t count as a rebuild year? This is year 4 of rebuild 2.0. The previous rebuild involved rushing rookies like Gagner, Cogliano, and Nilsson and attempting to sign or overpaying for veterans like Khabibulin, Horcoff, Nylander, etc.

      Time to take off the blinders.

      • BigE91

        Like I said, saying the Oilers rebuild started with signing Horcoff, Khabibulin and drafting Gagner is like saying the Flames rebuid starteed with missing the playoffs and trading Phaneuf. Rediculous.

        The Flames did not learn anything from what happened up here. How much they sucked was covered up by Kiprusoff play. The first year of thier rebuild will be next season.

        For Edmonton a traditional rebuild is the only way to go. What do you want to do? Fire everyone and start again and relearn the lesson YOU should have already learned. We can not buy or trade our way to a winner, not in Edmonton at least.

          • outdoorzguy

            You can trade, but we have a history of making trades and having players like vishnovsky, pronger, peca who, quickly come to mind, wanting out.

            Further, I don’t doubt that we tried to trade Hemsky but have not been able to get value. But the big thing is the things that we have to give up are assests we don’t want to give up. In this rebuild and the time preceeding it when we were tweaking to get us back to into another cup run, cupboards were bare. Trading poor value gets you the same back.

            We have traded, Smyth (in and out), Penner, Lupul and all those players who did not want to be here. Right or wrong Tambo has made note of keeping and signing (often for too much money) those who want to be here.

            I am not saying that Tambo is the answer just that Edmonton can not rebuild like New York or Los Angeles can, though LA did draft, develop and hang on to players till they were close. We are not close yet.

          • DSF

            Lombardi in LA started trading players – O’Sullivan, Visnovsky, Frolov, Cammalleri, Blake, Nagy, Handzus etc. as soon as he started his rebuild.

            He turned his underperforming veterans into more draft picks and didn’t start adding the final pieces until last season when he went all in.

            Now, tell me again why Horcoff, Hemsky, Whiteny, Jones, Gagne, Belanger, Eager and Hordicuk are still part of the team?

          • Hair bag

            Hey DAF,

            Horcoff – nobody is going to trade for this contract
            Hemsky – probably should have been traded, but you can’t give him away for nothing, which is probably what was being offered
            Jones – has been a valuable third/fourth liner the past couple years, unfortunately his eye injury likely diminished any value he might have gotten you lthis season
            Whitney – probably should have been traded at the deadline but I doubt anyone was offering much, a 3rd rounder maybe – untradeable in the past few years because of injuries
            Gagner – is the only player on your list that would have garnered any value – but he was also 1 of only 2 NHL C that the Oilers had consistently this season, he’s the second leading scorer and would require someone of equal value in return – he was likely the only trade option with legitimate value but I have no problem with them keeping him as well
            Eager/Horticuk – zero value, nobody would even pick them up for nothing when they went through waivers

            So in reality the Oilers are pretty much stuck with what they’ve got until contracts run out or they bury them in the minors ie Eager/Horticuk

            Or trade most of the above for very little value in return and let the likes of Harti and Lander learn on the fly – either way it is a dire situation that has no quick fix – the reason this guys are still on the team is that there is no one to replace them and nobody else wants them….