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.

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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

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Smyth/Horcoff/Yakupov

Brown/Smithson/Petrell

 

Smid/Petry

N.Schultz/J.Schultz

Whitney/Fistric

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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 [email protected]. 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.

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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~

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    FIST!

    Edit: Dubnyk is always good for a softy despite his excellent SV%. And that to me is a problem. I don’t care where it ranks on the Oilers’ totem pole of problems.

    Also, Ochocinco is a multi-sport athlete?? Crazy!

    • Ducey

      Sorry, but this is one of the dumbest things I have read in a while. You would prefer if he stops the “soft” ones but lets in the hard ones?

      He stops the 5th highest percentage of shots in the league. That’s all there is to it.

      I think the Coyotes will trap and clutch and grab and the Oilers will play right into it by turning over the puck in the neutral zone. The fans will be frustrated and boo and that will cause more turnovers.

      4-2 PHX.

        • Bucknuck

          Did you watch the Anaheim game? Those weren’t easy shots. I don’t know if it would have been physically possible to stop them. I haven’t seen him let in a softie for a while.

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            I’ve played hockey all my life. I hate when our goalie let’s in sh*tty goals. Especially in close games.

            If I, or any of my teammates, leave him out to dry and he has no chance, I don’t blame him.

            Nice try with the “stats are stats, bro” argument.

            Get real.

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            Awesome.

            I love when people think they’re smarter than you. That’s a sign of immaturity, if not stupidity.

            Fact: I’ve played organized hockey since 8 years of age. I’m 31 now. Still play beer league.

            Fact: I graduated from U of A with an Engineering degree. I’ve learned something about logical thinking along the way.

            Logic my d*ck.

          • Mark-LW

            You realize that most people here are in the same situation you are but with varying degree disciplines right?Saying you’ve played hockey all your life doesn’t exactly differentiate yourself from a crowd of Canadian men.

            I’ve played hockey my entire life as well and i think you’re stance on Dubynk is crazy

            EDIT: I have actually been playing hockey since I was 6, so by your reasoning my opinion on hockey means more than yours

          • northof51

            You are arguing for intangibles, and you have provided ZERO logic to defend your argument. I’ve been playing COMPETITIVE hockey for longer than you have been playing hockey, and I have 2 degrees, so does that make me more right than you? (See what I did there?)

            I wish Dubnyk stopped everything too, but the reality is that he is better than average and he is affordable.

            I’ve got buddies (who talk a lot like you) that are big fans of bringing Lou in – for what? His big salary and a ridiculous loss of talent at other positions. I’d like to see what you and everyone else would say bout Lou’s (cough) .904 save percentage vs. what Dubnyk is achieving.

            As Gregor said, goaltending is NOT the issue with the Oilers. It’s that we get horribly out-shot and out-chanced

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            I agree 100% with you. Dubnyk is better than average, and by a quite a bit too. And he’s definitely a bargain.

            I also agree with you that Lou is not a good idea for the Oilers. Or most teams for that matter because of his contract.

            At the beginning of the season, the question was: Is Dubnyk good enough to start in the NHL?

            My answer now is: Almost. Soft goals have got to go.

          • Ducey

            How about the other way around. What if you’re in Dubnyk’s position and you know if you let in 2 goals, your team is probably going to lose because the team can’t score to save their lives. The most important 3 games of the entire season and your offense can only muster up 2 goals TOTAL!

            The fact of the matter is during March and April, Dubnyk has a GAA of 2.36 and a .925 save percentage. That includes 17 total games…the team has only won 6 of those games.

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      Also, despite Crosby’s 56 points in 36 games, I don’t think he scores on nearly all the chances he should.

      Talk about completely unrealistic expectations. If you don’t like Dubnyk as a #1 goalie with a top 5 save percentage, then you will never like him.

      • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

        WTF is going on here??

        That Crosby comparison is completely out to lunch.

        And you think it’s unrealistic to expect your goalie to stop all the easy shots???

        • Ducey

          My point is that if you dissect anybody’s game, you are going to find faults. Looking at the pure stats, Crosby is having an amazing season, but I’m sure I could find 10-15 plays where he should have done better and maybe scored.

          Same with Dubnyk…if you look at his numbers, he is having an amzaing season. If you break down and dissect every game, then sure, you can find room for improvement. I’m sure he wants to improve too. But if his numbers don’t say #1 goalie, then again, you will never see a #1 goalie in Dubnyk.

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            I like Dubnyk. He’s an interesting interview and looks to have the ability to be a good goalie. In short, I want him to succeed. If not for me, then for my Oilers.

            But you absolutely have to dissect to improve. Sure his overall stats are good. But we’ve seen time and time again where NHL stats don’t tell the whole story.

            As much as I want to look at his stats and say, “that proves it right there, he’s a legit starter”, I can’t because I’ve watched the games.

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      Precisely! I had to laugh during the Ducks game when Kevin Quinn screamed “Great save!”, only to have the shot kicked directly into the slot on Dvoraks stick and in the net. That was a routine shot that most goalies would have directed into the corner. The first goal was not much better. He does this almost every game.

      Habby has the same exact same save percentage but I don’t see everyone singing his praises the way they do with Dubnyk. Tencer tweeted about Doobies SV% putting him in the same class of goalie as Niemi and Lundqvist but it can be a very misleading stat to use to measure the quality of a goalie.

      • Ducey

        LOL…guy stops 36 of 38 shots and gives his team a chance to win even though they were completely outplayed, and some fans say hhe should of had those two as well.

        Accepting nothing but a shutout from your goalie while giving up 38 shots is ridiculous.

    • GVBlackhawk

      Classic selective perception.

      We have all seen Dubnyk let in a few soft goals in his career. However, this phenomena of letting in ‘soft goals’ is not exclusive to Dubnyk. If you watched every game played in an NHL season and tracked soft goals (which is a very subjective measurement), you would likely find that the majority of goalies let in the same number of soft goals per season.

      But those times that you saw him let in a brutal one (eg. shot from center ice in Nashville…Legwand I believe) really stuck in your mind. And now you think Dubnyk lets in a soft one every game — even though his stats suggest that he is performing above league average.

      No goalie is going to stop every shot. Every goalie is going to allow soft goals on occasion.

      • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

        Don’t tell me what I saw and what it did to me.

        I don’t expect goalies to stop all shots. I agree with you. All of them will let in a soft one here and there. But some will more than others. And I’m not even talking about the center ice goal. That’s not a soft goal. That’s an accident.

  • Mark-LW

    If a soft goal deflates the team, why didn’t Anaheim fold after Schultz threw that frisbee into the net on Monday from the left hashmarks?

    DD’s save percentage puts him in the top half of the league’s starters. His team doesn’t score enough goals, and doesn’t prevent enough shots. So they lose, despite his contribution.

    If you don’t understand the problem you are no better than Tambellini. That’s all we need, misguided encouragement for ST to downgrad the goaltending like he has every other position.

    Identify the real problem, don’t fix what isn’t broken.

    • match16

      Well, it also depends what position your team is in. If you’re up 5-0 and your goalie lets in a soft one late, teammates can laugh about him ruining his shutout. On the other hand, if you’re down 1-0 and your team is making a push for the tie, then your goalie lets in a softie, it can really deflate the team.

      I don’t think he’s saying Dubnyk is bad, just that always being focused and ready and not letting in those softies is what separates the elites from the above averages.

      • mr_nihilism

        It’s not about the score, it’s about whether you know as a team that you are good enough to overcome a bad bounce, missed call or soft goal.

        The Oiler skaters are not good enough, collectively. DD stops pucks for a living and he stops them at a respectable save percentage. The psyche of the team, and the causes of it, are up to ST to fix, not DD.

        But let’s say you are right, and the cure is to go get an elite goaltender. Who has to make that trade or sign that FA? The guy that does the trades and signs the UFAs today? Thanks but no thanks.

        • match16

          I wasn’t necessarily saying in the Oiler’s case. You asked why the Ducks weren’t deflated from the weak goal Schultz scored so I was stating it can depend on the team’s position.

          Personally, I think Dubnyk is a legitimate #1 in the NHL and is still improving. I never said “the cure was to get an elite goalteneder.”

          Quit assuming things.

  • wiseguy

    This Dubnyk debate is entertaining. Yes he lets in the odd softy what goalie doesn’t? Dubnyk has been very consistent this year (every goalie in the NHL has bad games), Dubnyk is a #1 goalie in the NHL and its not even a debate anymore, add in the defence that is playing in front of him and what he has done this year is even more amazing. Put him on the Canucks and I bet he puts up better numbers then Schneider.

    To sum up the “but he allows soft goals so he isn’t a #1 goalie in the NHL” if my goalie makes 40 saves a night but allows one from the other end of the rink as the only goal he allows I could care less because my team should be able to score at least 2 goals.

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        There’s a reasonable chance that Dubnyk might outperform Schneider in Vancouver…..Do you know why?……because GOOD GOALTENDING IS A FUNCTION OF TEAM DEFENSE…..

        (I’m old and I sometimes repeat myself…hell, I’m so old I even repeated ON myself)..

        Look at Bryzgalov….MVP on Pheonix…Can’t stop a beachball in Philly…..Smith…Can’t stop a beachball in Tampa…MVP in Pheonix…

        In those years that Buffalo is a team committed to team D….Ryan Miller is an MVP….Buffalo loses its way…Miller is crap..

        Henrik Lundquist is a league MVP…Rangers trade away a few key defensive forwards to add more scoring (and lose a dman or two to injury) Lundquist looks average at best.

        You think Rask or Tim Thomas are MVP’s if they play for Tampa Bay?

        It’s no coincidence that the best goalie of all time, Martin Brodure played his entire career for one of the most Defensive style teams in NHL history. Etc Etc Etc

        • Alsker

          I asked if Van would trade Schneider for Dubnyk. If you posted that question to the general hockey watching public right now thers no question in my mind the overwhelming majority of responses would be NO. If you’ve watched any amount of hockey in your life you should be able to tell that Schneider has more talent than Dubnyk…he’s quicker, moves better and is much more athletic. End of story.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Correct…..GOALTENDING IS A FUNCTION OF TEAM DEFENSE….

      and you know who let in soft goals beyond your wildest imagination……

      GRANT FUHR! He had a 5 hole the size of Rama Lama’s Steve Tambellini file…..

      AND he won a few cups…was considered a clutch goaltender….and has his banner hanging in the rafters next to all the other Oiler GREATS!