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


  • 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.

  • There’s no question our goaltending is good enough -> pretty good for a 48 game season. I really like Khabi and Dubnyk both individually.. but this isn’t a good tandem for 82 games. Khabi can barely keep it together in the 9 games he’s played, let alone once we’re back to 82 games. Dubnyk so far has shown pretty reliable for a 40+ stretch, but he isn’t going to pick up the whole load when Khabi inevitably falls apart on us next year (if we bring him back).

    This is good enough to finish this season though. I’d question whether it’d be good enough for a deep playoff run, but queue Jim Mora here re: that, anyways.

    It really is too bad that Khabi’s health is such a problem. There’s still a good goalie in there. But 9 games and 30-40 games are a completely different animal, even if it is spaced out over a greater length.

  • The Oilers will not make the playoffs. But it’s okay because we can take the positives from this season and use it as a learning experience …
    Blah, blah, blah. Ya we heard it before. Story’s starting to get old. Either get it done, or find somebody who can.

    • wiseguy

      Man I wish I had the inclination to go back in all the fan forums here and elsewhere over the last 3-4 years. It would be remarkable how it sounds the same every year. Same old, same old.

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

      STARTING to get old??

      The rash on my scrotum is starting to get old, this Oilers thing has been going for the better part of a decade…..

  • Bucknuck

    If the Oilers play as bad tonight as they have been the last few games, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kreuger get a little “Tortorella” on the team.

  • Bucknuck

    Allowing 40-something shots in a game is a problem, despite the good save percentage. Imagine if we allowed less than 30 per game??? At that save percentage, that would be one fewer goal against per game.

    I wonder how many Bettman points we’ve lost out on just because of that stupid single goal in games where we allowed 40 shots.