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


  • book¡e

    Also, goal softness may have a lot of perception bias. Different goalies have different styles. Small floppy goalies never let in soft goals because they always look good when they get scored on. There are lots of those ‘good looking’ goalies in the AHL that we could swap Dubnyk for.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Look I like Dubey, but its like he is out to validate the comments here tonight. He has all the tools but he needs to bear down for 60 minutes. Does that come with maturity? I hope so because those goals ARE killers when you are struggling.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Say what you want the goalie is a problem. All day on the radio and on tv all you hear is how great he is Bull this guy sucks and this team goes no where with him as the goalie

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

            Actually it started with Oilcan writing about Dubnyk :“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 which you responded: “So if Van offered Schneider for Dubnyk you’d tell them to pound salt? Right.”

            I responded by saying that it was possible….not out of the question…that Dubnyk could replicate, or even better Schneiders performance if he played for Vancouver…..You telling me that you have some kind of monopoly on hockey intelligence that you can predict hypotheticals with that kind of certainty?

  • vetinari

    Devan Dubnyk 2 — Edmonton Oilers 0

    jesus christ. I think it was all the nasty talk pre-game but Dubby sucks tonight man he is choking.

    Where is Hall, where is Nuge, Gagner, Hemmer, what the hell kind of second rate effort is this in a playoff game atmosphere?

    We need to shoot the puck a bit sooner, and possibly take it to the net, we are down two now to a defensive team so we need to plan on at least trying to score more than one dam goal.

    Guys are getting in close but are not making dekes and driving it right in and trying to push it through, no more cute little shots upstairs, drive the puck through.

    MPS nows the time to use your speed the right way, take it to the middle and drive it in to the net.

    J Petry, rush the puck end to end same with J Schultz, all the way in and bury it, and pick up the pace across the board.

    Pull Dubby just because man he looks so shaky.

    Gagner needs to shoot the puck more and harder.

    Hall needs to learn to drive the middle in two stride bursts not full flight.

    We might as well go back to hockey school so lets see the give and gos we know are consistantly going to put us in scoring positions in close and lets drive it ver the line the hard way.

  • The Soup Fascist

    And finally we get to the meat of this issue. Yes Fuhr let in LOTS of softies but they were when it was 4-0 Oil or they were down by more than 3 … Recollection was his rep with the Boys on the Bus was Fuhr never let in the next one when it was a tight game.

    In comparison Dubnyk does see lots of rubber, has a good SV% BUT the softies he lets in are often at the most critical time … First goal of games ( case in point tonight) or to give the opponent a lead ( ahem again case in point tonight). And for a team who struggles for offense, one softie a game is a killer.

  • vetinari

    So, who else thinks that our team only tries, and I mean really, really tries, in about 50% of the games and the rest are just an evening of pond hockey in front of thousands of fans while being paid a few million dollars a year?

  • Rocket

    Phoenix seems to out play teams by keeping it simple.Hard work along the boards,pressure down low, & a solid defensive game.

    It seems like The Oilers were pinned in they’re own end almost the entire 2nd period & when they did break out Phoenix had at least 2 if not 3 players for The Oilers to beat. Phoenix, to my eye, never had a bad pinch & were getting all the bounces their way.

    Just another one of those nights for The Oilers I guess.

  • vetinari

    We might want to challenge them when we have the puck and go right at the coverage closing the distance on them instead of the other way around as the 1st line was doing when they were stacking guys on the o-zone and relaying the puck back to their support. It was working great for them.

    This is the best legal use of the pick play, a man for a man dynamic that benefits us if we relay the puck into support, it eliminates prolonged coverage by forcing immediate contact in a forward motion.

    The best way to beat their tight coverage is to stack players and relay the puck, or just line them up four deep and use the Flying V to overload the n-zone. and flood them out.

    We need to hit Yakupov sooner with passes, we need to look for him IMMEDIATLY because he is ALWAYS open in the o-zone earlier than everyone else and ready to shoot, but if we goddam pause all the time before we look for him its to late, get on the ball already those chances he gets are always golden, get him the puck.

    Gagner needs to come in behind hemmer on the rush and when the d-man takes hemmer out or tries to Sam needs to be ready to onetime a realy from hemmer he will simply leave behind as he contacts the d-man, the onetimer from there at that speed will be devestating, coming off of a relay its harder for the tender to read coming in. Have MPS time his back door presence with Sams shot not Hemmers pass. We need to see Hemsky gaining the o-zone consistantly as usual and Sam shooting ASAP.

  • vetinari

    Somewhere in the building Dithers has been pre-occupied and missed most the game BUT has come to an important conclusion.There are actualy 22 pieces in a pack of nibs.

  • Alsker

    Ok maybe we can try lobbing the puck wayyyy up high as we just enter the n-zone so we get the extra fraction of time to get in position on them, we need to buy some time so because they are clogging the n-zone we need to lob it in high and slow and then chase it down not throw it in low and fast and chase it the hard way, just lob it over their n-zone pressure up high and if we do that it will give us the extra time to make that dumpin work for us.

  • Alsker

    I would rather watch this team sign off on the season useing the Flying-V and tossing nutty high lob dumpins than rolling over like we are doing again tonight. I want to see three men stacked and driving through the n-zone, nothing else seems to be working.

    We are all so screwed up here that i am already thinking of when Ralph will pull Dubby and I cant be the only one. We are scarred badly here in E-Town.

    Nice goal Nail.

    Now lets see the Flying-V.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    |Ralph, leave the dam goalie in and start whatever it is you do after you usually pull him, greenlight guys or pull the plug or flip the freaking switch but cut these guys loose already this is as good as our last game so we need to be going nuts not being patient.

  • Alsker

    Well we seem to be as Vanilla as ever, god i wish we had a dirty player who would retaliate for us with ralphs permission once in a while , every system compensates for protective preemptive plays. We are taking penaltys anyways so lets pick and choose if we can.

    Someone chop Hanzal down like a bad habit.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    We CAN NOT have guys like Yandle going after teenagers, this is sickening for christs sakes.

    We simply have no heart and no fight, fighters are born not made and htis is becoming our terminal weakness.

    Thanks for trying for the last four goddam minutes you guys, where the hell was this effort the rest of the game, there are a lot of questions to be answered in the off-season.

    • McDavid's Comet

      I agree with everything you are saying however are you actually implying that Tambs and co. are going to answer anything? I believe the motivation to improve the team at the deadline should be your answer: close but no cigar.

  • hunkybill

    I’m sick of Hall and Yakupov having to fight their own battles. Those two showed gumption all night long but there are just not enough players showing that passion consistently enough.

    • Where the hell was the rest of the team??? 4 guys took a shot at Hall with only Smid stepping in.

      Yakupov and Yandle go at it and Smyth looks on?

      Whitney has to be the biggest joke of the year!! Forget Dubnyk, can someone explain to me why that SLUG was on the ice the last two minutes of a must win game!! Christ sakes!

      Minus the kids, in the last 3-4 games this team can’t win with the current roster, sorry but this includes Hemsky, Gagner, Paajarvi, Petry, Smyth, Horcoff, Petrel, Smithson, Peckham, Potter, Whitney.

      SOFT all of them, milky wet butter soft!!