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


  • Alsker

    Meaningful games in April,meaningful to whom?? Obviously not to the guys in copper nd blue..4 straightloses and out of the race…wait weren’t we laughing at fLames last year for doing the same thing…

    • northof51

      Dubnyk sure did his best last night to validate your comments re: soft goals.

      I guess I’m gonna have to stick to watching golf and baseball this spring.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Hi my name is StHenri, and I am in a bad relationship. The Oilers hurt me, and I don’t think they want to change. I should leave them, but I just don’t know how. We’ve had a lot of good times. The honeymoon period was amazing. We must have scored 400 times a year!!! The love we made was sweet, and we have 5 little Stanleys to show for it. Then it moved in to a decade of the relationship blahs – year to year ups and downs – things were going okay. We’d been on a couple of exciting trips to Dallas and Denver, had a pet cat named CuJo, and our existence may not have been top calibre, but it was built on determination and a shared love of the Oil drop. Finally expecting again, we went through heartbreak together in 2006. With the Oilers life on the line in the in Carolina, the 6th Stanley slipped away in the Cam-Ward that night. Weeks later we lost our favourite son in a dramatic family affair. We were broken. The next years were dark, and the only salvation was the eternal hope that things would get better. Now I don’t know if the Oilers even care any more. Not about me, about the next Stanley, or about their own pride. The lust is gone. The only passion I see now is too little, too late, and leaves me a puddle of man-tears curled up in my copper and blue armchair, praying to the hockey gods for mercy. Every summer I promise myself that maybe next year will be better, because I can see the potential. I beg and barter with those who disagree. I set myself up to be hurt, and then am frustrated when it happens again. Perhaps I should just be a realist and stop expecting that things will ever change. The same thing year after year, and I expect different results? Am I insane? I need help guys. I can’t take it any longer. I need to break up with the Oilers.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      May I suggest some intuative Dynamic Counselling? Call it a makeover for your Soul.

      Dont let go to soon, regrets are as hard to erase as time is to replace, maybe you both just need to redefine and rediscover yourselves, after all you will never find out if if the juice is worth the squeeze until you slice the fruit open. Maybe this is that first cut deep enough to reveal the missing flavor you both crave so badly.

      I think its the inlaws myself, both you and the Oilers havent really ever had a chance to find yourselves from within the shadow of Mom and Dad. maybe its time to ask them to find a place of their own, after all its not really normal to still have them hanging around your house at their ages, maybe its time to make some hard decisions and help them see its time for them to let go a little more, after all everyone isnt getting any younger now are they?

      have you considered adopting a homeless underprivilaged system? I have it under advisement that the NewAge Hockey System is looking for a new home. You know sometimes its a good thing to re-commit to something you both know will take a while to see through to a new and exciting end, a kind of binding agreement if you will. Consider it, after all its through the act of giving that we really recieve the most important things in life, give the NHS a chance to have a full and healthy System-hood after all you are only young once, and just maybe that flame you have lost sight of in the blackness can be re-kindled before all of the embers blink out one by one and the cool black night starts creeping in on you both as it has been doing lately. Give adoption some thought, it can be the solution if you are prepared to again accept the challenges and still have the energy and passion to give freely to another young needy system. Good luck keep your chin up, things have a funny way of working themselves out as long as you keep your eyes on the prize.

    • WinterNightSky

      Well put. There’s a reason I talk about the Oilers like an addiction. I haven’t watched for… has it really been 11 games? Wow, time flies when you’re not depressed. Maybe we can finally get out of this abusive relationship.

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

    Highlights of the game

    1) Taylor Hall hacking Michalek…as if he were Messier….LOVE IT!

    2) Yak striking back at Yandle in the crease with a stiff cross check…then imobilizing him in a head lock….

  • sasha

    I think the celebrations following the death of Margaret Thatcher should serve as inspiration to those of us frustrated by the idiocy that is Tambo.

    Some day, my friends, our Oilers will be free of him. True, that may be years and years from now, but it will happen and on that glorious day (for it will be glorious!) we will rejoice.

  • bazmagoo

    Dubnyk is definitely not the problem on the Oilers. Our defence is one of the easiest to play against in the entire league, our third pairing couldn’t get the puck out of our zone if their lives depended on it. J Schultz, Smid, and Petry are the only 3 I’d keep, the rest would be shown the door including N Schultz. Potter is a decent #7 defenceman, Fistric should definitely be shown the door at the end of the year and Whitney should only be brought back if it’s at half his current salary. Just my two cents for the evening.

  • bazmagoo

    While I believe Dubnyk is a solid keeper, we definitely need to bring someone in to push him. You know, someone that isn’t 40 years old and injury prone.

  • bazmagoo

    Hey Gregor, nice writeup you chump. Good old Oil starting the slide back down the standings yet again. You people must be all unintelligent like with you following that there hockey team likes you do. Why don’t you find a playoff contender to cheer for – like Columbus ?? Isles ?? Jets ?? Boy you know you suck when those teams got a leg up on ya.
    GO OIL GO – Yee haw!!

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

      “You people must be all unintelligent like with you following that there hockey team likes you do”….now that’s funny…..

      Reminds me of story my cousin told me…he is a principle at a rural school..one day he had to write a letter to a kids parents because the kid was coming to school with a strong smell of BO (body odour)….a week or so later he got a return letter from the parents stating, and I quote..”We pays ya to learn em not to smell em.”

  • The Worrier

    Top teams have consistent goalies. The focus seemed to be finding a puck moving defencemen. Pitkanen, Visnovsky, Grebeshkov, Tarnstrom…. While hopefully J. Schultz will grow into that role. They need a stud goalie who can steal if not win games. While Oilers fans patiently endure the growing pains and wait for some key transcations.

    What Does It Mean?

    It means the Oilers have more concerns than lacking a puck moving D-man or a hard edge D-man like J. Smith or Igor Ulanov.

    • Bonvie

      They have a top 10 goalie already they need a top pair Defenseman and a big physical scoring center or left winger.

      Most important is they need a GM that can make a trade, and a coach that can get a little bit out of his roster see Todd Nelson(now there is a coach). Even his demeanor is the Sather, Shoenfeld, Torterella type. Krueger is the most uninspiring coach I have ever seen, and they replaced good old Renney for what reason? To improve in the standings? Renny had some serious injuries last season that dashed his roster. Krueger has no excuses except that he is terrible. If good old George Burnett was fired before the season was finished why shouldn’t this guy, he is clearly the worst coach I have seen in the Oilers organization. He is about as inspiring as Mr. Rogers.

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

    There is only one man that can rally the group, smash bodies, come to Hall’s defence, crash the net and be a true leader, everything the oil need.

    Steve ott

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Good to see Hall and Yakupov dishing out some punishment. Hacking and whacking their way to earning a little more space out there. Both willing to issue the first blow without regard for what may come back the other way. A small subtle sign these kids are more willing to go to war together.

    It starts with sticking up for themselves, their teammates seeing that can’t help but follow their lead. In a yr or two, Taylor Hall will be one nasty prick to go up against. Good to see him getting his timing down pat when it starts getting chippy. Be nice to have a chippy SOB on the blueline as well. Edmonton could sure use a Bieksa type.

  • Still alot if dubnyk supporters huh? I wonder how many floaters from centre ice or half wristers from the corner he has to let in before that changes. I’m not saying he’s a bad goalie, I’m just saying he’s not a good one.

  • PlayDirty

    Do all you Dubnyk bashes think Roy or Brodeur or Sawchuk or Dryden…. never let in bad goals or had bad games. What about Fuhr and Moog?

    We have a relatively young goalie who stops among the highest percentage of shots that he faces – and he faces almost more than anyone. He is still on the upswing of his career.

    GAA has always been the defining stat for goalies for a reason. Our pussified world steers everyone to find a scapegoat but in this case, but he is among the least of our worries.

  • Bonvie

    A little too late for the Oilers last night. Could have stayed the game off that way last night. What I find interesting is that phoenix played a cheap game and never once took a call all night long. Hemsky’s penalty was dumb. He was clearly being interfered with him trying to avoid the hit his stick Flys up then knocks the guy head. And mihalek cross checking and roughing up Taylor Hall on the boards, then doesn’t expect Hall to slash or do something back? Goes show you what kind of team Phoenix is. Anyways the Oilers needed that game last night.

    This season is over. I’m still shocked that they could put themselves in awesome position, then choke so freaken hard….

    • outdoorzguy

      What’s the awesome position the Oilers put themselves in?
      This team has potential.
      We need a coach who can actually coach at this level.
      We need a management group that has some ability to assess what is not working and will attempt to improve the team.
      We need ownership who is less interested in surrounding himself with life size hockey cards of his favorite players…
      And finally…we need the fans to start voicing and showing their displeasure at how this organization is satisfied with mediocrity at best!

      I heard Gregor say yesterday on his radio show that it was time for the Oilers to take advantage of the bottom feeders. Well guess what? The Oilers are not only bottom dwellers, they’re one of those species that gets found every decade or so that nobody has ever seen before and nobody ever thought could survive for that long living on the bottom.

  • Are the Oilers underperforming , and why ? Should they not be doing better than what they are ? They appear to be playing a better all around game more consistently , but results are not showing it . Too much seperation between emerging youth and diminishing veteran core ? Chemistry not enough to warrant playoffs ?

    Youth headed in one direction , while veteran core headed in another negative direction . Consistency is a big issue as well . When might it all come together , and if it does will it be enough to make us a legi contender ?

  • Adding a stud goalie will only hide the warts on this team. Calgary is a very good example of this. Kipper saved their bacon on so many nights over the past 10 years, hiding the problem of no centre depth. Calgary never got better as a result and all these years later, no Stanley Cups.

    • Zamboni Driver

      This is what we would call “shuffling the deck on the Titanic”.

      Anyone catch Spec’s absolute destruction of Hemsky yet? I read it and thought FINALLY someone calls out the TinMan. I tell ya, he is that guy who has a lot of talent in something, but doesn’t it like it at all. I’m sure he’s delighted to be heading home — again — in April.

      Sad part.

      Who would want him? Or, really, who would give the Oilers anything for him?

      Anyone need to get up to the cap floor?

  • PlayDirty

    Off topic – I see a trade was made (in paper) in the AHL . Do they have a trade deadline in the AHL different from the NHL ? Could be some business and hankering if they do by sending down players for trade by that route after NHL deadline .

  • geoilersgist

    food for thought. we don’t know if managment has tried to make moves to fill the holes on our roaster, they don’t discuss that with us. let’s assume they have, there policy of drafting the best player available (ussually a small highly skilled forward) isn’t working. in theory we should be able to trade what we have an abundance of, for what we need. assuming managment is willing to trade, they are either overvaluing our stock or our potential trade patrners are undervaluingit. in any case we can’t seem to trade for what we need. maybe it’s time to start drafting positionaly, we need a power forword. abig center man or a top defenceman we trade up or down the draft to get the best player available at the position we need. wait sorry, we need a competent managment team who could assess the teams needs and a competent scouting staff to assess the players, were screwed.

    • DSF

      The policy of drafting the best player overall in the top ten is a good policy. Further in the draft you should look at need especially if it a toss up. Latter in last years draft they tried to draft a bigger power forward (You can still hear the moaning). In drafts before they did the same plus add some defence.

      They trade Rieder (small and skilled) for Kessy, in the power forward mould and again very few are happy with that.

      So what you suggest that they do is exactly what they are doing. I would have preferred a trade down and pick Galcheyuk but that question will be answered in the future. WHo knows maybe they did try.

  • LinkfromHyrule

    You gotta wonder if this ultimate chokefest will finally result in someone in management getting fired. Unfortunately the problems with this team’s management stems from the top down. It is pure awful.

    Guess we should start the conversation about how awesome next year will be right now… again 🙁

  • mr_nihilism

    And on the bright side Calgary is next and we should kick their ass, and rightly so. After that though, I personally hope they find a way to lose (they have a glorious knack for) the remainder as it might prove to be beneficial in attaining a decent draft pick.

    After Saturday the season is over in my mind.

    • Ducey

      I’m hoping for losses for the remainder of the season, including Calgary.

      It will have two benefits:

      1)The Oilers will get better draft picks
      2)A poor finish will likely result in a change in management.

  • Blood Orange

    An interesting fact from TSN STAT GUY’s twitter last night.

    Oilers have been outshot in 30 out of the 40 games they’ve played.

    In the 10 games that they have outshot opponents they are 7-1-2.

    They spend way too much time in their own zone with Dubnyk getting peppered and not enough time in the enemies zone creating scoring chances. Last night for the Oil, everything came from the rush. There was no game down low, no battles won in the corners, etc, etc…

    • DSF

      The Oilers give up the 29th most shots against per game, 32.8, while the Buffalo Sabres are dead last at 33.0.

      Considering the Oilers are actually 19th in goals against per game, they are very lucky to be where they are.

      • Blood Orange

        I agree.

        Goaltending has masked the true problems of this team. And managment will be to stupid to realize.

        I’ll pitch some $$ for this letter to Katz.