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


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • book¡e

    This ‘soft goals’ thing is simply funny. All that matters is performance and consistency over an extended period of time. How the goals look to you is irrelevant.

    If I didn’t know better, I would think that the ‘soft goals’ crowd simply are trolling for a response..

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Hey, hey, I got one, I got one…..remember that UFO looking puck in Detroit. That one from center ice. Man that puck had some monkey junk wing thing going on there. Not many mortals could’ve stopped that howitzer. Wow, that was one mammary that stands out for me in that 2013 season. What I wouldn’t have given to be there for that!

      am I doing it right?

      • Ducey

        He said “If I didn’t know better”. He therefore wasn’t suggesting you were trolling for a response.

        He was suggesting you don’t know what you are talking about.

        Feel better?

    • Spydyr

      All goals are not created equally. What is more important a goal that ties or wins a game with seconds left or the 9th goal in a 9-2 game?

      How many times have you seen a goalie make a big save at one end then the team go down the ice and score?

      Soft goals change momentum .Just ask Steve Smith.

      Watch the bench after a team battles back then the goalie lets in a soft one.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    @ TDSM31: I disagree. If you watch Dubnyk’s head, he was clearly searching for the puck, meaning that screen in front of him was effective. He just got down in time to get a pad on the puck. And you want him to control the rebound on top of that?!?!? Maybe Dubnyk can hand deliver hot tea and biscuits to your door between periods too!

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I dunno man. I watched the replay of the goal a few times on the Oilers website and I don’t see Dubynk struggling to see the shot. To me it looks like his head is always focused in the same direction towards the shooter. The Anaheim player by the net is clearly to Dooby’s side and he sees the shot the whole way.

      There’s no doubt he makes big saves during games but I feel he has more of a propensity than other no.1 goalies in this league to let in the soft goal. A soft goal will do more damage to a teams confidence (and to his own confidence) that a goal that went in on a great play by the other team.

      Bottom line is I’m just not a big fan of his style of play and I don’t think he’s in the top half of no. 1 goalies in this league. I don’t like using stats from 32 games either….lets see if he has a 923 sv% over the course of a normal schedule of a no. 1 goalie of 60 games or more.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    I guess if you want to dissect Dvorak goal # 2, I guess you could ask why the D didn’t do a better job of boxing out the screen in front of Dubnyk. You could also ask who was the Oiler skater that Dvorak beat to the front of the net.

  • GVBlackhawk

    The City of Edmonton just finished its day of deliberations on the Arena. The motion passed to continue with the deal. The highlight of the day was Mandel asking the city’s lawyer whether she was ok with the lease deal. It was a moment. I could play that over and over again.

    The mayor carved it out for council regarding the MSI money and the lack of provincial support for the project with a direct from the sky kinda reference that made me laugh my ass off. Diotte is an oaf. Caterina. Well what do I expect when Rexall is in his riding. I admit that Mandel spoke to the issue at hand in the most direct manner possible. This he said isn’t about Katz its about Edmonton. The profit is good bomb was classic. I was waiting for him toay if it wasn’t for those profit business’s there would not be those non profit places that some councillors love and espouse. I agree someone has to pay the bill for places like libraries and the art gallery and parks and so on.

    I am glad we have a Mayor willing to stand up for all Edmontonians. His record and support for new libraries ,sport and recreation facilities, the arts and theater, and other things like LRTthe capital waste center, and the municipal airport redevelopment has pushed this city further under his administration then we ever saw under Reimer and Smith. I for one hope he decides on another term.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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….

  • 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.

  • Shaun Doe

    Interesting to know if the Oilers could or would send Nuge, Hallsy, Ebs, MPS & Schultz back to the AHL for the playoffs? Thoughts? I personally don’t see why they would at this point but it would be quite interesting to know if they could?

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Glad to see some people are seeing it my way. Makes me feel less crazy.

    Ryan Miller is considered one of the best goalies in the league. His SV% has been over 0.920 once.

    Also, f**k Millhouse. I hope I meet him one day.

    • Mark-LW

      And lots of goalies have had SV% over 0.920 more than once.

      What is your point?

      EDIT: No one is talking about long term performance. And does anyone here consider Ryan Miller one of the best goalies in the league? The point is that Dubnyk is keeping the team in games (save for maybe two) more often than the other way around.

  • Mark-LW

    Looking forward to watching the last game every between the Edmonton Oilers and the Phoenix Coyotes. Long overdue because as bad as their attendance is, it’s inflated by Canadians vacationing in the desert. Good riddance.

    I don’t care what our odds are, I want to see us win. We’ve done enough sucking. Fan appreciation night? All I want from the team is a win.

    I’ll say 4-2 Oilers. Hall leads the way with 2 goals and an assist.

  • Mark-LW

    Doobie has come a long way, there’s no doubt. his rebound control is night and day from last season. The soft goal syndrome will be overcome as well with some more time.

    Like most goalies he struggles when he plays to deep in his net but this doesn’t happen nearly as often these days.

    Does make me nervous when playing the puck behind net. just stop it for your dman and get outta the way! lol.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Congratulations on the N Schultz Crystal Ball call, nicely done.

    I agree with you on Smytty but methinks he will use the rarely seen and often forgotten but statisticlly very sucessfull Ryan Smyth slapshot!!

    I expect a multi-pointer from Gagner tonight. He has been playing like a man possesed, he created at least 5 clear penalty dynamics last game through incredible hardnosed work in dirty areas and was snakebitten by the refs, in fact in the 3rd period he was ripping up the middle and two guys literally tackled him and there was no call at that critical point after he had done the exact right things. Gagner is very respectfull of the refs and has been his entire career, he takes incredible punishment and doesnt complain much, I believe we will see this dynamic balance itself out and that Sam also knows things balance out in the end and he will be working extra hard tonight hoping this is the game the balance happens in.

    Yakupov seems to be getting stronger and stronger out there and I think has earned a stay of execution from Ralph and he should be on the 2nd line with Sam and MPS.

    Ralph has really outdone himself, he has avoided the lines of
    Hall–Nuge–Eberle

    MPS-Gagner-Yakupov

    Smyth-Horcs-Hemsky

    In that order all year long, he has specificcly avoided these combos, Ralph sure found a way to dance around them all year long and I have harped on him relentlessly for it since game 3 of this year.

    Get over it Ralph because I will not let you forget the record as you yourself chose to write it this year, be accountable. Ralph Krueger still refuses to put Hemsky on the 3rd line as a zone entry specialist and Yakupov on the 2nd as a sniper with MPS as his zone entry specialist as they belong, he has kissed his own sister with tonights lines but he just refuses to buckle under to the reality I have been jamming down his throat since game 3, that these lines I list are and will be our proper dynamic fits.

    Until we make personell changes these will ALWAYS be the optimal lines because there is a SYSTEM behind my choices, there is a Program being utilised, it isnt guess work or gut feelings, it is NewAge Hockey System catalysed Intuative Dynamic Managment being expressed.

    Simply switch Hemsky and Yakupov and we are set, Gagner is hot on the trigger right now and Yakupov has been passing like Dougie Weight lately. Someone please show Yakupov some Weight footage so he can see his own future ASAP, the Kid is a Weight clone, I bet he can really “Do The Dougie” from three feet into the o-zone just above the half-boards, weights old wheelhouse. I bet a hundred bucks that if you just showed Nail Weights footage for an hour before the game we would see patented moves tailormade for Nail but executed by Weight.

    There is no one on our team who has the skillset to pass the puck with Yakupovs velocity and accuracy to teach Nail the NHL perspective to match his skillset, his passes are borderline shots every time, it is beautiful to watch and the last Oilers I saw with that ability was Doug Weight. So show Nail how another elite passer who his skillset exactly replicates operates at the elite level and give him some videos of exact situations and lanes Dougie used to break his linemates into the net area and set up the onetimer safely without getting turned around.

    The coaches seem to have designed the playaction to keep Nail in Douglases wheelhouse and they are a near-perfect match in stature,physicality,and skill levels, so lets let Nail “Do the Dougie” and have Gagner and MPS shoot it up, Magnus on the one-timer crossice, and Sam on the redirections and scoop-shots from those crispy passes to the middle. Weight embraces the NHS so lets celebrate his history here and teach Nail all of his old tricks, what better mentor for Yakupov to have from the Oilers closet of teachers.

    I sense a high scoring game from both teams, so I call it 8-7 Oilers in OT. I think both teams will be scoring 5on5 and that special teams will be working for both as well, it will be a Runaway Train I believe.

    • Ogie Oilthorpe

      I can’t even include your quote in the reply it was so freakin long.

      However, I agree. I don’t understand why at home they don’t swap Yak and Hemsky and give 91-89-64 some softer minutes and let the vet line take the toughs..

  • northof51

    One last point about the goal tending – if Dubnyk isn’t a true #1, as is being argued by some, who is? How do we acquire said #1? Will that goalie make us better?

    I personally think that we are weakest within our top 4 dmen, and then everything else is complementary. Good goaltending (the same that Dubnyk has provided) and good D can turn also-rans into really good teams. With our burgeoning superstars up front, this team could really be something with another top tier defender.