GDB 47.0: Spoiler?

The Oilers are in something of an interesting position tonight. If they win, they can put a serious crimp in the Minnesota Wild’s playoff ambitions, playing the role of late-season spoiler. However, they can only do so by damaging their draft position.

The Stakes

The three-team playoff race in the West is most likely to end with the Blue Jackets falling just short. With a win tonight, the Wild could guarantee themselves a playoff berth. However, should the Oilers win in regulation, the Wild’s playoff chances drop from 90.4 percent down to 71.3 percent, while the Blue Jackets’ chances jump from 30.8 percent to 44.3 percent.

Yesterday, we considered the Oilers’ draft position needs; four of the teams the Oilers are in competition with for the second overall spot were in action. Unfortunately for the Oilers, all four lost; only Carolina (overtime loss to the New York Rangers) picked up a point. The relevant standings are as follow:

A win would slide the Oilers from fifth down to seventh in the pre-lottery draft rankings, which would undo part of the one and only benefit from all of their recent losing.

Memory Lane

It isn’t exactly the same situation, but the dilemma reminds me a little of the one the Oilers faced in 2006-07. The team had spectacularly collapsed following the trade deadline move of Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders; in the 20 games leading up to the final contest of the year they failed to managed even one regulation win – they had two shootout victories and 18 regulation losses over that span.

But they managed to overcome a 2-0 deficit at the midway point of the game, scoring the next three goals and winning the contest on Patrick Thoresen’s third period tip-in. The win gave the Oilers 71 points, tying them with Chicago. The Oilers had the tie-breaker, though, so entering the draft lottery they held the sixth overall pick while Chicago had the fifth selection and the final one with a chance at first overall.

Chicago won the draft lottery, and ended up picking Patrick Kane first overall. The Oilers still ended up with a pretty good player – Sam Gagner – in the sixth overall spot, but it was a pivotal moment in the history of both franchises.

The Lineup

Via the Oilers’ official Twitter feed, here are the lines for tonight’s game:

  • Taylor Hall – Shawn Horcoff – Nail Yakupov
  • Magnus Paajarvi – Sam Gagner – Jordan Eberle
  • Ryan Jones – Eric Belanger – Anton Lander
  • Ryan Smyth – Jerred Smithson – Mike Brown
  • Ladislav Smid – Jeff Petry
  • Nick Schultz – Corey Potter
  • Mark Fistric – Justin Schultz
  • Nikolai Khabibulin

Quick Hits

  • Jason Gregor was supposed to write this piece. Apparently, he’s “too busy” with “raising money to fight Alzheimers” to fulfill his blog-writing responsibilities. I’ll let the readers decide where that rates on the jerk scale.

  • Jason was nice enough to pass along this encouraging statistic: “Backstrom is a perfect 17-0 at home vs. Oilers with a 1.34 GAA, a .948 save pct., and four shutouts. Wow.” He didn’t finish that comment with ‘have fun explaining why anybody should expect anything other than another humiliating Oilers loss’ but I think that was implied.
  • Taylor Hall would seem to have some chance at an extra $2 million in bonus money if he has a strong finish to the season.
  • The Justin Schultz/Nick Schultz pairing has gone minus-6 against the Wild this season; no other player on the team is worse than minus-3. Maybe it’s a good thing Krueger is splitting them up.
  • This might be the last game Nikolai Khabibulin ever plays for the Oilers, with Devan Dubnyk set to start tomorrow and Khabibulin’s contract expiring this summer.

Predictions

Game day prediction: The Oilers will lose a dull and one-sided game, falling by a 3-1 score.

Obvious game day prediction: The Oilers goal will be scored by Nail Yakupov, and after the game he’ll disappointedly say, “I don’t care about the goal, I just want to win.”

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: The Oilers’ second pairing will have a surprisingly good night, as Corey Potter plays well and Nick Schultz is much-improved when separated from Justin Schultz. Potter will pick up an assist on the Yakupov goal.

Recently around the Nation Network

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Well, I guess every now and then even a blind squirrel finds a nut. Unfortunately, the Wild goaltending probably cost the Oilers Monohan tonight. Just as well as this should prevent the Oiler “braintrust” from throwing another 18 year old hockey player into the line up.

    MacT will have to work a miracle to get this club into a position to be competitive. They have virtually nothing in the system that is ready to help the current roster and I dont exactly envision free agents flocking to this sh*t show. I would think we should expect more of the same garbage next season.

  • 15w40

    Just like the 5 game win streak and the 24 hours of being a “playoff” team – that win was as complete mirage.

    All they did was manage to screw themselves out of a chance at a premier pick in the draft.

    That win proved nothing other than that they have a couple sharpshooters and and old goalie that is usually injured but was unconscious for one night.

    The ice was tilted to the Oilers’ end most of the game.

    Minnesota was forced to open up after a seeing eye shot by Potter and a nice shot by Hall. Most games with a shot differential like that – they lose that game and they picked the worst of times to buck the trend.

    They still need an overhaul and now they have “won” their way out of a nice piece to either put in the line up or trade for a good return.

    I don’t buy the whole “gotta win the last two games to finish strong and build a winning attitude for next year” mantra.

    Its too late for that, it was a soft game won by a soft skilled team – period.

  • paul wodehouse

    …and in other news across the country here in Southern Ontario the London Knights were crowned last night western division champions of the OHL beating the Plymouth Whalers 4 games to one & for the second year in a row win the Wayne Gretzky Trophy…btw this Knights team has three potential first round picks up for grabs including Max Domi son of you know who…

  • 15w40

    Minny choked similar to young Oilers in the crunch . Crap happens . We should still have a good draft potential slotted at 6-7 spot as Nicushkin most will pass on as he wants to remain in homeland for a couple of years or more . We can wait where most below want help now . We could trade up with several pieces as well to try for Jones .

  • paul wodehouse

    …if the playoffs started today the canucks would play the sharks…i would be most hopeful that the Oilers spank the Canuckleheads tonite to send them into the playoff race all timid and unsure of themselves to face the sharks whom they have not beaten all year…and yes i know the playoffs don’t start today jus sayin’…

  • Citizen David

    I’m sick and tired of the whining about the Oilers winning last night. I was so happy they won, I hope they win tonight. They are my team. I cheer for them to win no matter what.

    Get over the Barkov Love. The safe bet is that he’s a 60 point second line center. Which is really good, but not something I will cry about some other team like the flames getting. Where we are we might get Lindholm, who very well could end up better than Barkov. We don’t know.

  • Rob...

    I couldn’t help thinking that the Wild may have had a chance to win if their game plan had been to provide puck support instead of laying extremely late hits on the passers. What an insult to their fans not to compete for a win and play-off spot instead try to get retribution for perceived slights.

  • Thumby

    Been a fan of the oilers since WHA days…while I have died many deaths over the past 2 decades waiting for another cup, There have been a few bright spots like the 2006 run and knocking off the Avs and Stars in the first rounds of the playoffs. I hope to see this team move forward, and to do that they need more talent.

    IMHO last night was a screw up. Sure its nice to spank Minny and hurt their playoff chances, but lets get real – what we need are better players.

    Winning last night was the typical “win the battle and lose the war” material. And it came about a month too late. Getting a top 5 pick is way too much to give up for a win that means nothing…they should have pulled Khabby and put Yak in net!

    It pains me to defend DSF but he is right about the 99/100 times we’d lose that game based on the shots. Potter looked like Mike Bossy out there with his shooting. Too bad the 1% horse came in and likely just cost us 3-4 draft postions and a player we could have really used…time will tell.

    • wiseguy

      In this analogy, “winning the war” the last 3 years hasn’t helped us improve so why not try something different, like not ending up with the high draft pick but making some good signings and trades instead.

      • Thumby

        Few wars are won in a single campaign…but I agree and hope that Mac T is a more capable General for us this offseason. I was hoping to finally get a center with skill who was more than 5 10″…

    • Spydyr

      Yes,sure was a tough win.

      Don’t think I have ever cringed before when the Oilers were scoring sweet goals.

      The last time the Oilers won a game late in the season that they should have tanked they drafted Gagner .The draft pick they should have had was Kane.

      Now we may have to watch Calgary take Barkov one spot ahead of us .Then for the next 8-10 years play against us.

  • Fans are deluding themselves Oilers have been 1 of the worst teams in the NHL for 7 years.

    Most fans overrate their players. Ask yourselves why Edmonton has not been able to trade their players ie. Gagner Hemsky Whitney etc.

    Every year they are going to trade these players or bundle something it never happens because they are not worth much.

    You want a 1-2 D-man you need to a Eberle or Yakupov and that still may not be enough. A 1st rd pick is to even close.

    Give your head a shake , Oilers are horrible in most positions.

    • Rob...

      Get your head out of your rear. Ottawa tried to trade for Gagner, and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to trade an injured player, something Hemsky and Whitney have been nearly their entire career with the Oilers.

  • Eddie Shore

    You guys make it sound like we are stuck drafting Marc Pouliot. We won, it was enjoyable and much needed for the TEAM. Get over it. We are still going to get a good prospect.

  • paul wodehouse

    @ Nick …monohan could be ready for us

    imo…we need size at centre…soonest… we missed out on Coutourier when our idiot former GM was in place sitting on his thumbellini…

    …get a Monohan or put the knee pads on and convince Holmgren to trade his big #14…

  • paul wodehouse

    @dawgtoy…knew about the melon issue and it’s duly noted that you’d steer clear…it was the only down arrow for me as well…so we watch and see if he gets picked up by anyone and we immediately hear the knock on MacT for not getting him…he makes 4million now …anything’s gonna be an over pay no?