GDB 7.0: IT DOESN’T GET EASIER

Usually Oiler fans would be excited to watch the best player in the game, but the thought of Sidney Crosby shooting on Devan Dubnyk is frightening. The Pens are 3-0 at home and they’ve outscored the opposition 12-3. The Penguins skated into Florida last Friday and got waxed 6-3 by the Panthers, so don’t expect the Penguins to take the struggling Oilers lightly.

Crosby is rolling with 5 goals and 9 points in 5 games. He is likely licking his chops in anticipation of facing the Oilers and their 4.83 GAA.

The great part about sports is that anything can happen. Most would predict an Oiler loss tonight, but once the puck drops anything can happen.

Maybe Devan Dubnyk suddenly finds his game. Stop chuckling, it is possible.

Maybe the Oilers stop turning the puck over at the offensive blueline, and chip it deep.

Maybe their PK gets some timely saves and some sticks in the lanes to break up passes.

Maybe Nail Yakupov shows Dallas Eakins he got the message and pots two goals.

Maybe the Oilers finally understand all the nuances of Eakins new system and play a sound defensive game.

They might need all of these maybes to happen in order to win, but if the Penguins can lose 6-3 to the Panthers the Oilers have a shot.

LINEUP

The Oilers didn’t have a morning skate, but we will see some lineup changes.

Jesse Joensuu has been sent back to Edmonton to get an undisclosed injury looked at.

Ryan Jones was recalled from OKC, while Philip Larsen was sent down.

Yakupov will return to the lineup.

I’m guessing Jones will play on the 4th line in place of either Luke Gazdic or Mike Brown. Brown leads the team in hits, but isn’t doing anything offensively. Gazdic is tougher, and he’s been physical. Eakins believes you need to wear down the opposition physically, so maybe Brown stays while Gazdic sits. Pittsburgh doesn’t have a bonafide heavyweight so Eakins could put Brown with Jones and hope they create something on the forecheck.

The top-nine could have numerous options. These are the top-nine forwards, but we likely won’t know the lines until later today. This is what I would do:

LW                         C                       RW
Hall                    RNH                   Yakupov
Perron               Arcobello           Eberle
Smyth               Gordon               Hemsky
Jones                Acton                  Brown

It is a major risk to put Yakupov with RNH and Hall, because they’ve given up a lot of chances lately, but I’d still look at it.

Eberle and Perron had good chemistry in camp, and Arcobello seems to fit in well with Eberle.

You could go with a veteran line of Gordon, Smyth and Hemsky. Hemsky and Smyth know how to play with one another, and they should be reliable enough defensively.

Ultimately, I don’t think it matters who plays with whom. Collectively the forwards need to be better away from the puck. Most of the guys are producing, and once Yakupov finds his offence this group will be fine. The key is which trio can find some defensive chemistry.

The blueline is struggling. J.Schultz looks lost, but he’s only played 54 NHL games and he wasn’t heralded as a defensive dynamo when they signed him. He will calm down and make smarter plays. Belov has been okay, but this team lacks a true top-pairing defender. Until they get one, they need their forwards to help them defensively. It is a must for this team to be competitive.

LOOKING AHEAD…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hard to believe the Oilers can pull out a victory. They lose 3-2, but don’t give up four goals for the first time all season. That will be a moral victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Crosby scores a PP goal in the first period.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gordon scored 4 goals in 48 games last year, but he already has 4 this year. Craig Adams scored 3 goals in 48 games last year, but he already has 3 goals in 5 games. Gordon leads the Oilers in goals, while Adams is 2nd on the Penguins. Both of them continue their surprising starts and pick up a goal each. Both of them will score career highs in goals this season.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

 

  • Hemmercules

    Just win. 2-1, 10-9, whatever. Just win. I really wanna talk about a win tomorrow and not how we beat them on the shot clock or won more faceoffs or soft goals that cost them.

    My gut says Duby gets pulled tonight but I feel for the guy. I know I wasn’t the same guy for a short bit when my kid was born, life changing stuff for sure. He will probably bounce back but how long do you wait for him to do it??

  • Rob...

    Though I don’t wish ill will on Horcoff, it’s interesting to note that he has zero points in four games. Gordon >>> Horcoff. Arcobello >>> Belanger. Acton >> Belanger.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    This organization is looking real bad at the moment. Clearly the team is not built right. The rebuild has been completed faster in other organizations without a plethora of high draft picks. Alarming to say the least and patience is no longer acceptable.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    My gameday prediction. DD will stop every shot he faces. Unfortunately he wont be facing the 6 he lets in. Oilers lose 6-0. Diehard Oiler fan here but don’t see much hope.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Tuesday checklist-got up, got dressed, checked internet for goalie trade (none), eating at various intervals, awaiting Oilers annihilation by Pitts, awaiting to go to bed angry. Repeat 7 years and counting.

  • 24% body fat

    Is this the first time that three first overall picks have played on a line together.

    Marleau 2, Heatley 2, and Thornton 1, was the lowest I can think of before than.

    Heck, even Gagner 6, Hall 1, and Yak 1, is still low.

    Colorado?

    Duchene 3, Mackinnon 1, Landeskog 2

    EDIT: To start the game together.

  • A-Mc

    This game terrifies me. It’s a slippery slope when you lose games like this. You think you’re in a bunch but before you know it you’re 10-40-5 and realize you’re contenting for the worst record EVER!

    Somehow the Oilers manage to show up for good teams (see Detroit), so I’m actually going to predict a win tonight. 6-4 Oilers.

    ps: Joensuu out again on injury? Brutal. We need this guy healthy, he’s a solid addition.

  • Alsker

    GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hard to believe the Oilers can pull out a victory. They lose 3-2, but don’t give up four goals for the first time all season. That will be a moral victory.
    Not being embarrassed tonite will be a moral victory. Im cheering Oil all the way but worry how quickly this one could go very bad.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    “Maybe the Oilers stop turning the puck over at the offensive blueline, and chip it deep.”

    Like the former, not so much the latter. So far this season, the Oil have been much better at skating and passing out of the zone with possession. Excepting a few massive blunders (see Smid last night on the 4×4), this is best medicine and the numbers reflect that it’s been working (for the most part).

    The guy has a hilarious name, it’s fun to say and I’ve gotten confused about its spelling more than once… finally looked it up… it’s spelled GAZDIC.

    http://oilers.nhl.com/club/player.htm?id=8473989

    I’ll still probably get it wrong, though.

    I think tonight we see a repeat of the Van game. You can’t outplay all the other teams and our team (as vastly improved as it is) is still only average to slightly above average. We’re going to take a pounding on occasion and tonight’s the night.

    I’d expect us to get massively outshot and the goaltending to continue to suffer. Suddenly everyone pretending corsi isn’t real will be quoting it to prove how bad we are.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It know being 5 games into the season may be a little soon to be concerned, but, there’s little doubt that 4 or 5 pts could make a world of difference come April with this team. If that number gets to double digits, it could be lights out time in November.

    5-2 Oilers on WTF night.

    NSOGDP…Yakupov takes his hat trick puck and tosses it at Eakins, cutting him for 8 stitches.