# GDB 9.0: IS IT TOO EARLY FOR A MUST WIN

Is game nine of an 82-game season too early for a "must-win" scenario? Mathematically it is, but what about mentally for a team that has lost five straight and has yet to win a game in regulation?

The Oilers haven’t played awful, but they also haven’t played well enough to win, and you wonder about the psyche of an organization with a young team, a new coach and a new general manager if the losses continue to mount.

One theory suggests you can’t make the playoffs in October, but you can miss them. Statistically the odds are against you if you are too far out of the playoff cutline at the end of October, and while many players try to focus only on the next game it is virtually impossible to be unaware of your team’s place in the standings.

Elliotte Friedman pointed out that over the last seven full length NHL seasons, only three of 32 teams that were four points out of a playoff position on November 1st managed to play a postseason game. I was curious to see which teams made the comeback.

In 2011, the Boston Bruins were 4-7-0 with eight points, four back of the 8th place Lightning, but finished the season in 2nd place in the Eastern conference. The Bruins went 45-22-4 in their final 71 games.

In 2010, the Buffalo Sabres were 3-7-2 with eight points, four back of 8th place. They went 40-22-8 in their final 70 games to finish in 7th place in the east.

In 2006, the Calgary Flames were 3-7-1 and seven points back of 8th place, but they managed to finish in 8th place. The Flames went 40-22-9 in their final 71 games to make the playoffs.

History shows it will be very difficult for the Oilers to make the postseason, if they aren’t close to the playoff cutline in 13 days.

The Oilers are already seven points out of 8th place with six games to play before November 1st. This afternoon’s game isn’t mathematically a "must-win" game, but in order to stay within four points of the playoff cutline they have to win at least four, likely five, of their next six games.

Some have stated fans need to remain calm and don’t panic, however, the statistics paint a different picture. The Oilers need wins, and they need them quickly.

# LINEUP

Yakupov-RNH-Eberle
Hall-Arcobello-Perron
Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
Brown/Gazdic-Acton-Jones

Head coach Dallas Eakins switched up his top two lines, by moving Nail Yakupov and David Perron away from their off wings. Eakins moved Yakupov to the left side, because he feels Yakupov can get more pucks to net, now that the puck won’t be as exposed to the middle of the ice like it was on his off wing.

It will be interesting to watch and see if that is indeed the case for both Yakupov and Perron.

As I stated yesterday, Marc Arcobello’s hockey sense has really impressed me. He’s 2nd in the NHL in assists with eight, and despite not having any goals so far he has put himself in great positions to score. If he keeps playing like this it will be hard for Eakins to take him out of the top-six.

Smid-Petry
Ference-J.Schultz
Belov-N.Schultz/Grebeshkov

The final two pairings are a guess. Eakins might keep Belov and J.Schultz together, or he could switch things up. Denis Grebeshkov was recalled from OKC and he could play today. The Oilers didn’t have a morning skate, so we won’t know who is scratched until the warm up or moments before puck drop.

Dubnyk

He played his best game of the season in New York on Thursday, and if he plays like that today he’ll give the Oilers a chance to win.

# OUR CRYSTAL BALL

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have to win eventually don’t they? They’ve won two straight in Ottawa, and they will make it three with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Arcobello’s surprising start to the season continues as he picks up two more helpers and takes over the NHL lead in assists with ten.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The PK doesn’t allow a goal for the first time this season, and to cap off their perfect afternoon of penalty killing Nugent-Hopkins scores a shorthanded goal, on a nifty assist from Arcobello. The shortie comes with Ryan Jones in the penalty box for instigating a fight with Joe Corvo. Neither player had any PIMs prior to the dust up.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

• Gkpoil

what a bunch of f*cking meatheads!!! Eberle should forfeit 10k every time he’s too fancy and turns the puck over on the power play!!

• Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

Who runs the PP in practice for Christ sakes ? I smell melt down again 🙁

• Spydyr

From the looks of the PP Buchberger.

• Oilers4Ever

Whoever is running the PP need to be fired immediately!!! How the eff do you not gain the zone on a 5 on 3 let alone score? Effen idiots!!!

• Spydyr

How about holding the players accountable instead of always blaming the coaches. I’m sure they didn’t tell Nuge, “Here’s what I want you to do on the 5-on-3. Attack two Senators players, try a spin-a-rama, and then give the puck away.”

The coach can give you the greatest strategy, bu the execution has been very poor.

• Spydyr

That was pitiful.A chance to put the game away and they can’t even gain the zone 5-3.

• Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

Dubnyk is stealing this game for us. Who’d a thunk it?

Edit: DAMN YOU, HOCKEY GODS

• Spydyr

And there it is “Dubnyk’s weak goal of the game”™

• Wax Man Riley

I think after 35 shots or how ever many Ottawa has had, that wasn’t really the weak goal. More of just a goal.

• Spydyr

A weak goal is a weak goal be it on the first shot or the forty-first shot.

• Wax Man Riley

I just don’t see it as a weak goal. I think Ottawa could have had 6 breakaways and used the Mighty Ducks Triple deke to score and someone would call it a weak goal because it is Dubnyk.

He has played great this game.

• Spydyr

That was a weak goal??????

• Spydyr

Short side is the AHL side hold the damn post he is 6’6″

• Spydyr

Son what you want is a sheet of plywood!!

• Spydyr

No , just some consistency.

• PlayDirty

Get over yourself man. That goal was a TOTAL fluke. Sometimes sh!t happens. Enjoy the rest of the day at least – we won!

• Wax Man Riley

Don’t worry boys…. plenty of time for us to get Oiler’d(TM)

• YFC Prez

There’s always something wrong with this club. When pp is on dubnyk is off. With the way dubs has played and the pp chances this game shouldn’t be close. Just get it together already.

• Spydyr

What would they have to leave behind to take Karlsson home with them?
Would one of the kids do if so which one?

• YFC Prez

Karlson is to Ottawa what Hall is to Edmonton. He isn’t going home with anyone.

• Spydyr

So your saying Hall for Karlson ? Would you do that?

• Wax Man Riley

I hope not.

Karlsson is really good, but he’s also like 5’9″

Oilers have enough puck movers and need some shutdown.

• Spydyr

Do you think Ottawa would make that trade?

I’m not so sure they would.

• Wax Man Riley

I’m not so sure either. It would be similar to MTL trading PK. That is a Norris winner.

• YFC Prez

Not a chance in h e double hockey sticks

• Wax Man Riley

Here come the Senators!!! Size and Toughness throughout their lineup and the KASSAsINATOR to boot!!! BIG, HUGE,BAD Defense and BIG Skilled and TOUGH forwards, even a Monstrous, Tough goalie!!! Boys against MEN again and Wonger smells another loss coming!!! Oh YEAH, HALL gets gooned and injured andNO RESONSE from OIL!!! GYRBA cheap shorted Stajan in pre-season and got DROPPED by zmCGRATTAN on his next shift!!! That is the difference between the Oil and the Flames!!! Where is BIG, BAD STEVE MACINTYRE? Where is GAZDUC??? Can we trade for MCGRATTAN or BIG JOHN SCOTT!!! PLEAS!EM!!

I smell a narcissist.

Dude, therapy.

• Spydyr

First good game Dubnyk played all year(props to him).First win in regulation.Coincidence I think not.Now if only Dubnyk can play like this every game not every sixth he might become a legit starter.

• YFC Prez

Thanks for that one Dubby. Makes up for one of those games you lost. Glad to have you back!

Just checked the score. What happened to Hall?!?!?!?!

• Spydyr

Knee on knee hit when no one on the ice came to his aid he took a weak slash at the guy that hit him and got a penalty. Not one oiler on the ice happened to notice.They were to busy looking at their skates.

• Wax Man Riley

It didn’t look like a dirty hit. I agree that there is no pushback at all….. ever.

This one I don’t think was deserving though.

• Rob...

Easy does it. There was pushback after the Perron goalie interference non-call. Smyth took exception to the treatment Perron was getting.

I’ll take the win over a game where we didn’t win but ‘taught the other team a lesson’.

• Spydyr

The Gods were with us,

WTF kind of PP is that, this was a fluke is all as much as it pains
me to say it.

• Spydyr

Eberle (our best player thus far) takes over the game and leads the team onto victory . Dubbie does and Dubbie Do , yahoo . Time to restart planning the parade .

• Spydyr

Outshot, outchanced, outhit, 40 % on the faceoffs,lose Hall, can’t enter the zone on a 2 minute 2 man advantage. And its a win. So much for advanced stats. But I think the parade planning might be a tad premature.

• sizedoesmatter

Sorry robin taking a wide stance is exactly the same as sticking your leg out. He should be suspended.

• PlayDirty

Not if you maintain that stance as you approach the hit and through it. A wide stance gives you stability prevents you from being knocked on your own a\$\$.

Seriously people – this was a dose of bad luck – completely incidental. Let’s not whine about it.

• PlayDirty

Yes , but almost all players do it including Hall on Clutterbuck . Not often does it create injuries , however . More bruising and charley horse type stingers . It’s an action easy to disguise , and thus suspension very seldom applied unless very flagrant which this was not , even if it was purposeful .