GDB 13.0: Nothing could possiblie go wrong

Tonight’s game features a tired Oilers team that lost a one-goal game to Phoenix last night against a rested Los Angeles squad that when last seen trounced those same Coyotes by a 7-4 score on Thursday.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Lineup

There has been no official word on lineup changes yet, but up front there are two items of note. First, Tyler Pitlick left on crutches after getting caught awkwardly by a hip check; hopefully any injury is less serious than the knee injury that sidelined him back in January. Second, Anton Lander was scratched by Oklahoma City last night, so it seems probable that he will be in the lineup for tonight’s game (to which I would imagine Linus Omark’s reaction is a mixture of happiness for his good friend and ‘I just scored FOUR GOALS in ONE GAME’).

Update: The Lander news is official.

With at least one probable lineup shift, I’m just going to guess here and update later once we get official word. I don’t imagine we’ll see major changes to the forward unit, and I’d guess that Nick Schultz draws in as fresh legs on the blue line.

  • F1. Nail Yakupov – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
  • F2. David Perron – Mark Arcobello – Ales Hemsky
  • F3. Ben Eager – Boyd Gordon – Ryan Jones
  • F4. Luke Gazdic – Will Acton – Anton Lander
  • D1. Ladislav Smid – Jeff Petry
  • D2. Anton Belov – Justin Schultz
  • D3. Andrew Ference – Nich Schultz

Devan Dubnyk will almost certainly start.

Update: I still think Dubnyk starts, but this is interesting.

Coaching & Signs of the Apocalypse

I knew, what with all the talk of firing coaches and whatnot, that things were getting awfully grim. But I didn’t realize how low spirits were until I started noticing the reaction to DSF’s comments:

  • -8/+25 on a comment saying the Oilers had mostly played Eastern Conference “cream puffs”
  • -6/+18 on a comment saying Vancouver had all of Edmonton’s adversity but was playing great
  • -4/+12 on a comment agreeing that Dallas Eakins was in over his head
  • -4/+11 on a comment extolling the Canucks’ virtues

I won’t argue against the Canucks – they have handled some tough circumstances extremely well, and while like the Oilers they have mostly played ‘Eastern Conference cream puffs’ (8 of 13 games) they have also had a road-heavy schedule early. They just went 5-1-1 on a seven-game road-trip, which is insanely good.

What I will say is that it’s way too make Eakins the scapegoat, something that was being done in the comments here yesterday. Certainly, he’s done things I haven’t liked – he was awfully quick to haul last year’s leading goal-scorer out of the lineup, rotating a bunch of skilled first-time penalty killers into the PK all at the same time hasn’t worked well, and the Gazdic-Acton-Brown fourth line never appealed to me – but isn’t it abundantly clear at this point that firing the coach isn’t the solution?

Besides, we’ve seen this play out in reverse before. When Pat Quinn came in, the Oilers jumped out to a 6-2-1 start – one built on getting outshot badly but posting insane percentages. Quinn turned out to be probably the worst head coach in team history. This is the reverse situation: the Oilers have built a losing streak based on decent shot totals and terrible goaltending. I doubt it lasts either.

I can’t definitively say that Eakins is the solution to the problem, but the problem definitely predates his arrival.

Predictions

Game day prediction: 3-0 Los Angeles.

Obvious game day prediction: Mark Arcobello will take three shots that, while all scoring chances, somehow catch the edge of a pad or bounce off the outside of the post or something like that.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: In the third period, with the score still 2-0, Nail Yakupov will get a glorious opportunity from the right faceoff circle. Jonathan Quick will flash the leather, then immediately skate to centre ice with his arms stretched out in the air before sliding to his knees at the middle of the ice. Don Cherry will chuckle as he’s playing the tape of it on Coach’s Corner next Saturday.

  • Zack

    Yeah because starting the first chunk of the season with one legitamite NHL calibre center and below .900 goaltending can totally be pinned on the coach.

    It is extremely frustrating though, don’t get me wrong but pinning this on Eakins doesn’t really make too much sense.

  • I tried it at home

    7 points out of a playoff spot, st loo has 3 games in hand- this season is OVER. Book it! This organization is sick, this team is broken and the fanbase is furious. Thank god we have KLowe. He has 6 rings ya know.

  • We have a rookie coach getting his first look at the NHL. Isn’t it appropriate that we give him the same respect and time that we give any rookie player entering the NHL?

    New coach, new systems, lots of new players…what did you expect…….

    • Slapshot

      ^ it’s because of this kind of thinking we still suck a**.
      (Sorry Cameron I’m going to rip on you here).

      It’s because of fans like this that our team sucks. I’m sorry to say. It’s obvious Katz is fine with things as long as we sell continue to sell out. Fans who honesty believe it’s just a matter of time we get better. It’s not a matter of time! It’s a matter of bringing in the right mix of players. The easy part is finishing last and getting high draft picks. I’m tired of fans being like ” it’s fine, let’s just wait and see”. My god grow some balls! Enough is enough! I love this team too much to just turn around and jump ship. But as a fan who wants to see this team get better, I am going to sit here and b*tch till changes are made. Real fans don’t sit there and blindly cheer for a loosing team. Real fans make their voices heard and don’t give up till the team starts winning!

      • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

        I agree with your “vote with your dollar” point, but I think Cameron is right about the expectation level for the team. Why should this team be a playoff team? Because they’ve missed the playoffs for 7 years and “enough is enough”? The truth is they haven’t built a winner yet.

        During the off-season they marginally upgraded their D (adding Ference/Belov, subtracting Whitney), marginally upgraded their top 6 forwards (Perron) and broke-even on the bottom 6 and goaltending (Dubnyk and Labarbera have both been awful this year though). Why should this team be way better than the team that finished 24th last year? Especially when you factor in the growing pains associated with a rookie coach and the players learning yet another system.

        It is frustrating as a fan, but the holes in this team (functional toughness, lack of elite D-men) are not fixable in one off-season. Unless you know of any Drew Doughty and/or Milan Lucic type players that were available and keen to go to Edmonton that MacT missed out on…

        Anyhow, until the team rounds into form, I’ll continue watching games from home and wearing my 20 year old Oil jersey, patiently waiting until the team has proved that they deserve my hard-earned cash. If ownership eventually stops making money, then they may actually consider making the management changes that so many people here have been calling for…

      • Serious Gord

        Time for you to get ripped. It’s easy for you to bitch but how exactly do you suggest they fix it – names of trades or free agent signings that are realistic, that other teams would legitimately agree to or guys that would actually sign here……..yea that’s what I thought smart guy. I feel your frustration but the Oilers have had no depth for a really long time which means they have no chips to offer any other team except their young draft picks which they are trying to build around – the only thing that can be done is to be patient. The team had been run so far into the ground after the 06 run that the sad fact is it is going to take a really long time to crawl out of the hole. They have come a long way but there is still a long way to go – since 06 the Oilers have been the equivalent of an expansion franchise with the talent they have had on the roster. Lowe is responsible for thinking he could turn sh*t into gold after 06 and delayed a true rebuild by 5yrs, and then Tambo didnt help things at all. But I think MacT is on the right track, unfortunately only more time will tell….you bitching will do nothing to implement change but feel free if it makes you feel better.

        • Alsker

          Ok I’m going to make things a little clearer. I’m not going to suggest and trades or signings because I don’t want Klowe doing anything. Whit I mean by the oilers having to make changes. It’s all upstairs. We can change all the players and coaches we want, but the root if the problem still remains. As an oiler fan I would find it easier being patient if it wasn’t with Klowe. My patients has run out with that guy. I would feel more comfortable if I knew we were climbing out of this hole without Klowe. there it is, that is the change I want people to get fired up about making, simply put, stop being patient with Klowe

          • Mikey

            Haha. I love that you think K.Lowe would come to oilers nation, look for posts by you, to see what trades you would make. That is the reason you wont suggest trades or signings. Haha

            At least just say, “I am not sure which players are available, so I cant say which trades I would make.”

          • Alsker

            I can agree with you on this point but unfortunately you are just beating your head against a brick wall, KLowe and Katz are buddies and because of that nothing upstairs is going to change for a long long time. I think kLowe still has years to play with before he feels any heat from his boss….this is the sad state of things in Oilerland

  • I tried it at home

    I still have faith in Yak City. Now would be a great time to see him explode for FIVE (5) goals and then call up Linus Omark collect from center ice anx tell him “sorry man but thats how we do it in the big leagues”. Damn, I wish I had been drunk when I came up with this.