GDB 34.0: Once More Unto The Breach

It’s a fair bet that Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins did not and will not quote Shakespeare when talking to his team today, but doubtless both he and fans of the Oilers would like to see the spirit embodied in Henry V’s speech as they play the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

“Lend The Eye A Terrible Aspect"

But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of the tiger; Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage; Then lend the eye a terrible aspect… Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.

David Perron did a pretty good job of that sort of thing last night, and has all season. It’s not just that he’s driving scoring chances (though he is, and that’s the most important thing) but that he’s tenacious and battles at both ends of the rink. I thought Eakins summed him up nicely this afternoon:

It’s something the rest of the lineup needs to imitate. Taylor Hall has been that kind of player before, hard and physical and clearly giving it his all on the ice, but he wasn’t last night and hasn’t been all too frequently this season. With a tired Oilers team facing a rested contender in Vancouver, they desperately need that kind of play from Hall.

The Lineup

We don’t know what the Oilers’ lineup tonight is going to look like, but we do know from the team’s official Twitter feed that Devan Dubnyk will start and that Boyd Gordon is both ready to play and likely to play.

I liked the shift that Eakins made late against Boston, moving Jesse Joensuu to Sam Gagner’s line and Hall to play with Mark Arcobello and Ales Hemsky, and I would keep those trios together tonight. In the absence of official information, I’ll just post the lines I would run if I were in Eakins shoes tonight:

  • F1. David Perron – Ryan Nugent- Hopkins – Jordan Eberle. They’ve just been too good to split up. I was tempted to bump Eberle down to Hall’s wing in an effort to get the latter going but I would not want to mess with this trio.
  • F2. Taylor Hall – Mark Arcobello – Ales Hemsky. Hall and Hemsky have played well together in the past, and Arcobello had great chemistry with Hall in Oklahoma. More than that, Arcobello has outplayed Gagner all season and deserves this shot.
  • F3. Jesse Joensuu – Sam Gagner – Nail Yakupov. Joensuu looked really good versus Boston and adds some nice things to this extremely soft minutes line.
  • F4. Luke Gadzic – Boyd Gordon – Anton Lander. Assuming that Ryan Smyth is still injured, this would be my choice for the fourth line tonight. Gazdic played well against Boston and if you’re packing around an enforcer this game is one where he might be good to have. Gordon/Lander gives the line two faceoff men and this unit would be used almost entirely as a defensive zone line.
  • D1. Andrew Ference – Jeff Petry. Petry looked pretty good last night and none of the options for this role are ideal; this is what the Oilers have.
  • D2. Anton Belov – Justin Schultz. This pair had some nice moments together and would be the Oilers go-to offensive zone unit.
  • D3. Nick Schultz – Corey Potter. Philip Larsen had a bad game last night, and the demotion of Martin Marincin suggests that Potter’s ready to play. Ordinarily, I’d keep Larsen in on the third pair, but because this is a back-to-back there’s some value in having fresh legs.
  • G1. Devan Dubnyk. We know that Eakins is rolling Dubnyk, and the bottom line here is that we know Jason LaBarbera has no future in Edmonton. It makes sense to use the guy who a) has been better over the long term and b) will still be on the NHL roster after Ilya Bryzgalov gets healthy.


Game Day Prediction: Four games ago I was pessimistic about the Oilers chances against a hot Colorado team and predicted a 5-1 loss. Edmonton won 8-2. Tonight I predict another 5-1 loss.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: This is the first time Zack Kassian will play the Oilers since breaking Gagner’s jaw with his stick, and Edmonton won’t forget that. Gazdic will drop the gloves with Kassian the first chance he gets, and moreover he’ll fare better than Ben Eager did last season.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Gagner, demoted to the third line and rapidly falling out of favour with Oilers fans, will enjoy a very solid game in his new role and do most of the work in setting up Edmonton’s lone goal, which will come from Jesse Joensuu.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    The Oilers’ lack of try in tonight’s game is very disappointing. No wonder why CBC doesn’t take the team seriously: every time the CBC covers an Oilers game, the team totally lays an egg (remember the 5-0 debacle against Detroit on HNIC?)

    I think if the Oilers were given credit for a goal every time they maintained possession below the Canucks’ goal line, they’d probably still be losing this game…

  • Zamboni Driver

    Yeah, the crew is so biased towards Vancouver.

    Except for the fact that the colour guy is a Boy on the Bus, and best friends with the GM and Six Cups.

    Also, this might be a surprise if you’re hearing non-Debrusk-like cheerleading.


    • YFC Prez

      This is so depressing.
      Reality is we have a shot at mcdavid

      * curls in ball on couch and cries hysterically into his coffee mug of low quality scotch*

      Oilers aren’t making this stuff any better tonight.

      • YFC Prez

        No, the Oilers will improve enough to miss out on him……..

        The problem for this team is that it won the #1 pick in three years when there was not a stud #1 centerman available. Tavares went #1 a year before Hall, and McKinnon last year is likely going to end up better than Nuge as well. The Oilers were fine taking the players that they did (maybe Galchenyuk instead of Yak would be a better fit), but they missed out on a superstar centerman in all three years.

  • **

    I was expecting the Oilers to lose all their games on this road trip (plus Boston yesterda and st. louis when tey come back home), but at least yesterday against the Bruins they made it fun to watch. Tonight it is just embarrasing and boring.

  • Derian Hatcher

    Are 20 and 26 the only two players on this team with ANY stones???? What a bunch of skirts. Absolutely pathetic. How the $&@&$ Do these dough boys collect their cheques with any dignity. This organization is a complete and utter joke. Nice pride boys…keep it rolling you overpaid prima donnas.

    Edit: should have also included 57 with 20 &26 but it was difficult to think straight with my head in the oven.

  • YFC Prez

    There goes another wasted night staying up watching this team

    Change the assistant coaches
    Get Bryzy healthy
    And lets see one of those bold moves already

    This team needs a breathe of air to resuscitate it

    • **

      everybody wants a bold move… fairness every team is looking for centers and d-men…..if they have them they dont trade them

      oilers are not in a position of strength……gazdic and perron are the few guys with value……cant trade them……they are the only guys with any heart and pride

      what a shame, i was looking forward to this year…….

      • YFC Prez

        Gazdic’s limited ability won’t get you much more than a 6th rounder though. Dealing draft picks is the way EDM has to bring in some good players, that and wait for FA.

        They won’t be this bad all year long, so holding your breath for Ekblad or Reinhart is a fool’s errand

        • YFC Prez

          I keep thinking they can’t be this bad for much longer as well. I get all high on hopium when they show up for a couple games and then come crashing back down to reality.
          They suck.

  • Zamboni Driver

    It’s a sad statement on the Oilers when you think about the organization has no better players to put out there than the gutless and heartless Hemsky, the braindead GROSSLY overrated Gagner, and having one decent D would be nice. Just one.

    And now…to California.

    No problem.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    I’m getting depressed. It’s demoralizing as a fan, I feel sorry for Perron, from St.Louis to this…although St.Louis wasn’t very good for quite a while…….. maybe :c

    • Andy7190

      Don’t feel sorry for him. He will pump up his stats and then request a trade later this year or next and be gone to a contender that will allow him to freewheel more than St. Louis did. He has value, and if the team is still a basement dweller at the deadline this year he could be gone. His salary is reasonable for a player producing at his level, and since the acquiring team will have him under contract for one or two more seasons he has higher value.

  • Andy7190

    LMAO. Talk about adding salt to the wound, the freaking 4th line scores a power play goal on these losers!!! Eakins and his coaches zero emotion on the bench. Please someone throw a f$!;@ burger or nachos over to Eakins. He always looks hungry.

    • **

      I have trouble figuring out that last goal was a slap in the face or a punch in the sack to the Oilers Nation. Eakins looks like an anorexic girl. Loved how Kassian stared Perron down and then went behind a ref when Gazdic was coming at him.


    So funny all of the oilers fans were so ragging on Torts as a possibility as a coach and not that I’m a fan but when you watch this game Vancouvers 4th line plays every shift every minute like its their last and that is all coaching. Our team plays like they think their coach is scared to make a tough decision and that is obvious. Time to make some tough decisions Eakins failing to do so doesn’t give anyone confidence.

      • camdog

        Just about every single player has left the organisation, heck even the towel body were let go and multiple coaches were dismissed There remains one constant.

        No other team in the league has built teams like the Oilers have. I know they said it wouldn’t work in the 80’s and that is what Kevin Lowe has been selling to Katz. This might be news to Lowe and Katz but we don’t have a Gretzky, we don’t have a Messier, we don’t have a Kurri, we don’t have a Coffey, we don’t have a Moog/Fuhr. Maybe in 3-4 years of development our young guns will develop into stars, but I still don’t see them developing into stars that transend the game like we did in the 80’s. Until Lowe and Katz realize this we will continue to lose!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Life is hell without a couple top pairing blueliners.

    29th place is all ours by the end of this road trip. Good thing Lowe knows so much about winning.

      • **

        Mac T needs to bring top talent that also battles every night. I don`t want a PK Subban joining the bag of marshmallows in the Oilers dressing room. Subban is a top talent, but he likes to take nights off. Same with Karlsson in Ottawa

  • camdog

    It appears the more we hand the reins over to our young draftees , Gagner included – the worse they and we get. Chiarelli (Boston ) says they won’t draft players under 200 lbs-drafting by weight more than even height. How many of our youth is over 200 lbs.? Kind of explains how big teams push out team around so easily/readily does it not .

  • Rdubb

    Johnathon, your so-called predications where OUT TO LUNCH, except for the score, and the monkey from TSN could have gotten close to that one too, your others…way far off, and I mean WAY…
    All you need to do is listen to any call-in radio show and you’d know the fans are pissed with gagner’s compete level this season, his lack of defense (since there hasn’t been any)…
    For someone who is more “in-tune” with the Oilers and around the team a whole lot more, your “predications” should much much closer than these where…just a thought