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.

Predictions

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

  • 2004Z06

    I would not be surprised if Eakins moves Duby on one of the forward lines……..that’s about all that is left in possible line combinations.

    The difference between Boston and Vancouver is tic-tac-toe passing ability of the Nucks……..should be an interesting game.

    Go Oil!

  • Why is Dubs starting he has already had his chance how much more of this crap before we can start with an nhl goalie. Its not like once in a while he will let in a softie, its every bloody game. I am not the only fan pissed off with Oilers reluctance to change goalie its way past its time. I don’t think any team in the nhl would want him maybe Spruce Grove or the Saints would take him for their third stringer.
    Whats going on with Bachman he impressed me, he should here, is Bryz ready to go?

  • bwar

    I would consider putting Hall on a grinder type line. Maybe something like Hall-Arco/Gordon-Jones/Joensuu. He needs to get some fire in his game and I really feel that forcing him to play on a more physical line might ignite a fire under his ass and get him producing like he can. I truely believe that when Taylor Hall is playing well that he he create scoring chances no matter who he plays with.

    Perron-RNH-Eberle

    Gagner-Arcobello-Hemsky

    Hall-Gordon-Joensuu

    Gazdic-Lander-Yakupov

    Those are my armchair coaching lines for tonight assuming Gordon is playing. We desperately need more than one functional line on this team and at this point I think Eakins needs to start thinking outside of the box in order to find that solution. Right now I feel Arcobello is playing better than Gagner therefore he should be rewarded with the 2C role. Gagner is starting to play better but I think moving him to the wing sends a little message to him that he is replaceable and also takes a bit of the pressure off of him being paired with some more defensively responsible players.

    As for poor Yakupov he just doesn’t seem to be clicking with anyone. I think its time for him to have a quick reset and reasses his current role on the team. For him to be most effective right now I think he needs to be playing reduced minutes and be playing against soft competition 5v5. I also feel he can be a powerplay specialist as the main trigger man on the top PP. He has an incredible shot that needs to be used. Its also nice to have him in the back pocket so that if someone else in the top 9 is playing poorly Yak can quickly be rotated in as the replacement.

    TLDR; Wall of text from an unintelligent internet nerd.

  • Rob...

    Here’s hoping Gazdic turns Kassian into Ivanans II. Whereas Ivanans didn’t deserve the aftereffects of his fight, I wouldn’t spend a extra second thinking about Kassian’s lost years.

  • We owe these guys big time. Hopefully Gazdic takes care of Kassian. We also owe them for that stinker we laid in game 2 of the season. If we’re going down, let’s give the Cancucks a dose of what their not-so-distant future holds. Their window is closing fast, if it’s not already closed, so let’s make their fans sad tonight.

  • TayLordBalls

    when this team starts to fire on ALL cylinders, they will be a formidable team!

    Thank you for letting Jack do the play by play, last night – that was amazing!

    • **

      NO, they wont. When they fire on all cylinders and play against any of the teams they’re about to play against, they are like a v4 sedan against a diesel v8 one ton. This team needs pieces.

    • Sometimes I catch Jack coming home from work on those ungodly early games. He freaking rocks the radio cast so I kind of expected him to do the same last night. He delivered.

      In fact, I’d much prefer Jack to just about any other announcer right now. He was THAT good.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I too enjoyed the new guy.

      Effort better be there tonight. If you can’t screw your courage to the sticking place (more Bill Shakespeare for you) against the douchiest team in the league and a bitter rival, that is a sad commentary. Here’s hopin.