GDB 27.0: OILERS V. WINGS

It has been four years since the Oilers were in the playoff hunt in the middle of March. On March 15th, 2009 the Oilers had 73 points and were tied for 8th place with Nashville, but they went 6-8 in their final 14 games and missed the playoffs by six points.

Here’s a quick look at what happened four years ago.

Standings on March 15th.

6th place… Columbus with 78 points.
7th place… Minnesota with 74 points.
8th-9th place… Edmonton and Nashville with 73 points.
10th-11th place… Anaheim and St. Louis with 70 points.

Final standings on April 12th, 2009

6th place… St. Louis with 92 points. Went 10-2-2 from March 15th.
7th place… Columbus with 92 points. Went 5-4-4.
8th place… Anaheim with 91points. Went 10-3-1.
9th place… Minnesota with 89 points. Went 7-5-1.
10th place…Nashville with 88 points. Went 6-4-3
11th place…Edmonton with 85 points. Went 6-8.

The Ducks and Blues went on a tear in the final 28 days, while the Predators, Wild and Oilers stumbled down the stretch and fell out of the playoffs. The Oilers need to mirror the Blues and Ducks and make a strong push down the stretch. They have to take advantage of this four-game homestand.

Just for fun here is the lineup the Oilers in 2009.

Penner/Horcoff/Hemsky
O’Sullivan/Gagner/Kotalik
Pisani/Cogliano/Moreau
Reddox/Brodziak/Jacques

Nilsson, Pouliot and MacIntrye also came in and out of the lineup.’

Gilbert/Grebeshkov
Souray/Staios
Strudwick/Peckham
Chorney

Roloson and Deslauriers.

In five of their six wins the Oilers scored 5+ goals, but they only mustered 12 goals in their eight loses and lost six of the eight games by one goal. Their goaltending and defence wasn’t bad, but they couldn’t produce when it counted. This year, they have much more offensive skill throughout their lineup and starting tonight those players need to lead this team.

TODAY

Hall/Horcoff/Hemsky
Paajarvi/Gagner/Yakupov
Hartikainen/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle
Brown/Smyth/Petrell

Smid/Petry
Whitney/J.Schultz
N.Schultz/Potter

Dubnyk

The Oilers have the potential to have three scoring lines, and during this four-game homestand Ralph Krueger should take advantage of that.

The Triple H line can attack on the rush with Hall and Hemsky while Horcoff won’t get crushed defensively against lines like Datsyuk, Wilson, Thornton and Backes. These are the top centres coming in over the next 9 days, and look for Krueger to use the 4/10/83 line against them, especially out of TV timeouts.

Krueger did say he is more concerned about D pairing matchups than forwards, and he wants to focus on getting everyone involved early. He won’t go crazy trying to match lines, but also said his strategy will vary from game to game.

That should allow better matchups for the 2nd and 3rd lines.

I’d match Gagner’s line against the other teams weakest defensive line and let him continue his offensive tear. Nugent-Hopkin’s goal in Colorado looked eerily similar to many that he scored last  year; a quick release that beat the goalie just inside the post. If he gets some offensive confidence in these final 22 games, the Oilers could have three scoring lines.

QUICK HITS

  • Many were getting on Nugent-Hopkins for not scoring, but the sophomore’s goal scoring woes aren’t as bad as Detroit’s top-two gunners. Pavel Datsyuk hasn’t scored a goal in 11 games, while Henrik Zetterberg only has 1 goal in his last 20 games.
     
  • The Red Wings have really struggled on the road at 3-6-2. They are 30th on the road in PP efficiency with a dreadful 2.6% and only one goal, which came in Calgary on Wednesday, in 36 attempts. Their road PK is also horrendous sitting 29th at 69.8%.
     
  • The Oilers haven’t been great at home though going 4-4-2. They’ve given up 30 goals in 10 games. Their PP has been great, however, with 13 goals on 46 chances, while their PK is a solid 10th at home at 85.7%. The Oilers need to capitalize on special teams.
     
  • On March 7th in Detroit the Oilers didn’t have one PP. They need to use their speed and put the Wings in bad positions and force them to take some penalties. The Oilers can’t get sucked into playing a passive, defensive game against the Wings. If it becomes a game of patience, the Oilers will likely lose.
     
  • Ryan Jones was fighting the flu bug vs. Colorado and he "crashed" the last two days in Edmonton. Teemu Hartikainen will draw back in alongside 93 and 14. 
     
  • Nikolai Khabibulin will backup Devan Dubnyk. Yann Danis went back to OKC after the Colorado game.

LOOK AHEAD

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have only won back-to-back games twice this year, but tonight they pick up their first three-game winning streak of the season with a 4-1victory. No team in the history of the NHL has made the playoffs without at least one three-game winning streak in a season, and they Oilers keep their playoff aspirations alive with a win tonight.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The crowd wil be tipsy, loaded, jazzed up for their first home game since February 23rd, and when the Oilers honour Stompin’ Tom Connors and play The Hockey Song everyone in the crowd joins in and sings. The building will be rocking as fans take in a playoff race for the first time in four years. And Jordin Tootoo will want a rematch v. Mike Brown after Brown pumped him in Detroit last week.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: All day and even during the broadcast you might hear people reference that historically the Oilers have struggled in their first game back after a long road trip. Turns out that isn’t the accurate.

In the first game back after a road trip of 4 games or more, the Oilers have been pretty good in fact. They are 59-37-14.

1980-1989: 28-8-8
1990-1999: 11-12-2 (they were 1-4 in 1999 which made them below .500)
2000-2010 (No 2005 season so added 2010 to make it ten years): 20-11-3
2011-2012: 0-6-1

The Oilers were brutal the past two years, but they struggled in every facet of their game during those two years so that isn’t a surprise, but historically the statement, "The Oilers always struggle in first game off a long road trip," is misleading.

DAY TWO

The 2nd annual Gregor Charity Classic sold out in less than 20 hours, so we have added a second day. (If you signed up for day one, you won’t be able to sign up for day two for a week. This allows more people to enter.)

WHEN: Sunday April 14th. Registration at 11:30, tourney at 1 p.m.
WHERE: Century Casino,13103 Fort Road
WHO: 100 Texas Hold Em Players
WHY: To help End MS and win a seat at the WSOP main event this July in Vegas.

COST: $185 per person (15% goes to MS Society) 

Please be advised of the following stipulations for the tournament: 

·       All participants must be 21 years of age.
·       The grand prize is based on a minimum occupancy of 80 participants, with only 100 spots available. If all spots are not filled, the grand prize will be adjusted to the pre-determined cash prizing.
·       The grand prize awarded is a seat in the World Series of Poker Tournament Main Event, valued at $10,000 USD, in Las Vegas July 7th – 16th, 2013. The last 9 players of the tournament will return to Las Vegas in November 2013 for the final table. All events will be held at the Rio Hotel.
The grand prize includes airfare, courtesy of Darci Huhn with Travel Only and accommodation for one.
·         The grand prize is non-transferable. The 1st place grand prize winner of the tournament  will accept the prize as awarded and be expected to participate and represent Century Casino and The Jason Gregor Show in the World Series of Poker Tournament.

·         The remainder of the cash prizing for the tournament will be broken down as follows, based on full occupancy:
 
1st place- $10,000 entry fee into WSOP main event.
2
nd place – $2,000.00 cash  and $500 donation in name to MS Society.

3rd place – $800.00 cash and $200 donation in name to MS Society
4th place – $640.00 cash and $160 donation in name to MS Society.
5th place – $560.00 cash and $140 donation in name to MS Society.
6th place – $480.00 cash and $120 donation in name to MS Society.
7th place – $400.00 cash and $100 donation in name to MS Society
8th place – $320.00 cash and $80 donation in name to MS Society
9th place – $240.00 cash and $60 donation in name to MS Society.
10th place – $210.00 cash and $62.50 donation in name to MS Society.
 

** 1st place prize is not redeemable for cash. If you can’t go then the 2nd place winner can go in your place and you receive their prize.**

Thanks again for your interest and for supporting MS. You can enter by calling 780.643.4060! Good luck.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • I have this feeling in my gut that says the next 2 games, tonight against Detroit and the next against Nashville, will determine the Oilers fate. They have to win both in regulation if they want a real shot at the Playoffs. There are so many teams bunched together that only 4 points separate them from the playoffs but they are only 1 point above last in the West too.

    This no man’s land in beween really bad and good is gut-wrenching. My head says they dont have a chance, my heart is cheering like hell. *barf*

    • Phixieus666

      I think the next three. If they can win the next three that allows them to gain points on three of the teams ahead of them and that is whats needed to make the playoffs.

  • Pharmboy

    The wings have never been riper for as ass kicking. They have lost
    confidence , especially on the road, if the Oilers Can smell blood
    early, i am picking the OIl 6-2. I get the feeling they know a spot
    in the playoffs is close and have matured just enough to know
    this game is big and do not come out flat, A win today
    does wonders, they start to believe.

  • MarcusBillius

    The Flames were pretty lucky to win the last one, and Monster was really bad for the Red Wings.

    I expect to see Howard and the Wings’ A-game. Sorry Oilers, easy money on Bodog beckons.

  • Pharmboy

    It will be nice to see the ” next Pavel Datsyuk”, play against the real PD……….I’m talking RNH!

    I predict that RNH will have a breakout game against Detroit…….this kid is pure gold, regardless of his stats!

  • geoilersgist

    If the Oilers can win this game I can easily see them rattling off 4 or 5 in a row and that my friends is exactly what this team needs to start doing to finish this season on a high. I have not been optimistic about the outcome of games for this team in over a month but I have a better feeling today 3-0 Oilers. Dubnyk stands on his head and steals this game as the boys are out shot 36-21.*

    * Positive Friday is in full effect

  • Huge game for the Oil. After salvaging the 9 game road trip (kind of) with 2 straight wins, they need to win this game and keep the momentum going.

    Looking at the lineup we have going into tonight’s game, A. Hall would fit in nicely with on the 3rd line.

    Brown – A. Hall – Smyth

    Trade Belanger

    Move Petrell to OKC

    EDIT: I meant 4th line

  • Blood Orange

    It boggles my mind of how we were even competitive in ’09 with that lineup compared to what we look at today.

    After a 5-2 pumping by the Flames on Wednesday, I can see the Wings come out flying tonight looking for a better turnout.

    Close game but Wings take it 4-2*. With an empty netter.

    *I hope I am wrong.

  • 106 and 106

    I’d even settle for a 3 pointed dragon on this one – the wings grind us more than the stars do. Secondary scoring and keep winning those draws….. Smytty. We pick Hall up off waivers yet? Sheeeesh.

  • Phixieus666

    Here’s hoping with Horcoff back in the line-up we can win a face-off. I fear that after the Calgary loss, however, Babcock will have his squad in line. He will also likely have taken Gustuvson out of the line up and put Howard back in.

    I seem to remember not getting beat last time by Zetterburgh or Datsuyk but by their second and third line, so it will be interesting to see if the new “balanced” lines do better.

    I predict we still struggle in the dot, but maybe Dubnyk will stand on his head and give the guys a chance to win.

  • A-Mc

    i want the Mighty Oil to win, but the Oilers are streak breakers.

    They’ll break Det’s Losing streak, and their winning streak with a LOSS tonight.

    Detroit 3-0

    • Pharmboy

      Congrats on your first fist! I still remember mine many weeks ago. Wings will be over prepared (scared to make a mistake) for tonight and will either be too hesitant or over aggressive leading to scoring chances or penalties. Oilers 6 wings 1. Oops, I just realized no Belanger tonight, Oilers win 9-3. No, make that 10-3. Just like fisting, if your going to be overly optimistic you might as well go all the way 🙂