GDB 33.0: STAYING IN THE RACE

According to sportsclubstats.com the Oilers have an 8% chance of making the playoffs. Before the St. Louis game it was 4%, so the good news for Oilers fans is that your chances of watching a playoff game at Rexall Place has improved in the last 48 hours. However, the site gives the Blue Jackets a 10% chance, even though the Jackets suck on the road (3-9-2) and play 10 of their remaining 15 games on the road. So use the % at your own discretion.

Either way, both teams are longshots to make the playoffs, but if the Oilers want to keep their faint hopes alive they must beat the Blue Jackets; one of the four teams between them and 8th place.

If there was ever a night you’d expect the Oilers to win it would be tonight. The Oilers are 17-4-1 at home vs. Columbus. and they’ve won the last four by a combined 19-8. The Blue Jackets didn’t have Sergei Bobrovsky in the pipes the past two seasons, and right now he’s the hottest goalie in the league.

Bobrovsky os 8-1-3 in his last 12 games. During this stretch he has 4 shutouts and he’s only allowed 14 goals on 350 shots for a stellar .960 SV%. He blanked the Canucks on Tuesday, but lost in the SO.

The Jackets don’t have a lot of skill, but they work incredibly hard and they allow lots of shots from the outside. The Oilers aren’t great at going to the net for rebounds, so they have to avoid getting sucked into Columbus’ game plan of allowing shots from the outside. The Oilers need to attack the defenders and take pucks to the net.

LINEUP

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

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

Khabibulin

No changes after the 3-0 shutout in St. Louis, which isn’t a surprise. Ralph Krueger said the Oilers will evaluate after tonight’s game if they will recall anyone, likely Anton Lander, from OKC. Smyth is more effective as a winger in my view.  

QUICK HITS

  • With Jarome Iginla landing in Pittsburgh, not Boston like it was reported last night, you wonder if the Oilers/Bruins trade talks will continue. Two sources told me that nothing was imminent, but that some minor "tire-kicking" had gone on between the Oilers and Bruins. Ryan Whitney’s name was involved, and then Boston reporter Joe Haggerty tweeted that he heard a forward was also involved. He mentioned Ales Hemsky in one tweet and then Magnus Paajarvi in another. A source from Edmonton suggested there has been no talk regarding a forward.
     
  • If Hemsky or Paajarvi is involved the Oilers would have to get a roster player in return. I don’t see any scenario that has either of those two moving without the Oilers getting someone with NHL experience in return. The Oilers are aware they need to change the dynamics in their top-six, but they won’t rush into any deal.
     
  • Here is what the Flames received from Pittsburgh for Jarome Iginla. The Penguins 1st rounder in 2013 & two college kids, Ben Hanowski (3rd round, 2009) and Ken Agostino (5th round, 2010). Agostino has 96 points in 97 games over three years at Yale University. Hanowski has played 4 years at St. Cloud State, and in his final two years he tallied 39 goals and 72 points in 73 games.
     
  • The one thing that surprises me the most in this deal is that there were no conditional picks involved. If Iginla re-signs in Pittsburgh, maybe another pick or if the Pens win the Cup, similar to what the Oilers got in the Pronger deal.
     
  • I see many suggesting Iginla will re-sign in Calgary. I don’t see that happening. He’ll get a taste of playoff hockey and success, and I seriously doubt he’d want to return to Calgary as part of their rebuild.
     
  • Solid work by Ray Shero for being able to acquire Iginla and Brendan Morrow without giving up Scott Harrington or Olli Maatta. The Penguins didn’t give up any of their top-five prospects in those two deals.
     
  • As you get set for a long weekend, ask yourself if you know someone like this… Hilarious. When the girl asks the guy to go outside, his reaction is the best. 

  • "This is an unbelievable four-point game. If we want to remain in the playoff hunt, we need a win," Ralph Krueger said this morning. Even when a scenario like tonight is obvious to everyone coaches rarely say it publicly. Krueger also stated the Blue Jackets have been the hardest working team in the west conference the last month and the Oilers need to match that work ethic if they hope to win. We’ll see if the player’s understanding of the situation is as clear as their coach.
     
  • The Penguins have $53.6 million committed to16 players for next season. Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Doug Murray will all be UFAs at the end of the season, along with Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy and Pacal Dupuis. If they re-sign Iginla for $5 million they would only have $5 million to sign 6 players. Which isn’t great, but not impossible. Then they’d have to hope the Cap goes up for 2013/2014 when Malkin will get a slight raise on his $8.7 cap hit and Kris Letang will need a bump on his $3.5 cap number.
     
  • This morning in the dressing room Jim Matheson and I were discussing the cap situation of the Penguins, when two Oilers players mentioned that Iginla should sign here if Pittsburgh can’t afford him. "Get it started," they said with a slight laugh, but both were serious. I doubt it would happen, but wow that would sure ignite some fire into the Battle of Alberta.
     
  • Do you want some of the stylish Nation gear? The Nation on-line store has opened and you can get one of the limited editions hoodies here. Wanye isn’t very organized so he only orders a few at a time. If you want one before they sell out click here. As always portion of proceeds go to charity.

LEAP FROG…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers continue their home dominance over the Blue Jackets with a 3-1 victory and leap frog the Blue Jackets into 11th place.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ales Hemsky ends his 12-game goal scoring drought in the first period. Hemsky has 13 goals vs. the Blue Jackets (most against an opposing team) and he pots his 14th on a nice pass cross-ice feed from Sam Gagner.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Late in the 2nd period Ryan Whitney leaves the bench and heads to the dressing room. No replay can show him suffering any sort of injury, so during the intermission twitter erupts in speculation that he has been traded. Even the panel on Sportsnet suggests this is very likely. Two minutes into the 3rd period Whitney is back on the ice, and the speculation appears to be false. After the game Whitney explains that the strap on his jock broke. "I’m single it’s too risky to play with no can. I have to protect my boys," he says. As I’m walking away he adds, "Make sure everyone knows I didn’t veto any trades," he says with a laugh. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • Ducey

    •I see many suggesting Iginla will re-sign in Calgary. I don’t see that happening. He’ll get a taste of playoff hockey and success, and I seriously doubt he’d want to return to Calgary as part of their rebuild.

    Rebuild? No way!

    They are “retooling”. Its much different.

    “Retooling” is where you trade away your players for picks and prospects while also making offer sheets for players that have to go thru waivers.

  • watkinator

    DSF is trolling but he has a point. It’s the three remaining games against Anaheim and one vs. Chicago that set reality in for me. Still, the games are meaningful and there is something to say for the fact that St. Louis and San Jose have been no screaming hell this year.

    • Ducey

      Honestly, I can’t believe people think the Oilers will make the playoffs.

      Hope for it. Cheer for the team. Good on ya.

      But if you actually think they have a good chance of making the playoffs you should stay away from Vegas (and sharp objects).

  • Minister D-

    Regardless of whether the Oilers have a realistic chance of making the playoffs this year, it’s nonetheless important that our youth finally gets some kind of a taste of playing meaningful games this late in the year. With a deep draft, the Oilers don’t have to tank to get a quality player; if they finish a few points back of the cut line and end up picking between 8-11 they’re still likely to get the guy they want (Lazar, I’d wager) without sacrificing BPA. Everybody wins. And least, theoretically.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    If the Oilers win today, guess what? They’ll have to win the next game. And if they win that one, they’ll have to win the next one, and the next one, and the next one…… just to give themselves a chance to make the playoffs.

    And although I know what inevitability is, I also understand and appreciate what Ralph is trying to do. He’s the exact opposite of a troll.

  • Bucknuck

    I hope the Oilers blow the doors off of Columbus. I am nervous about the shot differential in the last game, though. They won, but only because of amazing goaltending.

    They need to be better than they have been.

  • DSF

    There is no hope.

    None.

    At all.

    In order to make the playoffs the oilers would need to PASS San Jose or STL.

    The Sharks just won the first game of a 7 game homsstand 4-0.

    They are 9-1-4 at home.

    The Blues have two extra games at home and are a better team than the Sharks.

    In any events…all those two teams need to do is play.500 hockey and the will finish ahead of the Oilers.

    • geoilersgist

      Don’t know if you can find an oiler fan on this site that thinks EDM’ll make the playoffs.

      You can have hope to see improvement from last year’s team. That’s all I hope for. Anything outside of a top 5 pick’ll satisfy me

    • Mike Krushelnyski

      Please submit a life-size cardboard cutout of yourself to the Oilers dressing room so they can peel a piece of clothing off of it every time they win a la the owner in Major League. TIA

    • geoilersgist

      The Sharks also started the season hot and then not only came back down to earth but there impact was felt all the way to China. The Sharks aren’t playing great hockey. The Blues will be tough to catch, but the Sharks not so much.

      Don’t forget a team we get to play 3 times still just traded away there franchise and thats only the first piece to be moved out.

  • Alsker

    Was at the sharks game, disappointment. Here’s hoping tonight will be better.

    GDP Oilers go down by a goal in the first, kid line gets re-uinited and Oilers win 4-1.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    I’m still waiting for the funny….

    This is just depressing…..

    Because it could actually happen…

    And I sense that if it does, the Nation will find you and do to you what Red Sox fans did to that guy who inadvertantly reached out and caught that fair ball in the playoff game. Run Mr. Bean….. RUN!

    (and NEVER speak of this again)