GDB 38.0: They’re all big games

The out-of-town scoreboard wasn’t particularly kind to the Oilers yesterday. St. Louis, Detroit, and San Jose all won. Dallas won too (though they’re far enough back that it’s a secondary concern), while Columbus lost in regulation – though given that they lost to the Blues, that’s not really great news.

The Oilers aren’t particularly likely to catch Los Angeles, but they need the win today to keep pace with Detroit and St. Louis, the two most catchable teams.

Playoff chances

Via sportsclubstats.com, here are the playoff odds for teams still in the hunt in the West entering action today:

  • 3. Los Angeles: 98.2%
  • 4. Vancouver: 97.1%
  • 5. San Jose: 95.4%
  • 6. Minnesota: 90.8%
  • 7. St. Louis: 88.6%
  • 8. Detroit: 71.3%
  • 9. Edmonton: 24.6%
  • 10. Phoenix: 14.3%
  • 11. Columbus: 8.4%
  • 12. Dallas: 5.7%
  • 13. Nashville: 5.5%

None of the other games going on today are particularly critical for the Oilers. Nashville hosts Chicago, Phoenix hosts Colorado, and Calgary is in Vancouver – all the teams involved are around the periphery of that list above. A Phoenix win, coupled with an Oilers loss, would move them past Edmonton on the chart above, so that’s probably the most important of the games being played today outside of the one the Oilers are playing.

Lineups

No information is available as of yet regarding tonight’s Oilers’ lineup, though it’s a decent bet there will be some changes due to the acquisition of Smithson and the loss to Vancouver. My guess – Mark Fistric draws in on the third pairing, Smithson draws in on the fourth line, and Ryan Smyth moves into the top-nine, replacing Ryan Jones. It also seems likely that Devan Dubnyk will start in net.

This will be updated as soon as the lines become available.

Update: Jerred Smithson will draw in, though exact forward lines remain unknown. The defence will stay the same as against the Canucks, meaning Petry-Smid, Schultz-Schultz, and Whitney-Potter.

Update II: Via the Oilers’ official Twitter feed, we have the forward lines:

  • Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
  • Smyth – Horcoff – Hemsky
  • Paajarvi – Gagner – Yakupov
  • Petrell – Smithson – Brown

Predictions

Game day prediction: Both games between the Oilers and the Kings have been nail-biters this season, with the Oilers winning one in overtime and the Kings scoring the winner with less than a minute in regulation last time. This one will be, too, but the Kings will win 3-2 in overtime.

Obvious game day prediction: With the Oilers down by a goal with two minutes left in the third, Ralph Krueger will pull his goaltender – and Nail Yakupov will tie the game to force the extra frame.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Jerred Smithson hasn’t had a fight in more than three years, but eager to make an impression with his new team he’ll square off against Colin Fraser. The fight itself will be a non-descript affair, but Smithson will be applauded by his new teammates, with nobody happier to see it than Mike Brown.

Recently around the Nation Network

  • SimmerDownBoys

    We cant leave men untouched in the slot and in prime shooting areas, we need to hit people, last game it was Sedin all alone with no contact, now a goal with a man right there but not useing his sphere of influence, just useing his stick, you need to switch from stick to body ASAP in those areas.

    We need contact in our d-zone in those areas, and we need to get the hell moving.

    We cannot afford to be passengers, in the games we do well in we are driving not riding, screw the penaltys we need to take the initiative.

    Pressure them on the PK, look for offense.

    That goal hppened because of lazy coverage, tell the men to wake up, and if they score against us in the next 5 mins again use the TO early.

  • oilman3

    well that didn’t take long. unbelievable that the gagner line is paired with the potter/whitney combo. i really don’t know what to think about krueger. i want to like him but some of his decisions are questionable at best.

  • Alsker

    Give this team some credit and a chance for crying out loud.
    Look at the record in the last 10-11. They will come out hard.
    Have any of you ever played a high level of Hockey
    and 3 in 4 nights, its brutal. Granted in was Juniors
    but i dont care what kind of shape you are in, its harsh.
    The Oilers will be ready and i am glad this one is on the road
    actually.

  • SimmerDownBoys

    With 5 on 5 scoring improving somewhat, I’m leaning toward Fistric on the third pairing for his physical presence and defensive abilities. Isn’t that what a third pairing should be for? Our dependence on Whitney for PP offense may not be as critical as it once was. If that’s Whitney’s only value, are his def zone gafs still worth the risk? I dunno…maybe the numbers say his spot on the PP is still worth the risk.

  • Clay (The Butcher) Butchart

    Lets not be so optimistic Jon, if the Oilers play with as much energy as they did against Vancouver, they are going to lose by more than just 1 goal. I’d predict more of a 5-2 score…

  • Love the lines JW! GOILERS!!! Let’s rebound from that stinker on thursday with 2 quick ones in the first 10 minutes! 4-1 Oilers!! Hall with 3 assists, Nuge with a goal, Eberle with 2 goals and an assist then PRV scores the 4th assisted by Nail!

  • ginganinja

    I love this team to death but I have a terrible feeling that this game will be a lot like the last. Boring and in the oppositions favour. 3-1 Kings. Shots 21-15 for the Kings

  • G Money

    – Would love to see those lines, though tough to imagine them taking Whitney out

    – It’s arguable that it’s not the Belanger triangle, it is actually the Petrell-Belanger triangle. By eye or by stat, they have been brutal this year (except weirdly on the PK)

    – I think the Gags-Yak combo, despite the defensive shortcomings, seems to work because Gags is the one guy that is able to regularly find Yak for that absolute laser cannon of a shot (not just a laser or a cannon, but laser cannon – that shot is as accurate and fast as a laser, with the devastating impact of a cannon!). Maybe adding in MPS provides some additional speed-based intimidation to the other D, and some defensive conscience, and so it works

    – Nostalgia in full flight with Smyth-Horc-Hemsky, and maybe even a chance for another line besides #1 to keep heads above water

    – Interesting to see how line #4 would do. Jones is a better fit on 4 than on 3. Lots of hate for Smithson, but Staples has an interesting analysis on the fact that he’s not been on the ice for any major mistakes this year, so despite the Corsi’s, he might be a substantial upgrade on Belanger

  • Alsker

    Like your lines JW but agree that Smyth/Petrell swapout maybe even game by game, looking forward to PRV and Yak back together, especially since its been a while since sam-wise has had a dominant type game,he’s due. Oil in SO 4-3.

  • MarcusBillius

    I’ve been saying yakupov needed to be leaned on more by this team. His one timer is flipping nutso. Fast. And his name is nail. Honest to god NAIL. So much love for this kid.

  • Whoever plays today will need to keep their eyes on Carter and Kopitar. Unlike the other night in Vancity where the Sedins ran their show. The Oilers will need no clamp down on those 2. And hopefully rk will not line match JS and NS against Kopitar’s line defensively. Early and often.Get pucks on the net and crash.Chip and chase. This is a not going to be a ballet its going to a knock em down drag em out kinda game if the Oilers hope to win. Get physical in all components of the game and they should prevail. Stay to the outside and La bigmen will run their show on the down low cycle.The Oil will need DD to stand tall. Really tall.

  • Putting Yak in the same line as Gagner for the game will be worse than having Hemmer on it. As we saw last game, Sam cannot contain larger forwards down low in the d-zone – he tries hard but is still too small. Yak is getting better, but he is still more of a d-zone liability than Hemsky. That being said, the line is not clicking right now offensively so they might need to shake things up. In either case, Kruger will need to make sure that the Gags line is not paired up with Whitney- Potter/Fistric/Peckham tonight as that combo will be a disaster in the d-zone.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    We can’t afford to lose back to back games at this point in the season. I think some of the pack is starting to fall off and we need to hang around the pack. Detroit looks catchable to me. They lost to an apparently flu-ridden Phoenix team on Thursday and were lucky to beat the Avalanche last night. The bottom line is that we need to take care of our own business and the rest will take care of itself. I hate to say it but I am predicting 3-2 Kings. I can’t wait to be wrong. GO OILERS GO!!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Something wicked this way comes.

    Have a bad feeling bout these next two games, the slow death of the Oilers playoff hopes. It’ll be all over with back to back regulation losses. On the other hand, the farther we fall, the greater the odds of landing that first overall selection again. It’s all or nothing…..hope this doesn’t comes across as greedy.

  • Oiler_in_Mexico

    Too many bodies on the roster of questionable valu. Can’t sign any college players. Massive sellers’ market at the deadline and an opportunity to shed some dead weight. Oilers management employs their usual strategy of doing nothing. Unreal.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Totally agree on the above mentioned lines. It would be amazing if just somehow the Oil could figure a way to get Nail some wicked onetimer blasts up in the slot. I can totally see him pounding some “Hull like” goals from there.

    • Said lines were:

      Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle

      Paajarvi – Gagner – Yakupov

      Smyth – Horcoff – Hemsky

      Brown – Smithson – Jones

      Smid – Petry

      Schultz – Schultz

      Fistric – Potter

      Aside from the kids, the Oilers’ top-nine has been pretty quiet lately. That Paajarvi, Gagner, Yakupov trio killed it when they were together and I’d love to see them reunited; Smyth, Horcoff, Hemsky just feels like a nice fit and brings back the 2006 run.

      • I know Yak is chaotic, but he can clearly keep up and generate chances. Hemsky has one good game and a half dozen crappy ones. He’s the one sewering that line. For the life of me I don’t understand why we’re not going all-in and re-inserting Yak.

      • Puritania

        At this point I’d rather have Petrell in the lineup over Smyth. I’d go with…

        Hall – Nuge – Ebs/
        Paajarvi – Gagner – Yakupov/
        Jones – Horcoff – Hemsky/
        Petrell – Smithson – Brown

          • Alsker

            That’s crazy talk. Petrell is terrible by eye and by stats. Smyth is getting long in the tooth, but he’s still a solid 3rd or 4th liner.

            Honestly, Petrell is not an NHL player. He brings zero offence. He somehow has a reputation as a good defensive player – and I just don’t get that. He’s an ok shot blocker on the PK, but otherwise he gets consistently dominated, even by other teams’ bottom lines

          • For the record: by eye, there’s no way I’d have Petrell in over Smyth. Petrell’s a better skater, Smyth’s a better player.

            In this particular instance, I’d have been shocked if Petrell’s numbers were decent, just by watching.

          • Alsker

            Perhaps but Smyttys been looking tired and Id rather he plays every other game than being burnt out and possibly not available for the stretch run, besides how many of those 90 games was he(Petrell) ensnared in the Belanger triangle?

          • Craig1981

            I think its been tough on him laying center more so than being tired. Keeping him on the 4th line and limiting his minutes on the 4th and letting him play a roll he knows should help. I can’t see Petrell on a Stanley cup team other than a deep reserve.