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.
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.
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
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.
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