GDB 39.0: JUST WIN

At the start of this four-game road trip the Oilers needed two wins. It didn’t matter how, when or where, but they needed at least two victories. They won in Calgary, lost in Vancouver and LA so that leaves them with no choice but to win in Anaheim.

Simple. Just Win.

Of course, winning in the NHL isn’t that easy.

I could bore you with percentages and how many wins the Oilers need down the stretch to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, but I don’t see the need. Someone smarter than I came up with the saying "Keep It Simple Stupid," and that rings true today.

A win puts the Oilers two points back of Detroit with 9 games remaining, and 7 of those 9 games will be in Edmonton. A win gives Edmonton a chance.

The Ducks played last night, so obviously the Oilers should win. The Ducks have to be fatigued don’t they? That was the reason the Oilers lost in Vancouver on Thursday wasn’t it?  They were tired from the night before. So based on that theory the Oilers should take advantage of a tired team tonight.

LINEUP

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

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

Dubnyk

Ales Hemsky is out with a foot injury, he’s been playing injured for the last 10 days, so Ryan Jones will take his place in the lineup. Mark Fistric take Corey Potter’s place on the 3rd pairing and he will play his first game since March 25th.

Ryan Getzlaf is also a game time decision. Getzlaf loves playing the Oilers, registering 27 points in 23 career games, and obviously it would be better for the Oilers if the Ducks elect to give him another day to rest.

QUICK HITS

  • If you want to see how many people wrote off Alex Ovechkin this season, type in Ovechkin vs. Crosby in the twitter search box. Ovechkin has 20 goals and 33 points in his last 23 games. That is unreal. The hilarious part is how the anti-Ovechkin crew are now suggesting he only scores vs. non-playoff teams. Of course when he scored 9 points in three games vs. Winnipeg and New Jersey both teams were in the playoffs, but because they aren’t in today that crowd suggests he feasts on weaker competition. That is a creative way to use the stats in your favour. Either way, Ovechkin is back to being one of the most exciting players to watch.
     
  • Crosby is better overall, but Ovechkin is a better goal scorer and he’s still one of the best forwards in the game. Adam Oates got him to switch wings this year, and now that Ovechkin is comfortable on his new wing he is lighting it up.
     
  • Sheldon Souray was also written off by many, yet he’s having a great year in Anaheim. Souray has 16 points, is playing 21 minutes a night and he is tied for the league-lead at +26 with Sidney Crosby. Souray adds a lot of toughness and swagger to the Ducks as well. Harsh reality in sports is you can’t let personal feelings get in the way of business. Oilers needed to get something for Souray, but never did.
     
  • Theo Peckham will never be as dominant as Sheldon Souray, but I see similarities in how they’ve been handled. Peckham screwed up royally by not staying in shape, and I applauded the organization for sending him a strong message. But that was six weeks ago. Now all they are doing is lowering his trade value, which wasn’t that high to begin with, and they will have to qualify him or loss him for nothing. Peckham received the message loud and clear. He deserved to be sent to the minors, but when he returns to the NHL he’ll be a decent contributor. If the Oilers let him walk for nothing, that will be another example of bad management.
     
  • I don’t understand why the Oilers have Anton Lander sitting in the pressbox rather than playing in the AHL. He hasn’t played a game since he scored 6 points vs. the Rockford Icedogs on March 30th. How can the Oilers possibly believe sitting in the pressbox, and practicing twice in a week is helping his development. I understood why they recalled him when Belanger was hurt, but once they traded for Smithson I don’t see the value in him not playing.
     
  • I’m guessing Justin Schultz will be booed regularly tonight. Ducks fans are still livid he shunned them and signed with the Oilers. I wonder if they can maintain that all game, the way Oilers fans have voiced their displeasure with many ex-Oilers or Dany Heatley.
     
  • How awesome is Sunday TV right now. Mad Men and Game of Thrones are back, and The Good Wife has another few weeks before their season is over. Excellent way to wind down the week.
     
  • Andrew Cogliano leads the Ducks with 11 ES goals. He’s having a solid campaign with 12 goals and 22 points.  Cogliano wasn’t going to fit in Edmonton long-term, once they drafted Ryan Nugent-Hopkings, but he’s a solid NHLer for the Ducks. He’s never missed an NHL game, and tonight he will play his 450th consecutive game.

TONIGHT… (just for you LT)

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Just like they did four weeks ago the Oilers will win a game few expect them to. After back-to-back shutout loses the Oilers went into Chicago and won 6-5. Tonight after uninspired losses in Van and LA the Oilers will entertain you with a 5-4 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers score 3 PP goals. The Ducks PK is 22nd and they’ve given up the 6th most PP goals in the league.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nick Schultz loves playing the Ducks. Five of his 26 career goals have come against the Ducks. He has 26 goals in 801 games, but he has 5 in 40 games vs. the Ducks. In the 2nd period Schultz jumps up in the play and scores his first of the season.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

    • The Soup Fascist

      You are correct.

      A more prudent strategy is, over an 18 month period, to at one point or another pick 80% of the teams in the league to be potential champions. Then pat yourself on the back when you are “right”.

      • DSF

        No.

        All you have to do is be smart enough to look at the moves made by good GM’s and assess the chances of those moves succeeding.

        I’m guessing that is beyond your pay grade.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Right. Explain to me again how Dale Talon is a genius GM? I mean he did blow his wad and get Florida into a round of playoffs last year. This year …. Not so much.

          I know, poor guy, only team in the league with injuries. And that little oversight of forgetting to qualify an entire group of RFAs a few years ago in Chicago. Could happen to anyone.

          This year Chuck Fletcher is the genius, or is it Dean Lombardi, no wait Doug Armstrong. If not him Ray Shero. Nonis? Oops, i mean Mike Gillis. Whoever it is that wins the cup, DSF knew it, sage hockey fellow that he is. Even a broken watch is right twice a day.

          Pretty sure you are the same guy extolling Feaster’s moves to position themselves for the upcoming treasure trove of UFAs and that they are only one year away from being competitive.

          Either senility has taken full hold or the new mushroom harvest is under way on the Island.

          Sad, really.

          • Word to the Bird

            We call it “bandwagon jumping” in sports. DSF makes it impossible for the Oiler faithful to win because the moment the Oilers do better than one team he jumps to the next one. Pathetic to say the least.

          • DSF

            Which team are you referring to?

            Calgary?

            I’ve always thought they were dreadful.

            Supporting a team that is led by a bunch of clowns who can’t find the outhouse with their noses is what is pathetic.

            Carry on.

    • Newj

      Yup those are same things that were being said in Minny & TO last year until their respective management made some smart free agency acquisitions and got a coach with some capabilities.

      Maybe there’s hope, but our management haven’t shown us a lot to convince me that things will be different this summer.

      With this new CBA, GM’s capabilities are even more crucial to a franchise’s success or lack thereof.

  • bazmagoo

    Management won’t get the boot until the Oil start losing money. According to this site – http://www.thehockeyfanatic.com/2012/01/nhl-team-worth-2011-2012/ the Oilers made 17.3 million dollars last season.

    One reason for this is Hall, Nuge, Eberle and now Schultz and Yakupov only make about a million per season on their entry level deals. Isn’t it funny to think that Horcoff’s salary this season is actually more than all 5 of those kids put together, lol, well funny if you kind of want to punch a wall after realizing it. I’m not 100% sure about the amounts, it depends on how much of their entry level “bonus” money they achieve but I think that’s fairly accurate.

    But I’m not here to complain about our captain, it’s not his fault the team isn’t competitive enough it’s management’s. Next season will see Hall and Eberle go up to $12 million total between the 2 of them, following season it will go up to around $21 – $24 million for 4 salaries, when you add RNH and Schultz to the mix.

    That’s when the pressure will start building to make the playoffs. Because sadly it’s obviously not there now.

      • bazmagoo

        Personally I think if you could trade Horcoff for a bad contract with both contracts being bought out, then resign him for around $2 million/season I’d be all over that as he’s a decent 3rd/4th line centre and he’s our captain.

        If you can’t exploit any loop holes like that then it’s time to let the guy go. Can’t have that much money tied up in cap space in salary going to a mediocre third line centre/above average 4th line centre. I don’t dislike the guy, but sports are competitive and if the Oilers want to step up to the playoffs they have to get rid of some dead weight.

        • There are teams I’m sure willing to do this, however,I have lost complete faith the Oiler’s management team would consider this as an option.

          I got to tell you, I’m pretty jaded right now, probably not the best fan to post about the Oiler’s right now.

          • bazmagoo

            Lots to be jaded about tonight bud, but I’m still hopeful it’ll get sorted out over the next few seasons. The kids are super young, and are gelling as a group which is never a bad thing.

            Just need to get rid of the dead weight. We’ll know if management isn’t serious about making the playoffs next season if they do the following 3 things:

            1) Resign Khabby instead of any random UFA goalie. I do think Nikolai is a great team mate and an all around decent keeper. But he’s 40-41 and gets injured TOO often. It’s time to retire, if Sleepilini and Klowe offer him a contract they should be fired.

            2) They need to explore every option to reduce Horcoff’s salary or simply buy him out, can’t have a guy costing $5.5 against the cap and producing a point every three games.

            3) If they waste a roster spot on Peckham again I’ll be livid. If the guy can’t crack our top 7 right now then he will never be an NHL defenceman. Personally I think our top 7 defensemen is bottom 5-10 in the league right now, and that’s with the Schultz (who I think is going to be great) signing!

          • That’s just the start! I’ll continue this if you don’t mind.

            Here are my issues…..I’m going to take some flack here but screw it.

            Paajarvi is better off being traded, he’s worth more to the Oiler’s as trade bait, a package deal possibly.

            Jones – Whitney – Fistric – If anyone of these players walk Tambellini should be fired.

            getting nothing for these players weaken the Oilers.

            Smyth – Only if he comes back as a forth liner.

            Hemsky – His replacement is here, Yakupov is now out scoring him.

            Petry, to me he’s butter soft, walking away from a scrum this year when his teammates were involved just pissed me off.

            Gagner – I’m done with this guy, I don’t care how much he scores he cheats for offense, he can’t take the puck off anyone, and can’t break the cycle in his own end.

            Petrel – the weakest player on the Oilers roster

            trade’m all.

            Need a LW with size and skill in the top 6 –
            Need a C with size and skill in the top 6 –
            Need a top pairing defensmen –
            Need a bottom 5-6 defensmen –
            Need a legit checking C
            Need a whole new forth line.

          • bazmagoo

            Think you might be going a little over board there guy, lol. But I do agree with a few things:

            – Hemsky needs to go and be replaced with a big aggressive winger who scores 40-50 points a year. That’s what Hemmer is producing these days but he’s get paid like a 70+ point per season guy. First time I’ve thought of this, but is Hemsky a candidate for a compliance buyout?

            – I doubt any of Jones, Whitney, or Fistric walk. Whitney and Jones have both publicly stated they like the team and want to be here. Fistric is a local boy. Jones should get another 2 years at $1.5 million, Whitney hoping for $2.5 for 2 years, and Fistric should be happy with one year at $1.25 considering he hasn’t been able to crack the top 6.

            – Smyth will be back, and play on the 4th line.

            – 100% disagree with your stance on Gagner. Size issue is resolved if Hemsky is replaced with a big winger.

            – Petry is a mediocre 2nd pairing d-man/solid 3rd pairing d-man currently being asked to play 1st pairing minutes most nights.

            – Petrell is the prototypical 13th/14th forward on any NHL team, solid defensively and throws the body every now and again. Considering he’s paid $875,000/season and will probably resign for the same amount I think he’s fair value for the money he’s making.

  • Word to the Bird

    Trade the kids so we can get Jones!

    No I’m kidding. I feel we have the pieces, save maybe one more top 4 NHL defenseman to fill the void that Potter creates and a Bernier-like goalie to hold down the fort if Duby gets injured. Now it’s a matter of the attitude change and a changing of the guard to season the kids. It’s almost set in stone that Hall will be our new captain, but is everyone else willing to step their game up?

    P.S. yes, I’m fully aware there is some bias here, but it’s true, he truly is our hardest working skilled player.

  • bazmagoo

    I thought that was quite clever how Gregor to take a shot at our “beloved, hindsight is 20/20 guru” DSF with his comment about creatively using stats to your favor to bash OV