GDB 55.0: BACK-TO-BACK ON EVEN GROUND

For the second time this season the Oilers will face a team where both of them of are playing on consecutive nights. The Oilers lost 5-4 to the Blackhawks earlier this season. Last night while the Oilers were dominating the Predators 5-1, the Canucks defeated the Coyotes 5-4 in OT, and tonight the Oilers will look to improve their ugly record in back-to-back games.

The Oilers are 1-5-2 in the second game of back-to-backs while the Canucks are 5-4-2. Dallas Eakins will play the odds and give Ben Scrivens the night off, despite a solid performance last night, and start Ilya Bryzgalov. I understand why he is going with Bryzgalov, most goalies Sv% is lower the second night, but I thought he might roll the dice and go with Scrivens.

Scrivens played back-to-back once this year with LA, winning both games and posting a shutout on the second night. Last season Scrivens played consecutive games once, shutting out Florida the first night, but then he allowed 4 goals on 13 shots in 46 minutes vs. Tampa the following night.

Those are the only two times in his career he’s started back-to-back, and while the odds say it is better to give your goalie a rest on the 2nd night, I would have went with Scrivens, mainly due to Bryzgalov’s brutal play so far in 2014.

In six starts in 2014 he is 1-4-1 and his numbers in those starts aren’t very good:

January 03rd vs. Ana… 5-2 L with a .865Sv%
January 05th vs. TB….. 5-3 W with a .889Sv%
January 07th vs STL…. 5-2 L with a .862Sv%
January 14th vs. DALL.5-2 L with a .862Sv%
January 18th vs WGP.. 3-2 L with a .923Sv%
January 24th vs. PHO. 4-3 L with a .862Sv%

He has an ugly .877 Sv% in his last six games, and he needs to find some consistency in his game. I haven’t seen anything from Bryzgalov that would suggest the Oilers will be interested in re-signing him, and if he has aspirations of signing with another team in the summer he needs to improve.

He will need to be much better tonight if the Oilers want to win two straight for the first time in a month.

While Eakins is playing the odds, the Canucks will start Roberto Luongo for the second straight game.

Luongo has started both games of a back-to-back twice this season, and he’s 1-1 and played great in both. He had a solid .931 SV% in a 2-1 loss to Chicago and a sparkling .951SV% in a 6-2 drubbing of the Bruins. 

It is interesting to note that Luongo and his back up, Eddie Lack, have almost identical number, yet the Canucks will go with the veteran. 

In 37 starts Luongo has a .922Sv% and a 2.23 GAA.
In 20 appearances Lack has a .922Sv% and a 2.18 GAA.

With Chicago coming to town on Wednesday, I wonder if the Canucks feel tonight is a game they must win, thus going with their starter? Prior to this season the last time Luongo started on consecutive nights was November 20th and 21st of 2010. He got pulled the first game vs. Chicago, and then lost the next night vs. Phoenix and both games his sv% was below .890.

Under Tortorella he has played very well in the 2nd game, albeit a very small sample size of two games, so it will be interesting to see which coach looks better after the game. Eakins for playing the odds or the Canucks for going with their starter.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Gagner-Yakupov
Hendricks-Gordon-Jones
Gazdic-Smyth-Joensuu

Marincin-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Belov-Potter

Bryzgalov

Smyth’s line had a very strong game last night. They were very good on the cycle and gave the Oilers an early boost on the J.Schultz goal. We’ll see how often Eakins uses them tonight, but if they get off to a good start he’d be wise to give them 8-10 min of ES time.

Martin Marincin continues to play very well. He is poised, smart and usually he has very good positioning. It was only a few months ago that people were ripping Stu MacGregor for his draft picks outside of the top-ten. I’ve mentioned it many times, but it is worth repeating, you usually wait five years after a draft class to accurately evaluate picks outside of the first round. If Marincin keeps playing like this, and Pitlick keeps developing, the 2010 class could turn out to be outstanding. We’ll see.

QUICK HITS…

  • I asked Smyth his thoughts if MacTavish approached him about a trade. "It is out of my control, because I don’t have a no-trade clause, but if he approached me I’d listen. It would be tough, because I love playing in Edmonton, but..," said Smyth.

    In the past few weeks I’ve exchanged texts with a few GMs and scouts and asked their thoughts on Smyth.  "He could add some depth in your bottom six. He can kill penalties and he is still good in front of the net on the PP. I think he’s better when you monitor his icetime," said one scout.
     

  • Smyth should benefit nicely from the Olympic break. He’ll have a chance to rest, and I believe a few teams will inquire about him. Last year many scoffed when the Blackhawks picked up Michal Handzus at the deadline, but he ended up playing top-six minutes for them in the playoffs and was a valuable asset during the Cup run.

    I don’t see Smyth playing top-six minutes, but teams love experience and guys who know how to compete every night. Smyth does that, and I could see him being moved before the deadline likely for a mid-round pick. 
     

  • A player people need to go watch and potential free agents….Read here.

TONIGHT…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers struggles in back-to-back games continue with a 4-2 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle continues his recent hot streak and scores on the PP.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the second period Bieksa fires a shot from the point and it deflects off a stick into Zack Kassian’s grill. He is bloodied and as he skates back to the Canucks bench, Sam Gagner stands up on the Oilers bench, stares at Kassian but says nothing and sits down. David Perron leans over to talk with him, and you can see Gagner say, "Karma."

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • 24% body fat

    The top two lines always stink on a back to back when they play well. I wish he would shake things up for these games instead of splitting them up when in a slump.

    Still waiting for the day when I see the 3 first overalls play on a line.

    Have you ever seen a line drafted so low. 1-1-1

    Heatley Thornton Marleau 1-2-2

    Oilers could actually soon have 1-1-1 7-1 (2)

  • 27Ginge

    GDP: Oilers win 5-4 in OT.
    OGDP: Smitty gets two goals, none of which touch his stick.
    NSOGDP: Perron stirs things up in front of Luongo and Bieksa summons the courage to step outside his weight class and fight Gagner and his busted jaw. TSN and CBC rave about Bieksa’s leadership calling this the second gutsiest move of his Hall of Fame career next to grabbing Westgarth and letting him go to fight Smid.

  • Mason Storm

    Bryz has been consistently awful. He’s not even worth giving starts anymore unless they are delibarately tanking. It’s obvious he has nothing left and needs a stellar d in front of him.

    • pkam

      I wouldn’t give up on Bryz that quickly. Keep in mind he hadn’t played all season prior to signing with the Oilers. and before stating that he needs stellar D we should probably see him with NHL caliber D.

  • book¡e

    Starting Bryz is the right call mostly because Scrivens is a young goalie you hope to re-sign here. So you want to protect him and give him opportunities to succeed.

    Second, given the stats on goalies playing back to back, I would suggest that we will get a similar level of goaltending from Bryz at present as a back to back Scrivens. If the two points were critically important to the team, I would go with Scrivens, but they are not.