GDB 27.0: The Dirty Dozen?

606px-Surfacing_great_white_shark

The San Jose Sharks should be a vulnerable team. They played last night in Calgary, requiring a third-period goal from Patrick Marleau and a fantastic performance from Antti Niemi to squeak out a 3-2 win. They come to Edmonton tired, and backup goalie Alex Stalock, who hasn’t played since November, is expected to start.

On the other hand the Oilers have lost 11 straight games and if recent history is any guide making it an even dozen is well within the realm of possibility.

The Lottery Standings

12.7.14

Well, here we are.

On Saturday, the Oilers had the option of adding a useful centre for nothing; they declined to do so despite previously having been so convinced of the necessity of a spare centre that they kept Will Acton on the roster out of training camp. It’s a tell.

Edmonton’s season is over, even as two-thirds of the schedule lies before the team. They’ll probably get better; they won’t get 0.885 goaltending forever and at some point guys like David Perron (5.4 SH%, career 12.8 SH%) and Nail Yakupov (5.5 SH%, career 12.0 SH%) are going to start burying their chances. When those things start happening, the team will start winning some games. It won’t matter. Edmonton is 15 points out of the final wild card spot in the West and that’s too great a gap to make up.

At this point there are a bunch of teams that could overtake the Oilers for dead last in the NHL. Buffalo is a very good bet; if Edmonton wins tonight the Sabres will be only one point ahead and unlike the Oilers Ted Nolan’s team has been getting goaltending.

Finishing 30th gives a team a one-in-five shot at Connor McDavid. Finishing 29th drops that to roughly one-in-seven, and by 27th the chances are less than one-in-10.

The Lineup

12.7.14 Lineup

We don’t know the line combinations Dallas Eakins will employ against San Jose; the above comes from Wednesday’s loss against Winnipeg. Boyd Gordon and Nikita Nikitin (along with Matt Hendricks) have been missing practices; my guess is that Nikitin sits while Gordon plays. If Gordon doesn’t play, the team will have all of three centres and the position will be really ugly. Defence is going to be ugly regardless of whether Nikitin dresses, but at this point it’s hard to argue with a straight face that a game or two off for the Russian is going to hurt the Oilers any.

We also don’t know which goalie will be starting for Edmonton. Ben Scrivens did have that glorious game against the Sharks last year; in the absence of any other indication that one goalie is more worthy of a start than the other it might be worth playing him against San Jose to remind him of better days.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

What are the Sharks blogs saying? This from Tim Chiasson at HockeyBuzz. 

The focus now quickly shifts to the Edmonton Oilers with a start time of 9pmET(6pmPDT) tonight.

This is just the type of game the Sharks would lose. It’s the second game of a back-to-back and it’s against a lowly team. I can already hear the excuses if they do.

San Jose needs to re-group and get focused, fast. There is a pair of free points sitting on the table as long as they show up and play their game. No nonsense like the first two periods against Calgary.

Predictions

SharkAttackKlondike

Game Day Prediction: A win, because it has to happen at some point. Call it a 4-3 overtime decision.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: There will be a fight. It might be John Scott and Luke Gazdic, but let’s say instead it is former Oiler Mike Brown and Steve Pinizzotto. As with the fights in the Arizona and Winnipeg games, it will be totally irrelevant to the final score, but will prompt a round of ‘if only all the Oilers played like X.’

Not-so-obvious Game Day Prediction: Andrew Ference will make a great cross-ice pass to Taylor Hall, who will bury it for the game-winning goal. They will then hug like good friends.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Admiral Ackbar

    So now what? Are we happy?

    I saw a team that was gassed after playing the night before on the road.

    A good team would’ve handed the Sharks their Lunch.

    This will only serve to delay what needs to be done.

    Blow up the Oil. They looked terrible again tonight. Win or not.

    -Fan since ’81

    • Chris_Cruise

      Not sure why your comment got so many trashes. It’s true. While the win makes oilers fans feel warm and fuzzy temporarily, it doesn’t help the big picture.

      You are right, the sharks have played something like 4 games in 6 nights. They were on back to back nights!…and probably mentally checked out a little bit when seeing it was the oilers on their schedule.

      Even the best teams lose on back to backs fellas.

      I was recently in Long Island and watched the Islanders hand the Pens their @ss’s fairly easily. It was my first time seeing Sid the Kid live and he was invisible. Malkin wasn’t much better. It was disappointing. But they had just played the Bruins the night before and they didn’t have much left in the tank.

      Tonight’s game is no true barometer for the Sharks ability. They looked good against Calgary in a meaningful game.

      • Lumley

        Nobody mistook this win against a team on second night of back to back as a sign that things mysterious turned around. The team is still terrible, yes, but that’s another story for another day. Tonight is a rare win for the Oil so cut them some slack eh?

        • Chris_Cruise

          Fair enough. I liked that Yak got to put a smile on his face. The kid has had bad luck and no icetime to find the twine. Good for him. Same with Perron. It’s also good that it wasnt Hall who scored tonight or else all would be forgiven of him as well.

          All I’m saying is it’s hard to lay judgement on a team that’s played a ton of hockey lately and comes into our barn with a quarter left in the tank.

          The next meeting will be different. But sure, let’s feel good for one night, we deserve it.

    • Joe Mamma

      My apologies to the moderators. I didn’t think I could go too far with un-banned words. You should probably remove the slang for penis if that was too much.

      Let me try it again..

      Congrats to the players for the win!!

      Klowe can make a vacuum on my extension.

  • Andy7190

    It’s a Festivus miracle…

    Oilers played Fayne for more than 20 minutes and won…. These geniuses could have done that from game 1… Things might be slightly different.

  • Lumley

    I’m pretty pessimistic and I don’t think the oilers played a terrible game. Not stellar but not terrible. They just simply need to score more goals and have better possession. Seems simple but they do seem to be getting more shots and their D Isn’t an atrocity it’s just very bad. One step up from atrocity.

    I’m not blinded by this win. Still a bad team but the record doesn’t show the true story. Just score a couple more goals here and there. Just a couple and they would have a few more wins the last 28 days. Still a poor record but not as bad as it stands now.

  • YFC Prez

    Just got back from the game. That was pretty fun. Rexall was maybe 70% capacity. There was a boat load of empty seats. Great game to watch, the oilers actually showed up which was great cause this was my first live game since the Detroit games 3 and 4 2006 playoffs.

    To the dudes at the back of section 303 , you get the drunks of the game award. Props to you sirs. Don’t envy you tomorrow though.

  • Kevwan

    I only caught about half the game but it honestly did look like Mac-T’s conference affected the players. There seemed to be a little more urgency in the Oilers’ play tonight than normal