GDB 71.0: THE BEST TEAM WON

defeat

Sometimes you just need to accept that your competition is better. Twenty days ago the Buffalo Sabres had 44 points and the Oilers had 48. The Sabres had two games in hand and some wondered if the Oilers could grab 30th spot once again.

In a short span of 20 days, the Sabres have shown they are much more deserving of a 30th place finish. It was a close race less than three weeks ago, but the Sabres desire, commitment and determination to finish 30th was too much for the Oilers to overcome. The Sabres have lost seven straight and now have a 13-point cushion on the Oilers in the “Be Bad of Ekblad” sweepstakes.

Give them credit, when the race for 30th heated up the Sabres ran away with it. They’ve earned their position, and on April 15th they will have the best chance, 25%, of winning the draft lottery.

No team has won four Stanley Cups in five years since the Oilers in 1984-1988. It is extremely difficult to achieve, and no one should have expected the Oilers to pick first overall for the 4th time in the last five years either. It was unrealistic, and while they will still have a chance to pick first via the lottery, 18.8% if they finish 29th, 14.2% if they finish 28th and a 10.7% shot if they end up 27th, their odds are diminishing by the day.

The Sabres commitment to winning the lottery has been solid. By trading Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson and Steve Ott they’ve taken a stranglehold on 30th and they won’t relinquish it. They are so committed to having the best odds in the lottery that they could have the lowest point total in the NHL since the Islanders finished with 52 in 2001. The Sabres need 7 points in their final 13 games to pass the Islanders, but 9 of those games are on the road and they’ve only won 7 road games all season.

Meanwhile, the Oilers are 10-4-3 over their past 17 games and are now in a fight with Florida, New York and Calgary for 29th to 26th.

Despite a banged up offensive unit, tonight is a must-win game for the Oilers. A loss to Buffalo would make the past 10 victories meaningless in my opinion. They can’t afford to take steps back against bad teams.

LINEUP

Hall-Gagner-Perron
Lander-RNH-Pitlick
Hendricks-Gordon-Smyth
Gazdic-MacIntyre-Jones

Ference-Schultz
Marincin-Petry
Fraser-Klefbom

Scrivens

Eakins suggested he will keep rotating his goalies, but he will switch things up so Fasth can face the Ducks and Scrivens can battle the Kings.

Eberle and Yakupov weren’t on the ice this morning and both are out for tonight. Eberle did not have an MRI, and the team feels he doesn’t need one. He is day-to-day. I doubt we will see the aforementioned 4th line with MacIntyre at centre, but you might see Smyth in the middle with the two massive bookends for a shift or two.

Eakins suggested he might play dress 7 D-men, so we won’t know until game time who is in.

Many wondered why the Oilers recalled MacIntryre instead of Arcobello or Horak. The Oilers desperately want the OKC Barons to make the playoffs, and they need those two down there more than up here, although Arcobello tweaked something last game and is day-to-day and might not play vs. Texas. The Barons are 3 points back of 8th place and 4 back of 6th. It makes sense to keep their two leading scorers down there for the weekend.

MacIntyre knows his role and his limitations as a player, but I’ve never encountered a guy who truly appreciates his time in the NHL like MacIntyre. He is living a dream, and he’ll cherish every moment that he is with the big club. It is easy to cheer for a guy like that. It is a refreshing change from some of the players who seemingly take the NHL lifestyle for granted.

QUICK HITS…

  • It is amazing how one goal can change the psyche of a player. Schultz took three slapshots last game, and I don’t think he’d taken three in the previous 69 games. He ripped one off the crossbar and two others led to scoring chances. I asked him why he suddenly decided to use his slapshot. “I don’t know. I couldn’t tell ya. It was one of those things, I scored last game from shooting the puck and it gives me more confidence. I think I’m finally starting to realize that is the way we are going to score goals and get chances for our team.”

    Schultz is a pass-first type of player, and shooting quickly or often doesn’t come natural to him. He’ll need to fight the urge to pass and keep shooting. If the does, the PP should have more success in the future.

  • The CHL regular season is over and now the playoffs begin. Here is a quick look at how the Oilers prospects did ranked by total points.

    Greg Chase: 7th rounder in 2013. 70-35-50-85. Calgary finished 3rd in east division of WHL. Tied Edmonton for most points in east. Chase had the 9th most points of any player in his draft class. That doesn’t include the 7 picks who are in the NHL, but for a 7th rounder he had a fantastic season.
    Mitch Moroz: 2nd rounder in 2012. 70-35-28-63. Edmonton finished 1st in WHL east divsion. A very strong season for Moroz, who likely will go to AHL next season.
    Jackson Houck: 4th rounder in 2013. 69-34-27-61. Vancouver finished 7th in west division in WHL.
    Darnell Nurse: 1st round 2013. 64-13-37-50. Sault Ste. Marie had 4th most points in OHL. 2nd seed in western conference.
    Jujhar Khaira: 3rd rounder in 2012. 59-16-27-43. Everett finished 5th in WHL west division.
    Kyle Platzer: 4th rounder in 2013. 66-22-14-36. Was traded from London to Owen Sound and will face Nurse in the first round of the playoffs.
    Marc-Oliver Roy: 2nd rounder in 2013. 39-14-21-35. Blainville-Broisbriand Armada finished 5th best in QMJHL.
    Ben Betker: 6th rounder in 2013. 68-7-14-21. D-man helped Everett finish 5th in WHL west division.

    The Oilers have other prospects in Europe and the NCAA, but I’ll feature them in another article. Chase, Moroz and Nurse had the best seasons. Roy was good when healthy.

  • Day two of the Gregor MS Bike Tour WSOP poker event is already 60% sold out in less than 24 hours. If you want to enter call 780.643.4060. Details on buy in and winnings is here.

TONIGHT….

bar-refaeli-photoshoot

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers keep rolling with a 5-2 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall picks up three points. Hall needs 16 points in his final 12 games to reach 80. He’ll need a few three point nights to have a chance, and with Buffalo using their 4th string goalie tonight is one of those games

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Luke Gazdic scores. With all they talk surrounding MacIntyre, Gazdic, who has done very well in fights this year, shows the organization he has some offence.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR:

  • BobbyCanuck

    We’ve been surprisingly healthy this season compared to most seasons. We know what we have in Eberle and Yakupov so I’m looking forward to seeing Lander and Pitlick get a chance in an offensive role. A loss to the Sabres tonight would be a big step back. They’re even worse than we were when we owned the league’s basement.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It’s a wiggly world out there…

    Oilers take Buffalo lightly and fall short in a 3-1 snoozer. Go Sabres! In regulation if you please. Every point brings harm to the cause.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck………then, it’s probably a duck, no?

        The last place team in the league just came in our own barn and outworked and outwanted it more than the Oilers. Mr.Balloon, meet Mr. Pin.

        2 games above .500 for the last 18 games might have you celebrating in the streets. But, there’s no denying this team needs Ekblad or Bennett more than a few meaningless wins on this 5th annual death march.

        You know the Oilers will get outworked again on Saturday, don’t you, eh, nudge nudge wink wink, i’ll say na more…

        • SRELIOFAN

          Why would you care if the team got outworked? You clearly want the team to lose for a higher draft pick.

          That’s a loser mentality that suits you. I care about the team winning games, not tanking for a higher draft pick. Which is all that you seem to care about year in year out.

          Yes, a loser team is just right for you. Keep cheering for the draft lottery. It’s pathetic.

  • Jordan1126

    why is everyone so concerned about bic mac playing 4 minutes tonight??? the 4th line isnt going to win you games and im sure that line wont hurt us any either.

    im more interested to watch lander and pitlick play with the nuge as their minutes are going to be increased significantly tonight.

    watch nuge will have another fantastic game as he will be playing with a few wingers that will open up some room with their size and speed.

    hopefully the opposition the next week or so is just as concerned about why mac is playing, and their focus gets all F’D up too.

  • Craig1981

    Have to agree about Kassian. So sick of being pushed around and openly mocked by other teams.Do not give him an option , just drop the mitts and have at it. game ejection ,10 game suspension. I don’t care, just send the message.

  • oilerjed

    Who in OKC truly needs an audition? We pretty much know what we have down there. Nothing that will be usable on this roster in the next year or two.

    Oops double post. flog at will

    • vetinari

      Arco (again). Horak. Brad Hunt (on defence rather than maybe Fraser). Heck, I’d even take a second dose of Will Acton for a game or two.

      MacIntyre adds nothing to the roster that can’t be handled by Gazdic, Fraser, Jones (who has been fighting more this year) or Hendricks. And I know that OKC is better off sending MacIntyre up than anyone else but he’s a boat anchor.

      • oilerjed

        So like I said, theres not really anyone there who needs a second look. Acro is the only one who warrant a trip but we already know what we have there so why bother? Horak maybe but it seems like Mact isnt to set on him next year either. I understand what you are saying about Smack but throw a dog a bone eh. With how much the 4th line will play he wont be much of an anchor anyways.
        I am interested to see Lander RNH and Pitlick tonight though. Could be a nice mix and a good change for RNH not to have to be the only defence on the line.

        • Lofty

          Is it fair to say you know what you have with Arcobello after half a season?

          In Martin St.Louis’s first season he had 18 pts like Arco, but did it in 15 more games. Undeniably, they both played on crap teams as well.

          I just like the fact he finishes his checks.

  • vetinari

    MacIntyre won’t be here next year and adds little to the lineup now. I would rather that they give the roster spot to someone for a legitimate audition with the big club but I guess if there is one team that MacIntyre won’t look too out of place skating against, it would be Buffalo.

    GDP: Oilers 4 Sabres 2

    OGDP: Lander and Klefbom continue to make a case for staying with the big club and each register an assist tonight and plus ratings.

    NSOGDP: During the pre-game skate, MacIntyre
    bumps into Gazdic and challenges him to a fight, literally, for the enforcer spot on the team.

  • Craig1981

    If John Scott dresses, this will be the super heavy weight of all super heavy weight fights.

    John Scott 6’8″ 270lbs 6 points in 225 games

    Steve Mac 6’6″ 265lbs 4 points in 90 games

  • oilerjed

    I think its great that Smack gets the call. He deserves a few NHL paycheques for what he does. Keep him here for the rest of the year and let him smack some fools around before they cut him loose this summer.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I really hope Gazdic grabs Kassian and forces him to drop the gloves. It’s probably best to let it go, but the way he mocked the team and they stood around doing nothing really got to me.

    Gazzy, take the extra two, or a major even. Hell, take a suspension. Just show the league that the Oilers play for each other and if you mess with one, you mess with them all.

    EDIT: this pertains to the Canucks game coming up, obviously.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    @Steve

    I’m don’t disagree with you. I’m just correcting him on Arcobello. He’s simply not called because he’s banged up.

    Horak would have been better IMO. Less of a loss for OKC.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    Good to see Pitlick getting a chance finally after a good showing early in the season.

    I hope that Dallas has a reason for bringing up Big Mac over others……maybe he has plans for playing him on the first unit PP standing in front of the net?

    Either way it will be good to see Big Mac…….the guy is truly happy just to get a chance, very refreshing!

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    I’II say this again it maybe be better for the team to be able to draft Ekblad, But this can be a good test to see just how incompetent our management brain trust really is. Do we really need another 18 year old at training camp next year? lets see what will happen when The Old Boys Club put their heads together and start rubbing to see if any of these clowns can come with any ideas for drafting or trading for proven talent that will help next season. I don’t know about anybody else but I don’t want to go through another long pathetic losing season next year.

    • vetinari

      Why not Horak then? As written in article Arcobello is day to day, but recalling MacIntyre over Horak makes no sense, unless as Gregor said they are more worried about OKC being making playoffs. I watch quite a few games on line, and Texas is in 1st place and OKC will be hard pressed to win. MacIntyre would be of no use against them so keeping Horak and Arco, even banged up, makes more sense.

          • Spydyr

            IMO new found “toughness” this team is showing has a lot to do with standing up for one another.It does not hurt to have a few guys who can bring it on the team.

            For far to long the team has been the softest in th NHL.

        • Craig1981

          I think MacIntyre cares about a suspension. If its for the rest of the season that’s about $80,000. He has made a little less than $100,000 so far this year in the AHL. That is a big chunk.

          • Craig1981

            Ya, it might be tough, but then again organizations have leaks and its possible the NHL finds out. Is that really a bees nest you want to poke just to beat some guy that plays 12min a game?!?

            And what about the suspension to MacT and Eakins if that happened. Sean Payton got a year for the bounty incident.

            PS. If Big Mac got offered to a one way contract after spending the year in the AHL it would raise red flags, let alone +$100,000 plus on it.

          • Spydyr

            He made $625,000 on a two way contract and is UFA offering him $725,000 with good pay in the AHL would not raise a flag.Even if it did it is almost impossible to prove.Bring him up for Flames and Canuck games.The fans would love it.

          • Craig1981

            You are missing the point.

            You want to offer a contract to jump an opposing player and then repay whatever his suspension was on his next contract?!?!???

            I am saying people would know about that. The agent, player, GM, Eakins, other people in the organization. Incidents like this get out. See The Bounty scandal, Armstrong, SMU death penalty, etc.

            The fact is the NHL discipline if you got caught would be heavy. Draft picks forfeited, management coach and player suspensions, some of them maybe lifetime. Now you would risk that to have some 12 min a game forward take a beating?!?!! I’m not sure there is anything I can say to make you realize how ludicrous your thinking is. Let alone talk about how unethical your idea is. OMG why am I typing this

          • Spydyr

            Not once did I say tell him to do anything.What I did say is if he was fined the team could find a creative way to pay the fine.Such as including the amount in his next contract.Not sure where you got the bounty thing from it came for your mind.

            Stop being delusional.

          • Craig1981

            “Make it up too him next contract.Give him a sweet one way deal for being a good solider” Spydyr

            Offering to do this for him is the same as telling him.

            The New Orleans Bounty Scandal. Its an example of a professional North American sports team bending league rules to injure players. It seems pretty relevant as it is what you are suggesting

          • Spydyr

            That only was only if and when he received a suspension.If you don’t think teams pay for players suspensions one way or the other you are naive.All it would take is pay him for a commercial.

    • A-Mc

      The last win will be vs Vancouver on April 12th, where the mighty Oil steal the 2pts that Vancouver needs to make the playoffs.

      Utlimate. Spoiler.

      SUCK IT ‘NUCKS!

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      You’re assuming they’re gonna win tonight.

      But I do agree with the last part. The boys are gonna have vacations and golf on their minds towards the end of the season.

      If you think they’ve mailed in some games this year… you haven’t seen nothing yet!

      • Craig1981

        First e time commenter here but I have to say why is there so much hate of anythingea oiler related.If you really dont lie the team or players dont watch them find another team or just quit bic*ting lie a bunch of school kids. The teams not doing great but they are still my team.