GDB 49.0: The McDavid Bowl

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Tonight’s matchup vs. the Buffalo Sabres pits the 30th (Sabres) and 29th (Oilers) place teams in the NHL. Many are calling it the McDavid Bowl, but players in both dressing rooms are not nearly as excited about that as fans in Edmonton or Buffalo.

Neither teams wants to be in this situation, and no self-respecting NHL player will try to lose on purpose just so their team has a better chance at drafting 1st overall this coming June. The way these teams are playing there is a good chance many players from both lineups won’t be in the NHL next season, so they sure won’t try and lose to land McDavid.

The harsh reality, however, is that these are clearly two of the worst teams in the league and one of them is guaranteed to finish 30th.

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The Oilers have 33 points, while the Sabres have 31 with both having played 48 games. Edmonton is on pace for 56 points, while Buffalo might reach 53.

The Oilers have picked up 12 points (5-5-2) over their last 12 games, while the Sabres have zero points in their previous 12 games. They have lost 12 consecutive games in regulation.

The Sabres are terrible right now.

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They have been outshot in 42 of their 48 games this season. They have outshot their opponents only three times all year, and tied them three other times.

During this 12-game drought they have been outshot 394-253, an average of 32.8 to 21.1, and  they have been outscored 53-17.

The Oilers outshot them 52-31 in their first meeting on November 7th. The Sabres are really bad, and regardless of what happens tonight, it will be incredibly difficult for the Oilers to finish below them in the standings.

The Oilers are not a competitive team, but they are better than the Sabres, and the only way I see the Oilers drafting Connor McDavid is if they win the lottery on Tuesday April 14th.

LINEUP

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The only change will be Ben Scrivens in goal. Taylor Hall is still day-to-day with a bone bruise.

QUICK HITS

  • It is not very often that the Oilers are the favourite heading into a game. The Sabres likely look at Edmonton as their best chance to end this 12-game losing streak. The Oilers need the first goal to avoid giving the fragile Sabres any confidence.
  • I never liked the salary or term of the Nikitin signing, I would have preferred one year, but I liked the idea of bringing in a veteran so they wouldn’t rush both Klefbom and Marincin. Nikitin was beyond bad up until the past few games. He has played decent the past few games and at least isn’t a trainwreck all over the ice. It doesn’t make the signing any better, but at least he’s looked like a capable D-men the past few games.
  • The forwards need to do a better job of finishing. I notice everyone gets upset when a forward or D-man makes a defensive mistake, but when they miss the net or don’t capitalize on a great scoring chance it is rarely noted. The job of top-six forwards is to produce and last game Teddy Purcell, Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot all missed great chances in the third period. They need to focus and score on those opportunities. I realize scoring is the hardest thing to do in the NHL, but they are paid to score. All of the top-six forwards need to be better finishing and even creating scoring chances.
  • Radek Dvorak retired after 17 seasons in the NHL earlier this week. He was on my show yesterday and told a great story about his rookie season in Florida, when they made their magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals complete with rats being thrown on the ice after every goal.

    “I was one of only three guys in the room. Scottie (Mellanby) was taping his stick, and
    the big rat ran in, and Scottie just reacted with a swing (laughs). He got it with one swing and then the story got out and the plastic rats were everywhere,” said Dvorak.

    “The rats during the game were crazy. Some games were four hours due to all the
    rats on the ice (laughs), but the atmosphere was incredible. It was so different than anything I’d experienced in Czech Republic.”

    When I asked Dvorak what was the highlight of his career he surprised me with his answer. He said it was being drafted in Edmonton. “When I got to go up to the podium and put on the Panthers jersey it was a dream come true. It meant so much to me.”

    It was refreshing to hear that. Usually we hear about a game or a run to the Stanley Cup, but Dvorak was always a very humble man when he played, and hearing him tell that story of his draft you could tell that moment still meant a lot almost 20 years later.

    Good luck in retirement.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

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From Die by the Blade

I’m always fascinated when two really bad teams play each other – sometimes you get boring, mistake-prone hockey, but sometimes, bad defense and goaltending can actually make for some of the most fun games to watch. Which will it be tonight, a slog through the trough of awfulness, or a back-and-forth nailbiter?

TONIGHT….

UFC

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win, because the Sabres are simply a very bad hockey team. 4-1 Edmonton.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: We will see the most empty seats of any game this season. Fans will not be flocking to Rexall to watch this game, but it will still be announced as a sellout. I don’t buy for a moment that all the empty seats are paid for, but not filled by disgruntled season ticket holders. Unless the Oilers are buying all the leftover seats, these games aren’t sold out. At some point the Oilers will need to admit the games are not 100% sold out.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: I was a game early in my prediction about Anton Lander scoring. The Swede scores tonight as does Oscar Klefbom.

CRAIG’S ON IT…

CraigsOnIt

You have to love the creativity coming out of Nation HQ during another forgettable Oilers season.  Check out the ‘Craig’s On It’ shirts that will be released on the NationGear Store over the weekend.  These are classic.  Keep your eyes on the store for the launch.

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  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Going to my first game of the season tonight!

    I’ve turned down free tickets a couple of times this year, but I couldn’t turn down free luxury box tickets. I’m not made of stone.

    • Bucknuck

      Well, you could buy into the propaganda and spend your time/money watching something that is a waste of both and built on a foundation of lies.

      Or you could just suck it up and watch the Oilers.

  • Prongers Promises

    Our best chance at last place left with Eakins……….under Nelson we will not come close to landing either Mcdavid or Eichel.

    My prediction or hunch is we will be drafting fourth or fifth……..which means we will still be getting a great player.

    Let’s stop with all the McDavid articles…….it’s not going to happen!

  • Ready to Win

    “The Oilers are not a competitive team, but they are better than the Sabres, and the only way I see the Oilers drafting Connor McDavid is if they win the lottery on Tuesday April 14th.”

    How about if we trade away Petry for picks and then Nuge and Gordon both get injured?

  • toprightcorner

    Loved the video, the attention to detail to the perspective of McDavid getting bigger as he got pulled closer was amazing.

    Unfortunately a minute later I puked in my mouth when I seen MacT in that speedo, somethings just can’t be unseen.

    My prediction is I will again puke a little in my mouth again while watching tonights game.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    Oilers defence has been slightly tolerable lately (better than the absolute failure as usual) so a shutout is in order:

    Oilers 4, Sabres 0.

    Nuuuuge hat-trick.

    (hey, a guy can dream)

    • See, my dream is we lose 20-0, and the people take to the streets burning pictures of Katz and Lowe, and then they take over the city, creating a functioning city-state, and arrest Lowe and Katz for war crimes. And then, after replacing idiots with some people with some sense, the Oilers become a playoff team. Hey, a guy can dream.

      • oilerjed

        Ya know that under the new “anti terror” law you may just find a swat team bashing in your door, leaving you to try explian, in your underwear, that you were just kidding, while they smash you about the head and stuff you in a dark coloured van.

        • oilerjed

          Hey, that’s a great idea. I’m not done yet! We then take over the entire province, creating our own hermit nation with Edmonton as our capital.We are a constitutional democracy.We call it “The Democratic Republic of Oilers”, or Oilers Nation for short. Our interim government will be the ON staff, of course. We nationalize the oil, and start diversifying our economy. Once the prices go back up, we start getting to business. The first order of business is to dissolve the Calgary Flames hockey club, and put the best players of both teams on the Oilers. Katz And Lowe will be paraded around the city, as citizens can throw tomatoes and other assorted object at them. Once the Oilers make the playoffs, we will hand back the province to the Canadian government.

  • T.J.F.M.

    Buffalo is worse. True.

    Oilers suck, generally speaking. But Oilers suck more against suckier teams. Oilers lose, likely by one goal. Likely Nikitins fault… or Schultz. That guy is terrible. Not once this year have we said or thought “what a great game by Schultz”

  • oilerjed

    Oilers go wild 6-1 win

    OGDP: Oscar Klefbom has another quiet and effective game of strong defense and good decision making which NO ONE will be talking about…

    Seriously, when will this guy get some love for his solid play?

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    @jay….the sold out thing has been a bone of contention for me too. i know they haven’t sold all the seats because last game i went to i got resale tickets and they happened to be beside a seat that hadn’t been sold an hour before the game because i checked before i left, and it was still empty all game, so i believe the Oilers are “buying up”? the leftover seats to announce complete sellouts every game and i think it’s a very underhanded thing to do, though i do understand why they are doing it i think….

    ….so they can show the league that the Oilers still sellout despite the losing and will come out in full force to the new arena, so it really was a good idea to build it….some such thing like that? still if the Canucks can admit they no longer sell out and the Flames attendance is no longer announced as a sell out, the Oilers should come clean too. your not pulling the wool over the fans eyes that’s for sure!!

  • Zarny

    The only way the Oilers finish below Buffalo is if Scrivens and Fasth completely sh*t the bed and rock a 0.880 SV % for the rest of the season.

    That certainly isn’t impossible; but not likely. Which means Buffalo will win the Toilet Bowl and guarantee one of McEichel.

    There may not be a significant stat in which Buffalo isn’t last this year.

  • oilerjed

    Faking sellouts goes hand in hand with the way the oilers management carries themselves in general.

    They have their fingers in their ears saying “la la la la la, I can’t hear you.”

    They continue to think/say the build is going as planned, and pretending the place is a sellout just adds to the giant puff of smoke going up our collective asses.

  • Phuryous George

    Good Points on Nikitin and the missed scoring chances. Nikitin has just looked more settled and confident since Christmas.

    I’m not sure about your NSOGDP. Lander has been better this year than last, but is a non factor in my eyes.

    My NSOGDP: After a horrible defensive decision that resulted in a goal against last game, Yak scores one and gets an apple tonight. I would have benched him, at least for the period after the gaff, but Nelson shows why players like to play for him and put him back out the. Yak was effective for the rest of the game, and set up some of the missed scoring chances. I think he rides the wave of the coaches trust into tonight, and produces.

  • Coppperhead

    I don’t know but it strikes me that inflating ticket sales is not unique to the Oilers, so painting this as a “Oilers management is so bad that they fake sellouts” issue seems disingenuous.

    I am NOT arguing that it’s a good thing, just that it’s likely pretty common in pro sports.

    At any rate I hope seeing the 3 000 to 4 000 empty seats in tonight’s game is an eye opener for Katz.

  • Keg on Legs

    “Tonight’s matchup vs. the Buffalo Sabres pits the 30th (Sabres) and 29th (Oilers) place teams in the NHL. Many are calling it the McDavid Bowl, but players in both dressing rooms are not nearly as excited about that as fans in Edmonton or Buffalo.”

    FYI I’m NOT excited to go tonight

  • The Buffmonton Saboils. Not sure what to say about this one. Would love to see a bench clearing brawl or like a shot on net. I wonder if McDavid will be watching this display. I will be smashing my face into freshly dropped horse crap as I sing a hip hop song all the while breathing in deep as this has become more enjoyable to me.