GDB 59.0: Home hangover

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The Oilers have racked up a lot of losses during the past four seasons, 183 regulation losses and 50 OT/SO losses in 352 games. They have won 33.8% of their games since the start of the 2010/2011 season, but they have struggled even more in the first game at home after a road trip of three or more games.

The Oilers have won only four of 28 games at home (14.2%) after a three-game trek during this span, and they will try to avoid another let down tonight against the Bruins.

This year they are 0-2-1 in the first game at home after a road trip of three or more games.

2014: 3-6-0 and were shut out three times.
2013: 0-1-2
2012: 0-4-2
2011: 1-6-0
Over the past five seasons, the Oilers are 4-19-5 and they will try to reverse that awful trend tonight.

They have been much more competitive since Todd Nelson took over, and way more entertaining to watch. Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle and Anton Lander are all producing with Nelson at the helm. Yakupov hasn’t looked this confident in two full seasons.

“He is the best centre I’ve played with regularly in the NHL. He is very smart in all zones. He talks to me every shift and tells me where I should be. He is so unselfish. He is always looking to get me the puck,” Yakupov raved to me about Derek Roy.

Give Nelson credit for keeping his lines together. Even after two brutal performances against Toronto and Pittsburgh he didn’t change the lines. He thought about it, and asked Yakupov about moving up to play with Nugent-Hopkins, but Yakupov said he felt comfortable with Roy.

It is no surprise to me that Yakupov’s most productive stretches came while playing beside Roy and Shawn Horcoff back in 2013. Both are veterans, and they know where to be on the ice and they can tell Yakupov where to go.

I don’t want to keep focusing on it, but it still concerns me that Craig MacTavish didn’t feel it was necessary to start the season with more veteran centres. It isn’t just about their production, it is about their ability to mentor and shelter the young wingers on the ice. I hope the GM has seen the error and will ensure the Oilers have an abundance of experienced centres in training camp next fall.

Even though the Bruins are only in 8th place (holding onto second wildcard position) in the east and suddenly fighting for their playoff lives with Florida and Philadelphia, they are still a very difficult matchup for the Oilers especially down the middle with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Carl Soderberg and Gregory Campbell.

The Oilers will need an effort similar to what they had in Long Island and Montreal if they plan on winning tonight.

LINEUP

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Matt Hendricks returns to the lineup and he will take Luke Gazdic’s spot. Gazdic has eight stitches in his chin after being rocked by Dustin Byfuglien in Winnipeg, but he said he is fine to play. Matt Fraser will remain in the lineup and skate with Gordon and Hendricks. Rob Klinkhammer is still with his wife and newborn child, but he should be back in the lineup on Friday.

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Martin Marincin is back in for Keith Aulie, while Ben Scrivens will start after missing four games with a groin injury.

QUICK HITS

  • I spoke with Jeff Petry today and he and the Oilers never had any serious talks on a long-term contract in the summer. He said a one-year deal was best for both sides since a long-term deal was never on the table. Would he have accepted a long-term deal? He couldn’t answer because he never saw one, but I got the sense speaking with him that the lure of free agency was too good to pass up. It seems neither side was open to a long-term deal, but I’m surprised the Oilers never offered one in the summer. At least give him the option to turn it down.
  • Once Petry signed the one-year deal it was obvious he was going to be traded before the deadline, so now for MacTavish it is just about trying to get the best deal. I’ve been told four teams have expressed interest thus far, and the Oilers expect that number to increase as the deadline gets closer.
  • The Bruins had an optional skate and wouldn’t divulge who will be the starting goalie tonight. Tuukka Rask has started 45 games and played the 4th most minutes amongst goalies, but the Bruins have to win this game. Will they gamble and give Malcolm Subban his first NHL start or go with Rask in a game they need to win?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Days of Y’Orr

Tonight will be another test for the Bruins. The Edmonton Oilers suck. They’re the Western Conference version of the Buffalo Sabres. If the Bruins can’t win in Edmonton tonight, throw in the towel. Trade Chara, Trade Rask, erect a golden statue of Patrice Bergeron and force him to retire. Okay, that all may be a little extreme, but if the Bruins can’t beat Edmonton it may be time to reevaluate where this team is going.

Whether on the road or at home there is no excuse for losing to inferior opponents. Don’t forget that Taylor Hall is injured (again) and won’t play tonight so that also removes the Oilers best player from the ice. This should be a game where Boston dominates. The Oilers defense is non-existent, giving up 3.31 goals per game, putting them at 29th in the NHL. The only real piece they have on the blue line is Jeff Petry (a guy I would love to see in Boston, by the way) and he’s usually paired with Andrew Ference on the second pairing.

TONIGHT…

CircusBear

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Bruins need a win and the Oilers are not good after a road trip. I’d like to pick the upset, but I don’t see it happening. Bruins squeak out a 3-2 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: There won’t be many penalties. Both team are top-ten in times short-handed. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Martin Marincin scores his first NHL goal in his 62nd NHL game. 

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