GDB 7.0: HOME ICE ADVANTAGE – Detroit is beatable

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NugeWarrior

The Oilers won a measly nine of 50 games versus the Western conference last year. It was ugly, and some habits are hard to break. Despite moving to the Eastern conference after the 2013 season, the Oilers’ struggles against the Detroit Red Wings continued. The Oilers have only won once in their last 15 meetings versus the Red Wings dating back to March 30th, 2010.

Since drafting Taylor Hall, the Oilers’ lone victory over the Wings occurred at Rexall Place, on February 4th, 2012. Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle each had a pair of goals and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the shootout winner in a 5-4 victory.

Tonight’s tilt is one of the rare times in the past 20 years you can look at the Oilers and say they have a realistic chance to defeat the Red Wings.

I can hear you yelling at your screen, “Are you an idiot?”, or feverishly scrolling your mouse down to the comment sections to type out your disdain, but hear me out.

The 2015/2016 version of the Red Wings is not the team we’ve seen for the past two decades. They don’t have a Hall of Fame blueliner. Pavel Datsyuk is injured. Mike Babcock is in Toronto and the Wings have some of the worst possession numbers in the NHL.

They Wings are getting out shot by an average of 12 shots per game. They have a league low 21.4 shots/game and have allowed 33.4 shots/game. Outside of the Dallas game, where they were terrible, the Oilers are allowing a respectable 28.8 shots/game. They have improved their defensive zone coverage, but they still need more shots on goal. In the same five games they are averaging 26.6 shots/game.

If the Oilers want to be in the hunt for a playoff spot in February, they need to defeat Detroit when they are playing this poorly.

LINEUP

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Oilers lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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Red Wings lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS…

  • The Oilers have to be aware of the Zetterberg line. They’ve combined for eight goals and 20 points in five games. Abdelkader and Zetterberg have a combined six goals on 13 shots, while rookie Dylan Larkin has looked very comfortable on the top line. They are riding a hot streak and the Oilers need to play “inside their jerseys”, to quote Todd McLellan.
  • Griffin Reinhart didn’t skate again today, so Andrew Ference will take his spot on the third pair beside Gryba.
  • Detroit is 19th on PP (15.4%) and 21st on PK (80%), while the Oilers are 21st on PP (15%) and third on the PK (89.5%).
  • The Oilers and Wings are both struggling on faceoffs. The Oilers are 25th at 46.6% and the Wings are 27th at 46.5%.
    Glendening is 53.3% (40-35)
    Richards is 47.7% (21-23)
    Zetterberg is 46.6% (34-39)
    Sheahan is 40.7% (24-35)

    For the Oilers:
    Lander is 58.2% (46-33)
    Letestu is 49.9% (43-44)
    RNH is 36.5% (31-54)
    McDavid is 27.9% (17-44)

    Matt Hendricks has taken the fifth most faceoffs and is a team-best 61.5% (32-20), but he’s injured. Nugent-Hopkins needs to improve. He should be better than 36%, especially when he takes the second most draws. Once he improves in the dot, the Oilers should have more puck possession.

  • 60 Minutes was in Edmonton today taping their final interview with Connor McDavid. The segment will air on 60 Minutes Sports on Tuesday, November 3rd at 6 p.m. MST on Showtime. This feature has been in the works for nine months, and their goal is to introduce McDavid to the American sports fan. They covered him at the Orr/Cherry CHL game, a few games in Erie, at the draft and now in the NHL. They’ve yet to decide which Canadian station will air the feature.
  • I asked McLellan about Andrej Sekera’s play. “He is still evolving, just like we all are. As the games have gone on he’s polished things up a bit more. He’s starting to understand what we ask of him and his teammates ask of him. He is a very passionate player.”

    McLellan also mentioned he is adjusting to the West and how different the game is played. I asked him to elaborate on what he feels Sekera needs to adjust in his game. “He likes to have the puck. When he has it on his tape he likes to have it, but it has to get off a bit quicker. I don’t know if I’m correct or not, but out East maybe you have a bit more time to handle the puck and play one-on-one as a defenceman. We’d like him to move the puck a bit quicker, don’t get into those situations, sense danger quicker, but it will come with him.”

    I’ve seen Sekera make some really good plays, most noticeably the OT goal in Vancouver, but as McLellan said we’ve seen him over handle the puck. I suspect he will adjust, and McLellan believes 20 games is the right amount of time for players to adjust and for him to get a more accurate read on their ability. I’d guess Sekera won’t need that much time to adapt.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Winging it in Motown

Dylan Larkin vs. Connor McDavid.

Our guy is still just a dark horse candidate in terms of rookie of the year consideration and he’s up against the kid who’s starting to find his stride. They may not play much against one another head-to-head, but it’s a fun storyline to track and one that I honestly do think Larkin’s got a good shot on any given night to come out ahead on.

Defense vs. Defense.

Neither team has an awe-inspiring blueline corps and it’s pretty well expected there are going to be a lot of mistakes between these two squads while the scoring forwards look to exploit those weaknesses. This game very much could come down to a battle of which team makes fewer boneheaded mistakes and the blue line is the front line on that battle.

TONIGHT….

GDB7

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers end an eight-game losing streak vs. the Wings with a 5-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The top-two lines continue to score and they combine for four goals

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mark Letestu has scored one goal in his last 37 games dating
back to last season. His lone goal came against the Oilers at Rexall Place on
March 18th when he was a Blue Jacket. He picked up an assist the next
night in Vancouver. It was the only time he scored points in consecutive games
all season. He tallied his first assist as an Oilers last Sunday in Vancouver,
and he scores his first goal tonight. He also wants to score so the people at NHL.com realize he is not Nikita Nikitin.

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  • Oilcounty88

    I have Mrazek and Talbot in my fantasy league – torn between starting both to get a guaranteed win and going with my gut, which is saying/hoping Mrazek gets lit up by the Oil tonight.

  • Oilcounty88

    Biggest thing is Detroit is learning under a new coach for the first time in a decade. The shots against for Detroit is alarming because historically they allow the fewest shots in the league year over year. With the way Edmonton has played of late and the chances they seem to be creating with speed I think they have an excellent opportunity to beat Detroit tonight. 4-2 Oilers!

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Oilers are all bout ending losing streaks. They will win tonight as long as they play like they want to win instead of lapsing back into playing like they deserve to win.

    It sounds like McLellan was wary of that in practice and had the group on point. It’s a shame Hendricks is injured as I think his energy and forecheck would match up extremely well against the Wings’ top line.

    Kronwall, Green, and Dekyser in my mind give Detroit the edge on Defence, even though they are being outshot. But, Edmonton has that second line and last change. If Edmonton’s top two lines can keep it rolling, it will be Oilers win.

    Since Detroit plays rather disciplined, I predict a very low amount of penalties. Should be some fun hockey to watch.

  • fran huckzky

    I believe Mike Babcock could see that the glory days were coming to an end and coud hardly wait for an opportunity to desert a sinking ship. This doesn’t give me any joy as I have liked the Wings since the days when the Oil Kings and Flyers were Detroits main feeder system in the west. The way that Nuge plays reminds a lot of Pavel D. Strong on both ends of the ice . GO OIL.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    @jasongregore

    “Tonight’s tilt is one of the rare times in the past 20 years you can look at the Oilers and say they have a realistic chance to defeat the Red WInge.”
    The same reason behind this statement is the same reason why Edmonton just beat 2 pacific division teams over the weekend (a division they sucked against for the longest time).
    That’s because, like the Flames and Canucks, the Wings just aren’t playing like the same team as they were last year and the Oilers play has somewhat improved compared to last year.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    I’m glad TMac jumped on the boys at practice, Tuesday. I’m glad they are feeling better about themselves but they have to be ready and up for a game against Detroit. The crowd will greet them very warmly after that super road trip. If they make it three in a row things will be looking good.

  • pkam

    ‘the Oilers are 21st on PP (15%)’

    I think the Oilers were 28th or 29th on PP after 4 games at around 10%. So they are climbing up the ladder really fast the last 2 games. Hopefully they continue to climb and get in the upper half after this home stand.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Nuge needs to grow out his hair. I really want to see the flow flying on a break away against The Nucks and see the Twins lost in the flow.

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      Ference and Miller replacing Hendricks and Reinheart is a bit worrying, but Sekera and Klefbom have both looked much better, and if Hall, Yak, Nuge, and McDavid keep playing like they have, it might not matter.

  • mithaman

    Tonight will be a good test for the Oilers. Personally, I don’t really care if they win or lose, as long as the compete level is there. If they continue to do that on a consistent basis the wins will come.

    (Okay, maybe I care a little bit if they win…)

  • Got home from work, I will take my ‘old’ man’s nap, slip on my Oilers jersey and watch the good guys win 5-1. McDavid will out duel Larkin with a 3 point night and the Red Wings will leave saying, “Thank God we are now in the East.”

  • 2Oilers4

    This game is very winnable. Oilers need to come out flying tonight. I’m looking at Pouliot, Purcell and Sekera to step up their games. Gryba is going to have to spot Ference, hopfully that duo can be as good as the Gryba Reinhart duo has been. I’m hoping Miller works well on the top line, I think he is going to get a lot of looks tonight.

    Game day prediction: Oilers keep up their winning ways stomp the Wings 5-1.

    Obvious game day prediction: Ference looks slow and makes a bad pass that is picked off by Zetterberg who slams home the wings only goal.

    Not so obvious GDP: McDavid strips a wing of the puck, dances around another wing and makes a sick feed to Yak who snipes top shelf making it look easy.

    Maybe those are both obvious predictions.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    “I came here for one reason — to attack and keep coming. Not to ask but just to give, not to want but just to sing, sing the power of the NUGE, because this freak of nature right here is just beginning to swell, and when I get big enough, brother, there ain’t gonna be room for anybody else but me and all the NUGE’s floating through the veins.”

  • tileguy

    JG wrote “If the Oilers want to be in the hunt for a playoff spot in February”

    In the hunt…..February…….IF

    Aye corumba! I was hoping we were a little better this year. You sure don’t sound optimistic.

    • Jason Gregor

      I had them with 86 points, so close to playoff hunt, but not in it. If they don’t win games like tonight, which are very winnable, then they won’t be in the hunt.

    • For Pete's Sake!

      I want to see Nurse brought up soon. That kid skates so much faster than Ferrence.

      So what if he makes a few mistakes. So does Ferrence. The kid is already dominating our defense in Bakersfield. The sooner he’s brought up, the more hockey games the Oilers will win this year.

      • YFC Prez

        These lessons the oilers learned via Sam Gagner. The NHL is not a developmental league. Nurses development can’t be hindered because of Ference.

        1 year of proper development can pay huge dividends the next 15 years.

      • Reg Dunlop

        Let nurse stay down and continue being a dominate defenseman down there playing top pairing minutes. The oilers will probably need him when the injuries start to mount up, usually around December/January. Its not like hes getting worse playing down there.

  • tileguy

    Wings bring a ” five man attack unit” at all times, with a “working man blues style”. This will put a strong forecheck pressure on the Oilers blue line. Hope they are ready for it.

    Oilers seldom bring a 5 man attack up ice, only because their D , most of often are playing rinky dinky do with the puck, or ringing if off the boards, playing ” my turn to turn it over”.

  • The Future Never Comes

    Connor, Connor, CONNOR

    YO CONNOR IS MESS, WHATTUP

    CONNOR I CAN SEE YOU ON TV YOUR NOT ANSWERING YOUR PHONE MAN, THOUGHT WE WERE TIGHT DOOD

  • Johnnydapunk

    Minor point, didn’t Sekera have a half of a season to get used to the West as he was traded to the Kings by Carolina in Feb. I’m alright with McLellan maybe shielding him from the critisisms, but I would think that if anything he is getting used to is that he is now relied on to be a Number 1/2 Defencemen and doesn’t have as strong of a team to either score if he makes a mistake or cover up defensively.

    Either way I just hope this little blip of a winning streak is a sign of things to come and just dumb luck.

      • Johnnydapunk

        The injury makes sense as it was a knee which is a right James to recover from, saying that, I don’t think Gryba or Reinhart are having as tough of a time adjusting and Gryba is logging in 17+ minutes a game, Reinhart is on 16 ish mins.

        In the end, Sekera has a far better environment to succeed as McLellan is quality and I think he was the best move the Oil made.

  • The Future Never Comes

    Ference should not be out there at this point, he is a liability. Slow, small, and he was absolutely leveled about 5 times last game. I trust Todd but Davidson should get the start over Ference.

  • For Pete's Sake!

    Woohoo, scored some cheap tix off kijiji for the game tonight!

    Game day prediction: Oil win 4-0

    Obvious game day prediction: After copious amounts of Rexall beers I yell ‘I LOVE YOU CONNOR’ every time he scores or gets a point (3 times), to the disdain of my orderly neighbours

    Not-so-obvious prediction: I win 5k on the DraftKings slapshot pool, making other contestants look foolish for not selecting McDavid, Yak, Hall, Jultz and Cam Talbot.

    GO OILERS

  • For Pete's Sake!

    Detroit is one of the teams in the NHL in which they like to trade chances and play firewagon hockey. Always like seeing them come into town to play because its always a fast skating affair with lots of skill. I think the ConYak attack continues and we might see a first maybe a hatty from McD.