GDB 14.0: HOME ICE ADVANTAGE – McDavidless

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Sports can be a harsh business at times. Many fans had circled tonight’s game as must-see TV with the expectation to watch Connor McDavid play Sidney Crosby for the first time.

In 1984/1985 these two franchises watched Mario Lemieux battle Wayne Gretzky for the first time. Gretzky led the league with 73-135-208 and won the Art Ross, Hart and Stanley Cup while Lemieux won the Calder with 43-57-100.

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Gretzky and Lemieux met for the first time on November 6th, 1984, in Pittsburgh as the teams skated to a 3-3 tie. Gretzky scored the tying goal with four minutes remaining after Lemieux assisted on the go-ahead goal midway through the third period.

Thirty-one years later Crosby and McDavid were scheduled to meet on the exact same day, but alas hockey fans will have to wait until next season to see these two phenoms face each other in NHL action.

Despite McDavid’s absence there is still a lot of skill on the ice. The Oilers’ top two lines consist of three #1 overall picks (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov), a #3 pick (Leon Draisaitl), a #4 pick (Benoit Pouliot) and a 22nd overall selection (Jordan Eberle).

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The Penguins‘ top two lines consist of Crosby (#1), Evgeni Malkin (#2), Phil Kessel (#5), David Perron (#26), four-time 22+ goal scorer Patrick Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis.

There is no lack of offensive scorers on either roster, and fans should still be excited about tonight’s game.


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Oilers lineups courtesy of

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Penguins lineups courtesy of


  • “If I had a vote, he’d get mine as their MVP thus far. He has been great and they’ve only allowed 13 goals 5×5,” McLellan on Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins. The Penguins have scored 19 goals at EV. Fleury has a sparking 1.74GAA and .939sv% and he’s only allowed 19 goals in eleven games. Good news for Oilers is they won’t face him.
  • The Oilers have improved their 5×5 scoring. They have 23, tied for 12th, but they are still struggling to stop EV goals. The Oilers have allowed the third most (30), and only Columbus (32) and Calgary (42) have allowed more EV goals.
  • Crosby has played 193:26 at EV. He doesn’t have a goal and has only three assists. Both of his goals have come on the PP. He’s only put up 2-4-6 in 12 games thus far. His lack of offensive production  is one of the biggest surprises of the season. I’m certain he will pick up a point tonight.

  • The Oilers have seven + players so far. Hall leads the team at +7 followed by Draisaitl and Hendricks at +4, RNH is at +2 while Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson and Yakupov are at +1. The good news for the Oilers is that six of them are 24 and under. The skill players are improving their defensive zone coverage.\


From The Pens Blog…

They’ve added their fourth No. 1 overall draft pick since 2010 – who we noted is now injured, and they have absolutely nothing to show for it. And yet the lucky lottery ping pong balls of the NHL keep bailing them out over and over. You know the drunk guy/girl at the bar who keeps spilling their drink everywhere while their friend continuously orders them new drinks hoping they won’t do it again? Yeah, that’s the Oilers.

They rearranged front office responsibilities in an attempt to mask the suck of years past, but that was basically the equivalency of spraying Axe Body Spray in your car after your dog pukes everywhere.

Todd McLellan became the sixth Oilers head coach in the last seven seasons. That has to be some kind of record. Ice cream cones in the desert have more stability. But hey, at least he doesn’t have to worry about tanking in the playoffs anymore!

They traded a second round draft pick for Cam Talbot to be their starting goaltender this season, because going after other team’s backups has paid off so well for this franchise. Talbot was pretty good last season when he had an actual NHL-caliber defense in front of him. This season, his defense includes three traffic cones and a roll of Saran wrap, hence the .897 save percentage.



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GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have won two of their last three home games versus the Pens. They stun the Penguins with a 4-2 victory including an empty net goal.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: RNH scores a goal. He has three goals and six points in five career games versus Pittsburgh. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nail Yakupov is growing a moustache for Movember. Gene Principe interviews him during one of the intermissions and since Gene is also growing a stache he asks Nail about his. Yakupov looks Mean Gene in the eye and says, “You call that a moustache, this is a real moustache,” and then proceeds to use his right thumb and index finger and rub his moustache from the outside into the centre. Yak is interviewed because he scored earlier in the period.


Celebrate the volunteer, parent, coach or organizer who keeps the game going and asks for nothing in return. 

Nominate your Home Ice Hero and they could win a prize worth $5,000. Nominate your hero.

Recently by Jason Gregor:         

      • Anton CP

        Nuge’s playing style is different than McDavid. Yak has been playing with Nuge on the same line before but for whatever the reason that those two rarely works out.

    • Anton CP

      How often does the refs rotate? So many tripping penalties committed by Pens for no call but a little nudge from Davidson is called for interference? For many years that the Oilers never get any calls going their way.

    • YFC Prez

      They are isolating one man on the left 1/2 boards and they are looking cross-ice backdoor,they have 2 men over working the back door providing 2 layers of attack 2 options if the crossice pass is wonky.They are also cheating their middle support really deep when they do this.

      Might want to be pushing back by looking to hit them up the middle by kicking those crossice passes up the gut on them,burn their center support when they cheat to deep get behind him and bust up the middle to right side.

      They always pump it deep then softly ring the boards to feed the left side passer , then they slip from behind the net to the right side to finish the coming crossice passes.

      Look to sneak a guy high looking right side breakout AFTER they have pumped it deep behind the net,then pinch those soft board rings to the 1/2 wall left side and dump them FAR RIGHT SIDE to a streaking headman.

      • YFC Prez

        They have been harped at since pre-season to bring in olde school lumber to support the Hammer and Anvil …Stand-Up defense and hard Fore/Backchecking which is hard on the sticks.

        They haven been listening so let em burn baby….personally if a high stakes 2 NHL points was on the line maybe I would consider bringing in a rack of olde school lumber JUST SO THEY CAN TRY THEM OUT….the toughest sticks and heaviest ones the NHL allows so the Refs cant complain when you break opponents sticks as they like to do….if everyone knows we are going olde school lumber they have to blame the NHLers making the “light” equipment choices and not give out 2 minute penalies evey time a Pixy-stick explodes from ou heavier but absolutely LEGAL SICK CONTACT….the drama of the Pixie-Stick bomb somehow legitimises Refs arbitrarily calling a penalty on you if you are theone left with a stick in your hand.

        So it is the CONSISTANT WELL EXECUTED Fore/Backchecking and solid d-zone contacts causing so many stick breaks,the ways the Oilers have recenly been taught to use body mechanics and symbiotic dynamic interactions to win more puck battles one-on-one is also contributing,they really lean on their sticks and use them as fulcrums and levers a lot more techniclly and impactfully now.

        Pre-Season the Hammer and Anvil was forecast as being the Oilers/Mac-Ls/NHLs current best System Option to defeat the Hawks/Kings.Blues ect NHS modified Adjusted-Hybrid System, the MUCH heavier stickwork was forecast by proxy.They were warned but we were

        Mac-L is pissing around with a collapse defense instead of the Anvil and only working the Hammer part of the process now most periods,once implement he Anvil and they go full Stand-Up Defense we will see even more splintered sticks littering the ice.

        The Oilers NHL 2nd best takeway stat is being catalysed by the Hammer part ot the process the fore/backchecking pressure supported by a less than optimal HIGH POSITIONED COLLAPSE DEFENSE being strong enough to catalyse lots of engagements and heavy contact in close all over he ice.The Oilers are now “stick-strong” by process and need to recognise this and make equipment adjustments,or at least TRY some dinosaur sticks go retro just to see what it “felt like” for your idols back in he stone-age.

        Someone tell Yak to SHOOT tonight he is ON and you can feel it.

    • YFC Prez

      They are giving up the boards in their zone,surrendering the periphey,so when you get it there dont try to over-pass,take their bait and go to the outside on the boards but bust pucks right to the net ASAP, dont “work” the periphery just get possesion there like they are allowing and begin DRIVING IT HARD TO THE NET.A spin-off, stride and a half, snap shot top right corner under the bar OR freeze them at the elbow-bone glove side.

      They give up the outside and collapse to the middle,so take what they give you and then feed it right to them with no passes just explosions off the boards right to the bucket.

      It looks like they are vulnerable in net to the slapper off the rush,could be a transitional weakness in the tender like Dubby had,try that a few more times on him,hard risers on the fly.Same place same timing.

    • YFC Prez

      Remember this game by Nilson next time he lets in a stinker. This one shouldn’t be tied right now. Both he and Talbot have kept the oilers in it for stretches they had no business being in the game still.

      Good game by Nilson. He and talbot have both given these guys a chance to win in most of their starts except 1 games for each of them.

    • YFC Prez

      I can’t imagine an NHL referee being an easy job. That’s a big stage and you’re constantly under scrutiny from countless eyes everytime you step out to do your job.

      But I have to say the officiating has been so bad this year it’s affecting hockey games. It’s not just a matter of one set of refs letting players play more aggressive than others and letting a few things slide. I’m okay with that.

      I’m not okay with inconsistent calls. Penalties should be that same at both ends of the ice. Phantom calls are off the rails this season. Just in this game for example Hendricks gets called for hooking for trying to get his stick out of the grasp of a penguin.

      The video review team in Toronto has blown calls as well. It’s not just the Refs on the ice but the whole group. I can’t really say ” these refs suck tonight”. It’s all the refs in every game. Coaches challenge has further exposed the missed calls from these refs, and they can only challenge offside and goalie interference
      Resulting in a goal. Imagine if they could challenge all the calls. It would be chaos with the standards the officials bring.

      The league seriously needs to bring up their game in its officiating. I have never seen them this bad. I hope they get it sorted out soon, the reffing in the NHL isn’t good enough.

      • Anton CP

        Drop one Ref and put him on the bench , let him call headshots,dangerous plays,diving,from the bench and hen support the Video replay decisions….no need for any Refs to lose their jobs….just give em promotions.

        Maybe someone could tell Yak that next time he busts in along the boards over the blueline with speed then pulls up and stops suddenly and seperates himself like Weight used to do….he needs to take it 21/2 strides in and drive a slapper top corner.

      • Anton CP

        You know in MLB that since they have the challenge that umpires got lazier on calls because they are also heavily depended on the review to make the correct call. The overturn rate on calls in MLB is staggeringly high whenever a manager challenge the call. It is never easy to be refs in any sports but what separate good or bad refs are all about consistency. Either call everything or don’t call anything, simple as that.

        • YFC Prez

          Consistency would be awesome. Like calling Nilson for a trip, maybe calling Kunitz too?

          I like New ages suggestion. Keep one ref on the ice, keep audio contact with one or 2 officials in the birds nest watching the entire ice upstairs.

        • Serious Gord

          The overturn rate in mlb is very high because the teams have enough time to view video before deciding to appeal. Last season it was even worse as managers could actually go out and discuss the call delaying things long enough for staff to get a real good look at video for appealing.

          This season there are rules that do shorten the time yet they still get some advice from upstairs and thus win the majority of appeals.

          That noted there is a case to be made that umpires are somewhat less concerned about getting a call right the first time.

    • Randaman

      Don’t know if it’s timing, line mates or something else but Lander is having a brutal season.

      Maybe, just maybe the second half of last season was an anomoly?

      No offensive instincts at all

    • Randaman

      More “contact” please, try following through and running over the opponent and busting it upice,dont just hit him then admire your handi-work,hit em and look for the puck man,reward yourself for executing the hit by trying to recover first on your feet and pick the puck up.

      Tell Hall to crash the net.Tell Leon to use his backhander to shoot instead of passing with it,he is more comfortable on the backhand,but this line is over-passing and not taking it to the net either and needs to focus on one man as the rigger now,talk it out and focus on one rover every shift,one trigger to close the game out,keep isolting your shooter and feeding him from everywhere.

    • Randaman

      There are absolutely no words I can use here to describe how much I despise Teddy Purcel as a hockey player.

      Useless is one, scared is another, but I want to use more descriptive adjectives.

    • MontanaMan

      Yak should have been shooting like that already a lot more tonight…his sucess this season was peaking when HE was always agressive and shoot-first when he had the puck and when everyone was feeding it back to him quickly…as usual to little to late maybe huh?

      Nuge has a nice 1/2 slapper from the top of the circle we dont see much.

      Eberle has a deadly wrap-around as well.Someone pull a rabbit out of their helmet.