GDB 18: THE CITY OF ANGELS

The Edmonton Oilers made the trek from the desert to the coast and arrive as desperados in a town not known for hanging out ‘welcome’ signs to weary hockey teams. Rock, meet hard place.

The Edmonton Oilers enter tonight’s game 6-11-0 and trying to stay away from last year’s nightmare trip through the gales of November. They should have two good men and true in Benoit Pouliot and Matt Hendricks who practiced on Friday, but as you know when flu hits an NHL roster the starting lineup is in question until game time. Stay tuned.

Taylor Hall has devoted coming on six years of his life to turning this rig around, and on his 24th birthday it looks like another losing season. There is hope—from Todd McLellan through Connor McDavid—but this season so far is a lot about defensive breakdowns, poor outlet passing, wobbly goaling and not being able to gain or hold a lead.

Small victories are big steps. Taylor Hall is sometimes identified as ‘the problem’ but for me he’s a big part of the solution, when it comes. Steve Yzerman and his Detroit Red Wings spent forever wandering in the wilderness before finally winning it all, that may well be the story for Hall. Even today, there’s plenty to admire, including the player and his success, plus the commitment to winning.

Which isn’t to say Hall doesn’t have some things to learn. Going back to Hall’s conversation with Jason Gregor this spring, one got a sense that Todd McLellan was able to reach No. 4 with all kinds of important communication.

  • Taylor Hall: “I’d say the amount of attention that was
    put into being above the puck and being in front of the puck in the offensive
    zone. As soon as the puck was turned over, or we didn’t have a hundred percent
    possession, we were told to get above the puck and get inside position on their
    guys so we can outnumber them in any situation. If they turned the puck over
    then we’re in the spot to produce offense immediately. He was strict about
    playing that way, but he also explained it in a way that was easy to understand
    and implement on the ice.”
    Source.

You can see the maturation of Hall, now 24. He’s still so very young in real terms, but in Canada the expectations for leaders begin at a young age, especially among impact hockey players. I don’t know who is going to end up being the next Oilers captain, but can say Hall’s handling of several situations (Leon’s early nerves, McDavid’s entry into the Oilers family) have been noticed by fans and no doubt management.

Happy birthday, Taylor Hall. It’s been a genuine pleasure watching you play NHL hockey as an Oiler, hope to get another 15 years of viewing in! Enjoy your battle with Doughty tonight!

PROJECTED LINEUP…..

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 12.02.42 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 12.02.59 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 11.54.46 AM

Oilers lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 11.28.38 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 11.28.56 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 11.29.07 AM

Kings lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS

  • The Kings Anze Kopitar didn’t practice yesterday. He’ll probably play tonight but may not be 100%.
  • Jordan Eberle has a goal so far this season but seems to be making more things happen as each game goes by. I expect we’ll see him impact the games in a big way soon, possibly tonight.
  • A team like Los Angeles buttons things down, but there are times when things go wild. With so many third and fourth-line Oilers in slumps, an improbable game like this one may open the floodgates for men like Anton Lander and Mark Letestu.
  • Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom are on pace for almost 40 points each! It’s been a long time since the Oilers boasted that kind of output from two defenders. I picked Justin Schultz to lead the team in points by a defender, who knew??
  • Leon Draisaitl. Wow. There are no words for his NHL performance so far this season. I don’t think any of us could have predicted this kind of production. A real shame this isn’t his rookie season, although I’m still picking McDavid to win the Calder.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

  • Sports Illustrated: Jonathan Quick has been shaky lately, going 1-3-0 with a 2.80 GAA in
    four starts this month, but is 8-0-1 with a 1.53 GAA in his last nine
    starts versus Edmonton. He stopped 26 shots in a 3-2 win at Edmonton on
    Oct. 25, and has a 0.98 GAA in winning his last five home starts in the
    series. In the last matchup in Los Angeles on April 2, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter had two goals apiece in an 8-2 win.
    Source

TONIGHT

GDB18

GAME DAY PREDICTION: It’s an absolute thriller from the beginning, as a physical and skilled LAK team roars out of the gate to announce their presence with authority. Two early goals for the home side are answered by a late first-period goal by Anton Lander. 

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
In the second period, the Oilers power play gets them back into things, as Jordan Eberle scores to even things up. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:

Cam Talbot comes out of his shoes to keep things level in the third and it all goes to overtime. In the fourth period, Hall scores and Edmonton leaves California with two points.

EDMONTON FOOD BANK CHARITY AUCTION

EdmontonFoodBank

A few days back, Nation real estate aficionado Adam Dirksen suggested that we partner up to raise some money for the Edmonton Food Bank going into the Christmas season. We couldn’t have agreed more, and so we got to work. With Adam’s tickets in hand, we contacted our partners to see if they wanted to be involved and as always they jumped at the opportunity to help out. 

Over the next few days we will be holding an auction to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank, and give you an Oilers experience to remember. What are we talking about? We put together a package that includes two gold seats (with club access) to the Oilers vs Devils on Friday night, a ride to and from the game in the brand new Nation Limo, $50 in Pint gift cards, Oodle Noodle gift cards, and NationGear by Print Machine to wear to the game. 

The auction runs straight through until Thursday (November 19th) at noon with every penny going directly to the Edmonton Food Bank. We will be updating the bids in all GDB and Wrap Up articles, and on Twitter, until the auction closes. The high bidder will be notified via email to arrange for payment and transfer of the tickets. 

***CURRENT HIGH BID – $400***

9:50pm – November 14th –  Jamie S. at $400