GDB 25.0: Gunning for 27th

GDB25

Edmonton is in last place in the NHL, a position the team has spent far too much time in over the last few seasons, and a 0-2-1 start to the current road-trip didn’t help. But the Oilers managed to squeak out a win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, and consequently they have a chance to leapfrog three teams tonight if they can manage a win over Toronto.

11.30.15 Standings

A win would move Edmonton past inactive Calgary, and a regulation win would also obviously see the Oilers pass Toronto, too. The Avalanche are visiting the Islanders tonight, and if they lose they too would fall behind a victorious Edmonton team.

That’s where things get interesting. The Oilers return to Edmonton for a five-game homestand on Wednesday. A win against the Leafs and something like a 3-1-1 performance over that homestand and the club could find itself at 27 points in 29 games. Obviously, that’s not going to get them back into the playoff picture, but teams like Columbus, Carolina, Anaheim, Buffalo and Philadelphia might be vulnerable.

This is probably Edmonton’s best chance at a run to alter their fortunes this season, and it starts in Toronto tonight. A good performance over these six games and possibilities open up. A bad performance, and it’s time to start researching the 2016 Draft (if it isn’t already).

Projected Lines

Line combinations courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com, the best source for all your daily fantasy hockey news.

11.30.15 Oil

No changes expected for the Oilers, nor should there be. That top line is functioning beautifully and should be left intact, whatever the consequences to the rest of the team. The second line—last season’s top line—isn’t exactly burning down opposition arenas but there isn’t much choice but to stick with them, as the bottom-six doesn’t really provide a wealth of options to help kick-start a struggling offensive line.

Ideally, Lauri Korpikoski fills that role but Korpikoski has been a puck possession nightmare and last scored an even-strength point on October 21, so that’s a non-starter. Matt Hendricks is the other option, but Todd McLellan seems to have turned to him and Lander as a defensive zone starts duo and it’s hard to argue with that.

Benoit Pouliot, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle will just have to play their way out of that lines’ current struggles.

The defence stays intact, and that’s probably a good thing, too. Andrej Sekera and Darnell Nurse have had some ups and downs but the young defenceman is finding his way quickly and the older one is the best veteran mentor option on the team. Giving Oscar Klefbom a stay-at-home partner seems to have encouraged him to be more active on offence, and it’s worth noting that his game (which was hit-and-miss early in the year) has stabilized considerably over Justin Schultz’s absence. Schultz is still working his way back after a back injury cost him time, so a lesser role and a partner like Brandon Davidson (who has been very good) makes sense.

11.30.15 Leafs

Toronto lacks high-end offensive creators up front, but the team has pretty good depth and the third- and fourth-line matchups are going to be dangerous for an Oilers team that’s missing a bunch of important players up front. Old friend Martin Marincin has only just worked his way back into the rotation on the blue line; he’s pointless on the season but he should be motivated to show up his old team.

Garret Sparks, who has awesome pads and is the Leafs’ equivalent of Laurent Brossoit, will get the start.

What They’re Saying

Jeff Veillette, Leafs Nation:

The Toronto Maple Leafs have an interesting game ahead of them on Monday. The Edmonton Oilers keep finding new ways to be the laughing stock of the National Hockey League, and rookie goaltender Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut. Joffrey Lupul, however, will sit this one out to rest an unspecified ailment.

The “laughing stock” line is, of course, correct. But one imagines it rings a little hollow in Toronto.

Tonight

85-Marincin-2

Game day prediction: Toronto has lost three straight and allowed four goals in each of their last two games. I’m going to say that Sparks helps change that and the Leafs come away with a 3-2 overtime win.

Obvious game day prediction: Hey, look, an ex-Oiler! Obviously this is the time for Marincin to rediscover all that offence he seems to have left behind in the AHL. He’ll score for the Leafs, and if I have to pick which goal I’m going to say it’s that overtime winner.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Cam Talbot’s had a tough year and he’s ready for a change. Watching Sparks from the bench, he’s going to fall in love with his unconventional pad design, and order a set for himself. Sometime after the Christmas break, we’ll see him return to Edmonton’s net sporting an alternating blue-and-white checks design.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Heschultzhescores

    McDavid, Nurse, Draisaitl, & and possibly Hall*. EVERY other play is expendable, and should be put on the market. Are we waiting for these guys to have ZERO value? What the heck boys, wake up, it move time. We literally have nothing to lose…absolutely nothing but pipe-dreams of players that just aren’t ever going to produce for the Oilers.

    * Should he change his attitude and work both ends of the rink.

  • Mr.Snrub

    S#!* the bed – Check
    Disastrous road trip – Check
    Make a rookie goaltender look like Jacques Plante – Check
    30th place in the NHL – Check

    TRADE THE MALL Chia!

  • Heschultzhescores

    That was a frustrating game. When Hall and Drai aren’t good there is zero chance of a win. I’m not sure what is wrong with the second line they have absolutely no chemistry.

    When a trade happens I hope that the pro scouts (if they Oilers have any) don’t crap the bed again. I’m not a fan of Krapikoski and Letestu instead of Gordon.

  • Zamboni Driver

    By the way, if you make fun of the Leafs goalie getting emotional about, you know…

    Having his effing dream come true.

    Then you, my friend, are a loser, and should go to bed soon because you have to get up early for your dead-end, settled for job at McWhereverthehell.

  • Zamboni Driver

    Well, considering the Leafs are one of the toughest teams in the West, and have a line up of veterans behind a Vesina winning proven goaltender, the outcome isn’t that bad.

    Oh, wait!

  • Heschultzhescores

    My goodness, this Oilers team is a hot steaming pile. How…after all these years of bullshiz can this team not f-ing figure out how to not be a last place team. This team is still the joke of the league. Imagine if they would not have even drafted McDavid….shudder….

    They got shut out by the Toronto Maple Leafs?!! By an obscure, rookie goalie. Puke.

    Bring in Ed Hervey and Chris Jones. They probably can do better job.

  • Zamboni Driver

    The interview with SN, McDavid said it doesn’t matter if he returns with 30 games left or 36 games left.

    That means if 36 games to go he plays January 16 versus Calgary.

    If 31 games to go he returns after all star break on February 2 versus Blue Jackets.

    They must have a timeline set if he is talking like that and key in after the All Star Game for the latest return

  • BubbaZanetti

    I’m beginning to think that all these Hall supporters are guys or quite possibly women from Calgary or maybe Vancouver who come on here and say things like;

    “Oooh, Taylor, he so good, he pushes rivers, he score points, he is the engine that drives my motor, or my car, er wait, he’s the motor that drives my car, he’s a driver of something or another, never ever trade Taylor, he’s the bestest, he’s so sensitive, this team would suck without Taylor….”

    I think they just do it to get a rise out dudes like me who don’t quite hold Mr Hall in such high regards ?