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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


  • DaveChamp

    If the Oilers want to get back to even thinking about a wild card spot, tonight is a must win. Going on a roll right now is huge. This could be a massive turning point in the season. You can’t leave two points on the ice tonight.

    Show those McDavid-less Leafs fans who the laughing stock of the NHL really is.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    A blogger who follows a 28th place team calls a 30th place team a laughing stock. Love it.

    GDP: The Leafs ain’t got s**t. Oilers take this one and Tayleon Hallsaitl combine for six points on the night.

    OGDP: Kadri will be a substandard 1C

    NSOGDP: After the game, Leon looks at the scoresheet and thinks to himself the name ‘van Reimsdyk’ sounds vaguely dirty.

  • Positive Ray of Sunshine

    OGDP: Leon lights them up like muppets and the Toronto fans start speculating about a Leon for Phaneuf deal being a “good fit for both teams”.

  • Scumbag

    Can the coaches not put Letestu or Korpi on Powerplay for once…seeing those two offensive stalwarts every powerplay is starting to get a bit frustrating.

  • PhiDelt

    I felt like I heard this must win narrative last week against Carolina, something has really been bugging me about this narrative and I think I found it:

    Forget the wildcard spot. Oilers need to be third in the Pacific for a chance at the playoffs. Right now, that’s a 9 point gap. Last year at this time AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, Edmonton was trailing 3rd in the division by 16 points, not 9.

    Also important, they were 7 points back of 2nd last Arizona at this point last year. Ahead fo Arizona was San Jose and LA, who were both only 3 points away from 3rd in the division.

    That meant, that not only did the Oilers need to make up a 7 point deficit just to get out of last, not only did they need to make up a 16 point deficit to guarantee a play off spot, but they also had to somehow leap frog LA, San Jose, and a surprisingly good Calgary team to do it.

    This year, however, none of that is the case. This year, they only need to make up a 9 point deficit to guarantee a playoff spot.

    They only need a win tonight to get out of last and be 1 point away from 5th in the division. To get a play off spot, in addition to overcoming that 9 points, they will also need to beat out Calgary, Anaheim, Vancouver, and Arizona.

    Now let me ask the nation, given the possibility of getting McDavid back and being able to run those insane 3 lines, does making up a 9 point deficit down the last half of the season when they play their easiest schedule on the year, and being better than 2015 / 2016 Calgary, Anaheim, Vancouver, and Arizona, seem impossible? No. In fact, it seems damn likely.

    And while every game is basically a must win, the Oilers are not going to be perfect over that stretch, so don’t get bent out if they lose a few, As long as they keep the gap close enough to achieve.

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      In my Professional opinion as an Intuitive Empath I would suggest that consistantly produced results of this magnitude and longevity would require the actioning of a very consistantly managed SYSTEM…

      So look for System which has been around for the duration…..then look for a manager who has a concurrent tenure and who is in a position to effect impacts deep into the heart of the Org.

      The Oilers “System” as with ALL NHL TEAMS is Top Secret…but the “Message” has been congruent through many Head Coaches according to Mac-T.

      K-Lowes tenue has run concurent to the “Message”/Secret System for what could be considered an incriminating length of time.Lol…and hes still lurking…lol.

      But Bob Nicholson wouldnt have missed a Pink Elephant that big right?

  • Zamboni Driver

    5-1 oil. Book it. The boys will realize it’s time to show up a team they have way more depth then. Calling for 3 points from hall or Drai. Also Toronto fans get upset and make jabs all night but are left with Austin Matthews. A fitting consolation.

  • D-Unit

    To add to my other comment, why isn’t Davidson on the powerplay anymore? He has a cannon of a shot and has proven to be deadly with it, I don’t know why we keep putting “shot to the left of the goal” Klefbom out there on the PP or (again) Letestu or Korpi. Even Draisaitl could be more effective out there. Sorry this bugs me every single time I see it happen.

  • LibrarianMike

    Game Day Prediction: 3-1 Oilers. RNH scores a beautiful end-to-end goal for the winner and seals the deal with an empty net goal as well.

    Obvious Game Day Prediction: Phaneuf tries to start a fight with Draisaitl and then turtles when Nurse steps in.

    Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Nuge’s goal is so stunning that Steve Dangle deletes his entire history of Youtube videos and starts covering the Oilers; his new beloved team…and learns the true meaning of suffering.