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


  • Zamboni Driver

    The Leafs shouldnt put their Green Goalie in front of the Oilers potent offense when it is beginning to click like it is….Leon is going to work Kadri like a Shorthandled Pump unless Hallsy lays him out first….lol….this line simply needs to go black tape left side left shot and have Hallsy work the KISS backdoor upspeed play,over and over.KISS

    Every-one needs to remember to shoot 1/3 of their shots 5-hole cause he really opens up when he transitions side to side and he has a stumpy stick-blade so into his head you all go early and keep pumping the 5-hole HARD because it will keep him in the middle of his net and deep so you can follow up with peripheral shots bar-down like they used to score on Dubby when he is deep and flat-footed thinking you are going to snipe his cojones if he transitions…lol…EVERY Rookie Goalies gets ripped up when you come out and freeze him this way.

    Nugey is in tough with his matchup but Eberle is due to light it up so I expect fireworks from this line if Ebbs works his wing hard all night and keeps everything to one side letting Nuge exploit the middle or far side with the one-timer.Ebbs high back-hand deke will look good by the end of the 1st period when the 5-hole CONSISTANT AGGRESIVE attack has their Tender Tender stuck in the middle as they say…lol.KISS.

    Someone get Schultz to the side and get him to work give-and-goes with him finishing at the net.Have his commit to the rush with his last gear AFTER his first pass,so he exits at 75% speed makes his pass then JUMPS A GEAR and bust to finish the G&G off.We need 2 details adjusted from the back-end…more of the nice Slappers we have seen the quick release ones and more integration of D-men into the offense with the G&G even Nurse has speed good enough to jump in and finish if he has some sructural support.BTW Nuges zone entries on the right side and his passing PERFECLY SUPPORT this d-man G&G as they always have.

    We arent done for yet we just need a 6-7 game win streak…so just KISS and execute with one-touch quick release type shos with no overpassing.Plant the Rookie Goalie in the middle of his net by pumping 1/3 of your shots thru the 5-hole then exploiting him with peripheral high volume shots bar-down with another 1/3.

    Remember once the 5-hole freeze sets in he wrap-around becomes open more…lol.Sorry kiddo but there is no way to stop whats coming because only NHL level instincts will allow you to open those legs up as wide as you have to and survive NHL Snipers targeting you consistantly from everywhere ….lol.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Derzie

    Leafs and Oil in a Monday night battle for last place. The word ‘playoffs’ is sprinkled throughout the GDB comments without any mention of the uproarious laughter and derision that goes along with the word. Playoffs. Oh my goodness, Katz has a license to steal from you guys. Blind faith of the highest order.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      9 point gap from playoffs, in front of Oilers are Flames, Arizona, Vancouver, and Anaheim. Yep, 9 points in 60 games is basically impossible. Better cancel the parade route cause no way, at all, anywhere, ever, in the history of time, has any team, in any league, in any sport for that matter, ever closed a 9 point gap, and especially not in a measly 60 game time frame. That is blind faith of the highest order. Like that is a level a kin to thinking if you die an Oiler fan there will be 72 virgin Octane girls waiting for you in heaven, which is crazy because in the history of the Octane girls there hasn’t been 72 different ones, let alone 72 that have been virgins.

      So I agree, I hope every Oiler fan in TO has their jersey throwing arms warmed up, because the team is about to face the insurmountable, impossible, unimpeachable, unbelievable, task of trying to make up 9 POINTS between now and April. I mean, sure, at some point the greatest player since Sydney Crosby, who somehow managed to exceed expectations, is going to come back into the line up. And sure, sure you say, the last tow months of the schedule is basically spent playing at home against Eastern teams in Feb, and division rivals in March where there will be huge 4 point swings, and sure that Yakupov kid will come back at some point, and sure when the team is healthy they can run Draisaitl, McDavid, Nuge down the middle, and sure Nuge and Hall pro rated right now would be on pace for the best years of their careers, and sure that Draisaitl kid has only been the best PPG player in the NHL. BUT COME ON! 9 POINTS! That is never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, gonna happen.

      In fact, don’t just cancel the parade, burn the cities parade route plans, burn the whole division. And while we’re at it, better trade Nuge and Hall for help on D, cause those two are basically non contributing zeros.

      Playoffs, Ha! What the hell are we thinking? This isn’t the eastern confrence where 9 point deficiets can be erased in a night. No, this is the West where if your team isn’t leading the NHL, your complete crap.

      • Derzie

        The points are misleading. What it means is that you need to be 9 points better than most every team between you and the playoffs.That’s a lot more than nine simple points against 1 team. That’s lapping the pack. Your sarcastic rant about the unicorn chasing that is Oiler playoffs is silly. Enjoy the games and progression and see where the team ends up. p.s. It won’t be in the playoffs.

  • D-Unit

    A team in our region of the standings should mean a loss. Oilers will put in a half assed effort thinking it should be an easy game and lose 4-1.
    Hope it doesn’t come out like that, but experience tells me it will.

  • Chainsawz

    Who hasn’t already checked out the top projected players in the draft?

    When Tkachuck at 6’1″ and 190lbs is smallest kid in the top 6, this may be a draft built for the light weight Oilers.