Todd McLellan will never say tonight’s game against his former team means more than Friday’s game against the Rangers or any other game, but we all know it does. McLellan harbours no ill-will against the Sharks organization, quite the opposite, but he is a competitor and defeating the San Jose Sharks to move to within two points of the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division will mean a tad more than most regular season games.
You want to beat your friends as much as you want to defeat your arch-rival. A sibling rivalry is often as intense as games against your most hated foe. McLellan doesn’t play the game, however, and tonight is an opportunity for his players to win one for their coach.
Everything is in the Oilers favour heading into the game.
They’ve won three straight and had two days off between games.
The Sharks have lost four in a row and played last night in Calgary.
Peter Deboer is down to four D-men he trusts. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was injured last Friday and will miss his third consecutive game tonight. Since Vlasic went down Deboer has relied heavily on four D-men: Brent Burns, Paul Martin, Justin Braun and Brenden Dillon.
Burns played 28 minutes last night and 32 on Saturday. Martin, Braun and Dillon played 23 minutes last night, while Matt Tennyson has averaged 10:21 the past two games and Marco Mueller averaged only 8:40/game.
The Oilers forecheck has been much more consistent and aggressive this year, and I’d expect McLellan to force the Sharks D-men to skate a lot tonight, especially the top four.
In their four-game losing streak the Sharks have only scored six goals, and four of them have come on the powerplay. They are struggling 5×5 and the Oilers need to attack early and get a lead.
The Sharks are 10-1 when leading after the first period (.909w%) which is sixth best in the NHL. The Oilers are 7-1 when leading after the first (.875w%) and seventh best. The Sharks are 0-9 when trailing after the first period, and only Carolina is worse 0-11, while the Oilers are 2-7 (.222w%, 15th in NHL).
The Sharks are 3-2 on the second game on back-to-back nights, but they are struggling and without one of their best D-men. This is another opportunity for the Oilers to show they are maturing and use a scheduling advantage in their favour.
McLellan sticks with a winning formula.
For the Sharks, the plan prior to last night was for Alex Stalock to start
in goal tonight, however, he played in Calgary after Martin Jones was pulled
three minutes into the second period. Stalock stopped 18 of 19 shots but
according to Jones, who was one of only three Sharks players on the ice this
morning, he is getting the start tonight.
Tennyson was also skating, but it looks like he will come out and Dylan Demelo
play his third NHL game tonight.
- Mark Fayne was placed on waivers today. “If he isn’t claimed he will go to Bakersfield and play a lot of minutes and work on his game,” said McLellan. Fayne needs to move the puck quicker and I suspect he will be back in the NHL later this year.
- Don’t be surprised to see Nikita Nikitin recalled after Fayne clears or is claimed. He has played very well in Bakersfield, and he’s been an excellent presence in the dressing room according to head coach Gerry Fleming.
“I love his leadership. I think he has been a tremendous asset to our young defencemen on and off the ice. But he is competing. The biggest thing with Niki is his conditioning and his compete level, and he’s been doing both of those. His biggest asset is he sees the ice well and he can make plays. He’s not afraid to handle the puck and he wants to be the guy with the puck. Moving the puck quicker and competing harder were the things we wanted him to work on, and he has.
“He has come down here and really contributed. He didn’t let it (being sent down) deter him, but he hasn’t let it limit him from getting back to the NHL.
“He’s been the first guy on the ice in the morning and last guy to leave the rink. He brings guys with him on the ice and out for dinner. I can’t say enough good things about him and how much he has helped our young players and made us a better team,” said Fleming.
- The Oilers and Sharks have had virtually identical special teams success.
Their powerplays are tied for 15th at 18.7% and both have scored 17 goals on 91 attempts.
Both squads have allowed 17 PP goals as well; the Oilers on 86 PK situations (80.2%) and the Sharks on 91 (81.1%).
- Both teams have scored 44 goals at 5×5, but the Oilers have allowed nine more (58-49), however the Oilers EV play is slowly improving.
- Every parent who has a child in sports should read this, in fact every sports fan should. It likely isn’t about your own child, but instead helping another child. Patrick O’Sullivan was much tougher than any of us gave him credit for. I can’t even begin to imagine what he had to endure as a young boy. I applaud him for having the courage to share his story and hopefully we listen and if we see an overzealous parent we step in and say something.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Tuesday’s Sharks game didn’t quite go according to plan and now San Jose looks to salvage its brief road trip with a win against Todd McLellan’s Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have won three-straight but have struggled since losing Connor McDavid (not that they were world beaters with him, mind you), while the Sharks injury bus keeps rolling from city to city.
- The Sharks are seeing Todd McLellan behind the wrong bench for the first time tonight.
- Defensively the Sharks struggled last night without Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Can adjustments be made tonight?
- San Jose is finally clicking on the power play, so naturally 5v5 scoring has dropped off.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The train keeps rolling and the Oilers win 5-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Both teams score a PP goal.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle does not have an assist in 15 games. His previous longest assist
drought was in his rookie season when he went ten games (Dec 7th-28th),
and scored four goals in those games. He ends his assistless streak
tonight with two helpers.
DAY 7: MONTH OF GIVING
A huge thank you again to Michelle Derk for donating her seller’s commission on a house and to Matthew for his generous bid of $4,500.
Today, Package #1:
A pub party at On The Rocks and The Druid...This package is awesome.
It includes $400 in gift certificates at OTR or The Druid.
Lobster dinner for four at Druid. (They fly in Lobster for 1st Thurs of month)
Crab Boil dinner for four at On the Rocks.
Pub Party for 10 at Druid
Pub Party for 10 at OTR.
Trust me, only bid on this if you have a fun group of
friends. Dr. Wang and crew will treat you well at OTR and Marko and crew will ensure you have a blast at The Druid.
Package #2: Tee It Up.
- 10 rounds of golf at the Ranch Golf and Country Club (hole 14 above) with a power cart for each round and use of driving range before every round.
- One round of golf for three people with their Head Pro Shawn Piercey.
- One round of golf for two with GM Murray McCourt and Kevin
Karius from Global TV. This is a spirited match and usually involves
some friendly “wagering.”
Thanks in advance. All proceeds go towards The Christmas Bureau.
NOMINATE YOUR HOME ICE HERO!
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Nominate your Home Ice Hero and they could win a prize worth $5,000. Nominate your hero.
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