GDB 36.0: CRAZY TALK

The last time Edmonton Oilers fans could talk playoffs without sounding like lunatics? 2006. Oh sure, there was that time Steve Tambellini added Ales Kotalik in a bizarre flurry of deadline deals, but the last time the Oilers were really in the conversation, Craig MacTavish didn’t feel there was much difference between Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkanen. Today—tonight—we are on the edge of a dream.

CURRENT STANDINGS

standings

The Oilers have played more games than any team but Vancouver, but they have also played a ton of games against difficult opposition. Make no mistake—they are in this race. A win tonight places Edmonton one point behind Vancouver (although Arizona also plays tonight) for the final playoff position.

The win before the break was important, but the goal differential also tells us this team is right in there and is worth following into January. The last time we could say that? I do not recall, but can say not having to write draft articles on New Year’s Eve is a welcome result for this contributor.

LAST 10 GAMES, OILERS

  1. Taylor Hall 10, 6-8-14 (Chance is cashing at a tremendous rate)
  2. Leon Draisaitl 10, 1-11-12 (Brilliant season from a very valuable young player)
  3. Ted Purcell 10, 4-6-10 (Deadline value leaping, maybe the sign him instead?)
  4. Jordan Eberle 10, 5-3-8 (Finding the range now)
  5. RNH 10, 2-4-6 (Has not played well in recent games, points are there though)
  6. Lauri Korpikoski 10, 3-1-4 (Improved play of late)
  7. Matt Hendricks 10, 1-2-3 (Rugged checker chips in on offense)
  8. Mark Letestu 10, 1-2-3 (Checking C comes in handy)
  9. Justin Schultz 10, 1-2-3 (A tough first half, scored a nice goal the other night)
  10. Andrej Sekera 10, 2-1-3 (Edmonton’s best veteran D)
  11. Jujhar Khaira 7, 0-2-2 (I have been impressed with his play)
  12. Darnell Nurse 10, 1-1-2 (Top pairing as a rookie. He is a perfect fit for Edmonton)
  13. Iiro Pakarinen 10, 0-2-2 (Earning his roster spot, how long will he stay?)
  14. Brandon Davidson 7, 0-1-1 (Oilers miss his calm play)
  15. Luke Gazdic 10, 1-0-1 (One fight in 10 games, he is playing well)
  16. Eric Gryba 10, 0-1-1 (Big man gives Edmonton size and strength)
  17. Oscar Klefbom 5, 0-1-1 (Wow, do they miss him)
  18. Anton Lander 10, 0-1-1 (Makes himself useful in many ways, needs a goal)
  19. Nikita Nikitin 5,0-1-1 (Trying to create trade value)
  20. Mark Fayne 3, 0-0-0 (The coach doesn’t trust him. That is a bad way)
  21. Rob Klinkhammer 1, 0-0-0 (It has been a tough season for injuries)
  22. Benoit Pouliot 2, 0-0-0 (Just back, trying to get his timing)
  23. Cam Talbot 3, 2.33 .947 (He is on fire)
  24. Anders Nilsson 7, 2.94 ,.908 (Five wins, some of them mammoth)

PROJECTED LINEUPS…

Taylor Hall 
Taylor Hall
Leon Draisaitl 
Leon Draisaitl
Teddy Purcell 
Teddy Purcell
Benoit Pouliot 
Benoit Pouliot
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Jordan Eberle 
Jordan Eberle
Matt Hendricks 
Matt Hendricks
Mark Letestu 
Mark Letestu
Lauri Korpikoski 
Lauri Korpikoski
Luke Gazdic 
Luke Gazdic
Anton Lander 
Anton Lander
Iiro Pakarinen 
Iiro Pakarinen

Oilers lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

Canucks lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS

  • The goaltending looks strong, now the Oilers need to fix that defense. Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson being unavailable is putting too much pressure on the blue. It should be noted the expensive defensemen are all healthy.
  • Connor McDavid’s return remains both top of mind and without a firm date. The Oilers are a different team these days in terms of passing along information, but all reports have him progressing very well. That is the best news of all, patience is something I continue to work on.
  • This week is massive for Edmonton. Games against the Pacific Division and by next Saturday night we will know if draft talk will be necessary for January. Cross your fingers.
  • I hope we begin to see some recognition for Taylor Hall’s season from the national media. Hall’s 80-point performance a couple of years ago was not recognized with a post-season All-Star nod, mostly because some of the professional writers voted for Alexander Ovechkin at left and right wings. That is a shameful thing, but even more galling is the slow recognition of another stunning year by No. 4 from the Oilers. He is not in a major market, but surely people see his point total and recognize his talent. I sincerely hope the writers get it right this time, that slap in the face a couple of years ago was not just for Hall, but also the fan base. I hope the writers recognize they don’t get read, and don’t have jobs, without the fans. Perhaps some of those writers have been too long at the fair.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

From CanucksArmy.com

The last time we saw the Canucks, they put on a valiant effort and won. If they can stay out of the box for I dunno, less than a period or so, there just might be a win in the cards. I wouldn’t be surprised though to see a Nugent-Hopkins show either. Oilers in OT…again.

GAME DAY PREDICTION

GDB36.0

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Both goalies are sharper than the shooters off the hop, although Vancouver gets a first-period goal and the commentators begin to talk about the Canucks in the playoffs. 

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton roars back in the second period, leaving Vancouver’s defense breathless and toothless. 2-1 Oilers after two, Hall and Pouliot with the markers. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Canucks have a push of their own in the third period, scoring three times as Edmonton gets itself into penalty trouble. Two late goals—both with the net empty—give the Oilers a point going into OT. Early in overtime, after stopping a two-on-none breakaway, Cam Talbot shoots the puck to center, Taylor Hall corrals it, and scores from just above the circle with a brilliant slapper. 5-4 Edmonton in a thriller.

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