GDB 42.0: Home Ice Advantage – Storm Clouds

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GameDay

After a lengthy four day break, the Oilers are finally back on the ice Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both teams are on the outside of the playoffs and hoping to use a victory to start a push toward a postseason berth.

Edmonton is in a unique position because the team is actually weirdly competitive in two different races: the playoffs and the all-too-familiar draft lottery.

1.8.16 Division

Anaheim, San Jose, Calgary and Vancouver are all playing at identical 82-point paces. Edmonton is four points off the pace and would need four wins more than the others the rest of the way to catch up (eight points in four games putting them at 45 points in 45 contests). It perhaps isn’t especially likely, but it’s certainly doable. The club has been very good at home and brutal on the road, so wins against the Lightning and Panthers over the final two games of this current home-stand are important.

Or not, if you’re following the other race Edmonton is involved in.

1.8.16 League

Only Buffalo and Columbus sit below the Oilers in the league-wide standings, and with a four-point gap separating the Blue Jackets from the Oilers last overall isn’t out of reach. Again.

A few games back, I described the Oilers as being at a crossroads. They still are. With the first half of the campaign in the books there are still two direction this season could go. Connor McDavid can’t get back fast enough.

Projected Lines

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

1.8.16 Oil lines

There aren’t any real surprises in the Oilers lines. We’ve seen this top-nine for a long while now; at its best the top two lines provide offensive punch while the third line delivers competent defensive play. At its worst Edmonton has been a one-line team.

The only real turnover in recent games is on the fourth-line, which is made up of mostly replacement-level players.

Rob Klinkhammer has mostly looked like waiver fodder since coming off injured reserve. Edmonton has been out-shot 31-21 in an average hour with him on the ice this year, and while the shot metrics are brutal the goal numbers are even worse, with the Oilers being outscored by a 5:1 margin. Some slack needs to be cut as he finds his legs but at the moment Luke Gazdic looks like a better option on merit. Both players have a single goal and a minus-six rating.

Anton Lander has his uses. He can win faceoffs, he can kill penalties, and for a fourth-line player on a bad team his on-ice shot metrics are actually pretty decent. Having said all that, the man has played 172 NHL games and in all that time has enjoyed exactly one half-season run where he looked even marginally competent offensively. It looks to me like the Oilers lost him when they let Todd Nelson go last summer; that’s the only coach he’s ever produced for in North America.

26-Pakarinen-1

Iiro Pakarinen is back and of this trio might be the one with the brightest NHL future. He has five points in 30 games, which is two more than his linemates have managed combined; given who he’s playing with we probably should consider that decent production. His possession numbers are pretty similar to Lander’s. When Edmonton gets healthy, he’s a guy who might outlast his linemates.

1.8.16 Bolts lines

Tampa Bay has had its problems this season, one of which has been a reluctance to use Jonathan Drouin. Still, this is a better team than the Oilers if it plays to the level it can. The top two lines have comparable skill, but the Lightning have significant advantages in the depth forward department and on the back end.

That’s not to say Tampa Bay will play up to the level it can. Edmonton has had a lot more production out of its top-six than the faltering Bolts have had out of their own.

What They’re Saying

Lightning blog Raw Charge:

Potency is on display with the Oilers output – Taylor Hall is on a point-per-game pace (16 goals, 25 assists), Leon Draisaitl is next on the club with 32 points (9 goals, 32 assists) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 3rd (8 goals, 20 assists). It’s a really potent show compared to what you’re getting from the Lightning. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are tied for the team lead in points with 30. Besides those two, no one has broken the 20 point threshold this season yet, and the third and fourth top scorers on the squad are assist-heavy defensemen Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman who are also tied for points (18).

Tonight

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Game day prediction: Tampa Bay has one non-shootout win in its last half-dozen games, and that came against Columbus. The Flames beat them 3-1 on Tuesday; let’s call a 4-2 Edmonton win.

Obvious game day prediction: We will talk about the possibility of Steven Stamkos landing in Edmonton when he becomes a free agent this summer. Bonus prediction: Several months from now, when Stamkos does sign his new contract, it won’t be with Edmonton.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Brad Hunt will pick up the first point of his recall, with a heavy power play shot that eludes Ben Bishop. He’ll jump high in the air in celebration, and for a brief moment lock eyes with penalty killer Victor Hedman without looking up.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • chickenStew

    I see the Sekera-|Davidson combo playing some big minutes tonight.

    Davidson really deserves the look he is getting. Maybe this guy is the real deal, I will watch closely tonight. I have a feeling he may have a big game.

    If Davidson can play well on the right side of Sekera, that solves one of two problems on the right side of the D.

    Go Oil!!!

  • chickenStew

    While I know this defense is not playoff calibre, it has been improving. We are having better team defense and with the better coaching it is improved.
    To date: 122 Ga. 2.97 GA/gm avg.
    Last year: 283 GA in 82 games = 3.45 GA/game ave.
    To date almost half a goal game better.

    Who is worse? Calgary. Yes the Flames who were to have the BEST defense in the league with Brodie, Hamilton, Giardano. Mark Giardano is -7 this year.
    I know we are not great, barely good, but our defense is still better than Calgary, and Arizona(a defensive specialty team?), is worse yet.

    Defense is a team game. The more Tmac gets to work with this group, the better they will get. And with the return of McDavid, it will get better yet.

      • Reg Dunlop

        Team looks good because TB is not interested in battling. In non-contact hockey the oil would be champs. I don’t want to take anything away from what looks to be an Oiler victory but it is rare to see an opponent less interested in competing than the Oil.

    • bradleypi

      He makes those plays every night. You guys just focus more on the mistakes. Usually the oil are the ones down 2 zip at this point. Boys are certainly buying into McLellans game plan.

  • bradleypi

    RNH not producing offense? Ebs not producing offense? Right

    Draisaitl has leveled off offensively the last few games… TRADE HIM NOW WHILE HIS VALUE IS HIGH IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO FIX THE TEAM

    How long ’til the armchair GM’s are making comments like this for real?

    Lol

    • bradleypi

      Pretty sure the reason that anybody thinks nuge should be traded before draisatl is salary and age. And the fact that leon and Hall are one of the best duos in the league. Not sure what story you are trying to make up.

    • Oilers4ever

      glad you’re enjoying yourself troll. what a winner flames fan. watching an oiler game and trolling oilersnation on a friday night. props to you. this is probably as good as it gets in your life.

      • Andresito

        Nah o ly flipped overy when I noticed it was 2-2. Figured I’d watch the Coilers coil..o the bright side Hall looks great driving hard to the net with his stick on the ice like a true power forward..OOOOOOPSSSSSSS!!!! DERP!

        Coilers gonna Coil

  • Oilfaninvan

    Is it safe to say the announcers jinxed us by CONSTANTLY saying the oilers haven’t lost when leading after two yet and Tampa hasn’t done much when down by two.. And then mark went and said the oilers would have to screw up really bad to lose this…?!?! How’s 3 own goals for a screw up!

    • Andresito

      Katz lied to the public with fancy architectural renderings for the community arena but then cheaped out and made changes on the down low just to save a few bucks. I’m worried for the big arena now. Can’t trust him at all. How is he going to screw us??? $15 beers?

      • AJ88

        Try to make more educated comments when it comes to business and construction costs. The arena is owned by the CoE, construction change orders will be flowing through them for approval.

        • CaptainLander

          The taxpayers were sold on the early concept and architectural renderings. When the final prices came in it was determined that the concept the taxpayers were promised would cost more than the city had approved. The city did not want to up their budget as it is the taxpayers money they would be spending. The city asked Katz ( the Oilers group) if he would pay for the items that were part of the original design and he refused. Therefore the items were substituted with cheaper ones (the nice wooden ceiling was removed, the glass partition between the seating and concourse area deleted, a cantileved viewing area removed, single seats downgraded to benches, etc…) the taxpayers were expecting what they were sold at the start. Katz should have stepped up and covered the cost. As a billionaire getting a sweetheart deal it would have been the propper thing to do. Is this clear enough for you to understand now? Or do you need it spelled out in even more detail?

  • bradleypi

    Well that was dissapointing. The more things change the more they stay the same with this team. Hurry back connor because apparently Chiarelli isn’t gonna do anything to help this team…..

  • Andresito

    Does Edm have a curse on them? that was rediculous. has there been a game this year that Edm’s luck went their way???? mcdavid hurt with a long term injury.. worst case scenario, atleast 4-5 games where luck was baaaad man (LA game, Cgy game, tonight 3 fluke goals). I think there is a weird curse on the oil. tonight is an example of this. Maybe an excorsism is in store?? Noodle scratcher.

    • CaptainLander

      There is some big bad dancing MOJO hanging over the Oilers huh?

      Seems to be something a blank Paper Tiger would solve if put in the right hand.

      As a simple observer there are just to many non-congruent items of note to list here.

      Does Dellow still work for the Oilers cause WE HAVE OBSERVED THIS POISON PILL DEFENDED BY MANAGEMENT TERMINALLY BEFORE.

      I mean seriously right?