GDB 45.0: The Sharks are circling

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I went through the schedule over the last five seasons and I couldn’t find a three-game stretch where the Oilers lost three games they easily could have won. Bad luck — three own-goals in one period — hurt them versus the Lighting, and big errors cost them versus the Panthers and Coyotes.

The Oilers controlled much of the play during the past three games, but only managed one point. We’ve all witnessed them play bad hockey, or simply get outplayed by better teams the past five seasons, but I’m not sure this team has had three more consecutive frustrating results when they play well.

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Some will say: who cares? They still lost. Others will see progress in that they aren’t getting dominated.

Regardless of which side you are on, it is clear the Oilers’ playoff hopes are akin to the man on a boat in a storm who was tossed overboard and is now hanging on to the outside of the boat by his fingernails hoping another wave doesn’t come crashing down.

The Oilers can’t keep losing to Pacific division teams and expect to stay afloat. Since returning from the Christmas break the Oilers have managed one win in six games versus divisional foes. It is hard to make up ground in the division when you are constantly losing the important games.

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The Pacific division is slowly improving.

On December 23rd only three teams would have made the playoffs. The Nashville Predators sat in fifth place in the central, and would have crossed over to the Pacific having been six points ahead of the fourth place Calgary Flames. The third seed Arizona Coyotes were on pace for 84 points.

Today, the Predators are only one point ahead of fouth place Vancouver and on the brink of losing the second wild card slot, meanwhile the San Jose Sharks are in third place in the Pacific division and on pace to finish with 88 points.

As the season moves along it looks more likely you will need 90+ points to make the playoffs in the Pacific, like most years, and the Oilers are falling further and further behind. Injuries have played a major role, no doubt, but their sudden slide within the division is hurting them in the standings.

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The Oilers are 5-7-2 in the division, but they are -10 in points won/lost in those games. They only have one regulation win versus a division opponent, Calgary, and it is hard to stay in the hunt when you are only gaining one point instead of two.

To avoid plunging to the depths of the NHL standings the Oilers need to string together some wins versus Pacific foes, and the Sharks are a realistic winning option.

The Sharks have yet to win consecutive games on home ice. They are 6-12 at home with no games reaching OT. They are 2-2 vs. the Pacific. They have been outscored 45-52, which was boosted by their  7-0 thrashing of Toronto in their last home game.

They have out shot their opponents in 14 of the 18 games, but often they have been playing from behind.

A good start will help the Oilers, but they need to start finishing games. They have surrendered two goal leads in three of their last five losses. They need to develop a closer mentality.

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LINEUPS…

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We won’t know the exact lineup until later today, but those were the forward lines yesterday. The Oilers will likely activate Nail Yakupov after 3 p.m. today, and then either place someone on the IR or send one of Mark Fayne, Brad Hunt or Iiro Pakarinen to the minors (Draisailt and Nurse are eligible, but that isn’t happening).

Pakarinen is one of their four PK forwards, with Hendricks suspended, and he wasn’t on the ice for any of the four Coyotes PP goals on Tuesday. So I’d be a bit surprised if he goes down. Could do paper shuffle and reassign Hunt, but then recall him tomorrow after Klinkhammer clears waivers. 

Oilers lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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Sharks lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS…

  • Despite their gaudy home record, the Sharks are in a playoff spot because they have won the second most road games in the NHL. They are 15-6-2 away from San Jose.
  • This is the year of hat-tricks for rookies. Last night versus the Panthers, Sam Bennett became the fifth rookie to score a hat trick (he scored four goals), joining the Coyotes’ Anthony Duclair (Ducks), Max Domi (Oilers), Frank
    Vatrano of the Bruins (Penguins) and Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart (Jets). Connor McDavid was a ridiculous save away from having one against the Flames while Artemi Panarin has had three two-goal games (hit post late in one of them) and Jack Eichel has had two different two-goal games.

  • In 2010/2011 six rookies had a hat-trick, and I’m waiting on a reply from Elias to see what the NHL record is. It is amazing how many young players are making an impact in the NHL.
  • Kassian and Yakupov won’t be in ideal game shape, so limiting their minutes for the first few games will make sense, but I won’t be surprised if one of them gets a look alongside Hall/Nuge or Eberle/Draisaitl for a few shifts.

  • Rob Klinkhammer was placed on waivers today after Zack Kassian was recalled. Klinkhammer is a really nice guy, but he doesn’t have a role. He doesn’t kill penalties, he isn’t physical and he doesn’t score. Unless the Oilers suffer multiple injuries, I’d be surprised if he played another game in Edmonton.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Fear the Fin

For the first time since a sort-of-kind-of-mutually agreed upon break-up during the 2015 offseason, Todd McLellan will return to San Jose. The Oilers have been, quelle surprise, not so good this year, particularly with phenom Connor McDavid out with an injury for most of the season.

The Sharks have a chance to pick up their fourth-straight victory and in the process further the cause of the Oilers — booking a spot in the NHL draft lottery. It’s a win-win.

TONIGHT…

GameDay

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers struggles versus the Pacific division continue with a 4-3 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sharks win consecutive home games for the first time all season. Sadly, the Oilers have become the ultimate slump buster during the previous seven seasons.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After scoring four PP goals in his first eleven career games, Justin Schultz only scored one in his next 221 games. He scored on the PP in Arizona on Tuesday, a great shot by the way, and he tallies another PP goal tonight.

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      • Dwayne Roloson 35

        Watch this Slappy.

        Attn. all fLames fans…..seriously….NewAgeSys has retired….there will be NOTHING NHS to be found here…..if you all dont go home NAS might throw the retirement party during your 1st Round of the playoffs…….remember last year….NHS hats were to be worn and that demand has not been removed….just go home and enjoy the rest of the season you will make the POs….trust me your Coach is to stubborn to wear the NHS hats so you WILL be getting a visit this post season….worry yourself not about finding the NHS here…..its coming to find you in the 1st Round just like last year…..guaranteed.

        Tell Brian and Bob NAS is still coming for them ,retired….but hes still finishing up ALL old business.The second the request for respect and aknowledgement was made last season the fLames became indebted……and no one has paid up.

        Go home now,or NAS will come play with you right now and bury your pie-holes in the sand and bye-bye POs.

    • McChickenpi

      Kassian will score, because it’s the Oilers way. Will probably take months before he scores again, but since it’s his first game as an Oilers, he will score.

    • McChickenpi

      Remeda or whatever the colour guys name is just a genius when it comes to hockey, why doesn’t he strap on the skates. Freaken know it all.

      Had a thought driving home after ball hockey, kassian will have a very hard time dealing with his affliction. I’m sure you or someone you know has seen the young guns out on the town partying.

      The only way kassian gets through it is through support from his teammates. They really need to be careful with kassian. They need to respect his disease and support him.

    • Glad you drew attention to how frustrating any of the last three losses have been, but how infuriating they are all combined like that. Tampa, Florida, and Arizona didn’t beat the Oilers. The Oilers beat the Oilers. And in the case of the Tampa game, literally the Oilers beat the Oilers.

      Hence why I said right now the Oilers are not a good team because good teams don’t lose like that, let alone like that three nights in a row.

      Also, as yet another example of what makes it impossible to cheer for this team. At the beginning of the year, the Oilers struggled to show up early, often going behind by one or two before they woke up and realized they were in a hockey game. Some of these games they’d come back.

      Now, not only a few months later, they have stopped snoozing through the first, but are now forgetting it’s a hockey game in the third.

      Does any other team in any other sport swing this wild with inconsistency?

      • bradleypi

        Sighhhh, Will you never played the game. Learning to win as a team is very hard, especially in the NHL. Teams are so close. This is how they learn to win, if they can keep playing hard and for each other this will help them in the future. If they do not, and they start playing for themselves than they are screwed. But we are not there yet…. Will building a team with a winning attitude is hard, and takes a lot of ups and downs. This is still a work in progress.

        • McChickenpi

          Does any other team in any other sport swing this wild with inconsistency?

          Answer…..has any other team in any other sport allowed unproven poison advanced stats con-jobs to MAINLINE the toxins directly into their organisational bloodstream?

          This is NOT a work in progress….in 2009-10-11-12…..it was a work in progress…..now this is evidence of tragic and epic dereliction and an undermined ineffectual Audit.

          • DaveChamp

            I tried teaching my kid how to ride a bicycle using stats. Using historical information posted online from 30 kids since 2007, I was able to parse the data to produce optimal results. It was determined that success could be indirectly measured by the number of pedals done per sixty minutes.

            I’ve come to the conclusion that more pedaling will bring the most success when it comes to riding a bicycle. Boom! I’m on the fast track to success, best process ever!

            Quantitative measures such as statistical analysis are here to stay. They provide jobs to people, and extra entertainment when the Oilers lose. Maybe the Oilers can share their wealth of players to the rest of the NHL. Awesome!

        • Well, I mean, I never played in the NHL or anything. Or in minor leagues. I understand building a good team is tough. Just saying, the Oilers will be a good team when they learn how to finish off these very winnable games.

      • Been there

        I agree with you except for the Tampa game. That was a bizarre aberration. You might see a goal go in off your own player once every 4 or 5 games, to have three go in in one period is unheard of! To be honest even blaming the players involved is foolish let alone pointless as all were done in effort to defend, they were just flukes. The games against both Florida and Arizona were mistakes, players and coaching staff alike. The effort was there in all games, just have to eliminate the few mistakes that we are making.
        Just my opinion

        • I think my post can be read as being pretty hard on the Oil. It was meant to simply agree that the frustration fans are feeling right now stems directly from how the Oilers lost the last three consecutive games.

          Good teams do lose the odd freak game, like two years ago when Scrivens broke the record. That’s gonna happen form time to time.

          But good teams don’t lose, in weird ways, three games in a row.

          I think the Oilers have tremendous talent, but are not yet a good team. They are so close.

        • Spoils

          I actually blame Sekera for the bad pinch that led to goal one and Nurse for his inability to scoop up the puck in our zone that meant another chance for TB and subsequently goal two… and Hedman for being a killer.

    • camdog

      With Hall off of the first powerplay unit I’m going to go make another “Obvious Game Day Prediction” – Oilers score a powerplay goal tonight and Schultz gets a point.

    • McChickenpi

      I’m not going to say this aloud as to jynx Talbot; but hot damn has he looked like an NHL goalie these past couple weeks. The wins haven’t been there but his positioning and movement are strong right now. He is beginning to look like the player we traded for. Awesome turnaround this season considering he was BRUTAL coming out of the gates.

      Keep it up, Cam!!!

      *gently ruffles hair*

      Now please get this W.

    • Oilers4ever

      Those gotta be the two lamest shootout attempts I’ve ever seen… Like wth was Nuge even trying to do. Wasted great game by Talbot. This team needs to get their heads out of their arses and get some goals.

    • freelancer

      I think Nurse is going to be a quality D, but it sure looks like he’s getting beat down a bit these past few games.

      Is there any reason he can’t play on the third pairing, and get some softer minutes with Gryba? Davidson has a bit more experience, so let him play with Jultz. Would anyone have a problem with this?

      • camdog

        Yes. Nurse is getting too much ice time. So is every other D on the Oilers. This has been the problem for years.

        I’m not one of those Schultz-Bashers but this overworked Nurse is still better Schultz and Davidson (rookie). It’s hard to knock these combinations till they get 1 one 2 players that can take minutes away from Sekera and Fayne (Klefbom).

        • camdog

          It’s possible nurse is the type of player that bad games can be viewed as good lessons. Shultz doesn’t have that unfortunately considering his age and what he has done with his nhl career to date

    • McChickenpi

      Not only that. But talking about something every single day that you were previously, severely addicted to can’t make things any easier to move on with your life and resist the urge to fall off the wagon…

      Leave the poor kid alone.

    • bradleypi

      I got a kick out of the use more “will than skill” line…lol….this just keeps getting better and better….lol.

      I am sure he is not joking and that is the hilarious part…lol.

      “will” the puck across the goal-line….heh heh heh…what the hell do you use to do that….your Chi? …lol….the “Force” ….lol.

    • bradleypi

      Buncha vultures. It was a good game, yak played great, kassian played great and the rest of the team played great. The only people that did not have a good game was the coaching staff. You should play to win, not compete. The game is not always a chess game. The coaching staff is trying to find out what works at different times as the lineup changes and they are robbing fans of winning hockey games. There is to much experimenting. Seems odd that Todd really wanted to shuffle the lines that much on his first game back to San jose…

    • Been there

      After so many heartbreaking loses, can they keep fighting. As long as the team keeps fighting, it will still be a win. I for one am pleased with the way they have been playing, but it must be extremely hard on them to keep losing the way they have been.