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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  



    • .

      Eberle and RNH losers the the core.

      Talbot no better.

      Non effort in the shootout.

      Does Talbot even try?

      A team of losers.

      You can argue not to gut this team tomorrow?

      HOw can Chiarelli insult this fan base night after night?

    • bradleypi

      Eberle and RNH losers the the core.

      Talbot no better.

      Non effort in the shootout.

      Does Talbot even try?

      A team of losers.

      You can argue not to gut this team tomorrow?

      HOw can Chiarelli insult this fan base night after night?

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      Predictions:

      The oilers come out flying and outpace the sharks to a 4-2 win. The team shows how much Mclellan has changed the attitude in the locker room.

      The oilers win their 18th game which is 8 more wins than we had at this point last year.

      ON still turns a blind eye to any improvement based on our position in the standings.

      ON calls for Chiarelli and McClellan’s job(because of lack of blockbuster #1 d-man trades) after 45 games even though no teams make blockbuster trades in the middle of the season.

      Someone calls Chiarelli “an incompetent”.

      • bradleypi

        And also… I don’t think anybody turns a blind eye to the oilers improvement. But in reality ya the oilers aren’t getting blown out anymore but they are still last in the west and Columbus is gaining. Pretty sure we have a right to be mad after 9 years of rebuilding. The leafs are in year 1 of a rebuild and have more points.
        And nobody is asking for a “blockbuster”. Your comment about nobody makes trades midseason is way off. Didn’t Columbus and Nashville just make a pretty big trade? Did St. Louis not come out and say shattenkirk is available? Obviously willing to trade. You are trying to blow everything out of proportion to make yourself look smart. Then take a jab at verdad for the cheers. Well played! But way off base.

      • bradleypi

        Can I add 1 more to your list?

        Schultz is blamed for both goals against by all of oilersnation.

        But I digress. Seriously yak is back? Thats actually quite exciting! Gonna be nice seeing him out there again. Him and Kass could have a big game considering neither has played in the bigs for awhile. Here’s hoping. Also like pakiranen with hall and nuge. Adds a little sandpaper that purcell doesn’t. Go oilers!

        • Dwayne Roloson 35

          Fair enough. I should have said teams rarely make big trades mid-season.

          Johansen was in the doghouse and Nashville needed a scoring center. It just happened to work out for both teams.

      • 3 Little Birds

        Spot on!

        Doesn’t seem to matter if the Oil are better, there is 10 years of frustration that is hard to let go of for some.

        They are far better than last year, yet obviously not a serious playoff team yet. That seems to fuel the rage even more. Not sure how some thought they would be 40+ pts better and solid defensively when Chia has had not even one season to put his mark on the team.

        Anyone bringing up the one trade of significance, Johanson/Jones, as a talking point and example that teams do trade thru the season are grasping at straws. 30 teams, and 1 decent trade so far, I’d say they are a rare commodity.

        Go Oilers, lets win this for Tmac.

        • bradleypi

          Lol. Hey tweety. I see you read my post. I agree that 1 trade isn’t a lot, but the original poster clearly stated that NO teams make trades midseason. And I clearly gave an example that YES teams do trade midseason. It’s not unheard of. And am I wrong that shattenkirk is on the block? Teams will trade if the trade is there to make. But I guess Chiarelli really likes last place…..

    • freelancer

      Really early still but seeing these lines gives me some hope the oilers can roll three scoring lines. Will be interesting to see how the match ups look as the game goes on.

    • Gregor, you mentioned that Rob Klinkhammer is not physical? I agree with your assessment that he does not have a role, but to say he is not physical is not correct.

      He may not fight, but he is very physical!

      • Jason Gregor

        He rubs guys out. Never see him in scrums. Never see him dominating guys in corners or making it hard to play against. Your definition of physical seems different than mine is all.

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      Purcell down to 3rd line. . . next stop waiver wire and +$15MM down in Bakersfield.

      Not to self to buy high end condo for rent in Bakersfield,CA!

    • McChickenpi

      Too bad.

      They deserved that one. The good thing is, if Yakupov, Kassian and Talbot can bring that on a nightly basis I think the Oilers will find success once McDavid and Kleffer get back. Maybe even make an outside playoff push…..

      Here’s to hoping.

      • bradleypi

        Kassian did nothing tonight. What game were you watching? I’m shocked he didn’t have a heart attack when he did his 1st period intermission interview with geno!

        • McChickenpi

          Hey man… He didn’t make the mistakes I expected him to make. I thought he was responsible and busted his ass for most of the night considering his conditioning. I also expect him to get better with each game but I think he passed the first test. I thought he was in good position for most of the night, especially defensively.

          I don’t know.

          • McChickenpi

            Kassian will have the support of his team and coaches after tonight’s effort. This bradpi person spends too much time banging his keyboard to see the game.

            • bradleypi

              Lol! Wat dat mean? Are you saying that Kassian was pivotal in the oilers getting a tie tonight? I’m sure talbot and yak would argue that point with you. Classic oilersnation heaping praise on the wrong player.

            • McChickenpi

              I hope he does get the support. I believe he will but some other young players have been known to enjoy a beverage or two at local watering holes. I really hope everything works out for his sake and that of the teams.

              Also, can someone close to this team….
              *looking at you, ON editor’s*

              Please, please, please let the media know that it is highly offensive and embarrassing as an Edmontonian every time one of you ask him about his addiction issues. At this point it is a non-issue. He should not have to answer questions in between periods about his past demons. He should probably be focussing on the here and now….

              It’s honestly pathetic. Especially tonight….this game is on TV across Canada and he has to answer questions about his well documented addiction…. this isn’t okay.

              Embarrassing to the interviewer.

    • Spoils

      “particularly with phenom Connor McDavid out with an injury”

      Phenom….I don’t know why but hearing other teams say things like this makes me happy 🙂

      Can’t wait till your back McJesus!!!

    • Been there

      The Oilers didn’t loose the last three games because they had to many guys off in sick bay.

      The guys that were playing in those games, were just plain terrible, made to many mistakes for NHL players.[ plus played lazy hockey]

      Let not blame on missing personnel.

    • O.C.

      Can we all agree it was a bad idea to take out the star player of a team who was playing division rivals in the next two games?

      Had I known that, I would have saved payback for next game w Florida.

      Anyway…

      This might be a tough game. Win or lose, I am focused on the next ten games.

    • DaveChamp

      He’s an Oiler now, so I have no choice but to root for Kassian. I hope he shows tonight that he is exactly what the Oilers nee . With Yak also returning, let’s hope the Oil can go on a bit of a run her .

      • .

        I hope so, too. If he can bring it, he does have something that the Oilers don’t have anywhere else in the line up.

        If anyone has a Klinkhammer or Gadzic highlight reel that looks like Kassian’s, I’d like to see it . . .

    • The Future Never Comes

      Ed Hod doesn’t like Hall because Hall obviously did the freaky deaky with his girlfriend. BOOHOO go cry yourself to sleep and shush up please, no one cares.

    • Randaman

      You gotta just love the Internet. There’s always one jackass (Ed Hod) that consistently ruins a blog for everybody.

      Ed, you are simply a fool. It’s not just Oiler fans that recognize Hall as one of the best left wingers in the league. In the world? Who knows.

      Like the old saying goes, there’s always someone out there better than you.

      Hall is very highly thought of by just about every anaylist in the business. You will notice I did not say Sportsnet who obviously promote the NHL as they know where their bread is buttered.

      Whatever #4 did to you, get over it. If you can’t accept the fact that an 18 year old that had the pressures of an entire franchise and city takes time to grow, then I hope you never have kids. I would feel very sorry for them.