GDB 70.0: The Spoiler Role

GameDay

The Oilers have 13 games remaining on the schedule and all of them are against western conference foes. With Nashville seven points ahead of Colorado and nine up on Minnesota, there is only one playoff spot up for grabs, leaving the Oilers with two games where they can legitimately play the “spoiler” role.

The Oilers games against the top seven teams in the west could impact home ice advantage, but it won’t decide their playoff appearance. However, the Wild and Avalanche can’t afford a loss to the 29th place Oilers as they battle for the second wild card spot.

The Wild should be desperate this evening and I’m curious to see if the Oilers can match their emotion, intensity and desperation.

It would be wonderful if the Oilers were actually in a playoff hunt sometime this decade, but until then games like tonight are the closest they will get to a playoff race, and I’m sure Todd McLellan will watch to see how they react.

The Oilers won three of four games on their last road trip after only winning seven of their first 32 away from Rexall Place. They have already surpassed their road win total from last season (nine), but they need to win three of their final five road games just to tie the 13 wins they had in 2014. They have lots of room to improve on the road.

LINEUPS…

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**The Oilers didn’t skate today, so we are going off lines yesterday and pairs based on Nurse’s suspension.**

Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall will start on the same line for the first time since the third game of the season. Zack Kassian gets promoted to patrol the right side.

Patrick Maroon, Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle created two glorious chances in the third period versus San Jose and they will remain together tonight. I like McLellan’s thinking of having two highly skilled forwards flanked by a big winger with complementary skill.

Unless the Oilers produce nothing offensively, I sense he will give these lines a few games to try and create some chemistry. After the Sharks game he said you can’t put the lines in a blender all the time, like he did in the third period, but he did so to challenge them to be better. We’ll see how they respond tonight, because they did create some quality chances in the third period vs. the Sharks.

Oilers lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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Wild lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS…

  • The NHL continues to prove how ridiculously inconsistent they are. Had
    Darnell Nurse been given an instigator penalty in his fight versus Roman
    Polak, he would have received an automatic one game suspension. He
    deserved the instigator, but because he didn’t get one, NHL Player Safety steps in and decides to give him a three-game suspension.

  • Last week Max Domi went after Ryan Garbutt. Garbutt’s didn’t fight back and Domi actually punched him while on the ice with the linesmen trying to separate them. Domi got an instigator and an automatic one-game suspension because it was in the last five minutes.

    Did Domi initiate like Nurse? Yep.
    Was Domi the aggressor like Nurse. You bet.

    But because the officials got the call correct on the ice, instigator for Domi and an automatic one-game suspension, no one expected further discipline. Nurse’s actions were similar, the only difference was he is a better fighter and landed heavier blows.

  • I
    realize the NHL could have looked at the “aggressor” rule, but I highly
    doubt they would have. Can you recall any player who received an
    automatic one game suspension for instigating a fight and then had
    additional games added to his suspension for being the “aggressor?” I
    can’t.

  • Either way, I still don’t have an issue with what Nurse did. He didn’t have luxury of instant replay,
    and crossing the line now and then isn’t the worst thing. I’d rather have a player you need to reign in than one you have to beg and plead to play with some emotion.
  • McDavid
    has yet to go three games without a point. This is the fourth time he
    has been scoreless in two consecutive games, so don’t be surprised when
    he tallies a point tonight. He has been in on 22 of the last 45 goals
    (48.8%) the Oilers have scored.

  • Nail Yakupov has no assists in 25 games since returning from injury. He has four goals in that span, but only two in his last 20 games. The Oilers offence isn’t producing consistently either. They have 45 goals in their last 19 games, and 17 of them came in three victories over Ottawa, Toronto and Columbus.
  • Forward production in last 20 games:

    McDavid 8-14-22 (19 games)
    Eberle 9-9-18
    Pouliot 4-10-14 (16 games)
    Maroon 5-7-12 (4 games with Edm, 2-2-4, and 16 games with Ducks)
    Hall 4-6-11
    Draisaitl 6-4-10
    Korpikoski 2-3-5
    Kassian 2-2-4
    Letestu 0-4-4
    Hendricks 1-1-2
    Yakupov 2-0-2
    Cracknell 2-0-2 (4 games with Edm, 0-0-0, 6 with Vancouver)
    Lander 1-0-1 (11 games)
    Pakarinen 0-1-1 (14 games)

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Dan Wallace

The Wild once again find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in after Colorado won it’s last two. St. Paul has not been a friendly place for the Wild since the calendar flipped from 2015 to 2016, as they have gone 2-9-1 at the Xcel in 2016. If the playoffs are in the Wild future that has to change. Eight of the Wild’s remaining fifteen games are at home, with five of those against non-playoff teams beginning with tonight’s opponent, the Edmonton Oilers.

The Wild have taken both previous match-ups with the Oilers including a 5-2 thumping in Edmonton during coach John Torchetti’s first week four game winning streak. The Oilers have been a lot better of late winning four of their last six, and three of their last four on the road. Edmonton’s overall team defense has been better over that stretch yielding just 12 goals in those six contests, with 6 of those goals against coming in one game, a 6-3 loss at Columbus at the end of a four game road trip.

Tonight the Wild need to apply the pressure early and get the Minnesota faithful engaged in the game from the start. The Xcel can be a tough place for opponents to play when the crowd is behind the team. It can also become eerily silent when the Wild play lacks intensity and the urgency necessary for this team to compete.

TONIGHT….

Darryl

GAME DAY PREDICTION: This is the Oilers 40th game in Minnesota versus the Wild. They’ve won 14 of the first 39. The Wild is 21-1-3 at home versus Edmonton since February 25th, 2007, but the Oilers have managed to win four times in their last eight visits. Wild are rested and pick up a 4-3 SO win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
Hall and McDavid combine for a goal and the ridiculous statements stating they can’t play together will cease.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Former Oiler Jarret Stoll is the only Wild forward who hasn’t scored since Torchetti was hired. The Wild are 8-4 under Torchetti and Stoll ends his 19-game goal drought tonight. 

Recently by Jason Gregor:  



  • Connor McFly

    I have no problem with Nurse’s suspension. He effectively threw a sucker punch and that’s over the line. A combatant needs to give his opponent a chance to prepare himself. It’s fortunate that Polack didn’t sustain a major concussion. We now know that concussions accumulate symptoms for a horrible post-hockey life.

    I like the stiffer play overall. The Oil have been too soft for far too long. It’s just that plays like Nurse’s is not fair play. I don’t have an issue with him holding Polack to account for his hit on Hendricks but the sucker punch tactic sucks.

    • McPucker

      I agree with you except it wasn’t a sucker punch. He knew something was coming and just chose to react incorrectly.

      Polak is big fellow. I’m sure he could have handled himself well had he chosen to.

  • MessyEH!

    I’m not sure nurse knew it was Pollak. Just someone to release his pent-up frustration on. Nurse made a hockey play. Then Pollak was right there. I wonder what Pollak said. Must have been racially motivated .

    Hey I am allowed to make assumptions just like the announcers did. Nurse did not advance towards Pollak Pollak cut straight in front of Nurse.

    Logan Couture comments are the best. “He shot the puck at him and then jumped him.Blah blah blah.” Not true at all. The puck was sent into the corner away from Pollak. Couture was standing right there and still got the details wrong.

  • SmokeyXIII

    NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Former Oiler Jarret Stoll is the only Wild forward who hasn’t scored since Torchetti was hired. The Wild are 8-4 under Torchetti and Stoll ends his 19-game goal drought tonight.

    How the heck is this the NOT-SO-OBVIOUS prediction?

    If you look on NHL.com they already added a goal to his stats!

  • R U Kidding Me!

    Nail Yakupov after 239 games (4 seasons): 104 points .43 ppg

    Career Shooting % 9.6

    Patrik Stefan after 268 games (4 seasons): 113 points .42ppg

    Career Shooting % 10.6

    Yakubust? Cheers for yes, Trash for no.

    • Namudi

      Fact is he is Russian, after his skating down the ice instant. Media turned on him ever since then it was they’re job to run him out of town he hasn’t had a fair shake here in edmonton.

      When he gets traded that team he goes to will be my second favorite team I don’t care where he goes but honestly I’m sick and tired of this organization.

      Todd McLellan is a good coach but man he can’t coach the current roster he needs help he needs a skilled roster just like he had in San Jose.

      Ralph krueger was the best coach we had here in years he would coach the guys he had so good his systems were easy to learn, the players loved him.

      He got production out of everyone even a guy like magnus paajarvi was doing good here.

      I’m just sick of this bs. Why?

      Because even if they don’t say it were stuck in another rebuild..

      • Jason Gregor

        If the players loved Krueger so much how come at the most important time of year they got crushed.

        They were one point of playoffs, but then lost 9 of 10 and got outscored 33-13.

        One of the biggest myths is that the Oilers were competitive that year. They had a good start, mainly because there was no preseason and teams took awhile to get game ready, and for some player in game shape.

        The Oilers were outshot by six shots/game that year. Dubnyk had a 920 sv% to keep them in games, and they had a great PP, but even the PP went dry when the games became more intense finishing 3 for 39 in last 12 games.

        The current roster is not very good. Look at the D corps, and too many inconsistent forwards.

        I have to disagree with suggesting coaching is the issue. PP needs to improve, but this team with Scotty Bowman behind bench wouldn’t win much, especially with the injuries they’ve endured.

        • Word to the Bird

          You got that right. How anyone could suggest the issue is coaching at this point is ludicrous. This is the Oilers’ 5th coach in 7 years? (6 if you count Nelson) Wake up people! Its the players on the ice that need to change not the coaching staff.

        • Namudi

          Fact is this team was never deep enough, go back to that season look at the significant injuries the team sustained at one point they were down 3 centres.

          The defense needed to be addressed of course like it still does but that was the year we were closest to the playoffs. Even though are roster was significantly worse of course with the addition of connor mcdavid.

          Ralph kruegers powerplay was amazing. Explain this if we wasn’t a good coach how come he coached a bottom of the barrel team in soccer to playing against cap giants like arsenal and Chelsea, he took them to top 10 rankings which is a lot harder to do in soccer than in hockey.

          Anyways no reason to dwell on the past just throwing in my 2 cents.

    • Seanaconda

      What’s the points per 60 for each of them? Stefan was an expansion team thrashers first overall. He was probably given the best linemates and tonnes of ice time. Where yak city coming in as the 3rd first overall with Eberle ahead of him never got that push. Also points were up back then. We don’t know how their zone starts compare. It’s pretty hard to judge them when you don’t have the entire story vs just points per game. Shooting percentage would also change based on quality of linemates.

      • R U Kidding Me!

        Atlanta’s top 4 scorers when Stephan joined the team were Andrew Brunette, Ray Ferraro, Nelson Emerson and Yannick Tremblay and the top scorer had 50 points.

        So the best linemates weren’t that great. Also, if Stephan was given the best linenmates and tonnes of ice time that means he was facing tough competition on the ice.

        Yakupov has been generally sheltered. Yet after 239 games Yakupov is -85 where Stephan is only -36 after 455 games!

        • When you bring up +/-, let’s keep in mind that:

          -11 under Krueger and Nelson

          over -50 under Eakins

          Your comparison to Daigle essentially fails because you assume that Yak’s development curve was linear, when in reality it’s been a roller coaster under various coaches/GMs.

          It also essentially absolves the previous Oilers Managements for mishandling Yakupov. To say he’s a bust puts all the onus on him, when it’s pretty clear that all parties share responsibility, including himself, in regards to his lack of development.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Nurse getting 3 games is bunk. I don’t see the Avalanche going anywhere in the playoffs but I would much rather watch them in the playoffs than the Wild.

  • Spydyr

    The biggest issue I have with Nurse getting a three game instead of a one game suspension is that it is now on his record. I’m sure it will not be the last disciplinary hearing of his career.

    It is not like the games matter at this point.

  • AJ88

    The Nurse suspension may have some negative consequences. What is stopping someone like Maroon hammering Johny Hockey with a huge hit (legal or not) and then not responding (don’t drop your gloves) when challenged and pummelled by Calgary’s tough guy. Calgary player gets a three game suspension?…. Should have called it an instigator in the last 5 minutes and given Nurse 1 game.

  • This.Is.NHL

    So the the next guy that fights with five minutes left should get five games.
    While we’re at how about the coaches challenge if it’s not fair take it out it’s just a waste of time, let the refs ref.

  • OilBlood

    Soooo your telling me that in the last 20 games a 2 Million dollar LW castaway is outproducing the all star that this team can’t trade for a defenseman because his point production cannot be offset??

    Trade Hall asap. Fill in the holes on LW with another trade or signing. With skill like Drai McDavid Nuge in the top 6 you can plug anyone in and they’d be good for around 40-50 points.

    Hall has averaged 72 points, so a number 1 dman who can not only put up a few points, let’s say 35 pts plus any 40 point LW will not only provide more production points wise than Hall but that defenseman will also likely be a huge help to reduce our teams goals against.

    Trade Hall

    • Word to the Bird

      Alright I’ll bite…

      In what world does 20 games offset Hall outproducing Maroon in literally every season coming into the league? (Including this season)

      Taylor Hall’s WORST season: 53 GP 14 G 24 A 38 P

      Patrick Maroon’s BEST season: 71 GP 9 G 25 A 34 P

  • Andresito

    Great article Jason Gregor. I was wondering if you would consider doing a Blades of Steel tournament one day? On classic Nintendo Entertainment System. I love the hockey tournament idea but unfortunately some of us older guys (30) wouldn’t stand a chance versus these young kids in new nintendo games. Blades of Steel would be unreal!

  • O.C.

    Great.

    Roman Polak is a pu$$y and him not manning up led to Darnell getting three games.

    THREE GAMES???? Kiss my butt NHL.

    Roman will pay next game for not showing his man card last game.

  • Anton CP

    Max Domi is a small guy, Nurse is a giant. The broken nose of Polak sort of extended the penalty.

    With that being said, NHL is still doing a bad job with their consistencies.

  • Reinhart’s play has been supremely disappointing… Doesn’t really seem to be able to process the game fast enough so gets paralyzed in situations. Wouldn’t be so bad if he had some skill or other attribute that made up for it but I see little offensive instinct nor any desire to engage physically.

    Trade bait.

    otherwise can’t really complain about this road game with a severely depleted lineup.

    • Seanaconda

      I hardly ever watched the oilkings. any season ticket holders know why he was regarded so high by the oilers staff? Obviously someone was high on him when chia came in.

      • IronX

        He was a stay home, physical defense man with a lot of leadership attributes.

        He is slow for the NHL…. Maybe he works on his speed aka Draisatl and gets better at it…. But he seems out of place, like shy…. This might be a very sad case actually.

        • Seanaconda

          Mact but probably green too I would think the head of scouting would have bigger say compared to the guy chia replaced for not doing his job well enough.

      • It’s only natural to become transfixed by players in your own backyard. A memorial cup MVP award helped his cause for sure but his unquantifiable skills are what resulted in him being drafted so high.
        Points points points… If you don’t got em it’s not going to develop out of nowhere.

    • Oilerchild77

      I actually thought he was ok tonight. They played a good defensive game all around actually, which is impressive considering the lineup. Thank God for Talbot.

  • camdog

    The Bob Green interview following the Reinhart trade was awful – aka I haven’t seen him play since his days in the WHL with the Oil Kings, he was really good then…

  • Kurt

    Domi’s emotions at the moment of the hit vs Nurse having 2 minutes to think while Polak serves his penaly.

    The action is the same but the events leading up to the action are different.

    Why would I do the research? Nurse didn’t get an instigator penalty so its a moot point to begin with.

    The automatic 1 game suspension gives the league time to decide is supplemental discipline is necessary for example, if a team plays back to back.

    As Darren Dreger pointed out to you earlier today, the automatic 1 game (in theory, if that was actually the call made) would still be open to supplementary discipline.

  • Jason Gregor

    I know it is open Kurt, but they never use it. That is the point. It is called precedent. There isn’t any. You have no basis to argue extra games, just a theory. The precedent says they wouldn’t. In court you’d have no leg to stand on. 🙂

    Had officials correctly given Nurse the instigator he’d sit out one game. History shows they deem that worthy enough not to add on more games.

  • Kurt

    Jason, your theory of only one game is based on a hypothetical.

    There doesn’t have to always be precedent, however the suspension to Nurse has set the bar.

    Can you recall an event when a player jumped another player and only received 1 game suspension when there was no instigator called such as this? No.

    Maybe if Bertuzzi was given an automatic 1 game suspension when he jumped Steve Moore, the league wouldn’t have looked at it further then based on your idea.

  • You’re staying stubborn on this, Jason. I don’t know for sure if the league has ever added games, done it once in awhile or done it often. I haven’t looked it up. It doesn’t matter.

    Every case is different and there is no one-size fits all rule. The bottom line is the league has the option to add games to the automatic one-game instigator rule (which wasn’t initially called) under the aggressor rule if they feel circumstances warrant it. They felt that was the case here. I don’t disagree. What Nurse did — not only instigating the fight but continuing to unload on Polak when he was unable or unwilling to defend himself — is the very definition of the aggressor rule. We talked about that yesterday.

  • .

    You say, “I realize the NHL could have looked at the “aggressor” rule, but I highly doubt they would have. ”

    Yeah, well, they did. A gross violation of the aggressor rule is what you’re defending.

    https://www.nhl.com/video/darnell-nurse-suspended-3-games/t-277440360/c-42404603

    Had this gone the other way, where an Oiler was attacked in a similar way, would you continue to say, “I still don’t have an issue with what [the aggressor] did”?

  • pkam

    I watch the video clip of Max Domi’s fight. He did continue to unload on Garbutt even after Garbutt fell on the ice. So why didn’t Domi consider an aggressor too and only got one game for instigating the fight?

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    True but it still is unbalanced. I also think that the fact that Polak did have his stick hit the skate of Hendricks is an issue as you are responsible for your stick even if the injury is an accident.

  • Rob...

    What bugs me is that a broken nose does not equate to a concussion, yet intentionally boarding and concussing someone, as a first time offender, will net you at most 3 games. This was still too stiff of a suspension.

  • Randaman

    The NHL doesn’t care that you don’t understand what they do or why they do it!

    Frankly, I don’t care either. 3 games is the ruling. Darnell has accepted the ruling and will get a much needed rest and be able to see the game from upstairs. Rest & learning at the same time.

    We’re not making the play-offs so who cares.

  • .

    Ultimately, that’s the problem I’ve got with trying to defend this kind of hockey. It shows one to be an Oilers fan, but not a hockey fan.

    Pure unadulterated tribalism.

    The game is better than this.

  • pkam

    Like you say, we are not making the playoffs, I couldn’t care if we win or lose tonight.

    But this suspension may have effect on his future suspensions. In other words, he may get one or two games due to the one extra game he gets this time.